Category Archives: UMAT Practice

Motivation: without carrots or sticks

Are you having a hard time motivating yourself to study for the UMAT? The tools we often reach for when we need to get ourselves moving are carrots (rewarding ourselves once a tough job is done) or sticks (depriving ourselves of something we want if we fail to do it). These are “extrinsic rewards”. But such extrinsic rewards and punishments are not as effective as intrinsic ones. Intrinsic rewards come from your own person – you believe that if you do a certain thing, it will make you a better, more knowledgable person.  Here, six ways to find the intrinsic interest in studying for the UMAT:

1. Fine-tune the challenge. 

We’re most motivated to succeed when the task before us is matched to our level of skill: not so easy as to be boring, and not so hard as to be frustrating. Deliberately fashion UMAT drill or exam so that you’re working at the very edge of your abilities, and keep upping the difficulty as you improve.

2. Start with the question, not the answer. 

Reaching a known answer is boring. Discovering the solution to a question/puzzle is invigorating. Approach the UMAT not as a story to which you already know the ending, but as a live question begging to be explored.

3. Beat your personal best. 

The UMAT can sometimes not be interesting in themselves, especially repetitive drills. Generate motivation by competing against yourself in drills: run through the UMAT drill to establish a baseline, then keep track of how much you improve (in speed, in accuracy) each time you do it again.

4. Connect abstract tasks to concrete outcomes. 

Imagine how real people and real situations will be affected by what you do. Picture in vivid terms what would happen if you did the task at hand poorly or not at all, versus what would happen if you did a truly outstanding job.

5. Make it social. 

Put together a UMAT Study Group, or find a partner, with whom you can work together. Divide the UMAT into parts, and take turns coaching and motivating each other. Being coached will help you improve, as will being the coach: research shows that the teacher often improves as much or more than the student, because the teacher must pay close attention to how a task is being performed and point out how it can be done better.

6. Go deep. 

The UMAT is interesting once you get inside it. Assign yourself the task of becoming the world’s expert on one aspect of the work you’re doing—its history, its current state of development, its controversies and debates. Then extend your new expertise outward by exploring how the piece you know so well connects to all the other pieces involved in getting the job done.

By discovering the intrinsic interest in the UMAT, you’ll find yourself motivated to finish it for its own sake — without a carrot or a stick in sight.

Springing back from adversity: Resilience

To be mentally tough is to resist the urge to give up in the face of failure, to maintain focus and determination in pursuit of your UMAT goals, and to emerge from adversity even stronger than before. Everyone can benefit from strengthening their resilience skills.

Mental toughness comes from thinking like an optimist. People who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local and changeable. When in the face of adversity, try to say to yourself, “It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.” Analyze your beliefs and emotions about failure. Try to avoid describing failure as permanent, pervasive and out of your control — this can affect your resilience.

Resist “catastrophic thinking”, the tendency to assume the worst. Learn to fight back negative thoughts, challenge their accuracy and search for a more positive spin. However, at the same time make sure to reflect and act on genuine concerns and problems.

Keep in mind gratitude and generosity. Learn to “hunt for the good stuff”— look for and appreciate how fortunate you already are. It is important to focus on building personal strengths and fostering positive relationships.

Resilience won’t deal with every issue in the UMAT, but it can give you’re a good understanding of how to toughen your mind in the face of difficult questions.

 

The Dangers of Stereotype threat

Stereotype threat can affect the way students perform in the UMAT.

Some students are vulnerable to “stereotype threat.” This is being aware the group they belong to is often stereotyped as intellectually inferior. The fear of confirming the stereotype by doing poorly on a test actually creates an anxiety. It is this anxiety that poorly affects their performance on a test, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Consider this study conducted at Stanford:

A group of undergraduates — some athletes and some not — was given a test made up of questions from the Graduate Record Examination (G.R.E.), the admissions test for graduate school. Just before tackling the questions from the G.R.E., the students completed a questionnaire that asked whether they belonged to a sports team, what sport they played and whether they had experienced scheduling conflicts between athletics and academic activities like course meetings and laboratory sessions. (A control group received no questions about athletics, instead answering questions about the dining services on campus.)

