Great things never come easy
Medicine is an incredibly rewarding, secure, well paid and respected profession in Australia.
It is also the hardest course to get into.
Furthermore, the final years of high school are a stressful and demanding time for your son or daughter, and the need to sit UMAT and face interviews places additional pressure on them during this time.
Thankfully there are ways you, as a parent, can provide valuable assistance to your child to ensure their success.
Understand the importance of UMAT and interviews
Unlike most other courses, entry into medicine is based on much more than just a high ATAR. In fact, even those with a perfect ATAR can miss out on a place in medicine. Universities also consider UMAT score and interview performance, and at many universities, these two criteria are weighted more than ATAR! Yet many students neglect UMAT and interviews, and focus their efforts on ATAR, only to find that they do not obtain a place in medicine.
The first step is to recognise the importance of UMAT and interviews, communicate this to your son or daughter, and then work out a plan to ensure adequate preparation time is allocated to these crucial criteria.
Encourage your son/daughter to start preparing early
UMAT is very different from school exams and is not a knowledge-based test. It is a test of generic skills over three constructs: Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving, Understanding People (empathy and emotional intelligence) and Non-Verbal Reasoning. It takes a total of three hours, yet is highly time-pressured so that most students will not finish every question. Most practicing doctors would agree that it is the hardest single test they ever sat in their career. It is therefore important to start preparing early, as the skills required to succeed need to be developed over time.
It is also important to think about interviews. Interviews tend to take place after final year 12 exams, so it is tempting to ignore them until later in the year. However, interview skills also need to be developed and practiced over a period of time. Furthermore, medical schools look very favourably upon work experience, volunteer work and paid work in a hospital, General Practice or community health based setting. Your son or daughter should therefore be encouraged to engage in these activities before interviews take place.
Avoid missing important deadlines
UMAT only takes place once per year (at the end of July), and applications to study medicine at various universities close before year 12 exams take place. It is therefore important to be organised so that important deadlines are not missed. You can help your son or daughter by researching these requirements for them.
It is strongly suggested that students who are interested in studying medicine apply to all universities, including those interstate. Interviews are by their nature subjective, and therefore entry into one particular university cannot be guaranteed. If your son or daughter obtains entry into a medical course that is not in your state, there are various options available such as transfer after first year, deferring and attempting re-entry into a local course etc.
An example timeline for a student in year 12 is shown below (note that exact dates will vary depending on the particular year and university):
Registrations open for UMAT
Start of June
Closing date to register for UMAT
End of July
UMAT results released
Deadline for applying to universities and state based academic authorities (eg. VTAC, UAC)
Interview offers released
University offers released
It is advised that you create your own specific timeline relevant to your son or daughter and record important dates in your calendar.
Provide encouragement and support
Year 12 is a stressful time. Add in UMAT and the pressures of getting into medicine and stress levels can rapidly skyrocket. Significant stress can impair performance and lead to burnout. It is therefore important that your son or daughter feels encouraged and supported, especially when important exams such as UMAT are near. Ensure that they are eating well, sleeping well, exercising and engaging in appropriate stress management strategies. Make yourself available to listen to them when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. Do what you can to lighten their load – for example, read through relevant UMAT information, redistribute chores to younger siblings, create a quiet working environment and drive them to important exams. Your actions can have a significant positive impact on their wellbeing and performance.
Choose a trusted preparation provider
There are many UMAT preparation companies available, and unfortunately many of them offer poor quality or outdated materials. Many are run by medical students. It is vital to choose a provider who is trusted among doctors, teachers and those successful in entering medicine, and which has a proven track record of success.
If you would like further information, please explore the MedEntry website, where you can find a free UMAT practice exam, information about entry into medicine, blogs about UMAT and much more. You can also phone 1300 MEDENTRY and speak to a member of the friendly team or use other means to contact us.
Helping your son or daughter get into medicine is an invaluable gift to give, and one which will secure their success and happiness in years to come.
From the parents at MedEntry