Learn how to master the UCAT calculator, including an exciting tool to build your speed to the absolute maximum!
The UCAT calculator can be a fiddle.
But whether you love it or hate it, you definitely need it.
In this article we walk through some of the key ways to improve your performance and reveal an exciting feature of our UCAT Online Course to help with this (see tip 2!).
Your best path to mastering the calculator is to learn these tips and put them into practice as quickly as possible, either using our free UCAT practice questions or our UCAT question bank (available through our course).
Make sure these tips are second nature by the time you sit the exam!
Learn the following UCAT shortcuts to increase your speed in the QR section. It may not save much time, but even seconds can be valuable.
The Calculator Speed Trainer is our answer to the time pressure in the Quantitative Reasoning section. Too many students lose marks, not because they don’t know the answers, but because they can’t work them out fast enough.
The Calculator Speed Trainer works through targeted repetition. You are timed as you input calculations of varying complexity. This is then turned into a score.
This builds calculator speed into your muscle memory, so you can work the calculator keys like a caffeine-fuelled jedi (even if you don’t drink coffee).
Remember, you only have around 41 seconds to answer each question, so speed is fundamental.
To increase your speed in VR too, check out our VR Inference Trainer. Both UCAT Skills Trainers are included with all UCAT Online Course packages.
It’s much faster to use the number pad than clicking numbers on the calculator with your mouse. Shaving off the seconds can really give you the edge in the QR section.
Buy a keyboard with a squared number pad if you have a laptop.
Quick mental calculations are often necessary in UCAT Quantitative Reasoning. Remember, it is a multiple choice test, so you don’t need perfect accuracy.
If your guesstimation takes you close to one of the options, select it and move on.
Doing this instead of using the calculator can be the difference between finishing the test and falling short.
The calculator can be used to sense check your calculations, if you have extra time.
The UCAT calculator does not have a square or power button. Learn your basic squares to overcome this.
An alternative to memorising is to write out the full sum and use a calculator. For example, if you have four to the power of five, you can write out five fours – as below – and group some numbers together to save time.
You can store values temporarily and clear the memory by using the memory function.
If you want to recall a calculation, press ‘M+’ to store the number you are using in the calculator’s memory. This can then be reused at any point in the multi-step calculation by pressing ‘MRC’.
If you have to multiply by the product of two numbers, for example, this can really save time.
Take '(16 x 19)³' – if you input '16x19' and press the M+ button, you can simply press 'MRC x MRC x MRC'.
Use this to store the negative of an answer for later use in calculations. An 'M' will appear to the left-hand side of the display to show that the answer has been stored.
On/C stands for On/Clear.
Use this to switch on the calculator, clear the display screen or cancel a whole equation.
For example, let’s say you wanted to divide 161 by 4, but accidentally put in 5 instead of 4. ON/Clear would get rid of the entire operation, then you would have to retype in '161 ÷ 4'.
By maximising the number of questions you do, you can:
Got general questions about the UCAT? Read our UCAT overview
A jeweller specialises in gold necklaces, which cost her £100 to make. She pays a £25,000 running cost at the beginning of every year, regardless of how many she sells.
During peak months (January, February and December), she can sell her necklaces at £180 each. At any other time of year they sell for £120.
Each year she changes her designs and old designs decrease by 10% of their original price.
If she sells 1200 necklaces of a 2015 design in 2017, how many necklace designs would she have to sell to break even (in non-peak months)?
Scroll down to see the answer.
The necklaces are two years old, so they are now worth 80% of their original value (non-peak months).
Price = 0.8 x 120 = £96
Each necklace costs £100 to make, so she’s losing £4.
Times the number of necklaces by the amount she loses from each one: 1200 x £4 = £4800.
Add the amount of running costs she must pay each year: £25000 + £4800 = 29800.
With each necklace sold in non-peak months she makes £20 profit, so divide through to find how many necklaces she must sell: 29800/20 = 1490 necklaces.
1010 This is if you mistook the £4800 as profit and subtracted it from the running costs.
373 This is if you divided through by 80 (for peak months) rather than 20 (for non-peak month profit).
240 In getting this, you forgot to add the running costs before dividing through to find the number of necklaces.
(You get this level of feedback on every question with Medify’s UCAT Online Course.)
Finally, head over to our UCAT Online Course and we’ll get you signed up to guide you through this whole process.