Jul 26, 2023

How To Tackle Decision Making (DM)

The “decision making” section features 29 questions which you must answer within 31 minutes. That this is the only section wherein you have more than 60 seconds of time per question on average indicates – while you have less than half a minute for a question in each of the other sections – that these questions are considered hard to answer by the test makers themselves. I have some good news for you: these questions are not hard if you know the optimal technique – optimal in terms of the time required to find an answer – for each of the 6 types of questions featured here.

There are some exercises in typical Aristotleian syllogisms and some reading comprehension exercises based on graphical presentations of data or tables combined with text. Both these types have answer options presented in the same format though the underlying mechanisms of the two types differ widely. In two other types of questions, the examinee has to identify the most logical one among 4 given answers to a given question. These two types also have answer options presented in the same format though the underlying mechanisms of the two types differ widely: in one, the examinee only has to check the logical connection between the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that the option starts with and the ensuing justification for that ‘yes’ or ‘no’; in the other, the examinee has to compare the logical merits of one option to that of every other option. Importantly, the latter one in this pair of types is about the logic of statistical sampling and counting methods. In other words, this type of questions are – unlike most other questions in the UCAT – are not 99% a test of your skills: these questions test your knowledge of how permutations and combinations work, or what kind of a sample actually represents the total population. But don’t panic if you hated math classes on those topics. The numbers used are so small that, if you understand the underlying logic, you can reach the right answer counting on your fingers: you do not need to use the factorial-heavy formulae.

The fifth type of questions featured in the DM section involves Venn diagrams. There are 3 subtypes of these questions: some have the diagrams in the question stem, some others have the diagrams in the answer options, and yet some others do not feature diagrams at all. All 3 subtypes can be tackled well if you know how to cancel the effect of counting the same elements – elements that exist in the overlap between sets – multiple times.

The last and the most talked about type of questions – dubbed the Einstein questions by some – are puzzles made puzzling by a psychological trick. The information provided clearly hints at the solution only when all of it is viewed together. Unfortunately, it is provided in the form of several sentences. Since nobody can read more than one sentence at a time, you cannot view the entire information at the same glance unless you put the information from all the different sentences into one graphical presentation. Generally this information is easy to present in a single table. If you master the technique of tabling the data, you will have no problem solving these puzzles.

The syllogism questions, the reading comprehension questions and the Einstein questions require more than a minute each to answer while the Venn diagram questions, and the two types of questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ statements in the answer options require much less than a minute each. That creates an average of a minute per question because the 6 different types appear with nearly equal frequency.

The need for proper training is most urgent for the DM section because it is possible for an amateur to waste an hour or longer on a single question from this section. In other words, the difference between performances of the trained and the untrained candidates is the starkest in DM. To put this in the right perspective, you should consider the fact that the difference between performances of the trained and the untrained candidates is the least stark in VR. That is so because the candidate contributes more than the trainer does to the enhancement of the former’s reading efficiency. Simply put, the trainer can contribute more to a candidate’s DM score.

However, the result of training – with regards to DM – does not depend on the trainer alone but on a combination of the trainer and the practice material used. So the quality of practice material is also of great importance here. We at UniHawk have studied the sample practice material offered by the UCAT test-makers and determined what characteristics should be possessed by a cache of DM practice material in order to approximate the official material. Naturally, we offer a combination of the right trainers with the right material.

by Arijit Thakur, Senior Quant & Verbal Trainer

Contact us today for a demo class.

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