15 mins
read time
July 14, 2021

Increasing your speed in each section of the UCAT

There are a number of ways to increase your reading speed in each of the 5 sections of theUCAT. Here we discuss our top approaches for each section in order to increase your speed whilst not compromising on accuracy.

Verbal Reasoning

Reducing subvocalisation

Subvocalisation is the process of creating internal speech while you read to promote the accessibility of word meanings, improve comprehension, and retention of what is read. The rate at which you can subvocalise will determine your reading speed. You can reduce the amount of words you read (subvocalise)by skimming words used for grammatical purposes. This includes words such as ‘the, them, he, etc.’ These words are only fillers and will not significantly contribute to overall comprehension of a passage and is especially useful in timed circumstances.


Words lined out  are not subvocalised or repeated using internal dialogue while reading.

Figure 1: Words crossed out are not read and should be skimmed to reduce time spent on the question


Decision Making

Using visual representations

It is important to construct flow charts in decision making syllogism style questions in order to understand the relationships between people, groups, and objects.


Solid lines: ‘all’

Dotted lines: ‘some’

Crossedline: ‘none’


Words can be placed above the line with a specific qualifier which add further meaning to the relationship, such as most, few, majority, little, or not all.


Consider the following example:

Not all the people present at the literature festival were poets but all the poets at the literature festival were authors and some poets were not writers

Figure 2: flow chart showing connections between different groups in the abovequestion

From here we can deduce the following conclusions:

-      Some people at the literature festival were poets

-      The poets at the literature festival were all authors and some of these were writers


Quantitative reasoning

Familiarising yourself with UCAT ANZ basic fractions and percentages.


1/5 is 20%,¼ is 25%, and ½ is 50%. This is easy, but it is also important to be able to convert fractions such as 8/9 or percentages such as 2% in your head. We do not recommend spending a large amount of time committing to memory every complex fraction possible but it is important to know the ones that frequently come up.


We would recommend becoming familiar with percentage equivalent of all fractions with the dominators of 6, 8, 9, and 12.

Abstract Reasoning

Recognising common  patterns (clocks, pies, arrows)

Exposure to a wide range of questions and developing familiarity for the common pattern types is essential in abstract reasoning (AR). Patterns in AR can be categorised based on their characteristics, such as shape, clock, pie, or arrow questions. They can then be further divided into common patterns which are found in each category. We have included a list of common patterns for the following categories:



-      Time

-      Angles

-      Independent hands (hour vs minute hand)

-      Numerical



-      Around

-      Opposite

-      Symmetry

-      Increasing

-      Decreasing

-      Even/odd



-      Number

-      Direction

-      What’s missing?

-      Arrangement

-      Angles

-      Numerical


In your preparation, try creating lists for each categories and patterns that you commonly find.


Situational Judgement

3 non-negotiable factors

When considering the pillars of medical ethics, there are three main ethical principals which cannot be broken under any circumstances in UCAT style questions.These are confidentiality, autonomy, and patient safety.


For example:

Ignoring a spill in the hospital

-      This breaks patient safety

-      A very inappropriate thing to do


You accidentally left patient notes out in the public view but chose to do nothing about this

-      This breaks confidentiality

-      A very inappropriate thing to do


A patient does not want the medical student to help out during the procedure but your consultant insists

-      This breaks patient autonomy

-      A very inappropriate thing to do