From the moment you first hear stories of the UMAT and how difficult it can be until the first step you take to enter that exam centre, only you can decide the mind set and approach that will embody your UMAT experience. There are two ways to view this exam; either as a roadblock that is there to hinder you on the path to success or simply a stepping stone towards getting you into your dream career. In the end, which viewpoint you adopt is up to you.
A distinct point that is often conveyed when describing the UMAT is that it is an examination unlike anything you will have experienced before. It also requires a completely different mind-set. At this point in your life, regardless of whether you are in Australia or New Zealand, or if you are a high school or university student, it has been hard wired into you that covering a large amount of content will give you the best chance to succeed. The UMAT does not play by these rules.
This is an exam, in theory, which someone with no amount of past training can sit and technically excel in. Even with this being blatantly obvious, every year on the morning of this exam you will find sleep deprived, stressed out students with an abundance of caffeine surging in their body scrambling with their notes and papers, hoping that whatever they gleam at the 11th hour will give them that boost in their score. These are the people that are setting themselves up to be overwhelmed and to crash in the exam.
Regardless of your UMAT preparation, your state of mind on the day will be the biggest asset or limitation in being successful. However much it has been drilled into you that this exam will be pivotal in determining your entry into the medical field, the ones that truly excel will acknowledge this, but won’t let it get to them. In the end it is just you and 134 questions for the next three hours. Teaching yourself to keep pre-exam anxiety at bay and remaining calm in the face of difficult questions will be more helpful to you than another 100 hours of “studying”. Arrive at the test centre well rested and without the weight of the UMAT on your mind; and whether it is your first or fifth try, the entire process will be much more enjoyable.
Whether you’ve prepped for 1 month, 3, 6, or even 12; trust in your ability and accept that when you enter that room, the slate is wiped clean. Every question and every scenario is new to each person in that room. Becoming stressed because you feel like you haven’t done enough or because of past poor results will do you no good. Never allow yourself to feel defeated. It is only when you stop believing that you can ace the UMAT that you have truly been defeated. I stood there in 2014 at my 3rd UMAT exam, following a previous poor 68th percentile score feeling like I had nothing to lose. I walked out with a 100th percentile. There’s nothing stopping you from doing the same.