Mastering UCAT Decision Making: Essential Strategies

10/04/20246 minute read
Mastering UCAT Decision Making: Essential Strategies

Written By Team MedView
Reviewed By Thomas Nicolson (Currently studying Doctor of Medicine - MD at the University of Queensland)

The Decision Making Section demands the application of logic and reasoning skills to address problems associated with textual and visual data. It involves tackling questions linked to either text or visual information, and you will be provided with a basic on-screen calculator to assist in this section.

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Structure and Format of the Subtest

In the UCAT Decision Making subtest, there are:

  • A total of 29 distinct questions
  • You have 31 minutes to answer those questions
  • Questions are self-contained. There is no crossover or sharing of data between them.
  • The information to be evaluated may come in various forms such as text, charts, tables, diagrams, or graphs. [1]

There are two types of questions in this subtest:

  1. Multiple choice - four possible answers, only one option is correct
  2. Yes/no statements - binary ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer options.

How Is UCAT Decision Making Marked?

The marking system for the UCAT Decision Making subtest is quite complex, featuring a mix of questions that have single correct answers as well as those with multiple right responses:

  • Multi-answer questions - complete accuracy earns you 2 marks.
  • Partially correct responses are rewarded with 1 mark.
  • Single-answer questions - earns you 1 mark.

What is a good score on the UCAT Decision Making?

A good score on the UCAT Decision Making section, which ranks just above Verbal Reasoning as the second lowest scoring section, would be around 750.

This score positions you in the 90th percentile. Considering the overall aim for a score of about 3100 across the test, targeting 750 in this challenging section is sensible.

Decision Making Strategies

Decision making also provides students with the longest amount of time per question in the UCAT, giving 31 minutes to complete 29 questions.

Decision making strategies is difficult, given that the section doesn’t have a consistent question type. Instead, a student needs to treat like 6 different sections and study appropriately.

  1. Syllogisms
  2. Logical Puzzles
  3. Recognizing assumptions
  4. Interpreting information
  5. Venn diagrams
  6. Probabilistic and Statistical Reasoning

Notably, whilst there is over 60 seconds per question, there should be a highly variable amount of time for questions.

In general, recognizing assumptions is completed the fastest, often faster than Verbal Reasoning, whilst syllogisms is the slowest, potentially taking up to 2 minutes per question.

How should I prepare for UCAT Decision Making?

There is no way to prepare just for Decision Making. Every student needs to recognize the 6 sub-sections and study from there, as they are so different, and utilize completely different skills.

Syllogisms: The longest question type, requiring fitting Yes or No into 5 different statements based on a short initial passage. Requires lots of practice to identify the UCAT threshold for a Yes or No answer.

Similar to True, False, Can’t Tell from Verbal Reasoning, with the Can’t Tell generally replaced with a ‘No’ answer. Requires more critical thinking compared to the similar Verbal Reasoning question

Logic Puzzles: Usually required some writing down. Practice creating tables and diagrams to find an answer.

With enough practice, a student can discern a lot of simpler logic puzzles from common features from previous questions, and often is a section that can be mastered with some practice.

Recognizing assumptions: Selecting the strongest argument. A difficult section without practice, but again can be mastered with some practice.

Notable: look for the strongest argument, often questions are composed of 4 weak arguments, or 4 strong arguments, and it can be difficult to discern.

Have a general structure set forth to govern strength of an argument.

In general, you should be looking for the relevance of the answer option to the stem, reliance of fact rather than opinion, and a high modality.

Interpreting information: Very similar to syllogisms, but with a stem that is composed of some sort of graph or diagram. Less of the critical thinking compared to syllogisms, but more focused on critically analysing a graph and looking for flaws.

Common mistakes are not reading axis titles correctly, answering based on incorrect units, or making conclusions that cannot be reached from the graph. As always, practice and understand the general cutoffs to make a Yes or No answer, and this section can also be mastered.

Venn Diagrams: Generally not much critical thinking in this section, but more focused on being able to do quick addition or subtraction, with a confusing venn diagram layout. The section is more focused on accuracy and precision, while keeping in a reasonable time limit.

Probabilistic and Statistical Reasoning: Varied section type, either focusing on mathematics or understanding of statistical laws.

If you do not come back from a strong maths background, make sure to focus on statistical laws that come up in practice questions and commit them to memory, and of course talk to your tutor to make sure this is a subsection that is completed with high accuracy.

Citations

[1] Test Format | UCAT ANZ Consortium. (n.d.-b). https://www.ucat.edu.au/about-ucat-anz/test-format/

[2] UCAT Scoring | UCAT ANZ Consortium. (n.d.). https://www.ucat.edu.au/about-ucat-anz/ucat-scoring/

[3] [Final summary statistics for UCAT ANZ 2023]. (2023). https://www.ucat.edu.au/media/1539/summary-statistics-for-2023.pdf

[4] UCAT Masterclass. (2022, February 15). 3 Common decision making mistakes and how to avoid them | UCAT. https://www.ucatmasterclass.com/ucat-advice/3-common-decision-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them/]