Medicine is seen as an attractive career in most countries for several reasons such as a satisfying job which involves you with the lives of those around you, making a positive difference to people’s lives, job security etc.
Doctors help people in their time of need and use their knowledge to overcome their grievances so that they can get on with their life, whether they be a janitor or the chief executive officer of a major company. Dealing with people and helping them overcome their troubles would naturally bring one great satisfaction.
However, training and practicing doctors are incredibly costly for the government, and universities have been made to limit their intake of medical students. Only about 1000 places are available for undergraduate entry in Australia (a further 1000 for graduate entry). This limitation places great pressure on prospective students to perform, which gives rise to a large amount of competition among peers.
Most Australian universities use three criteria for selection: Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR); the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and an interview. The weighting for these three varies between universities, but usually about a third each.
The first thing you should know about the UMAT is that it is all relative. It’s like the ATAR or the ICAS (International Competitions and Assessments for Schools run by the University of NSW); your score is compared to all the other students’ scores and given a percentile ranking. The second important thing about this test is that it is strictly timed, and you only get one shot at it each year. You can actually sit for this test in year 12, since scores are valid for 2 years after you’ve sat them.
The UMAT test is broken down into 3 sections; “Logical Reasoning”, “Understanding People” and “Non-Verbal Reasoning”. The “Logical Reasoning” section judges your ability to draw valid conclusions from various stimuli without making any unnecessary assumptions and basing your reasoning only on the information provided. It also tests your ability to analyse things like graphs and interpret other sorts of data in order to answer questions. In “Understanding People” you’re given various scenarios where you have to answer questions based upon your understanding of various characters’ emotions and feelings throughout the passage. It more or less tests your ability to put yourself into somebody else’s shoes and identify their emotional state in the given context. “Non-Verbal Reasoning” is a section where you’ll be given several shapes or numbers and told to choose the next one in the sequence, arrange them in a logical sequence or pick the middle in a sequence of shapes.
All the questions in the UMAT are multiple-choice and each section is timed separately, meaning that you can’t move between sections or allocate your own time to each section. The whole test is 165 minutes; 65 minutes for Section 1, 50 minutes for Section 2 and 50 minutes for Section 3.
You will need a percentile ranking of 80+ if you want a decent shot at getting into Med School. MedEntry provides lots of practice which builds up your accuracy, confidence, speed and endurance, concentration – things which will help you immensely when the time comes.
The last bit is the interview, which will account for the last third of your final score. Like for any test, it’s good to prepare. If you’re like most people and this is your first interview, it would be wise to take an interview training course so you have an idea of how to approach it. Some things they’re looking for are maturity, communication skills, certainty of career choice and ability to engage with people among other things. Basically they’re just checking your suitability for the medical profession and that you’re a well-rounded person. At UNSW, James Cook and Auckland you have to write up a supporting statement to submit before your interview, so make sure you’re prepared to answer questions based on that.