Test Strategies

General advice

  • Candidates who take our test early do better!  Getting it out of the way will allow you to concentrate on other things (such as your UCAS application!).  If you book early you will have your choice of test slots and if you then feel unwell or unprepared you can reschedule.  This might not be easy in the final weeks of testing.
  • If you are not well, reschedule your test to a later date – even if you lose your test fee. In presenting yourself for testing, you are declaring yourself fit.  We will not consider health issues as extenuating circumstances.
  • Make sure you are given a laminated booklet and pen before the test starts.
  • Ask for earplugs and/or headphones if you think you may find other candidates arriving/leaving disturbing.

General test strategies

  • Good multiple-choice questions include answer options that are wrong but almost right.  Work hard to find them and eliminate them.  Questions like these are not tricks.  Accept that one (and only one) of the answers to each question is correct.  All the questions have been thoroughly checked.
  • Many candidates do not complete all sections in the test.  Use the practice test to ensure you know how to pace yourself.  Try to answer all the questions but don't worry if you don't get to the end of each section.
  • There is a point for each right answer, but no points are deducted for wrong answers – we do not use negative marking.  Try not to leave blanks.  If you really can't work out the answer, it is better to eliminate the answers that you know to be wrong and then make your best guess from those that are left.
  • If you are struggling with a question we would advise you to make your best guess and move on.  You can flag it for review if you want to come back to it later.
  • Finally, stay calm in the test. Prepare, pace yourself and move on if you're struggling.  It is inevitable you will find some questions and sections easier than others.

Verbal Reasoning Strategies

  • You are unlikely to be familiar with the content of the text shown to you. Do not draw on existing knowledge as this will not be relevant.
  • Think about how you will plan your time in this section. You need to allocate time to read each passage thoroughly.  In 2015 approximately 18% of candidates failed to answer every question.
  • This section requires real concentration – it is at the beginning of the test and you should be ready for this. Focus from the start.

Decision Making Strategies

  • Timing is important in this subtest.  Flag questions you are unsure about so you can come back to them at the end.
  • It may help you to write out or draw the information given in the question.  Make sure you have your booklet and pen to hand.
  • Some questions require you to 'drag and drop' the correct response.  Practice this functionality in the Tour Tutorial. 
  • Brush up on your maths skills around probability and Venn diagrams.
  • Some items ask you to weigh arguments for and against a particular solution to a problem.  You must suspend your own beliefs to reach the strongest conclusion.

Quantitative Reasoning Strategies

  • Timing is very important in this section – pace yourself during the test. Check how you are doing halfway through and adjust your speed accordingly.  In 2015 approximately 25% of candidates failed to answer every question.
  • Read the questions carefully – individual words and units may be crucial in answering the question correctly.
  • In the first place try to understand the scenario presented – this will help you focus quickly on the questions.
  • Use the laminated booklet and pen provided to assist with your calculations.
  • Review where there might be gaps in your maths. You may need to work out percentages, averages, ratios and fractions – remind yourself how to do some of these calculations if they are causing you problems.
  • If you are finding a question difficult, eliminate the more obvious incorrect answers.
  • Practice your mental arithmetic to speed up your answering.


  • A simple on-screen calculator is available for use in the Quantitative Reasoning subtest.  The calculator has been included within the timed practice tests. We strongly advise you to use the calculator when taking the practice tests in order to familiarise yourself with the functionality.  The calculator will look similar to this:

  • In the live test the calculator closes when you click away or move to another question.  You can recall it by clicking on the icon.  Your current calculations should be retained.  To clear the calculator click the ON/C button.  You can use the mouse or the number pad on your keyboard to operate the calculator.  Make sure the ‘Num Lock’ is on for the number pad to work. 
  • Please note that due to limitations with the web browser format the practice test calculator does not retain calculations when you click away or move to another question.
  • If you require assistance with the calculator during the test please raise your hand.

Abstract Reasoning Strategies

  • Timing is again important in this section.  In 2015 approximately 18% of candidates failed to answer every question. 
  • Remember to leave time to review set A and set B at the beginning of each set of questions. Once you have identified what links each set you are half way there.
  • Consider issues around size and shape of objects; number of objects; sides of objects; shading and colour; symmetry, number of angles, position and direction... this sounds complicated but as you look at these shapes you will start to grasp what you need to focus on.
  • What links shapes in set A and those in set B will often be linked in some way – remembering this may help you ignore distracting information.

Situational Judgement Strategies

  • This is the last subtest but you still need to able to concentrate fully during this section.
  • Read each scenario and response thoroughly before answering.
  • Remember, there are two sets of questions in this subtest; read the instructions carefully to make sure you understand what you have to do.
  • Within a scenario, each rating can be used more than once or not at all.  For example, all response options can be given the same rating of very appropriate.
  • Responses should relate to what an individual should do, rather than what they may be likely to do.
  • Response options should be treated independently.  You should make a judgement as to the appropriateness or importance of a response option independent from the other options presented within the scenario.
  • Response options provided are not intended to represent all possible options. The response you think would be the most appropriate/most important may not be present.
  • Some options may be appropriate/important in the short term (i.e. immediately addressing a wrong doing) and some are appropriate/important in the long term (discussing the implications of the wrong doing after the event). Consider response options irrelevant of the timeframe. A response option may still be an appropriate thing to do even if it is not something that can be done immediately.
  • Browse some of the sections of the General Medical Council’s “Good Medical Practice” to inform your responses in the Situational Judgement Test.