Dissecting the UKCAT Decision Making Section

The Decision Making subtest is the second section of the UKCAT.  It includes 29 questions and is scored out of 900. In this article we will look at the subtest in more detail  and discuss how to prepare for it.

The UKCAT decision making subtest is a relatively new subtest introduced in 2016. You will be presented with a variety of data types from text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams, where some questions will have four answer options but only one correct answer; others will require you to respond to five statements by placing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer next to each statement.

What Is The Decision Making Subtest?

The new Decision Making subtest tests your ability to apply logic to reach a decision or conclusion, evaluate arguments and analyse statistical information. For instance, you might be given a statement and then four diagrams, and asked to choose the diagram that best fits the statement given. The Decision Making section includes 29 items to be completed in 32 minutes ( 1 minute for instruction and 31 minutes for items).

Type of Decision Making Questions

You will be presented with questions that may refer to text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams. In the UKCAT Decision Making, you will face two types of question formats:

1. Answer Options

You will be presented with four answer options, where only one option is correct. These questions types  include the following:

Logical puzzles: You are required to take one or more steps of deductive inference from the information presented in order to arrive at a conclusion. There is only one correct response per question. Information may be given in the form of text, tables or other graphic.

Syllogisms:  In these items you will be required to evaluate whether each of a series of conclusions arises from a given set of premises.Some questions may have multiple correct response options. You need to ‘drag and drop’ the correct responses.

Interpreting Information: You will be presented with information in various formats (written passages, graphs, charts, etc.) and will be required to interpret this information in order to determine which conclusions follow. There may be multiple correct response options per item.

Recognising Assumption: These items ask you to evaluate arguments for and against a particular solution to a problem. You will be required to evaluate the strength of the presented arguments and the soundness of assumptions underlying these arguments. There is only one correct response per question; candidates must suspend their own beliefs to reach the strongest conclusion.

Venn Diagrams: You may be presented with a Venn diagram and asked to select the single best conclusion from a list of statements. In other items you will have a passage of information which you can interpret either in the form of a Venn diagram or by providing conclusions. You may also be provided with a set of statements and a set of different Venn diagrams as response options. You will need to select the Venn that best represents the information provided.

Probability Reasoning: You will be presented with a very short passage containing statistical information. You will be asked to select the best response to the question. 

2. Yes or No Statements

You will be asked to respond to five statements, by answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ next to each statement. These type of questions can also be in the form of any of the six question types mentioned above.

How To Prepare for the UKCAT Decision Making Subtest

The main difficulty with the decision making is timing: 29 questions in 31 minutes, this means that If you work slowly you will run out of time. The other difficulty is that there are limited resources to prepare for the test. Find below my strategy for preparing for the test:

Step 1: Brush Up On GCSE Mathematics (Venn & Probability problems)

The subtest has a lot of questions that test your maths skills particularly on venn diagrams and probability. I recommend having a look on the GCSE Bitesize website  to brush up on these concepts.

Step 2: Review Official Practice Questions

The best way to get an understanding of the test is by reviewing the official practice questions on the UKCAT website. I recommend going through them untimed so you can familiarise yourself with the questions and become more comfortable with the test, understand why you get questions wrong and review them continually (Click here to view practice questions). Some questions require you to ‘drag and drop’ the correct response. 

Step 3: Practice Logical Puzzles and Decision Making Strategies

I recommend getting used to logical puzzles and learn decision making strategies to improve accuracy and speed. 

Step 4: Attempt The Official Practice Tests

Once you have completed the practice questions. Attempt the official practice tests timed. I recommend you review your score, look into questions you got wrong and objectively identify what you need to work on. For instance, you might realise you did not finish attempting all the questions and might need to develop a strategy for saving time.

 Step 5: Practice with an Online UKCAT Course

Once you are familiar with the concept and  item types  start practising with an online UKCAT course to mimic the real test. You can start honing your exam techniques and  skills. 

For a step-by-step guide on preparing for the Decision Making subtest grab your copy of  The UKCAT study guide. It’s includes the tips, techniques and strategies I used to achieve a score in the 90th percentile. It has been adopted by over 8,000 candidates to date with 100% positive feedback! Also take part in the Free 30-day UKCAT Preparation Challenge includes daily exercises and goals over 30 days to ensure you prepare more effectively.

About Mike 106 Articles
My name is Michael and I'm a Pharmacology graduate from the University of Manchester, I was able to improve my UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) score from 2400 to 2840 and get offered a place at Warwick’s graduate-entry medical programme.