UCAT Decision Making Top Tips

The decision-making subtest of the UCAT tests your ability to apply logic to reach a decision or conclusion, evaluate arguments, and analyse statistical information. This may sound intimidating at first, but when you break down the different questions, it's a lot less scary than it sounds. The decision-making section is the least time-consuming.

Author: Rob Needleman

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The UCAT Decision Making subtest assesses your ability to apply logic to reach a decision or conclusion, evaluate arguments and analyse statistical information.

This might sound intimidating at first, but when you break it down into the different questions, it is a lot less scary than it sounds. Decision Making is also the least time-pressured section of the test, so you have time to properly digest the information in front of you to form your answers.

 

The subtest is the second out of the five sections:

In this UCAT Decision Making guide, we explain what the section is about, the questions that can come up and the way it is scored, with some final tips added as an extra bonus. 

What is the UCAT Decision Making Section?

The UCAT Decision Making section contains 29 questions that need to be answered in 31 minutes – so you have time to spend on each question but you still need to work quickly and efficiently. You will be presented with questions that may refer to text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams. All of the questions are standalone and do not share data, so make sure to focus on each question independently.

The idea behind the Decision Making section is to assess how you use information and data to make decisions – a skill that is essential to working effectively as a doctor. The questions come in a variety of styles, but all are focused on testing your decision-making ability.

Decision Making is a tough section of the UCAT. There is no need to worry though as our UCAT Programme gives you expert support through many different avenues of learning, such as one-to-one tuition, comprehensive preparation materials and intensive courses.

What are The UCAT decision making questions like?

Here is a typical Decision Making question, along with the answer:

decision makng question and answer

The questions you will face can be broken down into six main styles which we have covered in detail below:

Logical Puzzles

The logical puzzle questions require you to make an inference based on the available information to get to the answer. This will usually be presented with background information (general statement), then extra information (a specific statement), and both should be combined to find the conclusion and answer. This can be either positive or negative, which is explained in the diagram below.

inductive reasoning positive and negative

Syllogisms

Syllogisms are an additional application of deductive reasoning. In these questions, you will be presented with information that can be used to make certain conclusions, but which will also give an incomplete description of the situation. Then, the task is to determine which answer/answers is/are supported and which aren’t.

Interpreting Information

For the interpreting information questions, you will be presented with a more complex and less directly relevant set of information than in the logical deduction questions. This information may be in the form of a passage of text describing something, or alternatively, it could be in the form of a table, chart or graph. You will then have to use the information source to extract the relevant information to answer the question.

This type of question is usually best conquered with a diagram as Zenab shows in the Decision Making video below.

Recognising Assumptions

Many of these questions will ask you to select the strongest argument for or against a statement. To help you select the best option, use the acronym FREES.

Factual – the argument should be based on fact rather than opinion.

Relevant – the argument should directly address the statement in the question.

Entire – the argument should address the whole question, not only one aspect of it.

Emotionless – the argument should avoid emotional pleas and derive strength from relevant evidence.

Sensible – the argument should be a generally sensible and reasonable approach to take.

Venn Diagrams

The category of “Venn diagram” questions encompasses any that require the use of Venn diagrams within the question. Venn diagrams might be used in the question itself to present the data, they may be required as a part of the working to deduce the correct answer, or it may be that the answers are presented in the form of Venn diagrams, and you have to choose the most appropriate response.

Probabilistic Reasoning

You may be presented with probabilistic information in a variety of forms – fractions, decimals, percentages or odds – remind yourself of these different notations if you haven’t seen them in a while. Whenever you see a probability, take the time to note exactly what occurrence the probability is representing, and whether it is the positive probability (of a thing happening) or a negative probability (of it not happening).

UCAT Decision Making Scoring

Every section of the UCAT is scored between 300 to 900, with 300 being the lowest, and 900 being the highest. This means that 600 is the median score for each section. Raw marks are scaled and converted into a score between 300 and 900 each year. A group of sample test-takers complete the test and this helps the exam board to judge how hard the exam is for the current year.

Your raw marks are converted to a UCAT score which is based on your performance compared to the average score of the sample test takers for the current year. Therefore, if you were to get 50% of the questions correct each year for three years, the score you would receive would be different every year. 

The average score for Decision Making is generally above 600 each year:

Year
Average score for Decision Making Section
2017
647
2018
624
2019
618
2020
627

Our Top UCAT Decision Making Tips

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