UCAT Verbal Reasoning Top Tips

The Verbal Reasoning section of the UCAT aims to assess accuracy and reading speed, important traits for a doctor. Read our top tips on how to perform highly in this section.

Last Updated: 4th July 2022

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The UCAT Verbal Reasoning section aims to assess the accuracy and speed of reading – important traits for a doctor.

Verbal Reasoning is similar to a comprehension test. You need to be able to find relevant information and then analyse statements related to the passage. You have just under 30 seconds to answer each question (44 questions in 21 minutes). As with all sections you have one minute to read the instructions.  

This subtest is one out of the five sections in the UCAT. The other four are:

In this UCAT Verbal Reasoning guide, we outline the questions that can come up, how to answer the true, false and cannot tell questions, with some final tips added as a bonus. Let’s get started.

What are The UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions like?

Usually, there are 11 separate passages, each with 4 questions about it. As mentioned, you have 30 seconds to answer each question in the UCAT Verbal Reasoning subtest. Build this into the time you have to also read and understand the question, that’s not much time!

You will be presented with a passage, then questions that relate to the passage. The passage will look a little something like this (the answer is at the end, see how you do!):

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There are two types of questions that you will face. Each requires a slightly different approach, here they are:

True/False/Cannot Tell Questions

When to pick Cannot Tell: Cannot Tell is usually the most difficult option to pick. You must remember you’re answering only on the passage, not based on any of your own knowledge! You should choose Cannot Tell when there isn’t enough information to make up your mind either way. Try to use this option actively – it isn’t something to conclude too quickly. If you find yourself actively looking for information to select True or False, then the answer is probably Cannot Tell.

When to pick True: You should pick True if a statement either matches the passage or can be directly inferred from it.

When to pick False: Choose this if the statement either contradicts the passage or exaggerates a claim the passage makes to an extent that it becomes untrue.

We have a useful video on Verbal Reasoning from Zenab, one of our expert UCAT tutors, who explains the thought process you should go through to pick an option:

Select the most appropriate response

We say the most appropriate because more than one answer can seem appropriate, so you need to pick the best response because only one answer is correct. As with the rest of the UCAT, there is no negative marking, so if you are unsure of the best response you can make an educated guess.

Our Top UCAT Verbal Reasoning Tips

Extreme words

No, we don’t mean verbs that have been snowboarding. We mean words like “Extremely“, “Always” and “Never“. These words stand to make bold claims, which often can make them untrue. You need to be able to find a direct contradiction to mark them as false, however, keep a lookout for words that are the “be all and end all”.

Be a lawyer

Carefully analyse the statements like you’re in a courtroom. Look for the evidence! Examine the passage closely, find evidence that either supports or disproves the statement. You’re making decisions based only upon the information in the passage. If there isn’t enough information to decide, then don’t be afraid to say Cannot Tell.


You can flag and come back to any questions that are taking a lot of time or thought. By flagging for review, you make this easier. Since time is of the essence, you don’t want to waste time mulling over a long passage when you could be scoring easy marks elsewhere. Finish all the easy questions first then return to harder ones if time allows. If you are running low on time, make sure to make educated guesses since there’s a good chance you pick up the mark anyway.

Read the question first

Always read the question before the passage. This allows you to look out for key bits of information required to answer the question. You simply don’t have enough time to read all the passages thoroughly.

The Answer – How did you fare?

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What is a Good UCAT Verbal Reasoning Score?

Generally speaking, scores for individual sub-sections are less important than your overall UCAT score for the first four parts of the test, as this is what you will be assessed on. In this case, a ‘Good’ (or high) UCAT Score would be anything above 2,600. This also varies on the university you are applying to, but this would be a fairly competitive score for most places. 

In regard the Verbal Reasoning section specifically, a good way to judge a good score is to look back at the average scores from previous years: 

Average UCAT Verbal Reasoning Score (2023)


Average UCAT Verbal Reasoning Score (2022)


Average UCAT Verbal Reasoning Score (2021)


With these averages, we can say that a score above 575 would be above average, while a score of over 610 would be a good score to achieve. Again, this depends on the medical school you’re applying for, as some have higher and lower average scores for offer holders. You can learn more about all of the UCAT Universities in the UK within our UCAT Medical Schools Guide

That’s all you need to know for the basics of the Verbal Reasoning section of the UCAT. However, there’s still plenty more to learn about the UCAT. Find out how you can maximise your preparation and triple your chances of success with our expert UCAT Tuition Programmes today!

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