How do I get into Medicine?
To get into medicine in most countries, you need to satisfy three criteria ie., do well in:
1. your high school/university;
2. a generic skills test and
3. an interview.
Australia is no different. In Australia the three criteria are: ATAR (GPA if at university), UMAT and an interview. In most universities these three criteria are equally weighted.
Because medicine is the ONLY course where the government strictly controls the number of places, the demand is high which is one of the reasons why it is seen as an attractive profession.
Medical Entry Criteria provides details on entry requirements for various universities.
Getting into Medicine:
UMAT is one of three criteria used by most Australian and NZ universities in selecting students into high demand health related careers such as medicine and dentistry:
1. UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test)
2. ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank)
3. Interview performance (Panel or MMI)
The above three criteria are weighted equally by most universities.
Most countries in the world have three such criteria which need to be met to be accepted into medical school: Academic performance in school/university; a generic skills test (UMAT, MCAT, GAMSAT, UKCAT, BMAT etc); performance in an interview.
The UMAT is a three hour test. UMAT is administered in July. MedEntry offers UMAT Courses, UMAT Tuition, UMAT advice, UMAT preparation and UMAT Coaching.
MedEntry UMAT Prep has become synonymous with UMAT success and is trusted by more students than all other providers combined. Performing well in the UMAT is critical for students wishing to enter medicine or other health science courses.
Most medical entrance courses in Australia require students to have sat UMAT and have valid UMAT scores. Please see the next question below which gives details of universities which require UMAT for medical entrance and other courses.
You will need to sit the UMAT if you are interested in any of the following university courses:
- Monash University (Medicine)
- University of Adelaide (Medicine, Dental Surgery)
- University of Newcastle/University of New England (Medicine)
- University of New South Wales (Medicine)
- University of Western Sydney (Medicine)
- University of Queensland (Medicine - conditional entry, Dental Science)
- University of Tasmania (Medicine)
- University of Western Australia (Medicine, Dentistry)
- University of Auckland (Medicine)
- University of Otago (Medicine, Dental Surgery)
- Flinders University (Clinical Sciences/Medicine)
- Latrobe University (Dentistry, Oral Health Science)
- Charles Darwin University (Clinical Sciences)
- Curtin University (Medicine)
- Charles Sturt University (Dentistry)
You also need to sit the UMAT if you wish to enter Medicine or Dentistry at the two universities in New Zealand (Auckland and Otago).
Yes! Even high achieving students stumble in the UMAT. Some students with perfect year 12 scores (99.95) have missed out on a place in medicine and related courses due to their low UMAT scores. In some cases, your UMAT score is more important than your year 12 score in securing a place in the health sciences.
Research shows training can significantly improve UMAT score by familiarizing you with the types of questions that will be asked and developing strategies to tackle them. Even ACER now admits that training for UMAT helps.
An all-too-common fallacy about preparing for UMAT is that all you need to do is 'familiarise' yourself with the test by doing some practice questions. That's like saying the way to become a great basketball player is to familiarise yourself with a basketball court and practice taking a few shots.
Once upon a time, people were wrong. They thought that the automobile was an electric death-trap that would never replace the horse and carriage, computers were only for academic nerds, and people who used tuition were simply cheaters. Then, cars stopped exploding every time you started the engine, people realised that you could use computers for more than just calculating the digits of pi, and the 'cheaters' with the tuition... well, they started getting it. They got better grades, got into better Courses at Uni and just plain old got better. Times change, rules change.
Some people point not only to their own success, but also to the success of some others, as proof that UMAT Prep is unnecessary to get into medicine. Such arguments are spurious because they gloss over the obvious truth that certain people are more capable than others. Individuals succeeding without UMAT Prep simply don’t prove that everyone else can do the same, any more than Madonna’s success proves that everyone can become a star. Such individual achievements prove only that there are exceptional people who can overcome enormous obstacles and achieve their goals. The plain fact that many ordinary students have not achieved extraordinary results is pretty strong evidence that, for most of us, UMAT Prep can be a big help.
"Kids take prep courses to ace tests that are supposed to measure inborn aptitude," (page 100, Time Magazine, December 20, 2004).
There are three types of knowledge: Known Knowns; Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns. The people who don't prepare are in the last category. They don't know what they don't know!
People who are low on any scale, do not even know enough to recognize how much they are missing. People who are high on a scale, are deeply aware of how much they are missing, so they think they aren't really all that high. This can be about any skill, aptitude or talent. Many of us suffer from omission bias, ie., we prefer erring through inaction to erring through action, even though research shows errors of omission are costlier than errors of commission.
Consider this story about the French marshal Louis Lyautey: when the marshal announced that he wished to plant a tree, his gardener responded that the tree would not reach full growth for a hundred years. “In that case,” replied Lyautey, “we have no time to lose. We must start to plant this afternoon." Students thinking of preparing for improvement in performance in UMAT have no time to lose. They must get started now.
So start preparing now!
Please also read this article. (Does the MedEntry program really work?)
In 2017, the UMAT will be held on Wednesday 26 July 2017.
If you have not been successful the first time you sit the UMAT, you can re-sit it without being penalised. In fact you can resit the test ANY number of times.
Please note that UMAT scores are valid for one year only.
You can register for the UMAT online at http://umat.acer.edu.au/. Registrations for UMAT 2017 open in early December 2016.
