Dissecting the UCAT Verbal Reasoning Subtest

Michael, THE MEDIC BLOG

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The Verbal Reasoning subtest is the first section of the UCAT.  It includes 44 questions and is scored out of 900. In this article, we will look at the subtest in more detail.

What to Expect

The subtest tests your ability to evaluate information in written form. You’ll be given 11 passages with four accompanying questions. For some items you’ll need to answer either ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘can’t tell’, and for others, you’ll need to select one correct option out of four choices.

Question-types

The VR questions can be split into five broad categories.

  1. True/False/Can’t Tell: These are questions where you are given a statement and must decide, based on the information provided in the stimulus whether the statement is ‘True’, ‘False’ or ‘Can’t tell.
  2. Incomplete Statement: These are questions where you are presented with a partial statement and asked to select the right ending.
  3. According to the passage: These type of questions come in many forms. Nonetheless, they typically start with phrases such as ‘According to the passage…’, ‘According to the author…’, ‘Which of the following can be inferred from the passage…’, ‘The word “X” in the passage refers to…’ etc.
  4. Except Questions: These are questions where you are presented with a statement and are required to pick an appropriate answer that is an exception.
  5. Most likely:  These questions are generally harder and longer to solve; they can appear in any format. However, they usually take the form of ‘Which of the following is most likely to be true?’, ‘The author is most likely to agree with…’,‘The author most probably agrees with…’etc.

Skills & Reasoning tested

1. Drawing explicit meaning

The most fundamental skill on the VR subtest, where you are able to understand and pull information clearly stated in the passage, leaving no room for doubt.

2. Drawing implicit meaning

Information that is implicit is inferred. It is suggested, but not clearly stated. Thus, you have to draw meaning through other clues in the text. Drawing Implicit meaning can be a little harder than explicit meaning, because students run the risk of making the wrong assumption, thus leaving room for doubt. 

Both skills may require different types of thinking. Here are some of the most common reasoning-types that come up in the exam :

  • Literal comprehension: This is where you pull out or use information directly stated in the passage.
  • Inference: This is where you pull out or use information suggested in the passage but not directly stated.
  • Extended reasoning: This is where you apply the ideas presented in the passage to a new situation.
  • Big-picture: This requires applying your understanding of the passage as a whole. You may be required to summarise, identify main points, or determine the purpose of a passage (or paragraph).
  • Function: This is where you have to identify the rhetorical role a word or phrase plays within a passage.
  • Supporting evidence: This requires identifying specific lines in the passage that supports the primary or secondary points.
  • Tone or attitude: This requires your understanding of how particular words or phrases help establish the authors perspective.

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