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Common UCAT Decision-Making Mistakes

Published on
April 15, 2024

What Is Decision Making In The UCAT?

The UCAT Decision-Making subtest is the second segment of the UCAT ANZ exam that assesses your calibre to infer logical conclusions and generate astute arguments from the data provided to you. The question-types encompass Venn diagrams, syllogisms and complex information for you to resolve. This information allows medical schools to understand your decision-making ability under extremely tight deadlines. 

Why is the UCAT Decision Making a critical section, you may ask? Only because this UCAT subtest helps med schools to visualise the BIG picture, i.e., your capacity to reason clearly in complicated clinical ward situations and render solutions during a health-related crisis.

As doctors, you have to master the art of problem-solving, which acts in conjunction with managing risk and tackling uncertainty. So this section aptly depicts your cognitive ability for medical schools at a pre-med stage.

What Are The UCAT Decision Making Questions?

The UCAT Decision Making question bank gives you ample questions for practice to achieve a high score in this subtest. In addition, each question is constructed on different conventions, so the more you practice, the better you become at identifying the emerging patterns. 

The UCAT Decision Making question types can appear slightly confusing, purely because different conventions apply to each kind of question. For instance, a question that incorporates syllogisms may be tricky to answer if you fail to use the appropriate reasoning. In contrast, a question involving probability can be more straightforward if you can successfully estimate the occurrence of an event from the scenario.

Having established the complexity of this subtest, let's dive into the components of the Decision-Making question-type and its constituents:

  1. Syllogisms are designed to assess your deductive reasoning, the ability to draw rational conclusions based on the provided statement. To respond to this question type, you are expected to drag-and-drop either a 'Yes' or 'No' against the following options. 
  2. Interpreting information from the data is self-explanatory. All you are required to do is draw sensible conclusions based on the information you retrieved from the provided statement.
  3. Logical puzzles are primarily a bunch of abstract information that you have to interpret to form a logical conclusion, choosing the most correct option out of the four.
  4. Recognition assumption is yet another argument-based question, where you must identify either the strongest or weakest argument from the statements in the options.
  5. Probabilistic reasoning tests your ability to apply a statistical concept to calculate the probability of particular events transpiring. 
  6. Venn diagrams - you will receive limited textual information and instead, should format a solid judgement from your study. 

How Many Decision Making Questions Are There?

Simply put, you have approximately 31 minutes to complete 29 Decision Making prompts. So on average, you can spend close to a minute and 5 seconds per question.

What Are The Common UCAT Decision Making Mistakes?

The goal behind addressing each question type and the designated minutes was to highlight what the UCAT ANZ Consortium expects of you. It is essential to emphasise that the Decision-Making section is also time-pressured, however, not to the same extent as in Verbal Reasoning or the Quantitative Reasoning section. 

In the former, you are more likely to obsess over a single question because figuring out a Decision Making question can be rather satisfying, hence, losing out on your valuable time to complete this section.

A pro tip to implement in the UCAT Decision Making is how efficiently you desire to utilise the given time. Try to be more flexible while answering questions and turn this question to your advantage.

Don't Flag Too Many Questions In UCAT Decision Making

As discussed in our earlier pieces, Flagging is effective when responding to UCAT Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Abstract Reasoning questions. However, it can be counterproductive for Decision Making as each question correlates to a unique scenario only. 

The options are formulated based on a single argument, and it does not carry forward to the consecutive question. 

In contrast, Verbal Reasoning contains a set of sequential questions dedicated per passage. 

So, once you jot down relevant keywords and recurring words from the passage, your response will be based on the information retrieved from the passage and not personal biases. Hence, you can revisit some of the tricky questions and scan through the keywords to obtain the passage's synopsis and choose the correct option accordingly. 

Flagging is not perceived as a valued approach in Decision Making, since flagging compels you to re-accustom yourself with the scenario again. Also, this section is insight-driven and tests your potential to deduce viable solutions. In this way, you ultimately spend twice as much time on a single question, which can deteriorate your overall performance

Insufficient Preparation Of Decision Making Questions

An excellent way to get comfortable with this section is when you repeatedly attempt different Decision-Making question-types. This progressively improves your understanding of the section and helps you become a keen-eyed applicant that can quickly spot emerging patterns within similar question types. However, a lack of practice can also lead to the inability to incur thoughtful judgements when you sit the UCAT exam

First of all, your interpretation of each Decision Making question type is critically evaluated by the UCAT Consortium, so it is pivotal to have built appropriate strategies during your practice sessions that pertain to the six different question types. Let us now look into an example:

During the exam, you will likely come across spatial equation questions. A good approach is to equate the shapes into different letters; this approach is noted to have good outcomes during the exam and happens to be efficient. However, this is not necessarily a traditional procedure to attempt spatial equations. Therefore, the only way you can zero in on an approach that works in your favour is if you have managed to study the different question-types at your leisure. 

The next segment to keep tabs on is the text information co-occurring with the Venn diagrams. Usually, the text in the diagram displays a certain amount of information that helps you to interpret the context of the diagram. Therefore, while practising Venn diagrams, try to first look at the text and then devote time to studying the diagram and its meaning. 

Venn diagrams constitute an important component of the UCAT Decision Making; hence, ensure your preparation leaves you confident when you encounter this question type. It is recommended to draw them on the whiteboard, as it seems more apparent to the naked eye and helps recognise the variables in the diagram more thoroughly.

Another common mistake students make in the UCAT Decision Making section is speed reading, which may lead to misinterpreting a question. Although speed reading is an effective method to save time, some may disapprove of it because there is a higher chance of losing important keywords such as 'must', 'not', 'either 'or'. It could have a negative influence on this section and adversely affect your UCAT score.

Lack Of Time Management Skills

Though we indicated in the earlier section that timing in Decision Making is flexible, there is actually very little room for error in your time management. In this UCAT subsection, you have to proceed at a rate of about one question per minute, which may appear to be generous compared to other sections. But remember, you can easily fall bait to a single question and may end up spending more time than anticipated. 

Decision-Making questions test your judgement and deductive thinking, so keep an eye on the clock when you begin answering a question and don't get caught up solving it. Some of the Logical puzzles you encounter are intentionally designed to be unsolvable; this could be a tactic implemented by the UCAT Consortium to penalise students who spend longer fixating on one single question.

UCAT Decision Making Tips

A UCAT Decision Making question is fascinating to solve and is probably the most diverse in terms of the questions and skills it evaluates in an applicant. The question-types resonate with fun riddles that you may have solved as a child that are not too difficult to understand. 

In order to maximise your score in this section, familiarise yourself with all of the decision making question types and don't be biased towards a single question. It is best to provide equal time and preference to all question-types during your UCAT prep to avoid spending too much time in this section.

Where To Next? 

We hope that our article could provide you with good insights on ways to curb Decision Making mistakes and the right strategies you can use to get the highest score in this UCAT section.

If you enjoyed reading this article, be sure to check out our Free Resources and Tools that are written by professionals who fully understand the intricacies of the UCAT space. Also, if you are beginning to start your UCAT prep for 2022, check out our article on UCAT Tutors around Australia, and their specialisation to have a more guided approach to your preparation.