FREE UCAT Verbal Reasoning Questions and Answers


The Chinese are widely credited with inventing porcelain 1,000 years ago, when they mixed kaolin (china clay), feldspar, and quartz at such high temperatures that the components fused together to form a milky-white translucent ceramic. In addition, the Chinese invented advanced ways for painting and glazing the pottery they produced.

In the late Middle Ages, small volumes of porcelain arrived in the West, where it was considered as an exotic curiosity. Amounts surged in the 16th and 17th centuries, as Western maritime powers used sea power to sail to and from China. By the late 17th century, the Chinese had established a thriving export sector to meet the demands of the European upper classes.

Because importing porcelain from China was expensive, many people in Europe attempted to make their own porcelain or an acceptable equivalent. All of these endeavors failed until the discovery of Johann Boettger, a man whose career spanned both the ancient era of alchemy and the contemporary era of chemistry.

Boettger had plenty of time to figure out the method because he had been imprisoned by Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, for failing to carry out his claim of being able to transform base metal into gold. In his hunt for a porcelain-making technique, Boettger worked methodically through a range of local materials, maintaining meticulous records of both the compounds utilized and the temperatures used to fuse them together. In 1708, he discovered a composition that would lead to the establishment of the Meissen porcelain factory.

Like many inventions, commercial success was slow to arrive. Many factors contributed to this, including difficulties scaling up the process to commercial scale, industrial espionage, Boettger's limitations as an entrepreneur, the Elector's meddling, and a lack of finance to develop the method. Nonetheless, Meissen is highly sought for today due to the factory's employment of several exceptionally talented illustrators and modellers.

Johann Boettger discovered porcelain by using alchemy.

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The first sentence in the opening paragraph indicates, "The Chinese are generally credited with the invention of porcelain 1,000 years ago." Therefore, Johann Boettger did not find porcelain at all; he simply discovered a technique to reproduce it.

The latest insight as to why our modern food may be making us sick comes from Harvard specialist Richard Wrangham, who contends that the most significant transformation in the human diet occurred when we started to cook.

"More than a million years ago, our human ancestors began cooking and probably also had more children who thrived," Wrangham said. Pounding and heating food 'predigests' it, which means our bellies use less energy breaking it down, absorbing more than if it were raw, and extracting more fuel for our brains. "Cooking produces soft, energy-rich foods," Wrangham explains.

To put his theories to the test, Wrangham and his students fed rats and mice both raw and prepared food. When I visited Wrangham's lab at Harvard, he showed me plastic bags containing raw or cooked beef and sweet potatoes. Mice raised on cooked food gained 15-40% more weight than mice raised on raw food.

If Wrangham is correct, cooking not only provided early humans with the energy they required to create larger brains, but it also allowed them to obtain more calories from food and gain weight. "We have now become so good at processing foods that for the first time in human evolution, many humans are getting more calories than they burn in a day. We need to become more aware of the calorie-raising consequences of a highly processed diet," Wrangham said.

The global shift to processed foods is contributing to an increasing epidemic of obesity and related disorders. If the majority of the globe ate more local fruits and vegetables, a little meat, fish, and whole grains (as in the highly praised Mediterranean diet), and exercised for an hour a day, our health—and the planet's—would improve.

Humans started to give up eating only raw food about:

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The passage's second paragraph states that "More than a million years ago, our human ancestors began cooking," implying that at that time (approximately 1.1 million years ago), they began to abandon their diet of raw food.

Homeopathy's fundamental ideas contradict scientific evidence. If these were true, much of what we learned about physics and chemistry would be incorrect. Homeopaths frequently state that we have not yet found how homeopathy works. The truth is that there is no feasible scientific explanation for it. Nonetheless, as a clinician nearly 30 years ago, I was impressed with the results obtained through homeopathy. Many of my patients appeared to significantly improve after obtaining homeopathic medication. How was this possible?

To appreciate this seeming paradox, we need to step back and analyze the intricacies of the therapeutic response. When a patient or a group of patients receives medical therapy and then improves, we naturally infer that the intervention caused the improvement. This logical mistake can be extremely deceptive and has slowed medical development for centuries. Of sure, it could be the treatment; nevertheless, there are numerous other alternatives.

