How to Achieve UMAT Success

The “Undergraduate Medical Admissions Test”, more commonly know as the “UMAT” is often underestimated in the role it plays in the selection process for health science courses, when it is possibly the most crucial aspect. This is why it is so important that students fully understand what is involved in the process of applying for and entering an undergraduate course in any of the fields mentioned above – most importantly the process of preparing for and sitting the UMAT. The UMAT runs for 2h 45m and consists of 3 sections of multiple choice questions for testing an individual’s aptitude (it is not an IQ or personality test). There are no prerequisite studies required to sit the UMAT, rather the test aims to assess a student’s general attributes and abilities gained through learning and previous experience. This allows the results of the UMAT to accompany a student’s academic results as opposed to replacing them altogether. Studying undergraduate Medicine or Health Sciences, particularly throughout Australia and New Zealand has become extremely competitive, which is why it is so important to achieve UMAT success in order to secure your place!


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    Don't leave your preparation to the last minute! The skills required to succeed in the UMAT cannot be learnt the night before. Make sure you don't leave all your practice exams and questions to the last minute. If you practice consistently over a longer period of time the skills will consolidate and you will have time to improve in all areas as well as focusing on your weaknesses. If you are cramming the night before you will not be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and will most likely be wasting a whole heap of good value practice exams because you were 'saving them for later'[1].
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    Beware of the scams of those UMAT Prep Courses. There are many websites that claim to be UMAT prep organisations when they are actually scam websites. If you avoid these websites and go with a good quality UMAT preparation organisations, you are sure to get the quality preparation that you pay for so that you can practice your UMAT skills, gauge your strengths and weaknesses and improve your ability to respond efficiently to questions in a timely manner.
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    Take a speed reading course as part of your UMAT preparation, particularly for sections 1 and 2. The whole of section 2 is based around comprehending large chunks of text, and in section 1 there are many questions which also involve reading a large text. You want to waste as little time as possible reading but you do not want to rush through it as you will not understand very much and you may have to go back over what you have already read. A speed reading course will help you increase your reading speed and your ability to understand and pick out the key ideas in the text whilst speed reading.
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    Be organised! Depending on the time you are allocated you may need to get up really early on the day of the UMAT and if not it is still important to be organised. Have all of the things you need (e.g. pencils, admission ticket, correct identification, transportation) organised the night before (or earlier) so that you do not have to stress of worry about them on the morning. You don't want to be printing out your ticket or searching for the correct pencils right before your exam. You want to be calm and collected going into the exam, not stressed and flustered.
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    Make sure you organise to get to your designated testing centre by the designated reporting time on your admission ticket. Allow for any transportation mishaps (like missing your train or being stuck in traffic). Also, you may want to take a snack while you are lining up to go in. The lines are really long and you can't take any food or drink other than bottled water into the test. If the test has started and you are late you will not be allowed in (the UMAT begins once all of the pre-testing procedures - checking of Admission Tickets and identification have been completed).
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    Time management is key! One of the most daunting factors of the UMAT for candidates is the sheer amount of work that needs to be done in a short amount of time. This is where the preparation comes in. If you have practiced UMAT style questions you are likely to be faster and more efficient at answering the questions. If you feel you are spending too much time on a question, take an educated guess and move on so that you have time to come back to it at the end (do not leave it blank, because if you run out of time, you cannot go back and you will be left with an unanswered question).
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    Utilise your nervous energy. On the day of the UMAT it is healthy to be a little bit nervous. Psychological studies have shown that people perform poorly when they are not aroused or when they are too aroused. If you are extremely stressed you are likely to become easily confused and misinterpret questions. Without any anxiety you will not perform as actively as you would with slight arousal. If you have a little bit of nervous energy and you are able to harness it, your performance will be heightened and it will allow you too perform at your best level.
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    Have confidence in your abilities. If you go into the test with a negative mindset, expecting to perform poorly, this will be the case. You should go into the UMAT confident in all of your preparation with a 'can do' attitude in order to make the most of the UMAT and score as high as possible! A positive mindset may be a small factor, but it does contribute significantly to a person's performance in any test.
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    Be careful if you are trying to think like the test writer or assuming they are trying to trick you (even if they are). You could waste valuable time channelling the writer when you could be using that time to use the methods and logic you learnt and prepared in order to answer the question correctly. Beware of the endless "what do they think I will think?" cycle. You may end up completely confusing yourself and will gain no ground on selecting the right answer.


  • To be successful in the UMAT, timing is just as important as anything else. You should aim to pace yourself throughout each section so that you finish the last question just before time runs out. If you finish early, not only would you have wasted valuable time twiddling your thumbs but you may also have ultimately sacrificed your precision for speed.


  • If you are a top student at school don't think that the UMAT will be a walk in the park. The UMAT tests "general skills and abilities developed over the course of your education and life experience". In order to succeed in the UMAT you will need to employ strategies, critical thinking and logical analysis that are not used in any of your usual academic studies. You shouldn't rest on your laurels.
  • Do not be fooled by ACER stating that you "cannot prepare for UMAT". The exact questions may not be able to be predicted, but there are definite patterns as to the types of questions asked each year. By exposing yourself to the types of questions you are likely to be asked in the actual UMAT, you will improve your skills, timing and your mark dramatically.

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Categories: Tests and Exams