Student-athletes who were reminded of their identity as members of a sports team did significantly worse on the test than student-athletes who were not so reminded, and the effect was stronger for male students than for female students.

What does this mean?

Psychologists theorize stereotype threat affects individuals’ performance in three ways.

  • Stress: The physiological stress they feel at the prospect of being unfavorably evaluated impairs areas of the brain responsible for complex thinking. This can decrease students’ ability to apply problem solving skills in the UMAT.
  • Excessive self-monitoring: in an effort to ensure they will triumph over the stereotype, people monitor their own performance closely — How am I doing? Am I smart enough for this? Do I belong in college at all? This monitoring, while intended to aid their performance, actually uses up mental resources that would otherwise be applied to the UMAT. The UMAT requires full concentration, cognitive resources should not be wasted on unnecessary thoughts.
  • Uneven distribution of cognitive resources: individuals under stereotype threat try hard not to think about their performance worries, pushing away negative thoughts and feelings — another well-intentioned move that costs them mental resources needed for the test itself. Students should try to focus on the UMAT.

What can you do about it?

Simply being aware of stereotype threat can help reduce its effects. Parents can explain students how stereotype threat works. Having read this article also helps raise awareness.

Students should adopt a “growth mind-set”. The belief that ability is not fixed, but can expand through effort and practice. That is, your ability to do well in the UMAT is not fixed based on the “group” you belong to. You can change it through effort and practice.

Don’t worry about it. Instead of being concerned about fulfilling the stereotype, focus on the UMAT. Your mind needs support during these difficult times, not negative thoughts to weigh it down.

 

Effective Learning in the UMAT

Learning is not just about sitting in front of a text book and hoping the content will diffuse into your mind through osmosis. In order to learn effectively, you must learn actively, not passively. Active learning will allow you to engage with what you are learning and absorb it faster. New study strategies will also be introduced in this article so you can in-corporate them into your UMAT study. This will give your UMAT study sessions a direction and allow you to set goals.

What is active learning?

Active learning is all about engaging with what you are learning and how you absorb the knowledge. Learning is most effective when you assimilate new knowledge with old knowledge you already have. For example, if you just learnt something new about clouds, you may connect it to what you already know about clouds. Other strategies include converting what you just learnt into pictures or diagrams, or even explaining the new concept to others. These strategies allow you to use the new knowledge, and in turn, absorb it better.

Passive learners tend to just read the new content and try to remember it without connecting it to anything they already know. They may not even apply the new knowledge to a practice problem.

A good analogy to represent active learners and passive learners is in learning to use a toaster. An active learner, after purchasing the toaster will use it in their home, they will assimilate the appliance with the appliances they already have at home. A passive learner, on the other hand, will just watch people make toast and assume they know how to make toast.

The Key to Effective learning in the UMAT:

Effective learning is being aware of what you know about what you know. To learn effectively, you must learn actively. This may be learning there may be gaps in your knowledge, or knowing what you are good it.

Instead of just trying to learn skills for the UMAT, you can try a few of these study strategies below to try and enhance what you just learnt. These study strategies allow self-awareness during learning.

Effective study strategies:

  • I draw pictures or diagrams to help me understand the UMAT questions.
  • After learning about a new UMAT concept, I like to make up questions and answer them using the new concept.
  • When I am learning something new in the UMAT, I like to think back to what I already know about it.
  • I discuss what I am studying in the UMAT with others.
  • I practice UMAT drills over and over until I know the strategies well.
  • I think about my thinking to check if I understand the ideas.
  • When I don’t understand something in the UMAT, I like to go back over it again.
  • I make a note of things that I didn’t understand very well in a UMAT drill or practice exam, so that I can follow up on them at a later date.
  • When I have finished a UMAT drill or practice exam, I look back to see how well I did.
  • I organize my time to manage my UMAT study.
  • I make plans for how to do a UMAT drill or practice exam.

