Dissecting the UCAT Verbal Reasoning Subtest

ucat verbal reasoning subtest

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  and discuss how to prepare for it.

What Is The Verbal Reasoning Subtest?

The UCAT verbal reasoning section tests your ability to evaluate information in written form. You’ll be asked to read through 11 passages and answer questions about the conclusions that you can make. For some items you’ll need to answer either ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘can’t tell’, and for others you’ll need to select which of the statements presented is true or false based on the information in the passage.

Type of Verbal Reasoning Questions

There are two types of questions in the verbal reasoning section. The first group are statements where you have to decide whether, according to the passage, the statement is true or false or whether you cannot tell. The Second group are comprehension questions where you are tasked to determine which statement is most likely to be true. I personally found the second group of questions harder, try to figure out which of the two question-types you struggle with the most. I remember when I was preparing for the verbal reasoning section I spent more time practising the second group of questions. The second group of verbal questions include the following:

  • Incomplete Statements:
  • According To The Passage
  • Except Question
  • Most Likely

With each question-type you are required to pick the best or most suitable option.

How To Prepare For The UCAT Verbal Reasoning

The are three elements that determine a candidate’s success in the verbal reasoning, they include:

  1. Comprehension
  2. Speed
  3. Critical thinking

All  three elements are equally important. I highly recommend to make sure during preparation to identify which of the three elements you struggle with the most and take the necessary steps to improve.


Your capacity to comprehend and understand the passages is the first element, the verbal reasoning includes a total of 11 passages, each with 4 items to answer. Ideally, you want to be in a position where if you attempted  the verbal reasoning section untimed you would score 100%. I would recommend attempting the official UCAT verbal reasoning practice questions untimed (not the practice test). Take note of questions you get incorrect and make sure to fully understand why you got them wrong.

Another good way to improve comprehension is by buying a UCAT book with loads of practice questions. You want to pick a book that has tons of practice questions so you can familiarize yourself with the exam and the potential traps laid by examiners. I would recommend answering as many questions as possible untimed and focus on getting answers right! You want to be in a position where you are getting at least 3 out of every 4 questions correct at your own pace not timed.  

When reading the UCAT book do not time yourself just focus on accuracy, learn from mistakes and try to understand the reason behind the correct answers. Do not time yourself on the mock exams in the books either   just take your time focusing on trying to get a perfect score even if it takes you days – you can worry about time and developing your exam technique once you are getting at least 3 out of 4 questions correct.


You might realise that your comprehension skill is fine but you struggle with time. Timing is the main challenge with the UCAT verbal reasoning test, if you could manage to read a passage in 1 minute, you would only have 15 seconds to answer each accompanying items. That might be enough time for straightforward and simple questions, but most questions will be of  medium to advanced difficulty. So what do you do? You need to adopt a strategy that saves time but doesn’t compromise your comprehension too much. There are several verbal reasoning strategies you can adopt to accomplish this, I would recommend working on your reading speed as a start. You can significantly improve this with the right technique and approach, you can choose to adopt the PX technique or practice using a speed reading tool such as Spreeder. Both have proven to work.

Critical Thinking

I really believe that this skill is what separates the high scoring candidates from the herd. At times in the verbal sections you will be presented with questions that are not directly stated in the passage and you will be required to make inference, i.e, read between the lines. This can be difficult to do when you consider the time constraints and paranoia you probably likely develop worrying if its an exam trap or not. However, with practice and a rough idea on the potential traps in the exam you can boost your verbal critical thinking skills. I would recommend practise verbal inference exercises as well as assumption tests.