UCAT: Abstract Reasoning

conrs

Member
I am wondering if anyone has found a way to master the abstract reasoning section after being really terrible at it? For some reason, I simply cannot recognise the patterns no matter what- my brain does not seem to work that way!! Back in my UMAT, I remember scoring absolutely abysmally in this section (though admittedly with no preparation) after doing super well in the other sections so it's definitely a pattern for me- but I'd love to rectify this! To me it appears as though some people can look at the patterns and solve them immediately, how does one do that??
 

MrWhippe

Regular Member
You're definitely not alone. From what I've read of the UKCAT (what the UCAT is based on), the consensus is that AR is generally regarded as the most challenging section. I've similarly found it the hardest by a country mile, and far-and-away the most difficult section to improve. But from my own preparation, I've seen it is definitely possible.

At the end of the day, there are probably only ~50 rules, and a finite number of combinations of these. The more you practice, the better you'll internalise these rules, and the easier they'll be to spot. It's truly just practice-practice-practice. Even if you can't ultimately find the answer, you'll improve tremendously at making informed guesses. Not only are the questions difficult, but there is enormous time pressure here. 55 questions in 13 minutes means you'll often need to make decisions that are without deep and thorough analysis!

It is an extremely discouraging section to improve at, requiring an enormous investment. Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning you could prep for sufficiently in 10-15 hours each. AR you could spend 5 times that, and still get every 3rd of fourth question wrong.
 

conrs

Member
You're definitely not alone. From what I've read of the UKCAT (what the UCAT is based on), the consensus is that AR is generally regarded as the most challenging section. I've similarly found it the hardest by a country mile, and far-and-away the most difficult section to improve. But from my own preparation, I've seen it is definitely possible.

At the end of the day, there are probably only ~50 rules, and a finite number of combinations of these. The more you practice, the better you'll internalise these rules, and the easier they'll be to spot. It's truly just practice-practice-practice. Even if you can't ultimately find the answer, you'll improve tremendously at making informed guesses. Not only are the questions difficult, but there is enormous time pressure here. 55 questions in 13 minutes means you'll often need to make decisions that are without deep and thorough analysis!

It is an extremely discouraging section to improve at, requiring an enormous investment. Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning you could prep for sufficiently in 10-15 hours each. AR you could spend 5 times that, and still get every 3rd of fourth question wrong.

Thanks so much for your response. Definitely agree that it's extremely discouraging to try improve! By 50 rules, do you mean subtypes of each question (i.e. different numbers of shape sides, moving diagonally etc) as I know there are 3-4 different types of question (A/B, next in sequence...)? And have you been able to improve purely out of just doing practice questions?
 

MrWhippe

Regular Member
Thanks so much for your response. Definitely agree that it's extremely discouraging to try improve! By 50 rules, do you mean subtypes of each question (i.e. different numbers of shape sides, moving diagonally etc) as I know there are 3-4 different types of question (A/B, next in sequence...)? And have you been able to improve purely out of just doing practice questions?
TBH, all of the UCAT seems to be about just practice. For a test that is supposed to be an equaliser between economic classes and educations, measuring only inherent intelligence, that can't be prepped for, it couldn't be much further from it. The UCAT is absolutely one that you can hone, and the best way of honing it is for coughing up for the resources (often expensive) and simply practicing.
 

Blackjoe

Member
Just to add, it's not just about practice but also reflection. When you get a question wrong look at why you got it wrong, look at what you missed or misunderstood, reflect on how much time you spent on that question and how much time it would take if you knew what to do. Sometimes you spend too much time on a question when a simpler solution existed, sometimes you spend to little and miss and obvious point you shouldn't have. Once you have reflected use what you have learned to modify your technique for the next set of questions.
 

A1

Admissions Speculator
Moderator
TBH, all of the UCAT seems to be about just practice. For a test that is supposed to be an equaliser between economic classes and educations, measuring only inherent intelligence, that can't be prepped for, it couldn't be much further from it.

I saw another post that also said UCAT is more preppable. I would say wait and see first. Bear in mind the time per question for UCAT is like 1/3rd of that for UMAT, naturally the UCAT questions have to be simpler. My gut feeling is this may have given the impression it's more preppable but in the real test when you are under real pressure all the prep knowledge might not flow out fast enough, thus you will need to rely more on your inherent ability.
 

MrWhippe

Regular Member
I saw another post that also said UCAT is more preppable. I would say wait and see first. Bear in mind the time per question for UCAT is like 1/3rd of that for UMAT, naturally the UCAT questions have to be simpler. My gut feeling is this may have given the impression it's more preppable but in the real test when you are under real pressure all the prep knowledge might not flow out fast enough, thus you will need to rely more on your inherent ability.
I actually think the time-pressure is why it's such a 'prepable' test. The ability to identify which questions to invest your scarce time into (i.e. the easy marks), and which ones to skip is the major challenge for most of the sections (all but DM and QR I'd say), and is what will separate those who perform exceptionally from those who don't.

I'd also argue your gut feeling is a bit off-base - there are many questions in the UCAT that are substantially more difficult than those in the UMAT, and are probably intended to sink time. At least for the UKCAT, it seems to have been incredibly common that the writers would frontload the challenging questions at the beginning of each section.

