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Abstract Reasoning today (plus test tips)

Discussion in 'UKCAT' started by d2024p, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. d2024p

    d2024p New Member

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    Yes this is another thread about AR and the marking and for that I apologise, but this is my first post so you all have to humour me :).

    Last year I sat the UKCAT. I got 680 VR, 640 NR, 600 DA and 580 AR. I'm not one of those blessed with the knack for AR so I just went with what 'felt' right for each answer and to be honest I was quite pleased with my score in that section.

    Today I sat UKCAT again, was really pleased with 3 areas - 700 VR, 680 QR and 680 DA.

    In the AR section this year I scored a miserable 470, despite using EXACTLY the same approach for identifying the likely correct answers as last time round.

    I'm no statistician but surely with a subset of over 60 multiple choice questions there should be enough scope for someone using the same technique two years running to post two very similar scores. It appears to me that this section of the exam is a random and arcane lottery. After all this exam is supposed to be one you cannot revise for, one that is supposed to test one's innate abilities in a particular area. If it is possible to achieve such different scores in the space of a year (unless my brain has got worse at recognising shapes and patterns) then surely is the test not flawed?

    The same is true of the other sections although I would argue that my improvement in general has been relatively slight on the whole and it is possible that I could have adapted my approaches to these, whereas I know I haven't adapted my approach to the AR as I never had any other than a 'best guess' method.
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    Rant over, for anyone yet to take the test some tips for what they're worth:

    - I am a pretty hopeless mathematician and am really pleased with 680 for QR. I answered only 1/3 of the questions and guessed the rest, completely skipping the ones which looked too complex and focusing on ones such as pie charts etc with the minimum amount of information on the screen to have to process.

    - Write down the literal (English) translations for the Decision Analysis before you attempt to solve them, it makes it so much easier and it is something I didn't do last year.

    - Ask to be put in a single room! I wasn’t last year and the sounds of 9 other mice clicking away at their driving theory test hazard perceptions etc was really off-putting. This year I asked on the off-chance and they were more than happy to oblige. I even got the feeling that the staff (at least in the Oxford Pearson Vue centre) seem to want to oblige UKCAT candidates more than anyone else! Maybe we're a bit of a novelty.

    Hope some or all of this helps and I'd be interested to find out what you think about the abstract reasoning.
     
    #1 d2024p, Sep 21, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009
  2. magpie7

    magpie7 New Member

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    So to sum that all up...

    You got a fairly low score in Year 1, but you were still pleased with it. Year 2 came and you got a lower score and weren't pleased with it. You decided to then blame it on the test.

    This is a clear example of: "Blame it on someone else. No, it wasn't me."

    As you stated, in the first year you just guessed with gut instinct. You done the same in the second year.

    What if your gut instinct was actually just complete guesses both years, and the first year you just seemed to be luckier.

    If you had a better technique other than "guessing" your argument would be more valid.

    I'm sure Pearson VUE have many people taking the UKCAT more than once, and while comparing their scores with past scores, would have done something about it if their scores varied massively each time they took it.
     
  3. d2024p

    d2024p New Member

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    Magpie7

    I do not want to continue a forum-wide argument about the validity of the UKCAT. Yes, you did very well in the test – we can all see that–you’ve put it in your sig. I do not for a moment want to take away your achievement.

    All I was saying was that the test seems a little random. I consider myself to have very good abstract and spatial awareness (I work as a surveyor and I don’t think that it would be possible to be a capable surveyor without these skills, I’m sure you’ll correct me if you disagree).

    Similarly, I consider myself to have, in terms of the UKCAT ‘syllabus’, sub-standard QR skills. I attempted just a third of all the maths questions, yet I attained what by anyone’s standards would be considered a good score. Not excellent, but above par.

