How to Score 850+ in UCAT Decision Making
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
The Decision Making (DM) section in the UCAT was one that I particularly enjoyed revising for and doing during the exam. There are 29 questions to tackle in 31 minutes, so you have approximately 1 minute per question. You will be presented with varying question types including passages of text, charts, graphs, diagrams, etc. from which you will need to apply your critical thinking to reach a logical conclusion. This may necessitate an evaluation of arguments and analysing statistical information as well.
The very first tip I would recommend is – read the question! Many a time and I must admit that I have been guilty of it as well, seeing the masses of information that DM questions can present with, leads to students reading everything but the question. This is a sure-fire way to guarantee wasting time and potentially losing marks!
The more pertinent issue is that by reading the question first, this can guide your approach to the actual data present because you can pick out the relevant information whilst not being subject to having to deal with the deluge of information presented with some of the questions.
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One trap students can fall into when preparing for the UCAT is practising for the sake of practising. Whilst this may seem a counterintuitive comment, bear with me. The main issue is, when revising, people may practice sections, i.e. DM or QR, and leave it at that. For a student aiming to achieve top marks, you need to be harsh with yourself and critically evaluate your weak points not only between sections (and set aside more time for your weakest section at that) but also the question types you struggle with the most. It is important to ensure that your practice is not simply boosting your ego by spending more time on the sections you’re best at. One such resource to help is the BlackStone Tutors Courses and Online Resources, as it enables you to undertake focused practice on specific question types. Sometimes you may not be the best judge of your weaknesses due to bias so having a UCAT tutor for evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses to formulate effective revision plans can be very useful.
For DM, the questions can be exceptionally varied so each question type requires a different focus which we will briefly cover.
1) Logic puzzles – with logic puzzles, you are often presented with text, tables and diagrams and what you need to do is to infer information from them. The most effective way to tackle this is by drawing a diagram.
2) Recognising Assumptions – the main issue with these question types which present arguments for a particular statement require you to view evidence objectively. Your beliefs and previous knowledge do not matter here. What is required is you being able to balance the information available when making decisions. Having your UCAT tutor talk you through these explanations may be useful to you to appreciate the minutiae between options which can have significant effects on your score!
3) Syllogisms – with these drag-and-drop questions, the main thing to do is to follow a logical chain of reasoning to see if conclusions made follow the evidence presented to you.
4) Data interpretation – these questions also require your objectivity. You cannot let past knowledge or assumptions cloud your judgement!
5) Venn Diagrams – continuing with the theme of diagrams in general, it is often very helpful to draw a diagram to visualise the data when approaching the questions. Make good use of your whiteboard for this purpose.
6) Probability – mental maths skills are pertinent here as well as in QR but what you need to be aware of are assumptions you make and any tricks employed in the wording which can catch you out but if recognised can mean you easily eliminate more options.
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I hope you enjoy doing DM questions as much as I did because out of all of the sections, this is probably the most stimulating intellectually. However, make sure to be efficient with your time because there’s no need to stay at your desk the whole day revising without end! Practice effectively, get a UCAT tutor if need be to work out your weak areas and how to improve them and do focused revision to achieve the best results that you can. Best of luck from me to you!