The Abstract Reasoning section of the UCAT tests your pattern recognition skills under fairly tough time constraints. You’ll have 13 minutes to complete 55 questions, organised into 11 units of five questions each.
Each unit will contain two sets (of shapes): Set A and Set B. The question will then show you a test shape/pattern that needs to be matched with Set A, B, or neither.
The rationale behind this section is that pattern recognition is a critical analytical skill of a doctor. Each day we have to decide if a patient’s set of symptoms fit into the particular “pattern” of a disease from a selection of many. It’s also used in medical imaging: where the ‘pattern’ of, say, a pneumothorax is identified on the x-ray of a patient complaining of shortness of breath. These skills are frequently drawn upon and they can be learnt and developed.
Having a plan for this section is essential. You’ll likely spend your time first working out the pattern in Set A and B and this is the approach we recommend you take first. Try not to look at the test shape first: this will only distract you from solving the pattern in A and B. It may seem excruciatingly difficult to decipher at first: take your time and with practice you’ll unravel an increasingly greater percentage of these puzzles.
Through practice in a UCAT preparation program, you’ll slowly develop an eye for the typical patterns that may appear. They may be the type of shapes that appear in each box; the proportion of colours; the shapes that are coloured. Many variations exist and your task is to become adept at identifying them. Once you do, assigning the test shape to the set is a walk in the park.