For example, the condition may have improved on its own. Alternatively, the interaction between the therapist and the patient could have been therapeutic without any significant input from the treatment itself. Alternatively, the patient may have had high hopes for the treatment, which triggered a strong placebo response. Or the patient self-administered other treatments concurrently, which resulted in the improvements. In other words, the patient benefits from the non-specific effect of the situation in which the cure is administered, rather than the remedy itself.

According to the paragraph, homeopathic concepts lack scientific validity.

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In the first paragraph, the author draws a sharp contrast between scientific principles and homeopathy. Homeopathy is stated to 'fly in the face of science', implying that 'physics and chemistry would be erroneous' and having 'no scientific explanation'.

When Galileo Galilei was born in 1564, Venice served as the Mediterranean world's hub. Galileo had a reputation at Pisa for mathematics and fundamental science, but the Venetians most likely hired him as a mathematics professor because of his practical inventions. In 1608, some Flemish spectacle-makers created a crude spyglass. They attempted to sell it to the Venetian Republic. However, the Republic had Galileo at its disposal, a scientist and mathematician considerably superior to anyone in Northern Europe, as well as a much better publicist.

He was ecstatic when he learned about the Flemish innovation and created an instrument of the same quality in one night, with a magnification of three, but quickly increased the magnification to eight, resulting in a real telescope. From the top of the Campanile, he showed the Venetian senators his 'telescope', which showed them a ship twenty miles or two hours away. That was extremely valuable to Venetian traders.

Galileo developed the current scientific method after realizing that simply turning the Flanders toy into a navigation device was insufficient because it could also be used for research. He adjusted the magnification to thirty and focused his telescope on the stars. For the first time, he engaged in 'practical science', making the apparatus, experimenting, and reporting the results. In 1610, he wrote The Starry Messenger, which recounted his astronomical observations, described his discovery of four unknown 'planets', and outlined his investigation of our moon. He published the first maps of the moon.

His reputation grew much stronger than it had been inside the Venetian trading society. What Galileo saw in the sky indicated that orthodox Ptolemaic cosmology would not work. Showing Copernicus was correct did not appeal to the establishment's bias. Galileo had made a major mistake.

According to the passage, Galileo's 'telescope' was more effective than the Flemish spyglass because:

Correct! Wrong!

In the first paragraph, the author draws a sharp contrast between scientific principles and homeopathy. Homeopathy is stated to 'fly in the face of science', implying that 'physics and chemistry would be erroneous' and having 'no scientific explanation'.

The regime needed to discover a mechanism to treat civil war-related health issues or injuries among its loyalists. People who lived far from the country's six hospitals required healthcare. However, the hospitals were always at capacity, with waiting lists of more than two years for practically everything. Doctors had long grumbled about the surgeries individuals required. But they never had the time, money, or resources to deliver them.

As a result, the train functioned as a mobile health facility. It was outfitted and sponsored with assistance from other countries and international charities. The train is outfitted with two completely equipped operating rooms, a pharmacy, a laboratory for testing samples, diagnosis and scanning equipment, and treatment areas. Over the course of 42 weeks, the train stops in 17 different communities along a 1,900-mile circuit. It stays in each town for at least two weeks, and usually longer.

The train has its own medical personnel, as well as additional doctors and consultants who work for four or six weeks. Patients no longer have to travel as far to receive care as they formerly did. Overall, far more people receive treatment. Over the last year, 27,800 patients have received free medical care, including procedures for critical ailments including cancer and heart disease. Nearly 10,000 procedures have been performed to treat less serious disorders.

The patients treated by the train are all members of the ruling party, which controls the country's government.

Correct! Wrong!

In paragraphs 1 and 3, we are told that the rulers needed to find a means to heal their followers who had been hurt during the civil war, but there is no indication that these were the only ones who received treatment aboard the train. Paragraph 3 states how many people have been treated but does not specify whether they are or must be members of a particular party to receive therapy, hence the answer is 'Can't tell'.

