July 5, 2013 by Emedica
My test was at 8am and I joined a queue of people just after 7:30am outside the test centre waiting for it to open. Once inside, I was handed a sheet of information to read then had my ID checked and was given my locker key. I’m glad I had taken my driving theory test a few months ago so I was familiar with the location of the test centre and knew what to expect once I got inside.
After signing to say I understood and agreed to the information I had read about the UKCAT, I was sent through to the next room. Here, the member of staff checked I had no contraband! They checked my wrists to check I had nothing written on my arms and also checked my ears to see if I had any blue-tooth devices – this certainly didn’t happen when I was here for my theory test!
I went through and sat at my computer. I had been given three pieces of laminated A4 paper and a pen and was told it wasn’t wipe-clean. The pen said it wasn’t permanent so I tested it and although it wasn’t wipe clean it did smudge out (I used a tissue I had had down my sleeve but was allowed to keep!). I think six sides of A4 is more than enough as long as your writing isn’t too big.
I began the verbal reasoning section and found that more than half the question sets were in the new format. My approach was to read the text carefully first then read each question and then refer back to the text. However, I found that I was running out of time and wouldn’t finish if I kept this up. So I changed tactics and quickly scanned the text before moving to the questions and managed to finish all the questions in this section just in time. I had thought timing wouldn’t be a problem as I am a very fast reader but even with the SEN timings it wouldn’t have been long enough to finish all the questions. I still think it’s important to read the text first before reading the questions but scanning/speed-reading is obviously the best way to maximise time in this section.
Quantitative was next. I found this section quite challenging and kept having to redo calculations because I kept messing up or even getting an answer that wasn’t even close to being amongst the answer options! I had to remind myself there was no point spending ages on any one question when it might not be marked anyway if it was a pilot question. Better to just quickly read the question and make a judgement on whether I knew what to do to get the answer. The last 2 question sets were complete guesses! Something else that slowed me down was I kept reading the line of text at the top of the data set thinking that was where the question was whereas it was actually underneath the data set.
I was unsure how well I would do at abstract reasoning. The types of pictures I saw looked fairly familiar, on some questions I spotted a rule quite easily but as there are sometimes secondary rules I looked for them but there just didn’t seem to be any! Other questions were educated guesswork so maybe it’s not that surprising that I got my lowest score in this section. I was actually disappointed that I did not get any new style questions in the abstract reasoning section although I don’t think I would have necessarily done any better if I had! I had about ten minutes left at the end of this section as there were many questions I just clicked on whether I thought it looked more like Set A or Set B.
Somewhat geekily, I rather enjoyed decision analysis! Maybe in part owed to the fact that it marked the end of the main section of the test. I was a little bit thrown when the additional codes were added, mainly because they were comprised of 3 digit numbers which just made the coded sentences look so much longer. My technique for the questions which ask you to code an English sentence (instead of decoding a coded sentence) is make the code yourself (be aware there may be more than one option for some words) then compare your code to the options available. You can then select the closest match to your code as your answer. The confidence rating didn’t take long and was actually a useful part of the process. Most of my ratings were between 2-4 with only a couple where I was super confident (5) and several more that were guessed (1).
I found the SJT section most straightforward of all the sections and had 20 minutes left over. There were lots of scenarios similar to ones I had seen in my revision and I felt confident knowing even if I didn’t pick the most correct answer, I might still get a mark for being nearly right. For this reason, I think it’s important not to spend ages on any one question or scenario but get through all the questions in this section.
My vital statistics were:
Verbal Reasoning 860
Quantitative Reasoning 750
Abstract Reasoning 720
Decision Anaylsis 790
Situational Judgement Band 1
All in all, my experience of the UKCAT was not at all bad (especially considering I didn’t actually do much revision!). Now I just have to try to beat my own score next year!