Part of the Advanced UKCAT Advice 2012 for Decision Analysis series
The practice of science is through inductive reasoning, not deductive. This practice is a systematic goal to gather evidence, knowledge or observations about nature and summarise them into laws and theories. These laws are not perfect – after all, they are our best interpretation of the observations we have collected.
In fact, medical science is an excellent example of this. If you’ve ever watched an episode of House MD, you’ll appreciate the fallibility of the diagnostic process. Complex biological systems are hard to decipher and interpret into what we can easily understand. There is great abundance of anomalies in our observations of the human body. Studies into the efficacy of a particular drug, for example, may only result in reams of statistical data suggesting that the drug only works some of the time. So as a doctor you will never have perfect data, or perfect knowledge to make a decision with – a skill that you learn to better with experience. It is for this reason that doctors are said to ‘practise’ medicine. Therefore it is required of physicians to be good decision makers from start – after all their decisions may cost lives.
The last of the four subtests in the UKCAT is the Decision Analysis subtest. Although you will need to apply grammatical rules and logic to your answers, this subtest assesses your ability to make good judgments from imperfect information.
From the Official UKCAT site, the Decision Analysis subtest assesses your ability:
… to decipher and make sense of coded information.
Before we delve into the finer details, take a quick look at the example question.