Decision Making Question Guide
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
The decision-making subsection of the UCAT contains questions of 6 different question types. You should aim to spend around one minute per question to make sure you cover all 29 items in the 32-minute time frame. Before you attempt to tackle decision making questions it is useful to familiarise yourself with the question types. In this guide we will outline each type of question suggesting strategic approaches and useful resources.
These questions will test your ability to interpret information provided in the question. The information will be in the format of a graph, diagram, table, or passage. It is important to read each question carefully as almost everything is included or excluded for a reason. Having interpreted the source there are several Yes/ No statements based on interpretation of a series of conclusions. Particularly in recognising assumptions questions try to distance all pre-existing knowledge – the plausibility of each statement will not influence the strength of the conclusion. The best approach to interpreting information questions is to first review the data and aim to cement your understanding of the key information. Many of the conclusions will require a broader understanding of the data. Therefore if you don’t first read the source, it will be much more difficult to gather a global understanding of the topic. It may be useful to draw a table or diagram so that you can keep track of which statements you have considered. Work through each conclusion independently. For additional practice questions consider using: OCR critical thinking Unit 2 questions, UCAT Verbal Reasoning (True/ False/ Can’t Tell) and BMAT Section 1 (Data Handling). It is important to prioritise interpreting information questions – as they require multiple responses there is the opportunity to attain partial marks as well as full marks for all correct answers.
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These questions require problem solving skills using deductive reasoning to interpret information. You will be provided with information in a passage, table or other data set which must be interpreted. You will answer one question based on the information. Firstly, draw out key information from the question using your whiteboard, this should allow you to initially rule out incorrect answers. One of the benefits of multiple-choice questions is that you can work backwards from the answers. Make sure you re-read the question, words such as “must” and “might” may change the meaning and the answer you select.
Syllogisms are word-based puzzles. Using the information in the question you must identify general truths in different situations, deciding if a conclusion can logically follow. Syllogisms are based upon a more general premise called the major premise e.g. all terriers are energetic; a minor premise which is more specific, e.g. all Airedales are terriers; and a conclusion drawing together the information from the major and minor premise. “Therefore, all Airedales are energetic.”
Avoid making assumptions or allowing your understanding of a topic to influence your answer. Using Venn diagrams is a useful strategy to visualise the statements and represent the premises and conclusions together. If the statement includes the phrase “some” then the titles will be separate overlapping circles. Statements based on “all” will be fully engulfing the previous circle. Alternatively, you may choose to use a substitution method. This method involves memorisation, learning phrase arrangements based on “all” and “some” and remembering the set outcomes. For example, if the major premise is based on some and the minor is based on all then the conclusion will follow using some. The UCAT website has a useful phrase bank where it clarifies the interpretation of certain words which may be used in all question types but frequently appear in syllogisms such as “some”, “none” and “only.” Considering linguistics, try not to be distracted by names or terms described which you do not understand -they often use made up words and phrases as distractors.
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Recognising assumptions questions require you to select the strongest or weakest argument from a series of statements. The statements will be based upon a brief passage of information. Most statements will contain a subject or action, and an outcome. A strong argument will refer to both these items and not include additional assumptions. It is likely to be based upon evidence and fact, however the strongest argument may not be the most morally sound argument. Read the provided statement carefully identifying the main subject topic. Statements which rely on assumptions and opinions referencing topics or ideas which seem irrelevant to the initial statement are unlikely to be strong. Weak arguments could relate to the action or the outcome only. For extra recognising assumption practice use the BMAT critical thinking assumptions questions.
Venn diagram questions have variable formats so familiarise yourself with the variety of question types. The 3 main question types are:
- Selecting the best conclusion from a list of statements based on a provided diagram.
- Interpret a series of statements based on a provided diagram.
- Using written information select which diagram best represents the provided information.
For Venn Diagrams it is always useful to consider the largest category first, remembering that separate categories have separate representations.
Probabilistic and statistical reasoning
Based upon short information passages, these questions require selection of the best response out of a choice of 4 options. These questions often require numerical manipulation and calculations using fractions and tree diagrams. There are different types of tree diagrams such as frequency trees which you should familiarise yourself with. Before you dive into answering questions, revise the rules of probability which can be found on the BBC bitesize website.
When events are described as mutually exclusive, they cannot occur at the same time (such as rolling a 6 or rolling a 2). Events may be independent when one event does not affect the outcome of another. If the variables are mutually exclusive, we use the addition rule. The probability of A or B occurring is calculated by addition of the independent probability of A and independent probability of B. The probability of A and B occurring is calculated using multiplication of the independent probabilities. Be aware of questions based upon events that are not independent of one another. If events are not mutually exclusive, then the probability of A or B occurring is calculated by adding the independent probability of A with the independent probability of B and subtracting the combined probability of A and B both occurring.