How To Score 900 In UCAT Quantitative Reasoning

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists


When I started preparing for the UCAT, after having tackled false information from certain students about how you cannot prepare at all (you definitely can, especially if you want to score well!), I found the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) very… frustrating. You have 36 very do-able questions, with approximately four questions for each of the nine scenarios, to complete in only 24 minutes. What started as very challenging eventually became my best section!

Problem Solving

Given the questions and nature of the section, some may (wrongly) assume that this section is simply about maths. What is important to understand is it is much more about time-pressured problem-solving. At the most fundamental level, you will encounter either single-step or multi-step questions. Tackling them requires different approaches.

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Single-step Questions

The best approach to take here is to practice your mental maths. Without trying to be patronising, finding websites or apps which give rapid-fire complicated mental maths questions, such as multiplication, division, percentage calculations, etc. can be a goldmine for passive skill development. Do these for 5 minutes at a time whilst you’re waiting for the bus, in the car, or even at the dinner table and what you will observe is a gradual development in your mental maths. The benefit is this saves you vital time (you only get around 40 seconds per question ) especially as you won’t have to use what can the on-screen calculator, which can be problematic for many students.
However, sometimes it can be beneficial to take a step back. Despite seeming counterintuitive, ‘guesstimation’ is a vital skill during exam conditions. For single-step questions, by eyeballing the answer options present and appreciating differences between them, e.g. orders of magnitude between options, can lead to you eliminating two or three answer options of the five even before any calculations if the options do not seem realistic. As a result, even if you were to guess now, your chances of getting the right answer could have improved to 50%! As a side-note, please do guess if you don’t know the answer, don’t leave a question blank – there is no negative marking so you don’t risk losing marks if you guess. Compared to the 100% guarantee of losing a mark, you have at least a 20% chance of getting it right by sheer chance.

​Multi-step Questions

In a similar vein to single-step questions, when there are multiple steps, you may be inclined to do as many using the calculator to supposedly save time. However, it is imperative that you do as many as possible in your mind, using estimations if need be until the final step (if answer options are adequately spaced apart) to avoid the trap. Make sure to write down key numbers, both when interpreting the question as well as in-between steps to prevent wasting vital time trying to remember them if you forget.
However, sometimes you may find that not wasting time on a multi-step question is the best option.

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The QR section can present the most familiar type of questions for us students compared to the unusual shapes of Abstract Reasoning or the logic puzzles of Decision Making. Thus, when faced with complex multi-step problems, an easy trap to fall into is spending more than the allocated time attempting to solve that hard question for academic satisfaction. One simple tip – don’t. Triage your questions, if you spend two minutes (120 secs) on one question, that’s a total of three others, possibly simple and easier single-step, questions you could have answered in that time. Every single mark counts. If you’re taking too long, flag the question and move on. Come back to it after having maximised your marks by spending time on easy and medium-difficulty questions and not missing out/guessing them.

​Final Thoughts

Scoring 900 in QR may seem unlikely but is very doable if you implement discipline in your approach. Given how the UCAT is marked, you do not even need full marks to achieve 900. In terms of final comments, practice as much as you can, in exam conditions to learn strategies you can apply during the actual exam. You may find that attending a UCAT course and having a UCAT tutor can further improve your performance through focused development on your weakest areas. The BlackStone Tutor Courses, Books and Online Resources are particularly fantastic. From me, best of luck for your exams and application – you’ve got this!

Further Reading....

How To Score 900 In UCAT Quantitative Reasoning

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