For many years, the UMAT was divided into three distinct sections, each covering a particular type of question (Logical Reasoning & Problem Solving, Understanding People and Non-Verbal Reasoning). Each section was divided in the UMAT booklet and was allotted approximately one hour. Regardless of whether you finished a section early, on time or late, you were only given a certain amount of time to complete each section, after which is was prohibited to look at other sections in that time slot. In 2013, the structure of the UMAT exam changed. Questions from all sections were mixed and you were given the entire three hours to complete the exam. Some people found this change to be of benefit and some a hindrance. Some find doing the exam in order to be helpful, while others find completing each type of question separately to be more useful. This blog discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.
Now that it is set in stone, UMAT questions will appear jumbled up in respect to the three sections and approaching the UMAT section by section would have to be by your design. A key factor in deciding which approach you choose is understanding that all three sections have distinctly different types of questions, require a different type of thinking, and take different amounts of time. The majority of people find section 1 questions (Logical Reasoning & Problem Solving the most difficult to complete within the time provided. due to their long stimuli and often complex thought process. On the other hand, section 2 questions (Understanding People) tend to take a less significant proportion of time to complete. The new format should increase your chances of being able to complete all the questions, because you can distribute time depending on the difficulty of the question.
Given the questions are jumbled up, going in chronological order will require you to constantly change your thinking. Therefore, approaching questions section by section can be beneficial. Isolating each type of question allows you to dedicate time and headspace to only that type of question, which may be more efficient. Furthermore, this technique might also help you save time. Section 1 and 3 questions often require some form of problem solving which is difficult to do just in your mind, whereas section 2 questions usually do not need written notes. So in your ten extra minutes of reading time, you can start answering section 2 questions in your head and mark the answer with a fingernail. You will then have more time to then finish the rest of the exam.
Find out what works best for you. If you find it easy to identify the different section questions (e.g. section 3 is obvious due to the diagrams), then perhaps try this approach when doing your practice exams. If you find yourself being confused (understandably), then going in order might be best for you. The most important thing is to become comfortable with either method and go in to the exam centre knowing how you will approach it.