How to score 800+ in UCAT Verbal Reasoning

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

To score 800 or more, you are aiming for a raw score of at least 35 out of 44 (based on historical estimates and UCAT experience, but remember that this varies from year to year). We believe that this is achievable for our students if you follow the tips below.

Timing is key

Verbal Reasoning is time-pressured. You have 21 minutes in which to read 11 separate passages and answer 4 questions about each passage so you must be acutely aware of how you divide up your time between reading the passages and answering the questions. Typically, you should spend 45-60 seconds reading the passage and 15 seconds answering each question. That might seem fast (and it is) but the more you practise, the more confident you will become. After all, research has shown that as many as 18% of candidates do not fully complete this section, therefore timing is definitely important! Also, when you do your practice questions, remember to do them under timed conditions. When you first start out, you could simply time yourself how long it took you to read a passage and answer 4 questions and that will give you an idea of whether you need to improve your pace or not.

Read the passage first

Since you only have 2 minutes to read the passage and answer 4 questions, you should read the passage first. By doing this, you will avoid falling into the trap of accidentally skimming the passage for a word that appears in the question but is not the actual answer. By reading the passage first, you will be able to process more quickly what is relevant or irrelevant and then when you read the questions you will have a much better idea of what information is needed to find the right answer.

Key words

The key to Verbal Reasoning success is to train your mind to read the passage quickly and to retain as much important information as possible by focussing on key words. When reading the passage, pay particular attention to things like: names, dates, places, people, numbers, changes and always have in mind synonyms for these words that may appear in the questions.

Make your exam practice as authentic as possible

It is vital that you experience as many example questions as you can during your preparation. When you do them, practise somewhere quiet. Also, simulate the exam conditions by practising on a screen if you can, rather than in books or on paper.

Save time wherever you can

If you are 100% confident with an answer, select it, move on and use that time elsewhere in the section! There may be other questions which will require you to spend a few extra seconds confirming your choice. Don’t spend too long checking; time is precious. Each question is worth the same in terms of marks and there is no negative marking (i.e. you don’t lose marks for wrong answers). Use the flagging function if you are unsure about the odd question or two, but always make sure you have selected an answer in case you don’t have time at the end to check them.

Tips for specific questions

– For each question most of the options given will seem plausible but you need to be as meticulous as possible when choosing the correct answer. Use a process of elimination strategy if you can refute certain answers based on the information contained in the passage.

– Look out for any extreme or mild language in questions. This might include things like modal verbs such as “will” or “may”. A mild phrase containing words such as “may” is more likely to be true. Compare mild and extreme language in the table below:

Mild phrases

Extreme phrases


will always




every time

one of the… (biggest)


– “True/false/can’t” tell questions tend to be quicker to answer, so make sure you don’t leave any of these out.

– If you have to answer questions about the author or writer, it’s possible that the answers to these are in the final paragraph because this is usually where the closing argument to the passage is, so it’s worth looking here first.

– Negative questions such as: “Which of these statements is not revealed in the passage…” Be clear in your mind if the question is asking which statement is not true; this can be easy to miss if you are rushing.

– If you get stuck on a particularly time-consuming question, don’t spend more than your allotted time unless you are ahead of schedule.

Remember, the more you know about what the UCAT entails, how to manage your time and approximately how many questions you need to answer correctly to achieve your desired scaled score, the more likely you will be to succeed!

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