Plan before you study:

Before you start a study session, ask yourself the following questions. They will give you an aim to work towards and note down anything important for future learning.

  • What is your goal for today’s UMAT study session?
  • What will be the important ideas in today’s study session?
  • What do you already know about this topic?

Reflect after you study:

After a study session, it is always useful to reflect on what you have learnt to help your mind consolidate new knowledge. It also helps in finding questions to ask before your next session.

  • What can you relate today’s knowledge to?
  • What will you do to remember the key strategies?
  • Is there anything about this topic that you don’t understand or are not clear about?

Final note:

Using these strategies may make studying for the UMAT more engaging and allow you to learn UMAT concepts better. If you don’t already utilize any of the above techniques, it may be a good idea to start with just a few to see if there is a difference in whether you remember new knowledge better.

 

 

While you’re waiting for your UMAT scores, get back to real life

For the few weeks before the test, if not longer, you’ve been preoccupied with the UMAT. Maybe you’ve let a few things slide: homework, co-curricular activities, your friends, fun. Now it’s time to catch up on anything that’s fallen behind and to return to your normal routine after the UMAT.

We know you may be feeling a little anti-climactic after getting all geared up for the UMAT that’s now over, but don’t forget other tests that may be looming on the horizon. You’ve worked hard preparing for the UMAT and it’s natural to want to relax a bit. But please, please don’t blow off your Year 12 exams; they are just as important to your admissions chances as the UMAT.

UMAT Day: Get psyched up, not psyched out

Your UMAT scores depend on how much you know, but they also depend on how well you can apply what you know. If you are nervous, distracted, or in a bad mood during the UMAT, you may have a hard time concentrating and harnessing your knowledge. Here are some basic tips to help you control your nerves on the day of the UMAT.

Think Positively.

This tip cannot be emphasized enough. Getting down on yourself during the test does more than make you feel bad during the UMAT! In fact, it is taking away your body’s support system. If you are busy worrying about how well or how bad you are doing on the UMAT, then you are not busy thinking about the question in front of you. All that preparation has prepared you to do a great job on the UMAT.

Remember, you are ready for the UMAT. Just concentrate and keep moving. You’ll do fine. 

Keep Yourself Focused.

Try not to think about anything except the question in front of you on the UMAT. If you catch yourself thinking about something else, take a deep breath and bring your focus back to the UMAT.

Concentrate on Your Own Work.

The first thing some students do when they get stuck on a question, or find themselves running into a batch of tough questions in the UMAT, is to look around to see how everyone is doing. What they see is discouraging: other students busy filling in their UMAT answer sheets.

You may think to yourself, “Look at how well everyone else is doing. What is wrong with me?” If you start thinking this way, try to remember:

Everyone works at a different pace in the UMAT. Your neighbours may not be working on the same question as you. They too, might very well get stuck on that question later! Thinking about what someone else is doing on the UMAT is not going to help you answer even a single question. In fact, it is taking away your precious time!

Don’t get concerned about what other people are doing on the UMAT. Just concentrate on doing the best job you can do. 

Remember, You’re in Control.

Developing a plan for tackling the UMAT will help you feel more in control during the UMAT itself. Even if the UMAT is tomorrow, there is still time to familiarise yourself with the UMAT test directions You should also review the different question types so you won’t be shocked during the UMAT.

If you’re in control, you’ll have the best chance of getting the best UMAT score that you deserve. 

