How To Do Section 1 UMAT Questions: Logical Reasoning And Problem Solving

Section 1 in UMAT is the most diverse and time-consuming section in all of UMAT. It also happens to have slightly more questions compared to the other two sections. UMAT is a logical reasoning exam and each section is trying to assess your logical reasoning skills in slightly different ways. Section 2 sees if you can logically understand people in a text. Section 3 sees if you can logically determine a non-verbal pattern. This leaves us with Section 1, logically determining everything else, which they call ‘problem solving.’

The scope in Section 1 questions is much larger; you have lots of words, diagrams, graphs, tables and topics you have never seen or learnt before. Section 1 is assessing your ability in digesting all this new information to see if you can understand and apply what UMAT gives you to answer the questions. Another way to look at it is picking up a new board game for the first time and learning to play it. You need to look at the rulebook, the board and the pieces to figure out how to play the game.

There are a total of seven question types in section 1:

  1. Rules – a set of rules/conditions are imposed when answering questions.

  2. Arguments – four arguments are presented, you need to choose which argument either supports or contradicts the information given.

  3. Diagrams – Interpret a diagram/drawing that is presented.

  4. Graphs – Interpret a graph that has an x-axis and y-axis.

  5. Tables – Information is presented in a table format.

  6. Order – question involves specific position arrangements.

  7. Venn Diagrams – question involves categories that overlap with one another.

In this article we will look at some beginning strategies that can be applied across all question types and some common difficulties people have when doing section 1 questions. In the future, there will be articles on specific question types. Check the links below for related articles. iCanMed does offer a free preview that teaches the Rules Question Type so be sure to check that out.


Common difficulties when doing section 1 questions

  • Missing or forgetting about a vital piece of information

  • Misreading or misinterpreting information

  • Not seeing links between information given

  • Having to reread information many times before understanding

  • Not knowing how to begin answering a question

  • Taking a long time to do questions

If you are having these difficulties, take a look at the following strategies that help in doing section 1 questions.


Reword any rules, conditions or information into your own words.

If there is an important rule or condition, or any piece of evidence that is relevant, it is good to rewrite that rule into your own words. People often think that doing working out will slow you down in doing the question. Perhaps it will in your ATAR exams, however because UMAT Section 1 is liken to learning a new board-game for every question, you need to be able to quickly and accurately recall every new rule or condition. Do not keep everything in your head, it will only confuse you but have all vital pieces of information written down neatly, which greatly helps in answering questions.

If there was a condition like: “Francis orders sushi if he is running late on time and it is past 2:00pm.” One possible way to rewrite this is: “If >2pm, Francis - Sushi” Remember that you can use whatever shorthand you like as long as you understand what you wrote.

There are a few reason you should rewrite important information into your own words. Firstly, it helps you remember and recall the information more easily. An important part of section 1 is being able to recall all the new information and this strategy immensely helps with this. Secondly, if you had to reread the information again, you don’t have to read the whole sentence but you can simply read your shorthand. This actually makes it a lot quicker to do question because you don’t have to go back to reread and reinterpret information that is given. Thirdly, information is laid out in a neat way to make it easier to form links. Sometimes you may put information in a table or on an already existing graph or diagram, if you information is nicely laid out, this makes it easier to link all your information together to see some connections you might not have been able to see otherwise.


Draw conclusions from each piece of evidence

Most of the text in section 1 is very important, just like a rulebook in a game. After reading one rule, fully digest it and link it with any previous rules before reading on. After rewording a rule, give yourself an example so that you can clearly see what is happening. Ideally, you don’t want to read a question more than once and usually you won’t have to if you have spent time rewording it and giving yourself an example. I’ll say it again because it is so important, spending a little bit of time to understand the information saves a lot of time in the future when you are answer the question.

If you are given a diagram, graph or table take note that the most important pieces of information are in the titles, labels and units. Do not jump straight into the answering the question without dissecting the diagram. Sometimes, some of the rules given in the text can be directly drawn on the diagram for better understanding. You want to simplify things as much as possible as it helps with recalling and applying all the information when you need it.  


Never assume any information that is not given

Many times, people make mistakes by assuming some information, which was not given in the question. UMAT challenges people in section 2 by being open minded, to take into account all possibilities that the question may have and selecting the appropriate answer. Making assumptions without evidence is often a source of error in doing questions.

For example, for the condition “Francis orders sushi if he is running late on time and it is past 2:00pm.” We know that after 2pm Francis will order sushi but we can’t make the assumption that before 2pm he doesn’t order sushi too. Until we are given more information, we cannot assume what happens when it is before 2pm and leave open any possibilities. To understand what has been restricted and what is still possible will make section 1 easier to do when you are formulating your answers.


Summary of strategies for section 1

Here we have some strategies that can be applied to all section 1 questions:

  • Reword any rules, conditions or information into your own words

  • Draw conclusions from each piece of evidence

  • Never assume any information that is not given

These are only the beginning strategies for section 1 questions. It will still greatly help you in your UMAT prep. For more specific techniques, check out the links below. Especially for the Rules Question Type, iCanMed has already made their course available for free to teach that question type.