Long Style UKCAT VR – read, scan or skim?


August 21, 2014 by Emedica

We get asked regularly for guidance on how to approach the long style Verbal Reasoning questions in UKCAT. The time pressure is very real with under 30 seconds per question and less than 2 minutes per set of questions relating to each text passage. If you read the whole text very carefully you may find you have only a few seconds to actually answer the questions but if you only skim the text for the key words in the question you may miss crucial data hidden in a separate paragraph.


A survey of the UKCATprep.com team members who took UKCAT in 2014 (four of us!) reveals slightly different strategies and techniques for each of us!


Firstly – be very aware of your own reading speed – particularly your screen reading speed. You should aim to increase this as much as you can as you prepare for UKCAT. The best way to do this is to read from a screen! Whichever method you end up employing – reading quickly will help a lot.


Secondly – be prepared to make exceptions. If the subject matter is easy to understand (to you) then you will read it more quickly and be able to scan for key words without any problem. If the text is about something you really don’t understand then you may have to devote a bit more time to reading it more thoroughly.


Your options are:

  1. Read the text thoroughly so that you don’t have to refer to the text as you tackle questions – risky as you don’t know what the questions will ask! Most of the questions will expect you to make a logical deduction based on the text and you’ll want to double check even if you think you know.
  2. Read the text quickly so that you have time to double check things when tackling the questions – a good choice as long as you’re confident that you’ve understood the text well
  3. Scan the text so you know where key words and ideas are located then read the questions carefully and immediately spot the relevant parts of the text – another good choice
  4. Read the question first then scan the text for relevant parts – an option if you are confident you will be able to scan the entire passage of writing. It may take longer for subsequent questions in the set as you won’t have the same general overview of the text.


In the end you will have to find the method which works best for you. The only way you can do this is to practice, practice, practice!


If you have a different technique let us know the in comments section! We’d love to have a few more options!


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.

One thought on “Long Style UKCAT VR – read, scan or skim?

  1. Jamila says:

    My useful tip is practice, practice, practice! Nothing else has helped me like going over sample VR questions.

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