What is the point of UKCAT Abstract Reasoning?

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August 9, 2014 by Emedica

This section nearly always elicits frustration for UKCAT students! The relevance to medical or dental studies or practice seems completely absent! It doesn’t help that the majority of the students also find this section extremely hard to master!


What could be worse than a seemingly impossible and pointless section?!


Here’s what the UKCAT say about it


Abstract Reasoning assesses your ability to identify patterns amongst

abstract shapes where irrelevant and distracting material may lead to

incorrect conclusions. The test therefore measures your ability to change

track, critically evaluate and generate hypotheses and requires you to

query judgements as you go along.

When considering possible diagnoses, medical practitioners may be

presented with a set of symptoms and/or results. Some information may

be more reliable, more relevant and clearer than other information.

Doctors and Dentists need to make judgements about such information,

identifying the information which will help them reach conclusions.

Carrying out research involving data often involves identifying patterns in

results in order to generate further hypotheses.

It is also worth noting that almost all aptitude tests (11+, IQ tests) involve a section which looks a lot like Abstract Reasoning. It may be called ‘non-verbal reasoning’ or similar but essentially it is looking for the same skills and abilities.


Having to generate a theory and then test it, and then generate an improved theory and then test it, and then generate yet another theory to be tested feels arduous and fruitless but it is sometimes the reality of diagnosis. A patient may present with multiple symptoms – some of which are relevant to the core condition and some of which are not. You may have to consider and test for many different diseases or syndromes before arriving at the correct one.


One crucial tip for Abstract Reasoning….. don’t think outside the box! Think inside the box!


We have over 100 free UKCAT questions for you to try. We also have over 2000 fully updated UKCAT questions, with the same screen layout as the real thing. The service reflects all the new changes for the current year.

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