The UCAT is fundamentally a test about picking battles. I think you're definitely right that much of the prep knowledge will go out the door under time, but I imagine the time-management skills (which are cultivated through practice) will stick.
 

selcat

Member
I guess there's only 3 answer options for most of the questions... so at least we still have a 33% chance of getting it correct :lol:
 

Dnama

Member
Hi All,

I need help with the question I have attached with this. The answer shows just one rule that there is an even number of lines leaving the circle in set a and odd number in set b. I understand that rule. But while doing the questions I came up with a different rule that in set A there is no circle in the middle of the shape apart from the outer circles but set b there is either one or two circle inside the shape along with the outer circles. I am not sure how this rule is wrong?

Thanks a lot for your help :) 2623
 
Hi All,

I need help with the question I have attached with this. The answer shows just one rule that there is an even number of lines leaving the circle in set a and odd number in set b. I understand that rule. But while doing the questions I came up with a different rule that in set A there is no circle in the middle of the shape apart from the outer circles but set b there is either one or two circle inside the shape along with the outer circles. I am not sure how this rule is wrong?

Thanks a lot for your help :) View attachment 2623

Ok so the rule that got my attention was that in set A there are equal number of lines and circles while in set B there are always 2 more lines than the amount of the circles. So I think there are multiple rules to this one. Your rule also follows the pattern so it's perfectly fine to use it for answering the questions. I'm pretty sure that the solutions rarely point out all the rules present, so don't worry if your rule isn't outlined in the solution.
 

Dnama

Member
Ok so the rule that got my attention was that in set A there are equal number of lines and circles while in set B there are always 2 more lines than the amount of the circles. So I think there are multiple rules to this one. Your rule also follows the pattern so it's perfectly fine to use it for answering the questions. I'm pretty sure that the solutions rarely point out all the rules present, so don't worry if your rule isn't outlined in the solution.
That makes so much sense, Thank you a lot MedDream2020, I guess they wont put patterns with more than one rule in the actual UCAT or they might accept all possible answers?
 
That makes so much sense, Thank you a lot MedDream2020, I guess they wont put patterns with more than one rule in the actual UCAT or they might accept all possible answers?
I think there will be some patterns that'll be based on at least 2 rules and I've come across many of these in official UCAT mock ups and the Medify question bank. But finding one pattern is sufficient to get 4 out of 5 questions right. Honestly, in the time constraint, we'll be fortunate enough to even finish all the questions, let alone finding all the patterns for a particular question.
 

ProfessorPond

Yahallo!
I absolutely detest this section. Some of the rules, imo, just can't be figured out in the 50 seconds you get on average because there's so much counting involved, not to mention having to think of the rule first.
Not even sure what's being selected for here ngl.
 

MrWhippe

Regular Member
Agreed^. Personally I think AR is the most poorly devised section by far. I still can't believe we only have 13 minutes for 55 questions here. I'm pretty good at getting the correct answer, and am consistently faster than the mean average response times on Medify, but even still I'm always finding that I invariably have to guess the last 10-15 due to time constraints.
 
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Dnama

Member
2639 Hi All, With these types of questions (attached) where certain shapes are assigned a numerical values, is there a systematic way to figure out what shape equals how much ? (made up eg. triangle is equal to 2, square 1 and circle is 5 etc.)
Thanks a lot!
 
M

medicallyblonde

Guest
Look for the shared numerical value of the boxes in the set by evaluating the box with a single shape. Then go from there.

So in Set A there are 12 Triangles, T=1, Box=12. Then look at a box with only two different shapes, so bottom left is two circles, therefore 2C and 4T=12, 2C=12-4, C=4. Bottom right then has to be 2T+C+R=12, R=12-2-4, R=6

Do the same with Set B: there are nine circles so C=1, Box=9. Bottom left is 4R+C=9 R=2. Middle left C+R+T=9, T=9-1-2 T=6.

I hope this helps.
 

Dnama

Member
Look for the shared numerical value of the boxes in the set by evaluating the box with a single shape. Then go from there.

So in Set A there are 12 Triangles, T=1, Box=12. Then look at a box with only two different shapes, so bottom left is two circles, therefore 2C and 4T=12, 2C=12-4, C=4. Bottom right then has to be 2T+C+R=12, R=12-2-4, R=6

Do the same with Set B: there are nine circles so C=1, Box=9. Bottom left is 4R+C=9 R=2. Middle left C+R+T=9, T=9-1-2 T=6.

I hope this helps.
Thanks a lot, it's very helpful!
 
M

medicallyblonde

Guest
Thanks a lot, it's very helpful!
Honestly I will be gobsmacked if we have an AR question with algebraic principles, I’ve heard the actual test is never as hard as any of the mocks. Good luck with it, my practice feels like it’s paying off for my AR confidence
 
I'd say look for the square where it has all of one shape type- i.e. Triangles in Set A and Circles in Set B- then base your values for the other shapes off of these 'base' shapes. Only thing that I've noticed is that this can be quite time consuming/ confusing to keep track of accurately and quickly- so sometimes it might be best to answer the simplest test shapes and then move on.
 
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