Medify’s Guide to the UCAT ANZ Abstract Reasoning Section

UCAT Section Advice


The Abstract Reasoning Section assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to link the relationships between given information, testing your spatial reasoning and awareness to identify patterns within abstract shapes surrounded by distracting and relevant content.

For each question, there will be pictures of shapes, you will be expected to find out the pattern or rule of which the lone shape given should fit into. As there are only 14 seconds per question on average, you must think quickly and make educational guesses at times. It is important to realise when you are spending too much time on a question, so you can move onto more straightforward problems.

A screen showing Medify's UCAT ANZ abstract reasoning section practice question

In total there are 55 questions to be answered within a 13 minute time frame; the questions are in a multiple choice format but with 4 different types of questioning styles all requiring different approaches in correctly answering them.

Question Types:


Two sets of shapes will be displayed as Set A & Set B, and you will be offered five Test Shapes; your task here is to decide what test shape fits in which set: Set A or Set B or Neither?


You will be presented with various alternating boxes of patterned shapes in them; the task for this one is for you to decide which of the four new boxes of shapes, offered for consideration, would make the next step in the sequence of the boxes full of shapes.


A ‘statement’ consisting of two sets of shapes will be displayed, one of the sets will have had changes applied to it; the task here is to make the same changes to the given test shapes and then decide which, out of the four, option would be the next step in the sequence of the pattern.


Question type 4 is very similar to question type one but has one less test shape set to consider for the sequence of Set A or Set B.

How does this relate to being a doctor or dentist?

The Abstract Reasoning section is all about viewing things from all angles, critically thinking of possible and likely hypotheses by evaluating, assessing and judging information within a short time period; these are the exact same skills, tasks and duties required for being a doctor or a dentist in order to conclude a correct diagnosis from data given in medical test results and patients symptoms.

A Useful Mnemonic For Remembering What To Look For In The Abstract Reasoning Section:

The mnemonic CPR: C (common and colour), P (position) and R (rotation and orientation)

This mnemonic of CPR will allow you to skim check each pattern within every question to quickly observe any common factors between each set given.


Common and Colour:

  • Check for any repeated shapes within the boxes
  • Repeated sizes of the same shape
  • Repeated number of the same shape
  • Beware of colour: Colour is often used to distract from finding the correct pattern; if it is obvious the pattern does not include colour than it is most likely a distraction but colour can be another repeated element used within a genuine pattern too.


  • What is the position of a shape within the box and is it in the same position within other boxes too?
  • Is a certain shape always positioned opposite another shape?
  • Is a certain shape always place within another shape?
  • Or is a certain shape always put in between other shapes that are the same?

Rotation and Orientation:

  • Is there a clockwise or anti-clockwise pattern?
  • Does the pattern stay the same in the next box but the orientation of the whole box has changed and then the same with the following boxes?
A lightbulb floating on top of a hand, next to the text "Revision Tips"

Here we have collected the 5 best Abstract Reasoning Revision Tips just for you, to successfully get you through.


What is the pattern?

Look for the pattern first instead of focusing on trying to match the test shape with a set of patterns straightaway. Analyse all of the sets of patterns provided, concluding what each pattern actually is and then attempt to identify what pattern set the shape best fits in.

A screen showing Medify's UCAT ANZ abstract reasoning section practice question

How many angles?

If you really cannot spot the pattern, have you tried looking at it from all angles? Side tilting your head left or right, moving closer or further away from the screen just may give you the perspective you are looking for to identify the correct pattern for your given test shape to belong in.

A magnifying glass

Half full or half empty?

When presented with all the boxes of different patterns, identify the emptiest first, the box with the least images within it, and working out the patterns from there, then you will be starting with the less purposely distracting boxes and slowly building up to the boxes that have more.

A bottle of water and a glass half-filled with water.

What is SCANS?

SCANS is a mnemonic which many students use to help them remember all the elements to look at when trying to identify which pattern the given shape should suit. It stands for:

The mnemonic SCANS: S (shape), C (colour/fill), A (arrangement/angles), N (number) and S (symmetry)

Does practice really make perfect?

Definitely yes; the more you practise now and get used to the way the questions work and how to answer them, the easier it will be on the day of the actual test. The best way to practise is with an online UCAT ANZ study course such as our UCAT ANZ 2020 Online Course which gives you a realistic environment of the real test, allowing you to practise like you are sitting the real thing.

A target with a dart in the bullseye, a dart missing the bullseye and three darts missing the target.

Note: It is important to look at all of the patterns in each question before deciding which one the given shape belongs in, as there may be tricks within each question to steer you into making the wrong decision.

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Feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious? Please don’t worry, head over to our UCAT ANZ 2020 Online Course and we’ll get you signed up guiding you through this whole process step-by-step.

We have a bank of over 10,239 questions, a decision making section and 8 full mock exams and 18 mini-mock exams; we even give you performance feedback too.

We’ve been lending a successful helping hand since 2009. Medify is here to support you, just reach out to us.

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