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Optimising your performance in UMAT: Lessons from Sports Psychology


Preparing for the UMAT is similar to preparing for a marathon: it requires training, preparation and strategies to optimise your performance on the test day. Just as an athlete prepares for a major sporting event, so you must prepare yourself to sit UMAT, which is one of the most important exams that you will face in your career.

We can learn much from athletes about optimising performance in UMAT, as outlined in this TED talk by Martin Hagger:

This talk discusses how highly successful athletes prepare themselves before a competition. The main points are summarised below, with an emphasis on how this is relevant to UMAT:

  • Motivation is an important element of success in any competition, including UMAT. One of the most effective ways to increase motivation is via goal setting. Goals should be SMARTER (Specific, Meaningful, Agreed, Relevant, Time-Specific, Engaging and Recorded).
  • Confidence is the key to performing to the best of one’s ability in all tests, including UMAT. There are various ways to improve confidence, including:
    • Reminding yourself that you have prepared for the UMAT and have sat trial exams similar to (and perhaps harder than) the UMAT
    • Performing a mental rehearsal in a quiet place (imagining yourself sitting the UMAT, imagining ‘what ifs’ or scenarios that may arise such as a new type of question)
    • Motivational self-talk (‘you can do this’, ‘I’m well ahead of others who have not prepared for UMAT’)
    • Calming self-talk before and during UMAT (reminding yourself ‘be calm’, ‘breathe’, ‘relax’)
    • Asking others (such as parents, siblings, teachers, friends) to provide you with positive feedback on your UMAT preparation, particularly in the final weeks leading up to the UMAT
  • Having a good understanding of the UMAT, including what it tests, how it is scored, and the strategies required to tackle questions is vital to optimise performance. These issues will be discussed in detail at the MedEntry UMAT courses.
  • Have a pre-performance routine that you plan to use before the UMAT. This may include listening to music, doing some quiet reading or chatting to friends – whatever you find best relaxes you.
  • Have techniques to manage your anxiety before and during UMAT. This may include focusing on your breathing, meditation, listening to music, or writing down your thoughts or fears about UMAT./li>

The UMAT is a competition, so treat it like one. The strategies outlined above have been used by champion athletes, and you can apply similar strategies to your UMAT preparation. Go get ‘em!

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