Please note that enrolling with MedEntry UMAT Preparation course does not represent or include an application to sit the UMAT.
ACER is the Australian Council for Educational Research; the organization that administers the UMAT. You will need to contact ACER to register for the UMAT. Please visit http://umat.acer.edu.au/ for more information.
ACER has extensive expertise in developing and using many high stakes tests such as the UMAT, HPAT, GAMSAT etc in many countries.
The registration fee is $250. If you are eligible for a concession, the registration fee is $150. If you are sitting the UMAT outside Australia and New Zealand, there is an additional $185 fee.
Registrations for UMAT 2017 will open in early December 2016.
Your completed registration must be received at the UMAT office at ACER by 2 June 2017.
Late registrations for UMAT will be accepted up to 14 days after the normal closing date (16 June) on payment of a late fee of $65 in addition to the registration fee.
The registration system will close after this time and it will NOT be possible to register for UMAT 2017.
The graduate medicine entry route requires that you complete a degree first before applying for Medicine. This means studying hard for an additional 3 or 4 years (and paying the fees), to maintain high grades with no guarantee of getting into Medicine. So you will have exams for at least 7 years: three years of first degree and 4 years of condensed medical degree. Undergrad medicine, for eg at Monash, is far less stressful because in the first year they ease you in, and in final year you are working as an unpaid intern (so no exams).
You also need to sit a test called the GAMSAT, which is a six hour test (compare this with UMAT which is a three hour test) as well as doing well in the interview. The preparation courses for GAMSAT are also far more expensive, in the range of $1500 plus.
The GAMSAT has been described by most people as ‘the most horrible thing I've ever had to do in my life’. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do a Biomedicine or Biosciences degree, you will automatically be offered a place in Medicine, as some universities misleadingly make you believe. If you miss out on a place in Medicine, you may end up with a degree that is not useful for your future, and a waste of several years of your life.
The median age of students entering graduate medical programs in Australia is 25.4 years. By that age, you would have completed your medical degree and probably working as a Registrar in your chosen specialty if you choose the Year 12 entry (UMAT) route. Imagine entering medical school at 25 via graduate entry, then trying to study for the specialist training exams in your early thirties with a family to care for!
Further, when you apply through the graduate entry pathway, you can only apply to one university (with upto 6 preferences) and you will be interviewed only by one university. The universities have colluded to make it this way, so that it is less work for them and easier for them to select students (although it imposes harsh restrictions on aspiring doctors).
Some people think universities are education oriented organisations, but in reality they are massive businesses with annual income of each university around two billion dollars - they earn about $30,000 per year of study at university for each student they enrol (about $10,000 from you, and the rest from the government). This means that the longer you study at university, the better it is for them. This is the reason why some universities are moving towards graduate-entry medical programs. It is to increase universities' income, not because it is good for you! Furthermore, universities are prohibited from charging full fee for undergraduate medicine, but they can charge full fee for graduate medicine!
With the higher debts of graduate entry and the uncertainty of whether you will get into medicine, universities will be laughing all the way to the Bank, but you will end up in the classic wheel of borrowing to pay for a degree to get a job to pay off what you borrowed (if you don't get into medicine).
Some people feel that they want to go to so-called "prestigious" universities (eg. Sydney University) which offer only graduate medicine. However, unlike other disciplines such as law, in medicine it does not matter which university you graduate from.
Perhaps 15 years ago, when GAMSAT was new, it was easier than UMAT but now most medical students who sat both tests claim GAMSAT is harder. GAMSAT is getting much harder for several reasons (eg many professionals wanting to change careers, the 'late bloomers', many school leavers putting off the hard work and difficult decision).
Another important reason: It has been well documented that there is a general decline in psychometric test performance as a person advances in age. For eg, see "Socio-economic predictors of performance in the UMAT": Puddey and Mercer, BMC Medical education, 2013, 13:155. This shows that performance of candidates sitting UMAT between 16 years and 45 years consistently drops with age. So you are far better off sitting the test as early as possible (in year 12).
There are some UMAT sample questions you can download from here. In the MedEntry UMAT workshop, numerous past UMAT sample questions will be discussed. The MedEntry LMS has thousands of UMAT sample questions for you to practice on. The Eureka UMAT website has numerous questions for you to develop the skills.
UMAT sample questions are also available at:
When you purchase the MedEntry UMAT package, you will get numerous resources for you to use. You will also get additional recommended reading in the UMAT Courses. This is definitely much more than you need, if you use it properly. How to efficiently and effectively use these resources is also discussed in the UMAT Courses.
We also recommend that you obtain the ACER's three practice exams (plus the additional 61 questions released in 2013) that you can buy when you register for UMAT.
Apart from these, we do not recommend any other courses or programs. There are some websites spruiking UMAT products which are scams, run by bankrupts etc. They are also likely to mislead you.
If you enter medicine through the school leaver entry pathway, you can start studying medicine straight after Year 12. Such program is far better than doing a degree first, for several reasons.
More than half the medical school places in Australia are allocated for such school leaver entry pathway.
Some universities require you to sit GAMSAT if you have completed a degree.
However, some universties require you to sit UMAT even if you have completed or in the process of studying/obtaining/completing a degree.
Such universities are: University of Newcastle, University of Western Sydney, University of New England, University of Auckland, University of Otago etc. University of New South Wales and University of Tasmania may also permit entry to graduates with a UMAT score.