Verbal Reasoning Guide


Verbal Reasoning is the first subtest of the UCAT exam, and one that many candidates find challenging. It tests your ability to comprehend written information in the form a passage. Why, you may ask, is this important for a potential medical student? This ability is needed in medicine to quickly read and interpret information, which is an essential skill for medical practitioners in the workplace.

This section contains 11 passages, with 4 questions related to each passage. That means there are a total of 44 questions to complete in 21 minutes, which equates to 20 – 30 seconds per question.

There are two types of questions in this subtest:

  1. Multiple Choice (28 questions): Four unique answer options where only one option is correct.
  2. True/False/Can’t Tell (16 questions): The question contains a statement and you must select if it is true or false based on the information in the passage. If the information does not support the statement or explicitly disagree, then the answer is “Can’t Tell” .

There are few keys things to remember when attempting Verbal Reasoning questions. As with the rest of the question, this subtest does not have the luxury of time. It is important that you are wise with your time and use it efficiently. This means triaging certain passages to complete later on. These passages would usually be the long, complicated passages which would require time. When skipping these questions, make sure to select an answer option, flag the question so you can come back and review it (if you have time at the end) and move on. The subtest contains a variety of passages with varying difficulty, so make sure to capitalise on the easier ones .

There are a couple of different ways you can approach a Verbal Reasoning question. The first is that you read the entire passage, and then move onto the questions. This may be useful in ensuring that the you answer the question correctly, but you will be wasting a great deal of time reading the passage. The second method is to read the questions first, and then go back and have a look in the passage for the answer. This method may work for some and is highly time-efficient (most of the time), but isn’t totally accurate. I suggest a hybrid method, combining a passage-based approach and question-based approach in answering Verbal Reasoning questions. When you approach a passage, read the title (if it has one), the beginning, skim the middle part of the passage, read the ending, and then look at the question. From the question try to extract keywords, such as numbers, names, years or people. Then scan the passage to find the keywords. You should roughly know where to find it in the passage, since you have already skimmed through the passage. Once you find the keyword, slow down, read the sentence that contains the keyword, and the sentences before and after. You should be able to find the answer there for most questions.

Another key thing to remember with Verbal Reasoning questions is that you only use the information given in the passage. Even though you may be familiar with the topic of the passage, it is important to only utilise the information given.

Verbal Reasoning is often perceived as one of the harder subtests (probably because most medical hopefuls are science minded ), but it doesn’t have to be the case. By practising under timed conditions and working to improve your method of finding the answer to the questions in the subtest, you should be able to improve your marks significantly.

If you have any questions or comments about the Verbal Reasoning subtest, let me know down below!