A hypothetical: you are a junior doctor at a local hospital and your senior asks you to administer an urgent drug for a sick patient. To add more complexity to this situation, you must figure out the drug dose in the next 30 seconds. Though, due to your extensive training, you easily work out that you require the weight of the patient and the drug’s initial concentration. You find the patient’s weight in the chart and prescribe as follows:
Patient weight (kg) x Drug (mg/kg) = Drug dose (mg)
Intense scenarios like these require the time-pressed quantitative skills — and surprise, surprise — are tested in the UCAT. Your exam might not be as exciting as working in the hospital, but you will need to work through similar calculations to score well.
Quick and efficient calculation skills can only be improved with practice. To increase your mathematical accuracy and speed, we suggest you study a range of different multi-step mathematical questions that require addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the exam you will be given an on-screen calculator to use; however, some questions may be faster to calculate manually. The questions that require manual calculations will become clear with practice.
The type of questions you will face typically fall into a few groups (percentages, ratios, averages, and multiplication/division), each of which will require arithmetic. Since questions will be drawn from data presented, try learning how to skim data to identify the task required of you. Using the material provided in your exam, also try to lay out and organise the important data provided, to help conceptualise your thought process.
Shortcuts are vital to success, so brush up on your scientific notation to simplify manual calculations. Learn to recognise numbers that just don’t seem right. Often in the rush of the exam we make scribing errors that we do not notice; understanding ball-park figures will help you identify answers that are clearly outside the correct range. Yes, it does take experience and practice to succeed, but it is achievable with continual repetition.Our UCAT Preparation programs comprehensively cover how to successfully approach each question type that you will encounter in this section, so contact us today for a free consultation.