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7 ways to excel in your UMAT

Izabella Bratek

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I am an enthusiastic, friendly and patient tutor with 12 years of VCE tutoring experience. I have taught a number of VCE high achievers and also helped students significantly improve their marks... Read this tutor's blog

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UMAT is an important exam held in July for all students studying the health science subjects including medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy and physiotherapy. Is it possible to study for the UMAT? Yes it is, however it is not the same as studying for your academic subjects. Preparing for the UMAT is more like building muscle – it requires regular persistence and practice. Although you cannot prepare for the answering the questions because it will not be about a certain topic you learned, how the unknown question is answered is an important skill understand and develop.

(1) Understand how important the UMAT is.

Many students focus heavily on becoming good VCE students or excelling in their year 12 marks. However what they don't realise is that medicine entry is usually based on two or three factors (i) your ATAR score (ii) the UMAT (iii) an interview. VCE is really one out of three factors that will make your entrance into medicine a possibility. So many students neglect the UMAT and believe that if they simply focus to get an ATAR of 99 and above, they were successfully enter medicine.
The UMAT score has the same weight as the entire VCE year, so it is alarming that students neglect preparing for this exam.

(2) Obtain enough training materials to prepare for the UMAT

Section 1 and 3 questions are easy to obtain from other resources. There are many American websites that provide questions on section 1 which is logical reasoning. Logical reasoning questions are usually used in LSAT exams which are law entry exams in the US. There are many LSAT questions available for free online and many more questions available in LSAT practice workbooks.

Section 3 questions are known as psychometric or aptitude test – these tests your non-verbal logical reasoning, in terms of how well you find patterns and rotate 3-D images in your mind. Questions on section 3 can be easily found online or in workbooks.

Section 2 questions are basically your communication skills, and how to that of a medical practitioner. It tests whether you have the initiative of a doctor and whether you have quality such as empathy, integrity, patience as well as leadership skills. By reading appropriate books on emotional intelligence, and learning about the way a doctor needs to behave in the workforce – it will be easier to excel in this section.

(3) Practice regularly

It is not efficient to cram for the UMAT because the test type is not the recital – rather it is a skill that you need to develop throughout time. This way working on the UMAT for one weekend, will not ensure success for the exam. We recommend that you practice regularly and spend a healthy proportion of your time preparing for this exam. Remember it contributes to 1/3 of the pre-requisite to get into medicine. Don't leave it until the last minute! At Academy plus we have UMAT classes that you can join and progressively go through a structured course that will help you gain confidence in the UMAT. These classes beginning at the end of February – we welcome you to join.

(4) Complete at least three UMAT practice exams within the time constraints

Many students find that the UMAT is very intense. Since it lasts approximately 3 hours, it can students energy – however you practice enough exams will automatically begin to get used to thinking for that length of time.

Make sure that you do all three sections in proper order i.e. section 1, followed by section 2, followed by section 3 and that you perform it within the specified time allocated to that section. If you do not have access to UMAT practice exams, we recommend that you join our classes as we will be providing them for you.

(5) Be patient with yourself!

To prepare for the UMAT is not the same as preparing to academic subjects, UMAT requires more patience because it is contrary to how are you usually think at school. At school memory is a vital skill to develop, if you never used memory at school it would be difficult to develop an accurate memory quickly. However the UMAT exam requires you to use your critical reasoning, emotional intelligence and visual orientation to perform well – it does not require any memory knowledge before you go to the exam. Remember that you will be developing the above skills, so be patient with yourself because it may take a while until you develop them properly.

(6) Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you practice, the better you get! It's a cliché but nevertheless it's true. Make sure that you are disciplining yourself to practice at least three times a week on the UMAT. Set out a least three nights in one week where you will focus on UMAT for a least one hour a night. Make sure you do practice one hour regularly. This will make a massive impact to your performance in the UMAT.

(7) Don't learn how to speed read, learn how to read mindfully

Often the LSAT questions are longer than the official UMAT questions. Speed reading is not really a necessity to success in the UMAT – in fact it can be damaging. Some students may not learn how to speed read effectively – and he may cause them to skip important words within the questions stem. Your focus should be on understanding and reading mindfully with accuracy. This requires a lot of concentration and focus. Quite often students read a paragraph quickly because they feel like they need to race, however they do not understand anything because they have read it quickly. Therefore they go back and read it again. This is an insufficient way of answering UMAT questions – and could slow you down significantly or worse lower your UMAT percentile mark. So ensure that you sharpen your focus skills rather than the amount of words you can read per second.


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