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Verbal Reasoning

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threefivetwo

suffering from chronic swag
Why were this year's VR scores so low? Was the test just really hard?
  • Nerves before the test
  • More inference style questions requiring you to skim the entire passage instead of scanning for keywords, taking up time
  • Perceived increased difficulty of questions psyching candidates out
Regardless of whether the test gets harder, the candidate pool will only get more competitive due to re-sitters and increased number of testers. Best bet is to practice VR a lot ;)
 

saksham21

Member
  • Nerves before the test
  • More inference style questions requiring you to skim the entire passage instead of scanning for keywords, taking up time
  • Perceived increased difficulty of questions psyching candidates out
Regardless of whether the test gets harder, the candidate pool will only get more competitive due to re-sitters and increased number of testers. Best bet is to practice VR a lot ;)
Are the official UCAT resources similar to the actual exam?
 

saksham21

Member
In some regards, yes, in some no. You would do well to undertake preparation outside of the official resources, as I don't feel they're sufficient alone. I won't discuss preparation services here as that'd break Rule #13.
How do you think I can prepare for answering more inference style questions. Currently I scan for keywords and this works well for most questions, but because of this I struggle more with author's opinion and inference questions. How should I approach these questions?
 

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threefivetwo

suffering from chronic swag
Posting this up for reference for future UCAT takers:
---
  • Verbal Reasoning tests your ability to read and comprehend a range of literature, locate appropriate information accurately and rapidly, and compare and evaluate it.
    • This is relevant in a clinical context when you read research, patient notes etc. and evaluate information quickly.
    • Understanding what the subtest wants from you helps you guide your preparation better.
    • Note the emphasis on rapidly.
  • Key strategies
    • Check the question stem first to see if you have to do the work. It's usually the case that you'll have to skim the passage quickly before answering. But sometimes they'll ask you something that's fairly straightforward, instead of a "Which one of the four options is true?" type question, i.e. "threefivetwo was born in July 1928 in Sydney, Australia."

      The keyword here is 1928, as the place of birth will be located near this term in the passage. So all you need to do is skim the passage for "1928" here and verify that the stem is correct.
    • Speed reading and chunking. An important part of VR is being able to grasp what the text talks about, in addition to a sense of the tone of the passage quickly so that you don't lose time. So you need to read the text faster, but this cannot come at the expense of losing a decent understanding of the text.
      A fairly common problem with speed reading is that you read it out verbally in your head, which limits your speed. If you do this, suppress the urge to do so.
      Speed reading is basically reading the text faster, meaning that your eye will track across each line of the passage faster. A good way to keep your eye focused is to use your cursor to track across the sentence as you read it. The better way is to chunk sentences/the passage into groups. This link will give you a pretty good explanation of chunking. How to Read Groups of Words: Chunking | Speed Reading Lounge
    • Changing gears. In a passage, there's often information that wouldn't be particularly useful to the question (i.e. a long winded explanation of some concept). When you encounter this, change gears and speed up. When there is important information (i.e. birth dates, places, numbers, definitions), change gears and slow down. Know when to change your reading speed.
    • Locating information based on the type of passage. The location of information can often be inferred from the type of passage. For example, if the passage is a biography and the question asks for the birth date, that's going to be in the first paragraph. If it's a news article and the stem references a quotation, that'll most likely be in the middle or the end of the passage, as the beginning is usually devoted to explaining the topic of the article.
    • Timing. Look at your UCAT prep provider's LMS for tips on timing. Generally I like finishing with about 6-8 minutes left so I have time to go back for harder questions and anything else I flagged.
    • Passes. The same strategy for completing the subtest in passes that I talked about in QR applies here.
  • Tips
    • Practice speed reading and chunking beyond your UCAT practice. Although the most useful type of practice is timed practice and mocks, practicing these techniques beyond the UCAT will help immensely in applying them. You can practice on news articles, the introduction of Wikipedia articles, sections of course notes, Moodle discussion posts, emails, etc. Once you finish reading it, ask yourself what the passage was about overall, what the key points in it were and where you'd find them, and the tone of the passage. I feel that it'd help!
    • Reflect on your mocks and target your practice. You know that VR is your weakest subtest, but do you know why it's your weakest subtest? I encourage you to reflect on your mocks and categorise each wrong question by mistake type (i.e. Missed a qualifier word, ran out of time, silly mistake). And once you do so, write down specific actions that you'll take before your next mock to work on these mistakes (i.e. Timed practice of 40 questions to improve timing, drills on x UCAT prep company to improve ___).
saksham21 - I posted this up earlier last year. This should help hopefully!
 

