Quantitative 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.

Quantitative Reasoning is the section that I personally dread. With 24 minutes to answer 36 questions, this section includes all aspects of GCSE Maths. While you don't need the knowledge from A-Level standard, it defintely helps to have done Maths more recently. Remind yourself of the simpler techniques you used in GCSEs by going over your old notes.

My biggest tip is to practice these questions on the computer, in exam conditions. If you practice on paper that is great but try to use the online calculator. While practicing the questions in general will help, using a scientific calculator will give you unrealistic expectations. The online calculator is much simpler, in terms of functions, and it's also slower. You need to practice using it so you can change your timing accordingly.

Where possible try to do mental maths to save time. If the numbers are complex, estimate figures by rounding numbers up or down, however, unless it is stated in the question remember to change your answer accordingly. For example, if you:

  • Underestimate: you have rounded both figures down so the actual answer will be higher
  • Overestimate: you have rounded both figures up so the actual answer will be lower
Tables and graphs are easy marks but make sure you read the titles of both the overall image and the columns axis. Understand the graphic before beginning to answer the question. 
Units can be different between the question and the answer, so convert carefully. Usually, they provide the calculation that needs to be used which is nice. Similarly, practice converting from fractions to ratios to percentages. It may sound simple but if you haven't done it for a while, it can come as a little bit of a shock. 

Some important ideas to remember include:
  • Weighted Mean = Σ (each value x individual weight) 
  • Interest: simple (percentage of original amount) vs compound (percentage of current amount; real life bank situation)
  • Tax: remember that tax is paid on each amount i.e. if you are on £51,000, only £1,000 is in the highest tax bracket so you need to work each tax bracket amount individually and add them together 
For this section you just need to remember to do each question slowly and carefully so you can get it right the first time. By writing down your working out, you can check back quickly to see where you have gone wrong if needed.