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UCAT Verbal Reasoning lesson: Quick ways to boost your score

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

A lot of people struggle with the Verbal Reasoning section of the UCAT and most people just use the keyword method to try and get through it. However, sometimes none of the answers can be found in the passage, or the key words don’t help deduce the answer.

Try these tips to help you through the Verbal Reasoning section of the UCAT.

To gain a good score in the verbal reasoning section, you must understand which questions are asking you to infer the answer from the informationin the passage, and which ones are asking you to find something in the text, which is closely paraphrased in the answers.

It is usually conclusion style questions, where something in the text is closely paraphrased in the answers that people do best at and the keyword method is most helpful with. Conversely, it is inferences that people tend to struggle with the most.

Learn to tell the questions apart.

Conclusion style questions ask what the author said about something, about an event that happened for example:

“What is the main conclusion of the passage?”

“Why does the author say X happened”

“Why did people used to do ….”

“When did X happen”

“Based on the passage, which of these statements is true?”

All of these example questions will find answers in the text, which will be very close to one of the multiple choice answers. They keyword method should work very well. Note that all of these are very definite statements, none are speculative and that is a really strong indicator that you will be able to find the answer in the text using a keyword.

Inference questions

Inference style questions require you to infer from information in the passage, that one of the answers is true. You won’t find the answer in the passage, you have to come to one of the conclusions yourself.

Examples of these kinds of questions are:

“Which of the below can be inferred from the passage?”

“What conclusion can be drawn from the passage?”

“Which of the below statements is the author most likely to agree with?

You can see quickly that these questions are phrased much less certainly than the previous set of questions and you are really being asked what you think about it.

Sometimes it is obvious, because all but one of the answers won’t be talked about in the passage. But others you might get stuck on two answers and then you just have to choose the answer you agree with the most. Your best chance of answering correctly in this case, is not to try and decide which of the two answers is correct, but which you agree with the most.

When you have identified the question type..

Once you know what type of question you have to answer can apply the correct strategy. For a conclusion question, this is quite simple, you find a good keyword like a proper noun or a number in the question and then search the passage, read the sentence around the keyword and hopefully you can deduce the answer, if not search again. If you still cannot find this answer you either need to skip this question, or choose another keyword and repeat this process.

However, if it is an inference question, you need eliminate answers systematically. Take a keyword from the answer, search for it and either eliminate the answer or decide that that passage supports this answer. Work your way down the possible answers, trying to find the one you agree with the most.

Don’t fall into the trap of negative answers!

Some questions will ask you “Which on of these is not supported by the passage.” That means that three of them will be supported. It is easy to miss this when you are under pressure and in a pattern of looking for that are, instead of answers that are not.

Try this out with some of the verbal reasoning question banks on the Pearson website. Remember:

1. Identify if this is a conclusion or inference question

2. Is it a negative question?

3. Use keywords from the question to identify answers for conclusion questions

4. Use keywords from the answers to eliminate answers for inference questions

5. If you start to feel stressed skip the question, stress can impact your focus for following questions.

Good luck!

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