UCAT Verbal Reasoning Strategies

The UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest assesses your ability to read and comprehend complex passages of text and evaluate the logic of arguments. Here’s a strategic approach to tackling this section:

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Test Format

  • Passages: You will be presented with passages of text, followed by a series of questions.
  • Question Types: There are typically three types of questions:
    • True/False/Can’t Tell: Determine if a statement is true, false, or cannot be determined based on the passage.
    • Incomplete Statements: Choose the best option to complete a statement based on the passage.
    • Reading Comprehension: Answer questions that test your understanding of the passage.

2. Develop a Reading Strategy

  • Skim First, Then Read: Quickly skim the passage to get a general idea, then read more carefully.
  • Identify Key Points: Look for the main idea, arguments, and supporting details.
  • Highlight or Note: If allowed, highlight key sentences or jot down brief notes.

3. Question Approach

  • Read the Question First: Before diving into the passage, read the question to understand what to look for.
  • Return to the Passage: Locate the relevant section of the passage that pertains to the question.
  • Careful Evaluation: Make sure your answer is directly supported by the text. Avoid assumptions.

4. Time Management

  • Pace Yourself: Allocate time based on the number of questions. Don’t spend too long on any one question.
  • Flag and Move On: If a question is too challenging, flag it and move on, returning if time allows.

5. Practice Regularly

  • Mock Tests: Take full-length practice tests to get used to the timing and pressure.
  • Review Mistakes: Carefully review your errors to understand where you went wrong and how to improve.

6. Improve Reading Skills

  • Read Widely: Engage with a variety of texts, such as scientific articles, editorials, and literature.
  • Practice Summarizing: After reading, practice summarizing the main points to reinforce comprehension.

7. Stay Calm and Focused

  • Stay Calm: Anxiety can impede performance. Practice relaxation techniques if needed.
  • Stay Focused: Concentrate on the task at hand, and avoid distractions.

By employing these strategies, you can enhance your performance on the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest. Regular practice and a strategic approach to reading and answering questions are key to success.


What is Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal reasoning is the ability to understand and reason using concepts framed in words. It involves:

  • Reading Comprehension: Understanding written texts and extracting key information.
  • Critical Analysis: Evaluating the arguments presented in the text and assessing their validity.
  • Inference: Drawing conclusions based on the given information.
  • Deductive Reasoning: Applying general rules to specific instances to reach a logical conclusion.
  • Inductive Reasoning: Making generalizations based on specific observations.

Importance of Verbal Reasoning for Doctors

1. Effective Communication

Doctors must be able to:

  • Understand Patients: Comprehend patients’ descriptions of their symptoms and medical histories.
  • Explain Conditions: Clearly explain diagnoses, treatment options, and procedures to patients and their families.
  • Collaborate with Colleagues: Share and discuss patient information with other healthcare professionals accurately.

2. Critical Reading of Medical Literature

Doctors need to stay updated with the latest research and guidelines by:

  • Reading Research Papers: Understanding and evaluating new research findings.
  • Interpreting Clinical Guidelines: Applying the latest clinical guidelines to practice.
  • Analyzing Case Studies: Learning from case studies to improve patient care.

3. Documentation

Doctors must maintain precise and clear records by:

  • Writing Patient Notes: Documenting patient interactions, diagnoses, and treatment plans accurately.
  • Preparing Reports: Creating detailed reports for other healthcare professionals and legal purposes.

4. Diagnostic Skills

Doctors often need to:

  • Interpret Test Results: Understand and make decisions based on lab reports and diagnostic tests.
  • Identify Symptoms: Recognize patterns in symptoms that point to specific conditions.
  • Hypothesize and Test: Formulate hypotheses about possible diagnoses and test these hypotheses logically.

5. Decision Making

Effective verbal reasoning aids in:

  • Evaluating Evidence: Weighing evidence from patient history, tests, and research to make informed decisions.
  • Ethical Judgments: Making ethical decisions by understanding and balancing different perspectives and information.


Verbal reasoning is crucial for doctors as it underpins many of their daily tasks and responsibilities. From understanding and communicating with patients to staying informed about medical advancements and making critical decisions, strong verbal reasoning skills ensure that doctors can provide the best possible care. This is why medical entrance exams, like the UCAT, place a strong emphasis on assessing these abilities.

  • Practice Active Reading: Engage with the text by summarizing key points and noting important details.
  • Time Management: Allocate time wisely and avoid spending too long on any single question.
  • Identify Keywords: Focus on keywords and phrases that highlight the main points and arguments.
  • Eliminate Wrong Answers: Use the process of elimination to narrow down answer choices.
  • Practice Regularly: Regular practice with a variety of passages and question types to improve speed and accuracy.


Figure out which you struggle with the most. Second group of questions includes the following:
• Incomplete statements
• According to the passage
• Except question
• Most likely
• Inference
• Writer questions
• Subjective statements are usually can’t tell. Factual statements are more likely to have a straight answer.
• Be aware of ‘shifts’ in author’s opinion.



  • Soft – can, may, might, sometimes, usually, some: more likely to be true.
  • Hard – are, is, will, need, must, all. Always, never: more likely to be false or CT.
  • Read above/below keywords in passage.
  • Pay attention to ‘quoted text’.
  • For conclusion questions, read the last paragraph or last few lines to (usually) get a
  • Look out for synonyms when skimming or speed-reading.


  • The answer to most questions is either in the first or last line of a paragraph.

Q1 – Paragraph/Section (split into 4 section if it’s not 4 paragraphs) 2-3

Q2 – 3 or 1

Q3 – 1-2

Q4 – 1-4

Doctor in White Scrubs and gloves doing an examination

Next Steps

In recent years at the University of Aberdeen there have been between five and seven multiple mini interviews (MMI) with each station being manned by a single interviewer or more if required for role play scenarios. These stations are five minutes long with two questions being asked in each MMI Station. Aberdeen University has kindly provided an example of an MMI Station on teamwork – check it out by clicking here.

On a more general note students are to be assessed as follows:

  • Proficiency in utilizing current knowledge to respond to unfamiliar topics.
  • Aptitude for comprehending and constructing reasoned arguments and forming opinions.
  • Level of readiness for addressing inquiries.
  • Skill in examining various facets (both pros and cons) of a given issue or scenario.
  • Extent of demonstrated motivation, dedication, introspection, and empathy.

The actual topic of each station may vary but you can get a good idea of the types of questions that will be asked below.



Are you ready for your UCAT? Are you ready for your MMI? 🚀

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