Regular practice every day using a question bank has been proven to be more effective than intense revision of past questions a few days before your Dental UCAT exam. One of the basics is how you are reading the actual questions presented. There are two techniques. Nearly all students read the question “word by word” individually as that is how you first learnt to read at primary school and beyond but this will hinder you when it comes to the UCAT.
Therefore, we suggest a different but proven method of digesting Dentist UCAT questions. First, make sure you aren’t trying to speak the words aloud as you read which is also known as subvocalizing. While this may be the method you have always used for study hence the speaking helps force things to memory, during UCAT exams unfortunately you cannot do this because there’s no time as it slows down your reading speed.
In any case, the memory aspect is irrelevant here. Some key tips are outlined below, but ultimately the single best way to improve is always going to be regularly plenty of practice using a question bank.
UCAT Verbal Reasoning Section
Many of the texts you come across in the UCAT particularly in the Verbal Reasoning section may be unfamiliar topics or contain technical words special for that subject that you don’t understand. To prepare for this, a good method is simply to read as much as possible using a variety of sources. Just pop down to WH Smith or Waterstones to pick out journals, magazines and books because when you read more, you’ll become more comfortable and competent with reading difficult passages, sentences and elaborate ideas. A diverse section of magazines that you normally find at the newsagents/book stores could include New Scientist, Model Railroader, Investors Chronicle and National Geographic Magazine.
UCAT Speed Reading Techniques
The reading technique you require means being able to scan a bunch of words simultaneously hence on being able to read multiple words in one snapshot rather than single words separately. Every time your eyes move to a new section, they need to pause/ refocus and the brain processes a fresh picture of the next image being presented or absorbed. Moving your eyes and refocusing every time you’ve read a word on an individual basis will slow you down which accumulates significantly over the course of the whole test.
Therefore you must work on being able to read several words on a single line at the same instant and when you practise, you will get better at this. It becomes natural eventually. Some experts at speed reading are so good at reading rapidly that they can read essays by reading entire paragraphs at a time. We even know a university lecturer who scans and digests whole pages and this was verified when one of our tutors tested her on a previously unseen piece of literature which is quite impressive.
University Expert’s speed reading trainer course will get you to stop “subvocalizing” and hence increase your reading speed whilst increasing effectiveness at UCAT questions.
Remember, even as a Dental student, you will need to be able handle lots of information being thrown at you in a short space of time because there is lots of content to learn from seminars, journals, lectures, textbooks and case studies and you will need to read and understand this information relatively quickly. Hence developing the skill of speed reading is also very useful for becoming a Dentist and even when you are a qualified Dentist for your CPD ( continuing professional development.)
Answering UCAT Questions Accurately
Another tip other than practice and speed reading is to actually read the complete Question. The questions you will find in the UCAT Verbal Reasoning section are designed to be tricky so you can avoid many of those pitfalls by remembering to study and read the UCAT questions very carefully and then consider answering. As one of our University Expert tutor’s says, “ read what the questions actually is and not what you think it is!”
What is the question really asking? Is it an answer that is TRUE or FALSE? In this situation, sometimes you’ll be asked to select the statement that can be concluded from the text but you need to pay careful attention as to whether or not the correct answer is the true or false statement. A pitfall can occur especially if you’ve had a similar question recently. This obvious failing to read UCAT questions properly is a common mistake made in all exams and can lead to you not answering a question correctly.
Many students will use up valuable seconds because they are over-thinking. UCAT Verbal Reasoning is all about speed reading and answering questions and not deep delving into intricate abstract arguments. When answering questions in this part of the UCAT, you’ll either be able to directly take information from the text or infer it yourself. Generally, the most obvious answer tends to be the correct answer so go along with your first answer rather than changing your choices subsequently. Even when you’re learning Dentistry during the course, it is very important that you do not misread or make assumptions. On all exams and in the UCAT, it could easily lead to you answering questions incorrectly by making assumptions.
UCAT Key Words
We asked our University Expert UCAT tutors to give further advice and a key concept is to always, “Search for Keywords.” What are these keywords? One strategy that can be employed in the UCAT Verbal Reasoning section is to identify and scan for key words and phrases hence the first thing you should do is have a relatively quick read or scan of the passage, so that you have the general idea of it and are aware of where in the text important information will be.
Make sure you are not panicking as you read so you don’t have to rush frantically but don’t languish either. When you read the first UCAT question, look for the important phrases or words and is the UCAT question about a particular person or topic discussed within the text? If you think it is then just go back to that part of the text to find the information you need. If there are specific additional key words in the question, then repeat once again so go back to where they are used and more carefully read that part of the text for this relevant information.
