Miss Giulia Bankov • April 17, 2019
Giulia is a graduate medical student at the University of Glasgow. She previously studied Neuroscience at King's College London and completed her Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology degree at the University of Amsterdam.
The Decision Making subtest was only included in the UCAT exam a few years ago and it is certainly one of the vaguest ones to study for. The aim of the Decision Making section is to assess your ability to apply logic, interpret information and evaluate arguments in order to identify the correct answer. For this subtest, you will have 31 minutes to answer 29 questions. The Decision Making questions will vary from logic puzzles to choosing the best argument to understand Venn diagrams. For more information on the logistics behind the Decision Making, check out the UCAT official website.
Know each question type and how to answer them
The Decision Making section of the UCAT test is, by all means, the most varied one when it comes to question types. Throughout the 29 questions, you will come across several wildly different types of questions, from assessing arguments, to solving logical puzzles, reading Venn diagrams and drawing conclusions.
As such, they will each require a different strategy and you will quickly have to switch from one mindset to another as you go through the subtest. Knowing this information and preparing accordingly will help you not to lose your cool when you sit the exam. Make sure you are familiar with all question types and have a few tricks up your sleeve on how to tackle them on test day.
Time is your friend, so use it wisely
This subtest is amongst the more generous ones on the UCAT, as it gives you almost up to a minute per question - remember there are 31 questions for 29 minutes! As such, that is a lot more time than the Quantitative Analysis or Situational Judgement, for example. Don’t get too comfortable though - some questions are lengthy and hide traps, which, if you aren’t careful, can cost you a lot of time.
Make sure you practice questions in a timed manner and identify which questions take you longer than expected and make sure you address those. This will give you ample time on test day and you might even have some to spare! (If you do, don’t waste it, go over your answers and make sure you are happy with them, as well as answer any flagged question you might have. Remember, every second counts!).
Don’t be presumptive or rely on a personal opinion
One of the types of questions often tested in the UCAT Decision Making section is selecting the best argument for a given statement. This type of question often trips students up, as they rely on past knowledge or personal opinion on the matter at hand to answer that question. Be aware of this trap and learn to avoid it! While having an opinion on an ethical dilemma and being able to argument it well, it is an important skill that will be cultivated and examined all throughout medical school, this section does not aim to test for that.
With these types of questions the examiners want to see that you are able to carefully deduce what the strongest support for an argument is from the answer options, based on all the information presented. So next time you run into a question like that, remember this tip and you will ace it.
Remember that noteboard - it’s time to use it
Amongst the resources provided to you on the day is a white board you can use to draw and scribble notes, should you need to. Of course, this is not something you will need for all UCAT questions, and I don’t expect you to use it for Verbal Reasoning or Situational Judgement, but it will surely come in handy for the Decision Making subtest. Make sure you are comfortable using it and while practicing example questions make sure you know what you need to sketch or put down in writing that will help you answer questions quickly and accurately. Some questions might be best solved by drawing a table or a Venn diagram, so use the board to your advantage.
Make sure you get plenty of UCAT practice
As with any other part of the UCAT, Decision Making is no exception - you will only get excellent at it if you put in the practice. It might sound strange - how do you practice solving logical puzzles or finding the best argument? Practicing such types of questions, just like with the QR section, helps you identify common traps and allows you to set up techniques that work for you, which you can use on test day. You will often see that the mistakes you might be making at these logical question types are not random and probably fall into a category of common errors.
These might even be the same traps that we spoke about that the Decision Making section sets to trip you up. The more you encounter questions of these types, the more prepared you will be to tackle them and answer them correctly. Try a UCAT Practice Test to help you prepare for these questions!
We hope this was a useful guide to the Decision Making section of the UCAT and you feel more comfortable with it. Don’t forget that if you have any questions about your UCAT prep or medical schools in general, you can send us an email at hello@theMSAG.com