6 Very Smart Tips To Pass The UKCAT Abstract Reasoning Subtest

The Abstract reasoning subtest was my strongest section in the exam and I was able to achieve a score in the 9th decile, with the right preparation and approach you too can achieve a score in the top percentile. The following are my UKCAT abstract reasoning tips

My UKCAT Abstract Reasoning Tips

1. The Three Square Rule

The three square method is a really effective strategy for identifying patterns, it involves solving patterns by starting with the simplest box and comparing the two other boxes either side of it. I fully explain how to identify patterns using  the three square rule in another post.

3. SCANS Method

SCANS is the mnemonic I used as a checklist to spot patterns. I saves so much time in the exam because I was applying it constantly and thinking about what to look for next across the boxes in a set. SCANS stands for S – Shape C – Colour A– Angle/Arrangement N – Number of (shapes,sides,intersections…) and S – symmetry. I recommend using this as a checklist when trying to spot patterns, it’ll help you get out of trouble with difficult sets. Also bear in mind some sets might adopt more than one rule so be careful.

3. Flags

Do not fall into the trap of spending too long on questions. It most likely you are dealing with a set with distractors.  If a pattern doesn’t come to you striaght away flag it and come back to it later. I recommend you practice using the flagging system in the exam. You can reattempt it using the three square rule and SCANS method appropriately.

4. Make Better Use Of The 1 minute Instructions

If you are preparing with an online UKCAT course or the official practice tests you should already know what the instructions are for the abstract reasoning subtest. Instead of wasting time reading the instructions write out a mini checklist you can go through when you come across a difficult set of questions. Find below the list I wrote down during the the 1 minute instuction period, you will notice it builds on the SCAN method:

  • Shape of components
  • Type of edges on each component
  • Number of corners on each component
  • Colour of each component
  • Number of components
  • Orientation of components
  • Consistent position of one component relative to another
  • Size of components

Everytime I came across a difficult set I would go through my list to work out the pattern.

5. Know Your Distractors

This comes with practice, knowing the most common form of distractors used by the UKCAT examiners will help identify which aspects of a SET is important. I took some time to go through the official Abstract Reasoning practice questions and tests to took note of the distractors the examiners used. I recommend doing this too, it is tedious having to review each question but it will

6. Practice With An Online UKCAT Course

Practice using an online UKCAT course to mimic the real exam. I recommend the Job Test Prep UKCAT course it has excellent features and is affordable. You can read my review on the Job Test Prep online UKCAT Course. For more advanced methods on preparing for the abstract reasoning purchase a copy of my ebook on how to score in the top percentile. It is the UKCAT preparation strategy I used to achieve a score in the top 10%.




My name is Michael and I'm a physiology graduate from the University of Manchester, I was able to improve my UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) score from 2400 to 2840 in 3 months and get offered a place at Warwick’s graduate-entry medical programme.

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