So you’ve been on our website and you’re fast becoming an expert at tackling the UKCAT… BUT you’re stuck on decision analysis?

Well, problem solved! We here at JobTestPrep have compiled the most useful tips and techniques for solving decision analysis problems – from the very basic to the most advanced.


In its simplest terms, the UKCAT decision analysis section consists of making and breaking codes. Firstly, you will be given a table of numbers and letters, each of which stands for a particular word that you will be told. Using this table, you will be asked to do some of the following activities:

  • Break a code
  • Use the table to create a code for a sentence
  • Choose two suitable code words that could be added to the table to improve the fluidity of a specific sentence


The biggest difficulty facing most people trying to solve decision analysis questions is deciding upon the technique to use. The three most common techniques are as follows:

  • Try to break and solve the code in your head, then look for a suitable answer option.
  • Use the Top-Down analysis, looking at the “big picture” first and then analysing the details of smaller components
  • Use the Bottom-Up analysis, putting together sub-systems to give rise to more complex systems 

So which is best?

In this section, you are given 34 minutes to answer 28 questions – this is the only section in the UKCAT where you have over 1 minute per question.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you write down your “broken and solved” code onto your whiteboard. This prevents you from making silly mistakes in your head. Whether you decide to use the Top-Down or Bottom-Up analysis is up to your personal preference. Some may find it time-consuming to do Top-Down, whilst others may prefer it because it decreases your chances of making a mistake.

Once you’ve written your broken code out, compare it to the five answer options you have been provided with. Four of these answer options have a specific and deliberate mistake in them, however similar they may be to the actual answer. These deliberate mistakes are known as distracters.

Look for any distracter answer options that have:

  • included new words
  • missed out words from the code
  • been written in the wrong tense
  • made incorrect reference to the singular or plural
  • misinterpreted commas and brackets
  • incorrectly used codes from the Operators column
  • been written too literally

This will help you to eliminate distracter answer options, thus increasing your chances of finding the correct answer.

If you’re still unable to decide on an answer despite having eliminated a few distracters, be aware that two or more answers may be correct at any one time – the important thing to remember is that you must select the most suitable answer. In other words, you must pick that which is more correct out of the remaining options.


This general overview into tackling the techniques behind Decision Analysis will help speed up your work, help you eliminate incorrect answers quickly and accurately, and increase the likelihood of finding the correct answer. For a more in-depth examination of the techniques and tips for the decision analysis section, visit our UKCAT section on and sign up for our UKCAT online packages (notes, explanations, and thousands of practice questions).