How to Evaluate your Process in answering a UCAT Question-type

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If you’ve already enrolled on the UCAT Virtual Tutor or bought the UCAT Study Guide, thank you! If you stumbled upon this article without getting either resources, I highly recommend you enrol on the programme or grab the new UCAT Study Guide to make sense of  the information provided.

The key to improving in the UCAT is by being self-critical and understanding your intuitive approach to dealing with questions, then spotting areas of weakness to improve.

On Day 13,  we review your 2nd weakest subtest and look at how to improve your accuracy. There may be cases where you are not improving and a finding it difficult to pinpoint your weakness when dealing with a specific subtest. This article is to help you recognise the sub-skill that is hindering your accuracy when answering a specific question.

Start by breaking down your process in answering a specific question-type. Think about the different ways in which you think through the question.

Some questions may require deductive reasoning or inductive reasoning. Others may require the  use of comparative reasoning by looking into different components and how they are related to one another.

When breaking down your process try to figure out which element in solving a problem is the issue. We will go through this step-by-step. You will need a UCAT practice book and a pen for this exercise. Start by picking a question-type to focus on (I recommend doing at least 5 -10 questions for this assessment).

Pick an example of the concerned question-type and follow the steps below:

Step 1Star the 1st Area you looked at. The part of the question you naturally looked at right away, this could either be the TextGraphQuestion stem or Answer options. For example, lets say you are attempting a Time Schedule question in the QR subtest, if you read the table first, then Star it. If you read the question first then star that instead. if you looked at the answer options first then star that too. Only star the first thing you look at.

Step 2: Underline and number what stands out in the starred area. While you are trying to work out the answer underline the first thing that stands out to you in the starred section. This could be a word or phrase that you think may be important for answering the question. Underline it and put a number next to it. For example, lets assume in attempting a time schedule you read the question first, you would underline the word, number or phrase that stood out to you and number it as (1) , the second would be underlined and numbered (2) and so on.

Step 3: Continue the underlining and numbering method in remaining areas. Once you are done reviewing the first area continue underlining and numbering numbers, words and phrases that stand out to you. For example, Lets assume after examining the first area you underlined and numbered two key things – a word and number. Move onto the next area (that comes naturally to you) and continue numbering as (3), (4) and so on, until you pick your answer.

Step 4: Review the worked solution. If you answered correctly then it is safe to assume you  probably used the right approach (unless maybe if you guessed). Reflect on your approach to the question and think about why you answered it right, what you can replicate or possibly change to improve accuracy .

If you answered incorrectly, look back at the words/phrases underlined and overall process to figure out why you answered incorrectly. Find below a a few pointers to help you correctly identify the problem:

  • Did I focus on the wrong piece(s) of information?
  • Did I not notice a key word or phrase?
  • Did I misinterpret or misunderstood the information?
  • Did I draw the wrong conclusion?

Step 5: Move onto next question and repeat step 1 to 5. We recommend doing about 5 – 10 questions.

Step 6: Try to spot patterns and trends.  Go back to each error you made and try and understand the specific set of  skills that you are weak at. You will find that your weaknesses will tend to follow a general pattern. Find below some of the most common patterns from past candidates that we surveyed, use it to help identify what areas to work on.

  • Underlining irrelevant words, numbers or phrases (comprehension / critical thinking problem)
  • Misinterpreting or misunderstanding information  presented (comprehension problem)
  • Unable to draw conclusion from one or two components (critical thinking / making inference problem)

Once you have completed assessment, learn tips and techniques to reduce the likelihood of you making the same mistakes.

Make sure to do another set of questions afterwards to test new  techniques. If you notice an improvement  keep practising and implementing new techniques. If nothing changes, keep looking for the right technique until you figure it out.

Thank you again for purchasing the book and UCAT virtual tutor! Best of luck in the exam 🙂