    My comments on the AR were that I attempted the questions not being able to see a definite pattern, but working on loose criteria that worked in my mind, and deciding where things should go based on the look of the patterns and groups involved. This was by no means guess-work (perhaps I would have done better using this approach, I don’t know). The approach I used, despite not following definite rules, did employ abstract reasoning – no matter how flawed this reasoning was. As such, as I said, from such a large group of questions I should imagine that I would achieve a very similar, if quite low score, to last year if I attempted the questions in the same way, as there are enough questions to counteract the occurrence of too many lucky guesses.

    All I am saying in summation is that in my objective opinion the questions in this section are not sufficiently well thought out to allow for consistency year-on-year. I do not feel that the test as a whole is flawed, I do believe that the balance has yet to be found on the Abstract Reasoning section for it be considered consistently reliable, partly evidenced by the decision by the examining body to remove this section from a UKCAT run not long ago. From my perspective of course I would be happy for this element to be removed as I believe it to be the only section that is not even attemptable without the right brain for it – giving an advantage to those candidates who just ‘get’ it. However I would like to think that I would say the same if I were not one of those who attained 800-900 in the test. I will never know.

    I am quite happy with my results - the three other sections come very close to yours on average so hell they must be good – I have no reason to be ashamed that there is one element of the test which is a complete mystery to me. My score has improved since last year. I have no regrets or excuses. I do not wish to undermine the exam in general, or your status as someone who can do abstract reasoning to a UKCAT standard.
     
  4. dizzyair

    dizzyair New Member

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    i've noticed this magpie on a few topics.

    geez.
    if magpie ever actually becomes a doctor i hope i don't have to be treated by them.
     
  5. magpie7

    magpie7 New Member

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    A Doctor with an opinion that not everyone agrees with... Damn, who'd have thought?
     
  6. dizzyair

    dizzyair New Member

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    gosh.
    a doctor with a bad attitude and no communication skills.
    just what everyone needs.
    does belittling people make you feel better?
     
  7. magpie7

    magpie7 New Member

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    1) You don't know me.

    2) Things said on the internet are read with no expressions. In reality I don't talk to people in a belittling manner and have good communication skills.

    3) I tell people the truth, as not to give them false hopes. Many appreciate this. How can you interpret this as 'bad attitude'?

    4) I only put up a strong worded and completey biased argument, when others do the same. eg. "OMG I did bad in UKCAT, therefore it is useless in every single way."
     
  8. dizzyair

    dizzyair New Member

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    fair point.

    i'm just thanking god i'm not applying to any unis you are.
     
  9. magpie7

    magpie7 New Member

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    Likewise.

    I would hate to be on a course with people who flip if I don't share their own opinion.
     
  10. dizzyair

    dizzyair New Member

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    i didn't flip out.
    i have more important things to flip out over than what a 17/18 year old is gabbling on about.
    sorry.

    as you would say. i was merely voicing an opinion.
     
  11. shellyk

    shellyk New Member

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    guys you are both missing the point of this forum.... lets all support and learn from each other, no one needs more enemies... god knows we got enough of those!

    back to the original thought, how long is ukcat running? i suppose its indeed possible there's place for improvement... However, as magpie sensibly suggested, since your both attepts didnt sound very systematic, you cant expect a pattern. Maybe the lessons you derived from last time didnt work well in practise, and maybe you marked the questions wrong. god knows.

    If you have serious doubt, i would feedback to ukcas.
     
  12. d2024p

    d2024p New Member

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    Hey thanks Shelly for steering the thread back to topic!

    I don't have any grounds for feedback to UKCAS, I'm mainly really frustrated that what was otherwise a good test could get dragged down so badly by a section that I just cannot do. In the cold light of day, I accept that there are many who 'get' the whole section, even though I am thrown by the fact that it is possible for scores in any of the sections to vary so much from year to year. My other scores are a significant improvement, and this confuses me too as I've done no more preparation this year.

    I suppose I'm just going to always be one of the bitter AR haters who resents the fact that this is the only section where you are not provided with the tools to do the job as efficiently as possible - rather you go in just being expected to understand it. I'd love to be able to get a 680+ score and get a nice average but it just ain't me :D

    And of course if the rumours are true and many unis make many of their judgements on the worst score of the four I look like a terrible candidate, and I just don't feel like one!

