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Why did UCAT replace UMAT?

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UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test) was used for over 20 years to select students into medicine and dentistry courses across Australia and New Zealand. Most universities offering undergraduate medicine were part of a group called the UMAT consortium. This group decided that UMAT should be a major component for the assessment of candidates for entry into medicine (the other two components being high school score and performance in an interview). 

The UMAT consortium contracted ACER (the Australian Council for Educational Research) to develop and administer the UMAT on their behalf. ACER is a non-profit organisation, which administers many other aptitude and international tests, including GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test). 

In 2018, the UMAT consortium decided to use the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) instead for the assessment of students for entry into undergraduate medicine. While both are aptitude tests, UMAT was a test of higher level cognitive ability, while UCAT is more of a test of speed thinking.

The Consortium of Universities claim that moving from a paper-based test delivered on a single day (UMAT) to an online test offered over various dates (UCAT) provides students with greater flexibility.  It is worth noting that ACER was also in the process of moving UMAT from a paper-based test to a Computer Adapative Test (CAT). 

The UCAT consortium has contracted Pearson VUE, a private, profit-making British company with revenues in excess of 8000 million dollars per year to administer the test. It is a much bigger business than ACER, which had revenues of 80 million per year. Pearson VUE administers computer based testing for various examinations, including medical specialty exams.  They have had mixed reviews from their business clients with their botched RACP exams in 2018 receiving some publicity. It is an organisation which is not without controversy, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearson_plc

The UCAT consortium states that the decision to delay the public announcement regarding the change from UMAT to UCAT until September 2018 was to prevent confusion among candidates who sat UMAT in 2018. 

Whatever your opinion on whether UMAT or UCAT is a better test to assess candidates for entry into medicine, the reality is that if you wish to apply for medicine or dentistry courses in 2020, you must sit and succeed in UCAT in 2019. 

Further information about UCAT will be released by the UCAT Consortium prior to January 2019. In the meantime, you can find out more about UCAT by visiting the following links:

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