How To Prepare For UCAT Abstract Reasoning?
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
When you first start practising the abstract reasoning component, many of the patterns may seem very obscure, and it can easily become very frustrating. While many students will give up early on during the preparation stage, this section is potentially one of the easiest to do well in, so long as you devote sufficient targeted practice to this. Be sure to start early on to give yourself enough time, as the initial learning curve is incredibly steep. Below are a series of tips which can help give some structure to your practice – otherwise, it can be quite disheartening to practise abstract reasoning without any direction.
Keep a log of the different types of patterns you encounter over time. This will help you record the types of patterns you can look out for in the future. While the more common patterns will naturally become deeply ingrained into your memory through practice, it is important to also revise the more obscure principles to get an edge over your competitors.
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Within the log, if you have the time, you should keep track of how often each pattern is used in each of the practice questions. If this is too tedious to do for all questions, then just do this for the official example papers located on the UCAT website itself. Divide the patterns for each category of shape (eg. arrows, squares, black/white etc). After this, you should organise the different patterns from most common to most rare, and memorise this as a checklist of patterns to look out for.
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Timing is key. This section is easily one of the most time-pressured, with only 14s per question, it is extremely important that this checklist becomes almost second nature for you. At the same time, you should train yourself to recognise when a question is a “lost cause”, flag it, and move on. If you are unable to recognise a pattern after 9-10 seconds, then this is probably a harder question, and you should flag it for later on. Hopefully, you will be able to finish the easier questions in less than 14s and have some time left over to run through these questions again.
Another way to recognise harder questions would be to study your mental checklist and compare it across the groups. Identify groups with more complicated checklists that require more time to study. It is important to recognise that this does not necessarily refer to the longer checklist. Some patterns, such as “an even or odd number of lines” are easier to identify than others “an even or odd number of letters with three right angles”.