Spotting Passage Adjustment in the UCAT Verbal Reasoning Subtest

Beware of subtle changes in text that might change the overall meaning of a statement. During practice develop an eye for spotting changes in text.

Passage adjustment is a common trap laid by examiners, it involves slightly adjusting the statement to trick readers into picking the wrong answer. This is very common in True/False/Can’t tell verbal questions. Consider the passage excerpt and attempt the question below:

passage adjustement example 1

PA question 1

You might have been tricked and thought it was True. You can see that there is a slight adjustment here where the statement says Moscow. Even though, Moscow is the capital of Russia we cannot say definitely that the world cup will be held there. Therefore, the correct response is Can’t Tell. Obviously, it is easy to spot in the above small passage but in the exam, you might miss small details due to the longer text and time pressure.  Examiners might also use broader context where the passage might refer to a specific situation, but the statement may refer to the broader context or vice versa. Consider the excerpt below and the corresponding question:

PA example 2

PA question 2

The passage says, “over 35% of residential properties were reclaimed by banks”. However, the statement is broad and does not specify which type of property, so it is not definite to assume that all properties were reclaimed by the banks. If the statement said ‘one third of homes were reclaimed by the banks’ then we could infer the answer would be True. 

Tips for Dealing with Passage Adjustment

Tip #1: Always read both the passage and statement carefully

Once you have scanned the passage and found the keyword. Read the text carefully and compare wording with the statement. If you see the same wording with a slight word change be on the alert and assess problem accordingly.

Tip #2: Avoid using external knowledge

This is a mistake you may be making without realising it. Avoid using pre-existing knowledge not included in the passage. For example, if you picked True for the above problem about the FIFA 2018 world cup in Russia. Then this might be something you may need to work on.

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