St Kilda is located 41 miles west of Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Its islands had been inhabited since prehistoric times and had evolved a distinct civilization. Until they left in 1930, the community had struggled for years with isolation and the elements. Healthcare was inadequate, and food production gradually failed. Scientists observed that the islanders unknowingly damaged the soil by using seabird carcasses to manure their fields, resulting in lethal levels of contamination and rendering them nearly worthless as a food source. When a local spring dried up, drinking water had to be imported until a desalination system was installed.

Although it now has no permanent population, St Kilda is occupied year-round by persons temporarily working on the military installation (built in 1957), as well as botanists, geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, ornithologists, oceanographers conducting vital research, and volunteers. They rely on military infrastructure for energy, water, supplies, communications, and medical care. There is also a helicopter pad on the military base. This simplifies the work of conservation organizations and serves the demands of around 2,000 tourists per year.

Technology can now substantially address the issues that led to St Kilda's evacuation 90 years ago. It appears that the islands' temporary population will eventually become permanent, particularly if oil exploration is permitted. In 1986, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated St Kilda as a World Heritage Site in honor of its natural beauty, seabird population, and diverse ecological habitats. More recently, St Kilda's cultural legacy has become the organization's primary focus, encouraging people to appreciate a way of life that is no longer available. All of this could be jeopardized if oil is discovered there.

What factor does the writer emphasise as being most likely to lead to the settlement of a permanent population on St Kilda?

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According to the final paragraph, allowing oil exploration will result in a more permanent population. In paragraph 2, we learn that those who live on the military post are only temporary residents.

You are going down a jungle trail when you hear a stir in the undergrowth. A twinge of fear grips you. Another rustling sound sends you running down the path as fast as you can. Why did you do it? You thought some animal, possibly a predator, was about to spring out at you. However, the rustling was generated by a gust of wind. You created a "false positive" mistake.

Later, you follow the same path and notice a rustle in the undergrowth. "Just a gust of wind," you tell yourself as you proceed down the trail, only to be smacked by a leopard. You made a "false negative" error, which has catastrophic implications.

We learn to notice patterns at a young age, and these patterns may or may not be relevant. It may be prudent to treat all strange events as potentially life-threatening until our experience with them demonstrates otherwise.

False positive errors are common in everyday life, sometimes producing bad outcomes. The parent who says “I do not wish my child to be vaccinated against measles because there is a risk of brain damage” is not evaluating the risk involved in contracting measles at a later date. Comparing risks shows that the much higher risk of catching measles with a devastating outcome far outweighs the miniscule risk involved in vaccination.

Identifying false positive errors is important in medicine because:

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In the case of immunization, the parent committed a false positive error because they believed brain injury was quite possible. This could result in incorrect therapy (any alternative to immunization).

In 1803, the United States paid France $15 million for roughly 827,000 square miles of land ranging from New Orleans in the south to Canada in the north. Previously, the Mississippi River served as the United States' western frontier.

Initially, Napoleon Bonaparte envisioned a French empire that included the Mississippi Valley. This would give food and trade to Hispaniola (today the Dominican Republic and Haiti). However, Haitian slaves took Hispaniola in 1801, and the French lost many soldiers in their attempt to retake it. When Napoleon decided to quit Hispaniola, he had little regard for Louisiana. Indeed, anticipating a fresh war with Britain, he could not spare troops to protect the area and required finances to further his European military ambitions.

Meanwhile, concerned about French intentions, President Jefferson dispatched two representatives to Paris to buy a plot of land on the lower Mississippi near New Orleans for up to $10 million. Alternatively, they would gain a guarantee of free river navigation. Imagine their surprise when Napoleon proposed to sell the entire Louisiana Territory for $15 million.

As a result, the United States doubled in size, and the Mississippi River's freedom of navigation was guaranteed. Although the US Constitution was silent on whether the federal government could acquire new territory through treaty, Jefferson, with the tacit support of the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives, saw that the practical benefits outweighed any potential constitutional violations. The Senate, which has the ability to ratify, concurred. In December 1803, the French ceded the Louisiana Territory to the United States for just $15 million.