Tips for Multiple Choice on UMAT

Top tips for multiple choice in the UMAT

The UMAT consists of only multiple choice questions. While multiple choice means they give you the correct answer as one of the options, choosing it is not as easy as it seems. Here are some useful tips for answering multiple choice questions for the UMAT

  • Answer all questions. For Logical reasoning, problem solving and understanding people questions in the UMAT you have a 1 in 4 chance of getting the right answer. In Non-Verbal Reasoning questions, a 1 in 5 chance, so why not go for it, even if you are unsure of the correct answer. The odds are in your favour! Never leave an answer blank, it may cause you to stuff up your answer sheet. Instead, circle the option you think is best and put a little asterix next to the number of the question. That way if you have time at the end of the UMAT, you can go back and consider the question more carefully.
  • Read the question carefully. In the UMAT, there may be little tricks in the question to throw you off so you will need to read the question carefully. They may ask you to choose the best answer, the most right or simply the correct answer. However, not all questions are phrased positively. They may ask you to choose the option that is not correct or the exception to the answer set.
  •  Read all the options. Whether you are doing a UMAT practice exam, or the actual UMAT, read all the possible answers before determining the answer. Whilst you may feel you know which one is the correct answer, after reading all the options you may decide the one you chose was not the best answer. In addition, reading all the options can act like a second check for what the question is asking. If three of the answers seem similar and one doesn’t seem to fit, the question may actually be asking you to find the incorrect option!
  • Be wary of changing your mind. You may want to change your answer during the UMAT. However, only do this after careful consideration of the question. Often you’ll find that your first answer was the correct answer.
  • Don’t spend too long on one question. The UMAT is a timed exam. If you’re having problems with one question, select an answer and mark the question so you know to come back to it at the end. Each question is worth the same amount of marks so spending more time on one than another does not necessarily benefit you.

 

 

UMAT stress – friend or foe?

 

How do I get rid of test stress?

 

While familiarity with test content is undoubtedly helpful, sometimes just doing practise exams is not going to make the stress go away. Some common causes of test stress include: anxiety, lack of confidence, being distracted and pressure to do well.

 

The truth is you are going to be stressed on the day of the UMAT, but that is not all bad news. A little bit of stress can actually be beneficial to your performance.

 

Consider the Yerkes-Dodson Curve:

We perform best when there is a moderate amount of stress placed on us. It allows us to think rationally, and actually enjoy what we are doing. On either side of that we have under-stimulation and over-stimulation, where negative emotions and general dissatisfaction take over. Don’t think of the UMAT as a draining experience, after all, it is part of the journey to achieving your dream career.

Whilst this “optimum performance zone” may be different for everyone, we all have one and it is through practise and developing certain test tactics that allows you to find the zone where you are both calm and alert.

Knowing vs Performing:

Knowing and performing is not the same thing. “Knowing” is how well you understand the content. “Performing” is what you do with what you know. No doubt by the time you do the UMAT, you will know a lot of skills. But the real question that remains is how well you perform – that is, how well you utilise what you know.

Keeping Calm:

Your performance on the day hangs significantly on how your mindset is.

You can be the nervous person who only thinks about failing or you can approach each question on the UMAT calmly. Don’t let external factors you can’t control affect you – the ticking clock, questions presented to you on the page, the weather, etc. Stress is caused by an individual’s interpretation of the events around them. In other words, you create the stress for yourself.

A good question to ask yourself is: “what am I doing to myself that is making me feel so stressed out?” . This is the first step to recognising that you are causing yourself stress so you can identify the factors and fix them.

Common stress reactions:

Knowing what some common stress reactions are can help you identify how you react to stressful situations, like the UMAT.

  • Physically tense
  • Thinking negative thoughts
  • Being continually distracted

When you are physically tense, your body is agitated so you can’t think clearly.

Negative thinking can be the killer to the confidence boost that you need during demanding times like the UMAT. When you say you are not good enough, you are not supporting yourself. During the UMAT, your mind needs encouraging messages, rather than messages of failure. When you think negative thoughts – it is like giving up on yourself! In fact, these negative messages can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if you think you are not going to do well and you keep insisting on it question after question, you probably are not going to do well on the UMAT!

Don’t let yourself let you down. 

When you get distracted during the UMAT, your mind cannot properly focus on the questions. This is decreasing your level of performance.

What now?

