10 Tips for Acing the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning Section

5 min read

One of the UCAT areas that is the most divisive is the Quantitative Reasoning UCAT section. Maths enthusiasts find it enjoyable, whereas those that hate Maths find this section to be very difficult. However, regardless of the type of person that you are, you can score well in this section with diligent planning and sufficient preparation!

That being said, just because you enjoy mathematics and are talented at it in your internal school examinations, you must still familiarise yourself with the type of questions in the UCAT. Hence, irrespective of your proficiency or level of confidence in Mathematics, you should have a look at our top 10 quantitative reasoning UCAT tips below!

UCAT quantitative reasoning tips

How to Get Better at Quantitative Reasoning

1. Quantitative Reasoning Section: Practise each UCAT Quantitative Reasoning question type

Much like every other section in the UCAT, the Quantitative Reasoning section has a variety of question types. These question types are centred on both basic and complicated ratios, percentages, graphs, and calculations. Some of them may be simple to you, while others may be more difficult. Regardless, one of our crucial quantitative reasoning tips is to practice each type so you will be able to identify the type of questions you are most likely to find challenging and for you to know what to expect on the actual examination day.

quantitative reasoning UCAT
Keep note of the question types

Many students find it helpful to make a list of the many questions or subjects they encounter while studying. This enables them to identify any areas where they would need more practice in, as well as enable them to determine which are the most popular type of questions tested in the UCAT. If you would like to do so as well, the following are a few examples of the typical question types that appear in the UCAT quantitative reasoning section for you to begin with:

  • Percentages – calculating percentage increases/ decreases 
  • Rates – calculating speed, distance and time and converting between rates 
  • Graph reading – being able to pull data from a graph for calculations 
  • Ratios – calculating ratios of given quantities 
  • Averages – calculating mode, medians and means 
  • Perimeters, areas and volumes – being familiar with the formulas to carry out these

If there is a subject that you are struggling with, one of our one-on-one UCAT tutors might be able to provide you with some specialised lessons.

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2. Quantitative Reasoning Section: Find appropriate practice material

There are many different resources available for UCAT Quantitative Reasoning practice. We have written an entire article comparing these resources as well as other books that could be helpful. Each of the resources would have different benefits. However, if you are considering using external resources that we did not mention, please do exercise caution – if they are not official questions, they might be misleading and harmful to your preparation!

For example, many people find the ISC 1250 book to be more challenging than the examination itself. This might be helpful to some as it would allow them to do the actual examination with more ease. However, this could be overwhelming to others, and be detrimental to their confidence for the actual examination. Hence, choose wisely to avoid such scenarios and to have the right questions to practice with!

3. Master the UCAT calculator

Your speed and accuracy for this examination will be significantly impacted by how well you use the on-screen calculator. Hence, it is essential that you practice using it before the test so that you are familiar with how to do so.

how to improve quantitative reasoning UCAT
UCAT calculator

However, as many of you will discover when you use this calculator for practice, it is sluggish and difficult to use. Hence, your ability to respond to questions would be significantly impeded by their unique display calculator. As the UCAT calculator is such a huge obstacle to completing your UCAT questions in good time, mastering it is essential for both success and speed. To provide you further advice, we have a whole post dedicated to the UCAT calculator.

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4. Know your strengths (and weaknesses)

Maths is more difficult for some people than for others. No matter how tough this subject may seem at first, if Mathematics is a problem for you, you can get better. A significant improvement in this section can be seen after just a few hours of methodically planned practice, revision of relevant GCSE courses and working on fundamental concepts like ratios, percentages, and mental maths.

tips for quantitative reasoning UCAT
Practise your weakest areas

If you are still struggling, perhaps some advice from one of our one-on-one teachers could improve your preparation!

5. Use mental maths

Knowing when not to use a calculator is just as crucial as when to do so. You can save time on that question by doing an appropriate calculation without entering all the data into the calculator. The time saved will pile up across a number of additional questions and can potentially be the difference between finishing the section or not.

quantitative reasoning UCAT tips
Keep on top of your timing

A little amount of practice with your times tables and mental maths may go a long way toward accelerating your performance.

6. Know your units

Having unit conversions memorised will help you save time throughout the UCAT’s quantitative reasoning part. Here are a few conversions to keep in mind:

1 kilometre1000 metres
1 metre100 centimetres
1 centimetre10 millimetres
1 kilogram1000 grams
1 gram1000 milligrams
1 liter1000 milliliters

7. Write down intermediate steps

The UCAT calculator does not have the answer function you might be used to on a scientific calculator, it is simple to lose numbers when performing lengthier and more complex calculations. This could cause you to lose precious time as you would need to repeat previous calculations. Hence, making a brief note of the intermediate numbers on your white board will help you prevent this by keeping them available for subsequent use.

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8. Use the flagging function

You should try to avoid getting stuck on a particular question if you are having trouble answering it, as you would be wasting a lot of time doing so. Here, it would be wise to utilise the flagging feature to mark the question. This will make it easier for you to return to it later. However, you should try not to depend too much on this. You might not have enough time to return to the flagged question, so you should still try and make educated guesses on any question that you do not know and only flag the questions that you are alright with not being able to come back to.

UCAT quantitative reasoning tips
Flagging to ensure all questions are answered

9. Know when to estimate

In Quantitative Reasoning, timing can sometimes be more difficult than actually doing the computation. Hence, it may occasionally be necessary to make educated guesses in order to maximise your time. For example, in order to make mental calculations quicker and to prevent you wasting time using a calculator, it may be useful to round figures to the closest 10 or 100 instead of working out the question using the specific numbers in it.

The multiple-choice format of the UCAT’s Quantitative Reasoning portion also allows you to make an educated guess by comparing your estimated answer to the given choices. That being said, even if your estimated answer is not close to any of the options given, it is crucial that you respond to the question since the UCAT is not negatively graded. Even if it is simply a guess, you still have a chance to choose the right response.

10. Practice under timed conditions

One of the UCAT’s biggest difficulties is timing. You have 24 minutes to complete 36 questions in the Quantitative Reasoning portion. You can start by becoming accustomed to answering the questions and performing calculations with the UCAT calculator during practice sessions. Then, to make sure you can work quickly and accurately, you can begin to practice under timed situations.

We hope you’ve found these UCAT QR tips on how to do well in quantitative reasoning UCAT helpful. Remember to practise and sleep well before the test day. Good luck!

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    What is a good UCAT Quantitative Reasoning score?

    Even for those who struggle with Mathematics, the UCAT Quantitative Reasoning part typically yields the best score! The typical Quantitative Reasoning score in 2020 was 664. A strong score here might compensate for any overall poorer parts, because universities often look at your entire average UCAT score instead of individual section scores.

    How do I get a high score in UCAT Quantitative Reasoning?

    The best strategy to raise your score is to practice questions so that you are comfortable with the examination structure, the time allotted for answering each question, and the topics covered. Furthermore, you should also make sure you are confident in handling fractions, decimals, and percentages in your head and that your mental sums are reliable. Your knowledge in these topics should be around GCSE grade B.

    Once you get the Mathematics concepts down, you may focus on working on your timing and figuring out a way to respond to the questions as quickly as you can.

    What level of maths do I need for UCAT Quantitative Reasoning?

    The required Mathematics proficiency is equivalent to a strong secondary school pass. For GCSE candidates, this corresponds to a grade of B–6.

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