The UKCAT decision analysis subtest is considered by many to be the easiest subtest, and in 2013 this definitely appeared to be the case as average marks soared to 771. In 2014, the UKCAT consortium have made an effort to bring DA scores back inline, with a reduction in the time allocated to the test, and more challenging questions. In this spotlight blog, we will look at some of the ways to approach this test.

Why decision analysis?

Decision analysis is a different type of test compared to the subtests before it. In this test you are being asked to analyse a lot of information quickly, and to decode a message which is given to you in a different form. These are key skills as a doctor, as you may not always be given information in a clear and straightforward manner. You may find that you need to make informed decisions based on the information given to you.

In an added twist, you are asked to give a confidence rating stating how confident you were when giving your response. Be honest with this, and if you found it difficult to come to answer, reflect that in your confidence rating. The last thing you want is to claim you were supremely confident in a wrong answer.

It is important that you have a sound solving strategy. See our DA blog about the techniques available and how to use them in the test.

Decision analysis codes

As you know, the test is all about the codes. Here we discuss some tips to remember to help you answer the questions every time.

  • The DA subtest contains just one scenario. Before you start answering questions take a good look at the code to make sure you know the types of words included.
  • Some of the words in the code may have multiple meanings, and any of these meanings may be used in a sentence. Try to think of all meanings for words, as well as whether any of the words they are linked to change the meaning.
  • Some words in the code will change the meaning of another word if they are attached to them. For example increase or more may mean plural word, so “increase-personal” would mean the first person plural – we, our, ours.

Practise, practise, practise!

The best advice for the decision analysis subtest is simply to take practice tests and prepare fully. This test requires you to be able to take multiple pieces of information and infer the correct answers from them. You need to be organised to work quickly and efficiently through each piece of code. Practice will help you identify the best way to organise yourself.

Our UKCAT preparation packs contain four decision analysis tests as well as further solving strategies, to ensure that you go into your exam relaxed and prepared.