How to Score 850+ on the Quantitative Reasoning section of the UCAT
Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists
Revise mathematical skills from GCSE
The questions in the Quantitative Reasoning require GCSE level Mathematics knowledge, and cover the following concepts and equations:
Percentages, ratios and fractions
Percentage change = change in value/original value x 100
1 tonne = 1000kg = 100,000g
1g = 1000mg
1 litre = 1000cm3
1m3 = 1000 litres
Speed, distance and time
Speed = distance/time
Acceleration = change in velocity/time
Areas and volumes
Area of a rectangle (length x width)
Area of a triangle (1/2 x base x height)
Area of a right-angled triangle (1/2 x base x height)
Area of a circle (πr2)
Area of a trapezium (1/2 (total length of both parallel sides) x height)
Volume of a cylinder (πr2h)
Volume of a sphere (4/3 πr3)
Circumference of a circle (2πr)
Pythagoras’ theorem (a2 + b2 = c2)
Charts and graphs
Exclude options that you are certain are not correct
When first encountering the question, often, out of the 5 options there are answers that are significantly different in magnitude to the other options; therefore, it can be effective to exclude or eliminate these answers, allowing you to focus on the remaining options.
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Don’t forget to look at the units
Many questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section will require you to do unit conversion calculations. However, occasionally the units in the data provided will be different to the units used in the answers. Therefore, it is imperative to double check what units are used in the options given to you, and convert if necessary.
Round numbers if and when possible
Carrying out long calculations can take a significant amount of time, especially in the Quantitative Reasoning, as often figures or values given are long and complex, to test your mathematical ability. A useful tip is to round these numbers to the best of your ability, as this will save time and make the calculations easier. For example, if the question asks you to calculate an answer using the number 6893, it may be effective to round it up to 7000. However, this must be used with caution, as sometimes the answer options may be similar numbers – such as 12,125 and 12,500 – therefore you would need to be more specific and consider rounding to a lesser degree in this situation.
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Utilise time saving techniques
There are 36 questions to be completed in 24 minutes, which gives around 40 seconds for each question. Taking into account having to read the data and carry out calculations, this does not give much time at all to get through all the questions. For this reason, it is important to think tactically when doing this section, with there being key techniques that will allow you to complete as many questions as possible in the limited time provided. For each set of questions, there is either a graph or chart, or a piece of text that is at least a couple of paragraphs long. Rather than reading or analysing the data in detail – which could take up to two minutes – it can be effective to instead skim through the information provided, looking for and taking note of important figures that may aid you in answering the question. Another strategy to save time is to triage and complete questions that you are confident in answering, and then ‘flagging’ those that take longer to answer, going back to them once you reach the end of the section. This ensures that you are able to answer as many questions correctly as possible.
Use the whiteboard
In the exam, you will be provided with a whiteboard to write working or calculations on. When you face questions that require more in depth thinking, it can be extremely useful to write any notes on the whiteboard. The questions will be in the format of 9 pieces of data, with 4 questions per set; therefore, using the whiteboard can also be beneficial in this case, as often the questions in each set of data link, thus any previous calculations can be carried forward and used later on in the test. Additionally, having the working out present can be advantageous if you have time to go back and double check your answers, giving you the opportunity to look for any areas that you may have got wrong.
Practice your mental maths
Although it is useful to use the whiteboard to aid your calculations and ensure that you get the correct answer, being able to quickly do calculations in your head is a massive way of saving time, so be sure to practice your mental arithmetic as much as possible before the exam.
Revise under exam conditions
As stated above, there is a limited amount of time to complete the questions in this section. For this reason, when doing practice questions, it is important to do them in timed conditions, to allow you to get used to the time pressure and utilise the techniques mentioned in this article. Furthermore, it is vital that a handheld calculator not be used when revising, and instead an online one be used. In the test you will only be provided with a calculator on the computer – which can actually be much more time consuming to use than a handheld calculator – thus this must be taken into account when practising questions.
Regularly do practice questions
The UCAT tests the way you think, not what you know, therefore it is essential that you do regular practice exam questions to adapt and get used to the style of question provided. In the Quantitative Reasoning section in particular, question types are often repeated, therefore being aware of how to quickly answer each type of question can be extremely beneficial.