Napoleon was prepared to sell the Louisiana Territory because he:

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The second part of the article states: "Once Napoleon decided to abandon Hispaniola, he had little use for Louisiana. Indeed, facing renewed war with Britain, he could not spare troops to defend the territory and needed funds to support his European military aspirations."

NASA's roving vehicle 'Curiosity' may be able to drill into the Martian surface, collect up samples, and deliver them to its suite of scientific instruments, but its operational range is restricted by appropriate terrain and the length of its probe arms. The American space agency is considering a more radical strategy for capturing planetary or atmospheric particles at larger distances and transferring them to an orbiting spacecraft or ground-based laboratory for investigation. The use of laser light to capture and move items may appear to be ridiculous science fiction, but funding has been allocated to examine the viability of three 'tractor beams' capable of gathering single molecules, viruses and functioning cells.

The first experimental method uses two counter-propagating light beams to form a 'ring' that traps particles within its darkened core. By increasing or decreasing the intensity of one of the beams, particles can be pushed by the hot air that surrounds them. This optical vortex has undergone laboratory testing, but the fact that it requires an atmosphere to function is a significant disadvantage. The second solution overcomes this issue by utilizing electromagnetic effects produced by optical solenoid beams. This type of laser-based device has been shown to attract particulate materials over the entire beam and is perfect for usage on airless planetoids and bodies. The final concept is totally hypothetical, based on the use of Bessel beams. Unlike conventional single-point projected laser beams, Bessels creates a sequence of concentric circles that, in theory, can repel or attract items based on the electric and magnetic fields generated between their rings.

According to the passage, the author most likely agrees that:

Correct! Wrong!

In the first paragraph, the author draws a sharp contrast between scientific principles and homeopathy. Homeopathy is stated to 'fly in the face of science', implying that 'physics and chemistry would be erroneous' and having 'no scientific explanation'.

Toward the end of 2011, biologists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) identified a mechanism to halt the aging process in fruit flies. They identified a gene called PGC-1 and injected it into various organs throughout the bodies of Drosophila flies, looking for impacts on small organelles within cells known as mitochondria. In addition to generating energy and delivering it to cells, mitochondria also regulate apoptosis, or 'cell death'. The researchers hypothesized that because PGC-1 increases mitochondrial activity, such intervention could affect the insect's regular two-month life span.

Drosophilia was chosen since their entire genomic structure had already been mapped. This meant that the scientists could modify certain genes to reduce potential errors. There was no effect on muscular tissue or neurons in the fly's brain, but stimulating PGC-1 in the digestive system reduced the intestine's aging by half at the cellular level. As a result, the test subjects lived up to 50 percent longer. While the team denies that a loss in mitochondrial activity is the sole cause of aging, the findings have important implications for humans because the PGC-1 gene functions similarly in mammals and flies. As a result, pharmaceutical companies may focus on the gene in order to find medicines for age-related diseases and most malignancies.

The author most likely agrees with all of the following statements except:

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The section contains no information linking the UCLA team's work on fruit flies to any human subject experimentation.

When most people think of the impact of computers on mathematics, they think of the invention of algorithms that enable much of modern life, from determining the best route from one city to another to assuring the safety of online banking transactions. Many may also point to their applications in science and engineering.

Less well-known is the use of computers to verify certain mathematical theorems. The modern concept of proof follows a common pattern. Sufficient evidence, sometimes generated by computers, is gathered to imply that a result could be true; the finding is then classified as a hypothesis. Then a proof can be created, which is a logical argument that uses previously proven outcomes to confirm the veracity of the conjecture. The proof is subsequently published for review by other mathematicians, and if determined to be sound, it is accepted into the body of mathematics. Proof writing is a creative process that requires the ability to extract ideas from diverse domains of mathematics and combine them to form a logical whole.

How, therefore, can computers prove mathematical results? The solution is in being able to calculate the enormous (but finite) number of alternative examples that some proofs may require. This goes beyond pen and paper computations. However, other mathematicians have expressed worry that such proofs are unverifiable due to the length of the computer codes utilized, and there is some debate about whether such codes are checkable.

Modern mathematicians value computers for the following reasons:

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The final paragraph describes how computers are used to search all conceivable scenarios.

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