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Set your mind on your mindset

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Preparation is key for any exam, and UMAT preparation is no different. But we’ve all had that horrible experience when the nerves hit, and all that preparation is thrown out the window because your brain is more interested in stressing itself out than answering the exam questions. But you can, of course, prepare for that too.

1.  Practice

Since I’m supposed to be telling you what to do when it feels like preparation isn’t working, you might not expect a synonym for “preparation” to be the top tip. But it is, so hear me out. Nothing is as reassuring as the safety blanket of feeling like one of the most prepared people in the room. Carry the swagger of someone who knows that if there are questions you can’t do, then there aren’t many people around you who can. There’s no shortcut to reaching this level of confidence – you will need to put in the hours and use the UMAT practice material to get yourself as fast, accurate, and problem-solvey as possible.

2.  Routine

      Do your best to make sitting the UMAT seem like an everyday task that you just do. For me, that meant waking up at 6am on Saturdays and starting a UMAT Practice exam at 8am so my body clock became used to the abuse. Sure, waking up at 6am every weekend for a few months isn’t fun… but it isn’t as bad as waking up at 6am on the day of UMAT and being groggy for what is most likely the single most important exam you will sit this year. Those in an afternoon session, make sure you’ve practiced fighting off the postprandial somnolence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postprandial_somnolence), more commonly known as food coma.

 Do your best to make sitting the UMAT seem like an everyday task that you just do. For me, that meant waking up at 6am on Saturdays and starting a UMAT Practice exam at 8am so my body clock became used to the abuse. Sure, waking up at 6am every weekend for a few months isn’t fun… but it isn’t as bad as waking up at 6am on the day of UMAT and being groggy for what is most likely the single most important exam you will sit this year. Those in an afternoon session, make sure you’ve practiced fighting off the postprandial somnolence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postprandial_somnolence), more commonly known as food coma.

It’s also important know where you’re going on the day. Make sure you (or the person driving you) has driven as practice run and knows where the test centre is, and where to get out of the car. Don’t get lost - it can be a little annoying if you’re trying to get to an exam. On that note, it’s ideal to get a lift because parking will often be non-existent. For those flying in to a test centre, it’s worth staying overnight if you can – I’ve seen people fly in on the day for interstate medical admission interviews, and it’s just that much harder to stay stress free if you were just at an airport.

Finally, if you’ve found a pre-game routine, stick with it. I like to listen to Muse, and they haven’t failed me yet. 

3. Exercise

      Exercise is one of the best things you can do for concentration. Do it regularly. Trust me, I’m a med student.

… No, don’t do that. Your critical thinking skills should be telling you that I should be backing that up with evidence. Your critical thinking skills are on point. Here’s some evidence for you:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21417955

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768113/

4.  Make future-you proud

      When future-you gets to that exam room, I want future-you to breathe in, say “I could not realistically have prepared any more for the UMAT without ruining my work/life balance,” and breathe out. The aim for present-you now is to make sure that future-you is telling the truth. Present-you can do it!

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