As previously mentioned, the skills of speed reading and keyword searching go hand in hand so get accustomed to being able to read lots of words in one go which increases the speed at which you can search hence enabling you to find the needed information faster. University Expert has certain keyword scanner trainers that can help you develop this skill to a good degree. This ability to search for keywords and phrases rapidly will be of great assistance during all sections but in particular the UCAT Verbal Reasoning section. Once you’ve mastered the art of identifying key words and searching for them, it will become an extremely valuable asset in the rest of your life.
As a dentist in training, you might need to locate a specific reference to something in a long document. Knowing how to effectively search a document can save you a lot of precious time, which you can then use to treat patents more effectively. We advise you to set aside time every week to practise “Keywords” searching skills and it will pay off handsomely.
UCAT Verbal Reasoning: Using Inferences
A helpful tip is the technique to make Inferences logically but at the same take care when drawing conclusions from the text in Verbal Reasoning, especially when the question is of the true/false/can’t tell type. You must be very careful about making inferences. In some questions, you’ll need to determine if particular conclusions can be drawn from the text. If you cannot pull the information directly from the text, but the statement in question can be logically concluded, then you can say that a statement is true.
However, if there is even the slightest uncertainty about the validity of a statement, then you can’t tell if it is true or false – additional information would clarify this, but you must only consider what is in front of you. Don’t assume, verify. If a statement about the text can be directly contradicted, or a contradiction can be logically drawn from the text, then the conclusion is false.
One of our students who achieved a 755+ UCAT score told us that he would do riddles and problem solving quizzes such as a murder mystery type of story, particularly the “Who is the Dinners Murder Mystery” Games variety, and it can be a novel way to practice UCAT conclusion evaluations. These riddles will present a scenario in which there is a mystery (e.g. a murder on a train such as the Orient Express), and a variety of clues to solve it.
Some of these are red herrings to wrong track you. If a suspect gives a statement there will be something that can directly/indirectly confirm or deny their story? Perhaps you need more information and finally, this isn’t the only way you should be practising for this aspect of UCAT Verbal Reasoning, but it’s one way that you can prepare in a fun and different way.
UCAT Verbal Reasoning Section Tips
Ultimately, statement evaluation in UCAT Verbal Reasoning questions and sections is about reading, comprehension and critical thinking skills. As you become a dental student, it is of utmost importance that you do not make erroneous assumptions in relation to facts about which you are not certain. This is important when reading certain new studies which have conclusions relating to clinical aspects.
Knowing what you know and do not know allows for better understanding of your lectures but also from seminar work to patient histories. Critically, always examine the relevant facts that you have and be aware of the gaps in your knowledge so that incorrect assumptions do not lead to mistakes or inferences.
UCAT Tip: Mental Preparation
UCAT dentistry sections are composed of components and one is the UCAT Verbal Reasoning as the very first instalment that you will see in UCAT. When you sit the UCAT, you need to be able to focus on the exam, and nothing else in an optimum frame of mind.
You can’t be too tense or too relaxed and any distractions will break your train of thought especially in a test as fast-paced as UCAT testing. Doing lots of UCAT dental practice exams under exam conditions at home first will get you used to the rhythm, format and feel of the exam, so it’s highly recommended that if you haven’t already done so, familiarise yourself with the practice exams.
UCAT Focussing Methods
Earplugs can be good in this situation but some UCAT testing centres will just not allow you to bring your own, but may just only supply them. The soft foam no noise variety that drummers use can usually be found at your local music shop, and they really block out a lot of noise. They can be a bit unusual to get used to at first but wearing them each time at home while doing UCAT practice exams at home will get you to easily become accustomed to them.
While sitting the UCAT, you can then focus even better without the distraction of people making noise around you as not everyone sits the UCAT test at the same time, so they’ll be coming and going all the time which is similar to when you take your Driving Theory Tests. At the end of the day, you’re going to go in, sit the UCAT exam and do as well as you can on the back of your hard preparations.
As long as you come out of the UCAT exam knowing that there was nothing more that you could have done to prepare, and you gave it everything you had, then be happy that you have been able to give yourself the best possible chance to perform well in the UCAT.
UCAT Dentistry Tutoring
If you are still not managing the full extent of your abilities, consider getting a UCAT tutor such as the ones we have at University Expert. It is surprising how with little time and cost, we make big improvements.
The earlier you can use a UCAT tutor, the better as you can avoid picking up bad habits and we can identify where you are likely to make errors when practising for your UCAT test. Another advantage of using a UCAT tutor is our ability to keep the student fresh, engaged and fully motivated so that they are at their peak performance parameters on the day of the UCAT.