    Anyway GL all who haven't taken it, hope it goes well for you.
     
  13. onandup

    onandup New Member

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    I agree, there are elements of the test some people will just not get, not because they are any less intelligent imo, but because that section is geared towards a certain type of thinking.

    Einstien was a genius in the area of physics...he may not have been so hot on other topics....dont make him a dum dum

    i think AR in particular works against divergent thinkers...ive seen patterns where books haven't even commented on. im sure they double/triple check with lots of people to rduce incidence of this, but the mind is a complex thing, and it may be the case that you find a true pattern, that is not the pattern the examiners are given as the answer. does this make you any more wrong? minimal i know, but still the importance which they place on these marks makes u want to nitpick things that can negatively affect a v.competent candidate.


    which brings me to the conclusion....medical entry should not be decided (and i beleive they are , heavily) on these stupid ass tests. Of course, competition is high and they need something, what can u do. for me it lowers the tone, ive seen people with atrocious academic histroy ace this test and get a place above others who are in the top 5% of their uni class and do not so well.

    this is not something i wish to take ever again.

    its all about business and money, if it were truly about selecting the best students, it would be free or sig cheaper. in cases ive seen international students with not so good marks get in above home students. its a big dose of luck, speed and attention to detail and luck!
     
  14. Gowrav

    Gowrav New Member

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    Totally agree. I got a decent score but i still think the UKCAT is an excuse for the government to mkae money. I know a lot of very clever people that didn't do so well. And i i know one person that guessed everyhting and came out with 810 average score. I think the test is mostly about luck and doesn't really test you're intellect. I think the way forward is case studies and they way you would handle the situation. This would certainly sort the student applying to medical students.
     
  15. magpie7

    magpie7 New Member

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    The Government? You mean Pearson VUE? The only money the Government will make from it, is the tax (and I highly doubt the Government even suggested the UKCAT; more likely to be BMA.)

    Guessed 'everything' and got a score of 810? Would you believe everything this person said?... I would guess so judging from that.
     
  16. Kinkerz

    Kinkerz Active Member

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    That's not important as a doctor?

    I think the principles of the UKCAT are good; test you can't revise for, testing innate skills, setting a level playing field. Thing is, it doesn't really live upto the principles. You most certainly can revise for it, I'm not sure it tests innate skills (at least seemingly not relevant ones) and due to this, I don't think the playing field is levelled by it.

    I agree with the money arguments. That said, the GAMSAT is alot more expensive and the general opinion is that that test's a decent differentiator.
     
  17. onandup

    onandup New Member

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    ahh...kinkerz...
    well on reading my post, I did not say there are not aspects about the test that were not completely abstract to skill.

    The premise of my post was that (and i mention the word minimal) is that some v.talented and smart people will not do so well due to the type of thinking ukcat draws from.

    I still don't think it should be relied on as heavily, and it is - this is my major problem- but as i said, i understand the competition brings in the need for some kind of extra deciding factor, and such tests 'get rid' of a lot of people quite quickly, while making them feel they've selected some verbal/quantitative/abstract reasoning genius to boot.

    I would not have said "attention to detail" if i didnt think it required some necessary and beneficial skill, and its a tough test - little time, much pressure -but if you want to make that a hangar point, they could also bring in a where's wally book and ask us to find him in 5 seconds as a test of attention to detail.

    Any test has its flaws, but i see how it is used as a decider, kings for example rely v.v.heavily on it for most people, ask all the 700+on the course, and i also happen to think IMO that it is a test that all too easily eliminates amazing students, but i guess it also opens doors to people who haven't done academically well over the years (isn't a good academic background important too?). As a said, luck, it aint an easy path for all.
     
    #17 onandup, Sep 22, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  18. Kinkerz

    Kinkerz Active Member

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    I agree with that, it's just you seemed to lump in 'attention to detail' with negative aspects of the test.
     

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