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When you walk into the test centre on the day of the UMAT, you shed all responsibilities of day-to-day life, and for three hours (plus ten minutes of perusal!) it is just you, your pencil and the test paper in front of you. For those 3 hours, it is vital that you stay in control of the things you can control and understand that there are some things that you can’t.
It is very easy to let you mind drift when you get into the second hour of the test, especially if you can hear pencils tapping to your left, or papers ruffling to your right. It is especially important as you get to the mid-way point of the exam that you block out these distractions and focus on the task at hand.
Furthermore, one strategy that can help you stay on track is to work out before the test where you should be through the test paper at various times. The test is comprised of 134 questions which equates to about 23 questions every half hour. When I completed the test, I made sure to check where I was up to every half hour, to ensure that I remained on track to complete the test. I also took a drink of water and stretched my hands briefly to allow my mind to reset before I tackled the next section of questions, breaking up the test into bite-sized pieces to make it seem more manageable.
It is important that if you find yourself falling behind, you don’t immediately freak out. You are bound to get some questions wrong so in this case it is a matter of determining which questions you are likely to be able to get correct rather than spending 20 minutes on one question and eating into the time for other questions.
One other tip in terms of staying in control, is to ensure that you maintain a positive mindset throughout the test. If something goes wrong, you need to immediately move past it. Instead of thinking, “I’m bound to get that question wrong”, think “Let’s get this next question correct”. Your mindset really is an incredibly powerful tool for you to harness.
If you can stay in command of the things that you can control in the test, namely how you approach each question, you give yourself a greatly improved chance of achieving to your full potential, and this is a fact that is often forgotten in the heat of the moment.
Best of luck in your ongoing preparation!
Written by Jeremy, who achieved in the 100th Percentile in the UMAT and who has a provisional position in the UQ MD program.