UCAT Quantitative Reasoning Top Tips

The quantitative reasoning section of the UCAT tests your ability to quickly interpret data and perform calculations on it. This section of the UCAT contains 36 questions and you have 24 minutes to answer them, giving you a total of 40 seconds per question. In this guide we describe what the questions look like and how to answer the questions.

Author: Rob Needleman

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The UCAT Quantitative Reasoning section tests your ability to quickly interpret data and perform relevant calculations upon them.

This section of the UCAT contains 36 questions and you have 24 minutes to answer them, giving a total of 40 seconds per question. This is slightly more generous than the Verbal Reasoning section. As with all sections of the UCAT, Quantitative Reasoning has one additional minute to read the instructions at the start.

The subtest is the third out of the five sections:

In this UCAT Quantitative Reasoning guide, we outline what the questions look like, how to prepare for the section with some tips on how to answer the questions.

What does a UCAT Quantitative Reasoning question look like?

There are different types of questions you can be asked in Quantitative Reasoning, but all involve interpreting numerical data. This section is all about testing your natural ability with numbers, how easily you understand numbers and how well you can make calculations based upon new data.

This is an example question, along with a worked solution so you can see the question and answer process.

Quantitative Reasoning is a tough section of the UCAT, but with effective practice, you will score highly on the test. 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.

How to prepare for Quantitative Reasoning

Practice common question styles

Be especially comfortable with things like bus and rail timetables, sales figures, surveys, converting units and working with percentage changes in both directions. These are commonplace in the UCAT and can prove awkward if you’re rusty. Likewise, be sharp on your simple arithmetic, it might seem basic, but a good knowledge of times tables will save you a lot of time.

Familiarise yourself with the format of diagrams

When looking at an unfamiliar diagram, a clear approach will help you quickly grasp what it shows. Candidates who let the time pressure stop them from properly interpreting the data are much more likely to lose marks. Avoid this common pitfall by following our approach below to quickly read complex data.

Get comfortable using the on-screen calculator

It’s important to know exactly how the on-screen calculator works to use it effectively during the test. Make sure you know what functions it has and doesn’t have. Practice using the calculator before test day so you don’t waste any time learning it on the day. You can do this on the UCAT website.

Mental maths

The main challenge in most questions is finding the right data and selecting the appropriate calculation to perform, rather than the actual calculation itself. However, time is tight so you should be confident with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, as well as working out percentages, fractions and ratios. Although there is a calculator, some arithmetic is better off done in your head.

Answering questions


Estimation can be a very useful skill, particularly when the answers are significantly different. If the answers are very different to each other, then a rough estimation can actually give you the correct answer. Also, make a mental note of what you expect the answer to be when you use the calculator because it can be easy to slip up!

Flagging for review

Flagging questions is always a useful tool. If the question is difficult and is taking too long to solve, guesstimate an answer, flag the question and move on! This way, if you don’t have time to come back to it, then you still have an answer put down.

Pace yourself

In this section, you have an average of 40 seconds per question, and this is a very useful guide to have. Of course, some questions will take more or less time, but you should aim to work steadily forwards at roughly that pace. So after 6 minutes, you should be about 9 questions in, and after 12 minutes you should have completed about 18 questions and so on.

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