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WHY IS UMAT SO HARD?

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UMAT is probably the hardest test you will ever have to sit. Many students, especially those who do not prepare, are shocked by the difficulty of UMAT. Some who do prepare become disillusioned. So why is UMAT so hard? And what can you do about it? Read on! 

1. UMAT is very different to every other type of test you have sat

Why? 

School and university exams test your knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge. UMAT is not a test of knowledge; it is a test of your generic skills. You most likely have never sat a test of generic skills before, so the questions in UMAT will seem unfamiliar and difficult. 

What can you do?

By exposing yourself over and over to the various types of UMAT questions, they will no longer be alien. The more you practice, the more familiar and comfortable you will be with the questions, and the easier UMAT will seem.  

2. You are put under extreme time pressure in UMAT

Why? 

The aim of school and university exams is to assess how much you know, therefore you are usually given more than enough time to demonstrate this. You are probably used to finishing your school and university exams with plenty of time left over. The aim of UMAT is very different: it’s aim is to rank your performance against other candidates. Therefore, you are intentionally not given enough time to answer all the questions. This can be very stressful for students, especially perfectionists, who are used to answering all questions correctly. 

What can you do?

The mere knowledge that you will not have enough time to answer all questions correctly is, in itself, comforting. Many, many students have achieved 100th percentile in UMAT even though they have run out of time in one or more sections. Understand this, become comfortable with the idea, and tailor your approach appropriately – by not spending too much time on difficult questions and making an educated guess when required. 

3. You are competing against smart people in UMAT

Why?

The type of student who wants to get into medicine is, in general, very smart and motivated. You have probably never had to compete against such a tough cohort before. You are probably used to being top of your class. However, when it comes to UMAT, chances are you won’t be! 

What can you do?

The knowledge that you will probably not be the best compared to your peers when it comes to UMAT will immediately take the pressure off. You do not need to get 100th percentile to get into medicine! Aim high, but don’t become disillusioned if you are not receiving very high percentiles in your practice exams. Also, take advantage of the smart people around you – form a study group where you can discuss questions, learn from each other and make new friends! 

UMAT is hard, but by keeping the above pointers in mind, you can create and maintain a positive, can-do attitude. 

 

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Dr Edward is an academic with over thirty years of experience teaching in Australian universities. He has published several articles on educational research and has delivered numerous papers/keynote addresses at several International Teaching and Learning Conferences. He has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching. He has a long-standing interest in Psychometric measurement and spent time at educational research institutes such as the ETS (Princeton, USA) and NFER (Slough, UK). Ed also lectured at several universities in various countries such as Brazil, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, USA and UK. He has been a Consultant and an Expert Witness for several organisations.


Dr Edward has been training students for tests such as the UMAT for over two decades. Among his successful students include his own children, both of whom were offered places in all medical schools and held Monash Scholarships for Exceptional Achievement (awarded to the best incoming student each year). They are not only the youngest doctors to be accepted into the training programs of the most competitive of medical specialties, but have also won medals for obtaining the top score in the country in the specialist training theory and clinical exams held by the Royal Colleges (eg, see RACP News, Vol 32, No 2, April 2012, p 27). His daughter won an unprecedented three medals in the nationwide Fellowship exams ('The Mole' ACD Issue 102, Spring 2014, p 8, 18; Health Link, Dec 2014 Issue 19, p 14). Ed will aim to pass on to you the advice he gave his children which contributed to their unparalleled success. Ed comes from a family of 26 doctors.


Dr Edward is a member of International Society for Intelligence Research, International Test Commission and an invited member of numerous professional organisations related to psychometric/educational/aptitude & personality testing. He is also the Practice Manager of a Medical Centre and has a wide knowledge of the health profession and health-related issues.