So the big day is nearly here and you’ve been working up to it consistently for the best part of a year. Now it’s time to put everything MedEntry has taught you into practice.
Here’s some advice to help you be at your prime in the last 24 hours leading up to the UMAT.
- Spend the day before doing something you enjoy, something relaxing, something fun and something that will keep your mind off the UMAT. You NEED some time to let your brain and body relax the day before so that you are in perfect condition. It can be anything, so long as it’s not too mentally exerting. For me it was a day of mindless shopping but you could go to the cinema, go to the beach, take your dog for a walk, bake a cake, whatever.
- Try and spend the day before with someone who understands the stress you’re facing. For me I spent the day with my mother who knew the stakes and spent the whole day doing her utmost to keep my mind off everything, knowing this would help me.
- Have your bag packed the day before. Try and do this in the early evening time so you’re not stressing just before you go to bed. Have everything you could possibly need for tomorrow, your ID, pencils, erasers, water, a banana, extra layers etc. Leave out comfy clothes and make sure you check your bag twice over to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
- Eat well and stay hydrated. Plenty of water the night before and some in the morning is important, but don’t drink so much that you’ll waste time with bathroom dashes during the exam. It’s also extremely important you have a good dinner the night before. There’s nothing nicer than a big fat pizza but not if it’s going to wreak havoc with your stomach the following day, so save the treats for when you’ve finished. A good breakfast is vital. I could never start a normal day let alone a big exam without some fuel. Any of my friends who said they were too nervous to eat said they regretted it the moment they sat down to a huge paper and a rumbling stomach.
- Don’t stress over what you have and haven’t covered. You’ve done all you can now and there’s no point trying to cram anything else into your brain, as you’ll just end up frazzled and confused and it will put you off focus.
- Read something before you enter the exam hall. I heard of this tip before I sat the UMAT and found it really helped me. Reading before you go in helps to warm up your brain and get you in the zone.
- Be confident. A smidgen of cortisol is good before an exam but too much so that you become overwhelmed. For me, I always struggle with stress and nerves before exams but I found when I wrote down the night before all the reasons I had to be confident going into the UMAT the next day and reread them the following morning I felt much better.
- Have your route planned out and be on time. I was lucky enough to live less than an hour from my exam venue, but I still made sure to have the route I was going to take planned out. I left in plenty of time to leave room for any freak traffic chaos. For anyone with far to travel, I know some people who spent the night before in a hotel or with a relative to avoid an early rise for travelling on the morning of the UMAT, but others woke up bright and early and napped in the car. It’s up to you and you know best whether you’d be better off in your own bed or stressed at having to get up early, so as long as you have a plan and plenty of backup alarms and you’ll be fine.
- When you arrive do what YOU want to do. Whether that means having a conversation with everyone and their Granny or completely ignoring the buzz around you, do what will put you at ease. I didn’t know anyone there so found it easy to just go into my own world, but even in all of my school and college exams I will walk in, wave at my friends and head to a corner and ignore everyone. Whatever you do though don’t listen to anyone else talk about how little or how much they have done. You’ve done all you can at this point and hearing someone else’s study schedule won’t help you.
- Keep your eye on the time. The most important thing you can prepare for is timing. Know how long each section and each question should take you so that you’re not stuck for time during the exam. Having your timings planned will not only prevent you from wasting time but will also help you keep your cool when you’re in there.
Adapted from a MedEntry blog written by Anna, who got 100 percentile in UMAT (Similar exam held in Ireland) and is studying medicine at Trinity College, Dublin.