dhwanishk

Member
Pretty appalling at VR. Realistically how much can someone improve at VR in 6ish months and how much time should I be committing to UCAT (considering Im not confident in getting a mid 99 ATAR as of right now). Thanks
 

someday

Regular Member
Pretty appalling at VR. Realistically how much can someone improve at VR in 6ish months and how much time should I be committing to UCAT (considering Im not confident in getting a mid 99 ATAR as of right now). Thanks
My VR was pretty bad at the beginning of my prep as well (around 550-600ish in my early attempts) but after 4-5 months of practice, my scores improved to 750-850 on VR prac tests and got a 740 on the actual UCAT test. Definitely not the best VR score in the world, but goes to show how you can improve by 100+ if you put in the work. How much time you should be putting in is smth that nobody can tell you except yourself, but the common advice is to treat UCAT as an extra school subject + consistent practice (even short) is important. If you're not confident about getting a 99+ ATAR, you'd want to aim for at least 96 percentile to be confident for interviews at JMP med (93%), UAdel med (96% Interstate), WSU med (depending on VR), CSU Dent (96% non rural) using this year's data
 

saksham21

Member
Does anyone have any tips to avoid making silly mistakes in VR? I keep speeding through the exam and I end up missing words such as 'Not' or 'Except' many times.
 

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ucatboy

Regular Member
Valued Member
Does anyone have any tips to avoid making silly mistakes in VR? I keep speeding through the exam and I end up missing words such as 'Not' or 'Except' many times.
You've posted this for VR and QR and the answer is literally in your post - stop doing what you're doing right now - that means stop speeding through the exam, stop skipping over words, consciously watch out for details and silly mistakes. It takes practice but you know what to improve on, so work towards that.
 

frays

Member
Does anyone have any tips to avoid making silly mistakes in VR? I keep speeding through the exam and I end up missing words such as 'Not' or 'Except' many times.
adding on to what ucatboy said - if you're finding it hard to remember to consciously watch out for details and silly mistakes in the stress of things - in the one minute before VR write down "DETAILS" or "NOT" / "EXCEPT" on your whiteboard to help jog your memory. Then use the rest of the minute to calm down.
 

aeongg

Member
Hi all, wanted some advice on reading VR passages that are heavily technical. For example, there was a practice passage on theological ethics, and even at normal reading pace it still caused myself confusion. Skipping these passages would be best, however, are there any similar sources which are good for practice to comprehend these technical, long passages so I can practice my comprehension?

Thanks !!
 
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2xq

Allied Health Member
Hi all, wanted some advice on reading VR passages that are heavily technical. For example, there was a practice passage on theological ethics, and even at normal reading pace it still caused myself confusion. Skipping these passages would be best, however, are there any similar sources which are good for practice to comprehend these technical, long passages so I can practice my comprehension?

Thanks !!
When you say technical and long passages, all I'm thinking of is uhhh... Wikipedia and scientific articles.
 

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cocodreams

Regular Member
Well Done! Really impressed by what you could achieve considering your circumstances.

In terms of VR, this section is largely an assessment of your ability to read fast, but also memory retention and comprehension of the information in that short reading period. Understanding these fundamentals, the simplest and quickest way I've (and others) have improved their verbal reasoning is by engaging in brain conditioning. There are a couple of tricks that I used specifically:

1. Speed Reading
- By actively training your brain to consume information at a faster rate, naturally your verbal reasoning should improve. Start with manageable speeds, and slowly work your way up.

2. Memory Retention games
- I believe that this method helped me significantly. There are many different types of games you can find online - for example the game that I used a lot was one where I had to remember a sequence of numbers, which kept getting longer each time I progressed a level. This particularly helped my short-term memory, which is incredibly important in verbal reasoning.

3. Wiki Article reading
- This is a method that I devised myself, which helped me score above the 90th percentile in VR. Essentially, I would find a random article on Wikipedia, and I would read perhaps the first 3 paragraphs as fast as I could, ensuring I do not spend more than 30 seconds doing so. Afterwards, I would try and summarise as much as possible of what I had just read. I like Wikipedia as these types of non-fiction articles are usually found on the UCAT!

I do have many more tips for VR, and other sections too for the UCAT! Please don't hesitate to ask additional questions here in the thread, I would be more than happy to help :)

(last line edited by moderator to encourage use of threads to share information and tips)
Hey! Thanks for your tips? What is a strategy you specifically used during VR. E.g. some people say reading the question and looking for a keyword is better but others say skimming the entire passage first is better etc
 

someday

Regular Member
Hey! this is my third time sitting UCAT

VR DM QR. AB. SJ
600. 600 620. 800. BAND 1
500. 650 670. 720 BAND 1

First year I was pregnant and exhausted so wasn't able to study much and baby brain took over
Second year was covid lockdown and I had 2 babies under 2 full time at home with me, so I basically only focused on DM and QR the little time I could revise.

