Verbal Reasoning

How To Prepare For UCAT Verbal Reasoning

In this section, we will cover what UCAT Verbal Reasoning entails, and how to effectively answer Verbal Reasoning questions.

What is UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

The Verbal Reasoning subtest is the first section in UCAT. It assesses your ability to quickly read a passage, locate relevant information and critically evaluate it, and make logical conclusions.

Why is Verbal Reasoning important in medicine?

Verbal Reasoning is an important skill in medicine. Doctors need to interpret information from textbooks, journals, referral letters and other sources quickly, and communicate information clearly to other health professionals and patients. They also need to critically appraise research findings in order to provide patients with the best possible care.

What is the structure of UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

The UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest is composed of 11 passages of text (ranging from 200 to 400 words), each with 4 associated questions, giving a total of 44 questions.

You have 21 minutes to complete these UCAT questions, which is under 2 minutes per unit, and under 30 seconds per question! It is generally the most time pressured UCAT subtest, and every year one fifth of candidates fail to answer every question (that is, they run out of time to even make a random guess!).

What are the main types of UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions?

There are two main types of UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions.

‘True, False, Can’t Tell’ questions

In these UCAT questions you will be presented with a passage associated with four statements. For each statement, you must decide if, based on the information in the text, the statement is:

  • True
  • False
  • Can’t tell (that is, you cannot tell from the passage whether the statement is true or false)
Example Question - True, False, Can’t Tell

Passage

Sleep is defined as unconsciousness from which the person can be aroused by sensory or other stimuli. It is to be distinguished from coma, which is unconsciousness from which the person cannot be aroused. There are multiple stages of sleep, from very light sleep to very deep sleep; sleep researchers also divide sleep into two entirely different types of sleep that have different qualities.

During each night, a person goes through stages of two types of sleep that alternate with each other. They are called slow-wave sleep, because in this type of sleep the brain waves are very strong and very low frequency, and rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep), because in this type of sleep the eyes undergo rapid movements despite the fact that the person is still asleep.

Most sleep during each night is of the slow-wave variety; this is the deep, restful sleep that the person experiences during the first hour of sleep after having been awake for many hours. REM sleep, on the other hand, occurs in episodes that occupy about 25 percent of the sleep time in young adults; each episode normally recurs every 90 minutes. This type of sleep is not so restful, and it is usually associated with vivid dreaming.

Question

REM sleep can be distinguished from very deep slow-wave sleep as you can be aroused by sensory stimuli

(A) True
(B) False
(C) Can’t Tell

Reading Comprehension questions

In these UCAT questions, you will be provided with an incomplete statement or question, and will be required to choose one of four options that can best be concluded based on the passage. You will need to use critical thinking and logical reasoning skills to arrive at the correct answer.

Example Question - Reading Comprehension

Passage

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited disease of the erythrocytes (red blood cells) that is found chiefly in the people of tropical Africa and their descendants in America. It is characterized by abnormal haemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen.

People afflicted with this condition are subject to repeated attacks, brought on by conditions in which the erythrocytes receive insufficient oxygen in their passage through the lungs. This may happen during periods of intense physical exertion, or at high altitudes where the oxygen pressure is low. Under these conditions, the abnormal haemoglobin crystallizes, distorting the erythrocytes into a rigid sickle shape. They are then unable to pass through the capillaries (small blood vessels). Blockage of the circulation produces a variety of severe symptoms and may result in death.

The gene that produces the abnormal haemoglobin confers a certain benefit on its carriers. Children of a mating between a person with sickle cell anaemia and one with normal haemoglobin have some damaged erythrocytes, but not enough to make them ill except under very severe conditions. They benefit by being immune to malaria, which is a devastating and often fatal disease common in Africa and Asia.

Question

Which of the following might be an appropriate treatment for a person suffering an acute attack of sickle cell anaemia?

(A) Administer antimalarial medication.
(B) Move the person to a high altitude.
(C) Administer oxygen.
(D) Make the person exercise strenuously.

What strategies can I use to answer UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions?

There are many UCAT strategies for answering Verbal Reasoning questions quickly and accurately. These include speed reading, keyword searching, understanding logical fallacies, applying a critical thinking framework, not using your own knowledge/biases and many other techniques that are explained in detail in the MedEntry UCAT Course.

How should I prepare for UCAT Verbal Reasoning?

You can start by testing your ability in UCAT Verbal Reasoning with MedEntry’s free Diagnostic Test. You should develop effective UCAT strategies to answer Verbal Reasoning Questions by attending a UCAT Workshop and using MedEntry’s comprehensive guided curriculum. Practice using the strategies by working on the UCAT practice exams, subtest mocks and drills on MedEntry’s online platform. Use MedEntry’s sophisticated feedback and personalised adaptive learning technology to target your weak areas in the lead up to UCAT test day.