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.

Pattern Log

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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Pattern Frequency

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.

In future, when approaching questions, you should run through this mental checklist to determine which principle fits best. Try to become incredibly familiar with this checklist. Keep in mind that this section of the UCAT is the 3rd of 5 sections, meaning you will potentially feel slightly mentally fatigued at this point. If you don’t have a well-drilled approach (eg. BlackStone Tutors 3 Step Approach), it can be a challenging and tiring section.

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Time Awareness

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.

Pattern Timing

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”.

Individual Strengths & Weaknesses

If you have more time and are patient enough, you could also keep a separate log of all the mistakes you have made over time. This will help you identify certain types of shapes which are harder for you, personally, and therefore you could dedicate less time when you encounter these questions on the day of the exam. However, in the days before, you should also give yourself more time to practise these questions to try to decrease the average time needed for these questions. 

How To Prepare For UCAT Abstract Reasoning?

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