Dissecting the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning Subtest

ucat quantitative reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning subtest is the third section of the UCAT.  It includes 36 questions and is scored out of 900. In this article we will look at the subtest in more detail  and discuss how to prepare for it.

The UCAT quantitative reasoning (QR) section requires you to formulate and solve numerical problems by selecting data in a variety of ways. The QR section does not draw on any maths skills beyond GCSE, so with the right preparation, you should do really well in this test.

What Is The Quantitative Reasoning Subtest?

The quantitative Reasoning section tests your ability to use numerical skills to solve numerical problems.  It requires you to formulate and solve numerical problems by selecting data in a variety of ways. You must answer 36 items in 25 minutes that’s about 30 seconds per item.

Type of Quantitative Reasoning Questions

Questions in the quantitative reasoning can come in any form, they are usually in diagrams in schematics . You are required to solve problems by extracting relevant information from tables and other numerical presentations. For each item, you may be presented with four items that relate to that table, chart or graph. For each item, there are five answer options to choose from. Your task is to choose the best option. Overall these questions are only GCSE-grade mathematics, and typically include the following operations:

  • Basic Arithmetic
  • Proportionality
  • Percentage, fractions and changes
  • Ratios
  • Speed, Distance and Time
  • Money, Tax & Exchanges
  • Geometry
  • Population densities
  • Averages and ranges
  • Time
  • Rates

If you feel rusty with any of the above operations, I strongly recommend having a look through your GCSE maths book again, If you have lost your GCSE book or need more practice check out the BBC GCSE Bitesize Mathematics resource – includes easy-to-understand lessons and practice questions for each operation.

How To Prepare For The  UCAT Quantitative Reasoning Section

1. Brush Up on GCSE Maths

To do well in the UCAT quantitative reasoning section, you need to first familiarize yourself with basic mathematical operations, which you may already know from GCSE level mathematics.

  • Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division
  • Percentages, ratios and fractions
  • Speed, distance and time calculations
  • Working with money
  • Areas and Volumes
  • Graphs and Charts

If you feel rusty working on any of these operations, first have a look on the GCSE Bitesize website, it is a free learning resource to prepare for GCSE Maths, get yourself up to speed by doing the practice questions on the UCAT website. Review where there might be gaps in your knowledge, take note of the questions you find difficult and spend additional time getting up to speed with them.

2. Improve Mental Maths Speed

One of the main constraints in the UCAT quantitative reasoning is time, you have just 24 minutes to tackle 36 questions. On average, you must complete each question in about 30 seconds, Even though some questions might require a lot less time than others your speed and accuracy in manipulating mathematical formulae is crucial. You need to also be able to calculate and manipulate formulae quickly, a good starting point would be to improve your mental maths speed. Learn strategies that will help with carrying out basic mathematical operations in your head quickly. Speed Mathematics teaches simple methods that will enable you to make lightning calculations in your head–including multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction, as well as working with fractions, squaring numbers, and extracting square and cube roots. Read article on  mental maths tricks to save time in the quantitative reasoning section.

3. Learn To Estimate and Eliminate

For some question you can eliminate one or more answer choices by guessing strategically,  it gives you a much stronger chance of picking up the mark. They will be questions in the quantitative section that would take 2 or more minutes to solve using straightforward maths, rather than the 30 seconds allotted. If you take the time to answer such a question you would only pick up one mark instead of potentially three. You must triage these questions – instead of spending time working it out,  make strategic guesses! Eyeball the data and make a logical guess on what the answer might be without calculations. Eliminating answer choices that might be too low or too high, or maybe rounding figures to save time.

4. Practice Using Online UCAT Calculator

The simple on-screen calculator is so unrated, practice using the UCAT calculator during preparation. There are also a few calculator shortcuts you can learn to save time in the QR. Practice using the memory and Num Lock functionalities to save time during more complex calculations. Read my post on how to save time with the UCAT calculator.

5. Discover Strategies and hone Your Game Plan

Whatever you do, please do not attempt the live test without a game plan, have a hand full of exam techniques you intend to employ to improve error rate and speed in the exam. Discover techniques that work for you beforehand and practice honing them before the test. You can grab The UCAT Study Guide on Amazon, it is a step-by-step study guide and includes the exact strategy I used to achieve a UCAT score in the 90th percentile, it includes hundreds of exam strategies. To date, it has been adopted by 8000 students and has 100% positive feedback (see the latest testimonials)

6. Practice Under Exam Conditions

The UCAT is a computer-based test, in order to simulate the real exam practice QR questions using an online course.  Check out my recommended UCAT online courses for the year, I review the best ones and shortlist the top three.

Hope you found that helpful! Also take part in the 30-day UCAT Preparation Challenge includes daily exercises and goals over 30 days to ensure you prepare more effectively.