Dissecting the UCAT Abstract Reasoning Subtest



The Abstract Reasoning subtest is the fourth section of the UCAT.  It includes 55 questions and is scored out of 900. In this article, we will look at the subtest in more detail.

The UCAT Abstract reasoning assesses how you infer relationships from abstract shapes and patterns.  Usually, examiners may include irrelevant and distracting shapes to mislead you into selecting the wrong answer. 

What to expect

You’ll be presented with a lot of shapes to analyse. With each problem, you will find yourself tracking and critically evaluating relationships as well as generating hypotheses. Also, querying your own judgement as you go along trying to work out the rules governing relationships.

Expect some sets to have more than one rule.


The AR subtest has four different types of questions.

Type 1 ​– You are presented with two sets of shapes labelled “Set A” and “Set B”. You will be given a test shape and asked to decide whether the test shape belongs to Set A, Set B, or Neither.

Type 2 ​- You are presented with a series of shapes. You will be asked to select the next shape in the series.

Type 3 ​- You are presented with a statement, involving a group of shapes. You will be asked to determine which shape completes the statement.

Type 4 – You are presented with two sets of shapes labelled “Set A” and “Set B”. You will be asked to select which of the four response options belongs to Set A or Set B.

Skills & Reasoning tested

The skills and reasoning needed in the AR can be tested in any question-type.

Pattern recognition: This is your ability to find patterns amongst a whole host of irrelevant and distracting material. This can be tested in many ways, but typically draw on one or more of the following:

• Shape

• Colour (or shading)

• Arrangement (or angle)

• Number of (shapes, sides, intersections, etc.)

• Size

Spatial reasoning: This is your ability to visualise movements and changes in shapes. Similar to pattern recognition, it draws on shapes, colours, arrangement, number and size. However, changes can occur in other ways:

• Orientation

• Enclosure

• Intersections

• Symmetry

• Rotation

• Ratio

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