Part of the Advanced UKCAT Advice 2012 for Verbal Reasoning series
What’s most important in the early stages of any process of learning is that you need constant feedback – this is to climb the steep learning curve of any assessment. There is no point in tirelessly going through all the questions that you have available to you only to find that you have not learnt or developed your approach! You’ll only really know if you did well enough after your result – of course, by that time it’s too late. So focus on accuracy when practising first.
There are different types of feedback that one could try to pursue. The easiest is to passively compare your answers to the correct answer key. However, to just compare what you got right or wrong is just as pointless as going through all the practice questions all in one go.
Think back to a time when you were successful in an academic exam. What would you put that success down to? Don’t say luck, otherwise you won’t learn anything in a way in which is replicable. Don’t say you’re just “clever” either because unless you’re savant the layman’s concept of a genius does not exist. How clever someone else perceives you is all a matter of perspective.
Success in examinations is a product of many things. The perceptive among us will identify weaknesses in their approach and bolster the techniques that were worthwhile.
So when you go through questions initially, do them one set at a time. Mark yourself. Look at the ones you got right, the ones you got wrong. As they are fresh in your mind, reason why you got the same responses as the answer key. Make sure you got the question right with the right reasoning.
Then with your wrong answers find out why you were mistaken to believe your response to be the correct one. You don’t need others to explain most times, so along with the knowledge of the correct answer you can decipher firstly why it is the correct response and secondly why you came to yours. By doing this, you come to realise your own weaknesses: what assumptions you tend to make, whether you need to take more care in reading the passage, etc..