There is still time to mentally prepare yourself so you can get into that “optimal zone” where are you are alert and calm during the UMAT. When doing practise exams, try to sit in a way that relaxes your muscles so you are not physically tense. Instead of thinking negative thoughts, give yourself some encouragement. It does not have to be “bring it on! I am so good at this”. They can just be little things like, “I’ve done this before, so I know the method.” Finally, stay focused. Ignore other things happening in the room. Rather than worry about time ticking away, or other questions, just focus on the question you are working right now.

A final word:

Remember, stress is going to be there during the UMAT no matter what, but if you remember to keep calm, focused and confident. You can at least make your UMAT experience a good one.

Lowering UMAT exam anxiety

Lowering your UMAT exam anxiety

Let’s face it. From here on in, we will be surrounded by exams, the UMAT, end of year 12 exams, not to mention all the University exams looming not so far into the future. So with all these exams, it is important to develop techniques to reduce and deal with UMAT anxiety. Below are some helpful techniques to help you deal with anxiety in the lead up to the UMAT.

Set up a UMAT study group

Studying with others is an effective way of lowering UMAT anxiety. However, the people you choose to be in your study group influence how effectively the study group will function. Be wary of choosing your friends to be part of your UMAT study group as you may get easily distracted and lose sight of your purpose. Instead, choose people with similar goals and aspirations as you.

Plan a revision schedule for school and UMAT

Make sure you include all your extra-curricular activities such as work commitments. You also need to allocate time for re-revision and going over any areas of the UMAT exam that you are unsure of. The key part of making a revision schedule work is ensuring that the goals you hope to achieve are manageable and realistic.

Planning a UMAT study sessions with breaks

Set a goal for each UMAT study session. Breaking down revision into more manageable goals makes revising less overwhelming. Most people can only concentrate for 20 minutes. Once you fail to absorb any more information, it’s time for a break. Short frequent study periods with breaks helps retention and recall.

Also, half hour time slots are useful for quick revision. If it takes a half hour train trip to get to school in the morning, why not try to work through some UMAT questions you have been having difficulty with or memorising techniques that will be useful for answering certain types of UMAT questions.

Find out the exam details

This will make you feel more comfortable before actually sitting down to do the UMAT. If you learn the details before hand, you won’t be thrown on the day.

Find out what to do if you get stuck on a UMAT question.

If you get stuck on a question during the UMAT, your anxiety level will rise. Fortunately, the UMAT consists of multiple choice questions. If you get stuck, choose an answer, mark the question and move on. If you have time at the end, go back and try to work through the question again. If you run out of time, at least you have a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance of getting the right answer. Don’t let being unsure throw you, the answer is there, you just have to deduce which one it is.

 

Interested in studying Medicine?

If you are, then you need to sit the UMAT. The UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admissions) test is required for entry into most undergraduate medical courses and health science courses.

The UMAT is not a test of knowledge. It tests your skills in three different areas: Logical reasoning and problem solving, understanding people and non-verbal reasoning. These three areas used to be divided into three separately timed sections and completed sequentially during the exam.

However, since last year, questions from the all three areas have been mixed together to form one large exam. This change actually makes the test harder, so it is even more important now to go into the UMAT with an effective test taking strategy.

Should you prepare for the UMAT?

Would you go into your end of year exams without preparing? Entrance into some universities usually have 3 equally weighted criteria: your UMAT score, ATAR score and performance in an interview. So your UMAT score actually plays a significant role as to whether you get into medicine. 

Even though the UMAT isn’t knowledge based, you can dramatically improve your scores by learning new thought processes and familiarising yourself with the types of questions. This will also lower your nervoursness on the day, because you have already encountered UMAT-styled questions. Many other students are treating UMAT preparation as another school subject, except it has an exam earlier in the year! You’ll be at a huge disadvantage if you don’t prepare yourself.

In fact, UMAT prep is even more important now with the new changes to UMAT. Speed reading, and learning how to decode patterns quickly are essential to doing well in the UMAT.