Section 1: Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving

44 questions
65 minutes

Generally, Section 1 of UMAT involves some basic introductory ideas about science along with fairly straight-forward logic.

The questions included in section one are generally along the lines of:

  • The Scientific Method
  • The use of control groups and placebos
  • Basic logical reasoning
  • More complex logical reasoning

The Scientific Method

This is the accepted and used method for exploring new knowledge or investigating prior knowledge. There are lots of questions that ask about this study, or information that can be deduced from a set piece of text.

Understanding the Scientific Method is important in being able to point out flaws in the studies or conclusions with which you will be presented.

Basing your interpretation of the question on the Scientific Method can be helpful especially in cases of "what can be deduced/inferred from the passage" because it will help you to think in a systematic way. You should look at the hypothesis set up at the beginning, the method, the control group, the results, and especially the interpretation. You should be able to see where the information 'jumps' in logic, and hence where you can draw the line on what is an acceptable inference.

In some cases the Scientific Method is not strictly relevant, but approaching the questions systematically can help you to answer them.

The student John often gets to class late. His teachers often get upset about his late arrival. John is an otherwise conscientious and polite student.

What can be inferred from the above question?
A) That he leaves home late
B) That he often has valid reasons for being in class late
C) That John doesn't like getting to class late
D) That he may leave home on time, yet still arrive late
E) That John does this on purpose to upset his teachers.

You can see that there is a 'jump' between saying that John arrives late and leaves late. He may not leave late, but there could be circumstances beyond his control which mean he is often late. The only answer that can be inferred from the above is D - he may leave on time but still arrives late.

Here the interpretation is flawed in all of the other cases. You must not bring other information to the question. While you may know a John who is often late because he leaves home late you should ignore this. The information being presented in UMAT is always enough to get a logically sound answer.

Click to open more information on another page:
The Scientific Method

Control Groups

Control groups are part of the scientific method, but here we have given it a new sub-heading as we feel it is fairly important in UMAT. Control groups are compared to the subjects. They are used in studies to compare two otherwise identical groups on one factor. In Medicine, control groups are used to compare two otherwise identical groups, except that one groups will be receiving the treatment (often called intervention) and the other will be receiving the placebo.

Sometimes the control group receives a treatment which has been proven to be better than the placebo previously. In the end, the idea is the same - we are comparing one group to the controls. The controls are our baseline.

To eliminate biases we must make sure that the control and cases are the same in all ways except for the treatment. This optimises the results so that we can say the difference we saw/didnt see is attributable to the only difference between the groups - the intervention.

Understanding the idea of controls is important in UMAT as it will most probably come up. The following pages have quite good explanations for control groups and the placebo effect.

Click to open more information on another page:
Control Groups


X, Y, Z - Deductive/Inductive logic

There are several questions in UMAT which will require you to think in a completely decontextualised environment in which X, Y, and Z will interact. The questions asked here involve deductive logic. The reason why above we say 'decontextualised' is because there may be a completely fictitious situation, but deductive logic involves conclusions based on premises which means the conclusions cannot be false.

Furthermore, not only can there only be one right answer and this answer always be completely logical in context, it can be completely untrue in relation to real life. If you are asked about flying monkeys and the information being presented supports flying monkeys, then no-one cares what you think about flying monkeys - the answer is that monkeys fly!

All primates can fly
Monkeys are a primate

Can monkeys fly?

The answer here is yes. It does not matter that the premises are flawed. The flawed premises leading to a flawed conclusion is simply a trick to get you to recall your own experience. You may know that monkeys cannot fly, but if you take into account your own experience in answering the question then you will be wrong! You are to base your answer purely on the argument being presented to you and nothing more. This is deductive logic. Inductive logic is essentially the same as deductive logic, but it involves arguments which are probably true and does not guarantee the conclusion.

There are lots of organisations out there like MENSA whom have have published quiz books with these sorts of questions. There is more information in the section on unofficial preparation for UMAT.

In the test you may get questions which ask you how things relate to one another. An example of this is:

If all X are Y then all Y are Z, then which of the following is true?
All Z are X
No Y are Z
There is no way to know the link between X and Z
All X are Z

To help you answer this type of question you may wish to draw a Venn diagram. This will help you to see that all Z are indeed X, but not all X are Z.

A real example of this is X = Fruit, Y = Fruit that grow in NZ and Z = Apples. With each circle inside a circle you are narrowing down the categories given in the previous statements, and eventually will get to all Z are in fact X. If you do not know what a Venn Diagram is or how they work, the link is provided below to the wikipedia article.

Venn Diagrams
Deductive logic
Inductive logic