Pressure, pressure: coping with nerves and stress on the actual UMAT test day.
Having done UMAT practice exam, after practice exam, after practice exam, most UMAT candidates will be raring to go come July 30th. Whilst UMAT preparation is key to your UMAT success, it is not the only factor that will affect your UMAT performance on the actual UMAT test day. Being able to cope with the nerves and anxiety that inevitably appear on the day of the UMAT exam will be the key strength that will help you out-perform your fellow UMAT candidates. Perhaps the only thing separating two equally intelligent UMAT candidates may be their ability to handle stress on the UMAT test day. Whilst it is impossible to tell how you, as an individual, will fair on the 30th of July, it is possible to learn how to cope with the nerves that you may experience just prior to, and during, the UMAT exam.
Firstly, nerves aren’t necessarily a bad thing! In fact, the adrenaline that is released as a result of ‘nervousness’ can increase your performance on test day. An increase in heart rate and consequently, oxygen available to all your brain, can enhance a UMAT candidate’s performance due to the arousal of the central nervous system. It can also help you overcome a fear of failure by kicking in that ‘fight or flight’ reaction allowing you to focus solely on passing and succeeding in the UMAT rather than what will happen afterwards.
Further, you don’t need to be able to get rid of your nerves completely to be able to perform at your best on the UMAT. Rather than trying to pretend they don’t exist, acknowledge their existence and use them to your advantage. The pace that at which you will answer those UMAT questions should significantly increase due to this increase in adrenaline.
Another key aspect of handling UMAT pressure is learning to overcome negative thoughts that can appear on UMAT test day. Below we’ve outlined some simple self-talk strategies to help you stay positive and calm so you can sit the UMAT in the best state of mind possible.
Common negative thoughts before the UMAT exam and how to overcome them:
|when half of you says…||say…|
|1. You can’t do it.||Yes I can! The UMAT is not an impossible exam. The chances of failing the UMAT are extremely slim because I have sufficiently prepared for the UMAT.|
|2. You haven’t done enough UMAT study.||Yes I have! I did what I could in the spare time available to me. Most students sitting the UMAT also have to cope with the stress and workload of their other final year high-school subjects, just the same as me.|
|3. You’re not good enough.||Yes I am! No-one is born as a doctor. All medical professionals have to start somewhere and this is just the first step for me.|
|4. You always crack under pressure.||This is simply untrue. I have sat many exams in the past. This isn’t my first one, and I know that I have performed when I needed to. The pressure that I’m feeling is the same as everyone else therefore, I am at no disadvantage to others sitting the UMAT exam.|
Most of all, it is important to remember that you need to be your own biggest supporter. You have to sit the UMAT test solo so make sure the crowd in your head is cheering for you not yelling out abuse!
For a more detailed discussion of how you should approach different question types on the UMAT exam including sample UMAT questions and answers, please see our blog series UMAT test tactics and preparation by MedEntry UMAT preparation.