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You wouldn’t run a race without a coach.
You wouldn’t sit your final exams without a teacher.
So why would you sit the UMAT without having done some preparation first?
The UMAT may be an ‘aptitude’ test, but there can be no doubt that having seen UMAT style questions before, and understanding how to answer them, will increase your chances of succeeding in the UMAT. While practice may not always make perfect, practice does increase your ability to perform in the UMAT exam because you can hone those thinking skills required to answer UMAT questions. Further, there is some evidence to suggest that in non-verbal reasoning section of the UMAT, repetition and practice can increase this UMAT section score.
In addition, with abolition of mid-year exams in some states, the UMAT exam will undoubtedly become more competitive as students are able focus more of their energy on succeeding in the UMAT. Previously, students may have neglected to prepare for the UMAT exam or chosen not to do a UMAT preparation course simply because of the lack of time available in their final year of high-school. Now, however, with VTAC nullifying mid-year exams – which were mostly subjects that prospective medical students would be taking such as chemistry, biology, psychology etc.- students are able to spend more time preparing for the UMAT. This means that UMAT preparation is absolutely essential for you to remain competitive among the top end of UMAT candidates.
If you were failing a subject at school this year, you wouldn’t just let it go: You would get a tutor and do everything possible to try and improve your marks. Studying for the UMAT is exactly the same. The last thing you would want to happen would be to miss out on your chosen undergraduate medical course because you performed poorly on the UMAT due to lack of preparation. There are numerous students who have obtained outstanding ATAR scores of 99.5 and even perfect scores of 99.95, and have missed out on undergraduate medical places because of their performance on the UMAT. Others may miss out on the UMAT score they need to obtain an interview by only one percentile- perhaps, a percentile that could have been gained by doing a UMAT preparation course.
Yes it’s true: The best UMAT preparation courses aren’t free and that’s because these courses have been thoroughly prepared by highly experienced industry professionals. They are designed specifically to help you succeed in the UMAT and achieve the UMAT score that you need to gain entry into undergraduate medicine or your chosen health science course. Remember that the average annual income for a full-time Australian GP is up to $200,000 or more, and the earnings of a specialist will obliviously far exceed this. Thus, relatively speaking, the cost of a UMAT preparation course is minor compared to your own potential earnings as a medical professional.
In addition, doing a UMAT preparation course will also give you peace of mind that you have done everything possible in your power to gain entry into undergraduate medicine. The worst case scenario when UMAT results are released, is that you only just miss out on your preferred course, knowing you could have done more UMAT preparation. Paying for a UMAT course, thereby increasing your chances of doing well in the UMAT, will far outweigh not doing a UMAT course, not succeeding in the UMAT and having to enter medicine by the graduate entry medicine pathway.
Yes, there are a limited number of free UMAT practice exams and other free UMAT resources available on the internet including this blog. However, if you want UMAT advice that is far more comprehensive, specific, up-to-date and with real-time feedback you will need to pay for some kind of UMAT preparation package.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. The best thing that you can do as a final-year high school student is to talk to others who have sat the UMAT. The UMAT preparation course you choose needs to be up-to-date, thorough and reflect any recent changes in the UMAT. You might find that there is a reluctance among students to admit doing UMAT preparation courses due to the stigma and negative connotations that can come with using UMAT tutors and UMAT courses to gain an advantage over other students. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you can’t find anyone to talk to about UMAT preparation courses as many students will deny having used them. It is important to remember too that how students will view the usefulness of UMAT courses is highly subjective and many will base their opinion of a UMAT preparation course on their UMAT results. Thus, you would do well to gain the opinion of several such students if at all possible. However, the reality is, not doing any UMAT preparation will make it virtually impossible for you to succeed in the UMAT. You need to thoroughly utilise all of the UMAT resources available to you by studying regularly and effectively and thus succeed in the UMAT.
Perhaps one thing that can be said is make sure you choose a preparation company that specialises in UMAT tutoring and UMAT preparation. The UMAT is a very specific style of test and thus any preparation you do needs to reflect this and needs to be run by medical professionals who understand the strenuous requirements of the UMAT and medical and health science courses.
Actually, there is no way you can gain entry into undergraduate medicine in Australia with a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) without having sat the UMAT first. The only way to gain entry into undergraduate medicine in Australia with a very poor UMAT score would be to attend private universities such as Bond University. These universities offer only full fee places starting at $43,000 p/a – and this is assuming you pass their individual selection processes and criteria, and, does not include the cost of other expenses such as textbooks, accommodation etc. If you are unable to gain entry into undergraduate medicine, you will be forced to take the longer and non-guaranteed graduate medicine entry pathway. For a more detailed discussion of this, please see our articles comparing UMAT and GAMSAT, Monash and Melbourne, and, Usyd and UNSW.
The UMAT, like your medical interview (MMI), and your ATAR score is just another hurdle requirement that you need to overcome in order to gain entry into undergraduate medicine. You really should do everything in your power to succeed in the UMAT. The last thing that you want would be to miss out on your place in your chosen undergraduate medical course, knowing you should have, and could have, done more to prepare.