Abstract Reasoning (UKCAT Tips)

I have done a couple of posts related to the UKCAT previously but I wanted to share some tips and techniques for each of the five individual sections. You can read those posts here where I shared my favourite books and here for information about the test, process, application and what to expect.

Click here to read about the previous section.

I may be the only one but I actually love this section! I find this section really fun and in a way that's how you need to look at the section. Think of it as a game of spot the difference almost. It's the last section so you've been using your brain for a long period of time by this point. It's nice to have a more relaxing section to finish. Trust me, the 13 minutes to do 55 questions will fly by.

This section is all about looking at patterns and determining a rule that fits with all the boxes in the set. There are always at least 2 rules so find the 2 rules before even thinking about looking at the test shapes and questions.

Like Verbal Reasoning, there are quite a few types of questions:
  • Type 1: two sets of boxes containing shapes, with five associated test boxes
  • Type 2: a sequence of 4 boxes and you have to select the next in the pattern 
  • Type 3: a statement involving a group of shapes followed by an incomplete statement 
  • Type 4: two sets of boxes, with 4 test box options where only one belongs in either Set A or Set B
While it's important to be able to recognise the type of question, you use the same technique to find the rule. The best method to spot the rule using the anagram SPONCS. By going through each word, in SPONCS, you can quickly and efficiently spot the rule without spending time going back and forth over different ideas, multiple times. Having this systematic method helps make the time taken to find the rule much shorter as it repeatable between all questions.

  • Shape: e.g. a specific type of shape; a specific shape 
  • Position: e.g. always a triangle in top right hand colour
  • Orientation: e.g. often in sequences, the shape is rotated; arrows always point up
  • Number: e.g. always a certain number of shapes; always even/odd
  • Colour: e.g. always one black; always the same number of black and white
  • Size: e.g. a little shape inside a big shape; a large circle
A few last minute tips and tricks that I've discovered help make finding the rule faster. If there are boxes with lots of lines, think intersections! If there are boxes with arrows or triangles, think orientation! Also, Medic Mind say to save time, remember the number of sides in these complex shapes: star = 10; arrow = 7; plus sign = 12. 

You should have hopefully have seen all the possible types during your practice sessions before you take the exam. There are only a limited number of rules available so by the time of your test, you will be able to recognise them much faster. They do repeat! 

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