This year is the first year I will have proper time to study.
VR is my weakest area, does anyone have any tips to improve this area?
some test takers might not agree with me, but for me personally, i didn't find much value in using speed reading trainers or reading random wiki articles (although i've heard it can potentially be very helpful). I just thought that if i'm going to be spending time reading random things, why not read VR passages and attempt questions relating to them anyways! Personally, i would approach VR just by using untimed questions and doing this for about a couple weeks or however you need (since there's still time until july) till you feel comfortable doing VR Q's accurately. The reason for this is so that you try out all different methods (read q first, read passage first, keywords, etc) and find the one that is right for you, then move onto doing timed questions and eventually full subtests
 

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ucatking

Member
Hey! Thanks for your tips? What is a strategy you specifically used during VR. E.g. some people say reading the question and looking for a keyword is better but others say skimming the entire passage first is better etc
For VR, the keyword technique was definitely my preferred method for True/False questions. I found the technique being not very useful for the Reading Comprehension questions, which, unfortunately, is the majority of the verbal reasoning exam.

For these reading comprehension questions, as I suggested in my previous post, I would recommend conditioning your brain; furthermore, perhaps the skimming technique would be most useful answering these questions as well. In any case, I would ask you to try both methods, and see what works for you!

Hope this helps :)
 

IQ ™

Member
Hey guys,

This is my third time sitting the UCAT. I have improved my scores 49th percentile in 2019 to 91st percentile in 2020, but what I feel is really holding back is this VR section. No matter what I have tried across these years and this year I don't seem to find major improvements in it, and I still feel unconfident that my brain is incapable to process the questions and stem properly. I've tried it all, reading the text first, working on improving general comprehension through reading books and random articles/journals/wikipedia, skim reading, taking key words out, looking at the question first.

I don't think I'll ever be able to progress out of this stage of the medicine applicant process unless I sort out my VR, but I can't pinpoint my errors and how to improve on them like I have in my other sections.

Some help would be helpful :(

Thanks in advance.
 

ucatking

Member
Hey guys,

This is my third time sitting the UCAT. I have improved my scores 49th percentile in 2019 to 91st percentile in 2020, but what I feel is really holding back is this VR section. No matter what I have tried across these years and this year I don't seem to find major improvements in it, and I still feel unconfident that my brain is incapable to process the questions and stem properly. I've tried it all, reading the text first, working on improving general comprehension through reading books and random articles/journals/wikipedia, skim reading, taking key words out, looking at the question first.

I don't think I'll ever be able to progress out of this stage of the medicine applicant process unless I sort out my VR, but I can't pinpoint my errors and how to improve on them like I have in my other sections.

Some help would be helpful :(

Thanks in advance.
Hey, first thing I'd like to say is great job for how you've improved last year - really shows your determination and hard work. I hope your performance in VR doesn't demotivate you too much, because it sounds like you're a more than worthy candidate for medicine.

VR has notoriously been one of the most difficult sections in the UCAT, and for most candidates it will be their worst section. I feel, however, that you have spent most your preparation focussing on ways to improve your speed (as you've mentioned), which is fine of course as the exam is very time-pressured.

Given your situation, my advice may be this: I feel like there isn't any point moving onto methods improving speed unless you've mastered the fundamentals of the verbal reasoning test. What do I mean by this? Well, basically you should sort out your accuracy. Look through how to approach any T/F/C problem, and go through the basics of answering a reading comprehension problem. Make sure every question you answer - regardless of the time you are taking - is correct, and you know 100% the rationale behind answers. You mentioned that under the time pressure of the exam, you fail to process the question and stem properly. In this case, slow down - don't pressure yourself with time for the time being - and really hone in and process what each question asks you. Perhaps, once you've fixed your accuracy, ramping up the speed could limit the numbers of errors you make.

If that doesn't help, I tell people a lot to use the Flag button - it's very underused in VR in my opinion. Personally, I found T/F/C questions were the easiest to answer, and any reading comprehension about history were also generally not too difficult. So, I would do these questions first, then I begin to answer the rest, flagging any question my instant intuition tells me will take too long. This way, I was able to cut down on errors, and increase my speed.

I apologise if this post was a bit long haha, but I really hope this helps.
 
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