UMAT is an important test that all students wishing to enter into courses such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Optometry, Dentistry and Physiotherapy. It is held once a year at the end of July and is only open for year 12 students (and above). Within this article we will be discussing about some of the myths about the UMAT and what you can do, as an individual to prepare adequately.
Myth #1 : You can’t prepare for UMAT
This is a common perception that students have towards UMAT. Although it is true that you can’t “study” for the UMAT using the same skills you would for an academic subject, it is still possible to prepare. In academic subjects, students will generally learn through repetition and understanding. There are various ways of “studying” and then reciting the knowledge within exams – the theory is fairly predictable, and you should not receive any “new” theory that was not outlined in the syllabus. Obviously in the UMAT the questions are fairly unpredictable – although you know the general “outline” of the topic i.e. logical reasoning, each question will require unique interpretation and “thinking”.
Although there is no point “studying” for the UMAT, it is possible to train for the UMAT. It is similar to preparing for a marathon – first your body and muscles have to become strong and fitter, then slowly you increase the distance of the running, bit by bit. Finally, once you complete the distance – you focus on the speed and time of the run. Very few of us would be capable of running a marathon without adequate preparation and training beforehand – unless we are exceptionally fit.
Likewise to complete the UMAT with a high score requires a level of training throughout the year. Few people can sit the UMAT and obtain a high score simply by the use of talent. This is why it is beneficial to practice daily for the UMAT, in order to strengthen the style of thinking that is involved within this test. That way your mind is not “in shock” from 3 hours of the UMAT exam.
Myth #2 : You can only prepare best for UMAT if you enrol into expensive programs.
UMAT preparation courses are generally very expensive, particularly since material for UMAT can be obtained for a fraction of the price from various international sources. The material is almost identical to the types of preparation material that certain UMAT companies use. The weekend workshops are not very efficient, having personally attended a handful of them in the past. It would be fine for half the price, however currently UMAT courses are generally overpriced and poor value for money.
Some beneficial and cheaper options of excelling in UMAT section 1, is purchasing various logical reasoning workbooks from the U.S – now that the Australian dollar is quite high compared to the USD. This can be purchased from www.amazon.com. Or alternatively, it is recommended that you practice LSAT exam papers from the US. The LSAT is an exam to enter into law school in the US – and it contains a section on logical reasoning, which is similar to the UMAT. Although it is not the exactly the same content, there are multiple “practice LSAT” exams to work through online.
There are books on psychometric techniques, which is the primary focus of section 3 in the UMAT exam. This again can be purchased on Amazon, or alternatively you may be able to find some free resources online.
Section 2 of the UMAT is slightly harder to prepare for, since it involves communication and “people skills”. In this section you really need to be able to get into a “doctor mentality” and show leadership qualities. This involves developing not your IQ, but you emotional intelligence – in other words the EQ. There are many novels and self-help books to develop the EQ, one of them is written by Daniel Goleman known as “Emotional Intelligence”. It is important that as a future doctor, you develop some intrapersonal skills that are essential in the medical career.
Another source of UMAT preparation material is the official practice material which is supplied by ACER. This material is obtained from official UMAT past papers – and it can be purchased from http://umat.acer.edu.au/.
Myth #3 : My IQ is not very high, I will probably fail the UMAT.
The UMAT is not as intense as an IQ test, and as was mentioned before any skill can be trained with enough practice and willpower. If you have already decided that you will “…probably fail” the UMAT then you have. On the other hand if you know that your UMAT score will rise, through practice and determination then you are closer to success already!
Myth #4: You can learn UMAT within a weekend of practice!
UMAT practice takes time and patience, in a similar way as training for a marathon. You would not be able to run a marathon after a single weekend, especially if you were not very fit at the beginning. However through time, the ability to run the entire marathon increases in probability. This is the same as UMAT. At Academy Plus we encourage our students to participate in weekly tutorial classes for the UMAT. This allows students to be consistent in their training and allow them to maintain a relative high state of motivation.
It is very easy to become overwhelmed by the VCE/HSC during the year – since the UMAT is held in the middle of the year. Although focusing on VCE/HSC is important it is not the sole factor that determines your ability to enter into the health/science field. It is important to give the UMAT quite a significant amount of attention – much more than a single weekend. It is ideal to practice daily and to attend weekly tutorial classes to be up to date with the training.
Myth #5: You need to learn speed reading to excel in Section 1;
Speed reading is great when you are reading Harry Potter/Twilight and every word is not vital to understand the story line. However this is not the case in UMAT… speed reading often makes the individual skip over important words that are required in order to select the best answer. It is simply the “rush” frame of mind that inhibits one’s ability to understand text clearly and critically. In my personal opinion, speed reading makes one feel much more “rushed” and therefore the person reads the words as quickly as possible, without understanding the message that it is trying to convey.
In UMAT it is important to be able to train your mind to “blank out” after each question so that you can be completely focused on understanding the next set of information. It is important to understand the text and the message, instead of reading it quickly. You can read it once, with care and understand the context – or you may need to “speed read” two or three times before any understanding is achieved.
Basically aim at reading context at normal speed, but increasing your awareness of the material at the time you are reading. By being completely submerged in the text, and switching of your mind from the surrounding world – you can increase your logical reasoning skills instantly.
Finally, if you are interested in joining the UMAT classes in 2011, please feel free to contact our head office. Although positions have been filling fast – there are still spaces left for regular, weekly UMAT preparation lessons led by successful medical students/UMAT high achievers. This enables you to have direct contact with individuals that have succeeded at this challenging test and have first hand experience of how to prepare adequately.