Decision Making – New for the 2016 UKCAT (for 2017 entry)

May 12, 2016 - Brian Holmes

The UKCAT will include an entirely new section in 2016: Decision Making. Decision Making will be the second section of the UKCAT, coming after Verbal Reasoning and before Quantitative Reasoning. Decision Making has replaced Decision Analysis, Decision Making questions are entirely different from Decision Analysis questions. So you should not prepare with any Decision Analysis materials for the 2016 UKCAT.

There are 29 questions in the Decision Making section, and candidates will have 31 minutes to answer these questions (37 minutes in UKCATSEN). This works out to an average timing of 1 minute per question, leaving a couple of extra minutes for the more challenging questions. The bottom line: Pacing is as important as always in this new UKCAT section. If you work too slowly, you will not get a chance to mark an answer for the later questions in the Decision Making section

Decision Making questions all include an element of logical reasoning. There are three types of Yes/No questions (in which the answers are Yes or No), and three types of Data questions (in which there are 4 answer choices that aren’t Yes/No, and you must use the data provided to answer the questions). Unlike the items in other UKCAT sections, Decision Making questions are individual items, so each question has its own data or text. This means that there is potentially quite a lot of work (reading, maths, or a bit of both) that you must complete in order to answer each question, and your understanding of the data or text cannot help you with subsequent questions. For this reason, even though you have 1 minute per question, this timing will feel incredibly tight, and you are likely to feel very much pressed for time.

You will not receive a score for the Decision Making section if you sit the UKCAT in 2016, and your admissions to university will depend on your performance in the other four sections. As a result, this puts more pressure on the scores in the other sections; in particular, the first three scored sections (Verbal, Quantitative and Abstract), which are scored from 300–900, since your overall score will be out of 2700. In the past, many students have found Decision Analysis to be the easiest section, so it would effectively boost the overall score. That’s no longer the case, so you must be prepared to maximise your marks in Verbal, Quantitative and Abstract.

Since Decision Making is an unscored section in this year’s UKCAT, your performance does not matter for admissions purposes. This does not mean that you should not answer the questions, or not make an effort. But it does mean that you need to ensure that you maximise your performance (and maximise your marks) in the four scored sections.

In a way, this is an advantage, since you can focus your preparation time on the Verbal, Quantitative, Abstract and Situational sections. You have one less section to spend a significant amount of time to prepare for.

However, we at Kaplan recommend that you take a little time to familiarise yourself with Decision Making, since you will want to make an effort to answer the questions. Your data in this section will impact the way that the UKCAT is administered in future years, so you have a responsibility to your future junior medical and dental colleagues to properly attempt the Decision Making questions, even though they are unscored.

Students on the Kaplan 2-day classroom course and our other comprehensive courses (Live Online and Self-Study) will be provided with one hour of Decision Making video lessons, covering all the tips and strategies you will need to answer these questions with speed and accuracy in the 2016 UKCAT. The Kaplan UKCAT Online Study Centre will also include 100 Decision Making practice questions, so you can build your mastery and confidence with the 6 new Decision Making question types.

Kaplan’s new Decision Making content will be available to our students in your Online Study Centre in the second half of June, so you will have time to watch the lessons, learn the strategies and complete the practice sessions ahead of Test Day.