Tag Archives: UMAT advice

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.

 

 

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 Books

Have you ever thought about  using books to prepare for the UMAT?

 

Before you go and spend your money on UMAT books there are a few things worth considering:

 

  • Unlike online materials which can be regularly updated, the publisher of such books is unable to amend them in keeping with the frequent changes that do occur in the UMAT.
  • There is no way of seeing other reader reviews of such publications, so how will you know what your peers think of them?
  • Is the author well versed in all facets of the UMAT and how much experience do they have?
  • How long has the author been involved in the UMAT in some way
  • You should be able to have confidence in the quality of these UMAT books in order to prepare for the UMAT. For example, are the sample questions of a similar difficulty – if they are not, then you will not be adequately prepared.
  • Whilst you will be able to physically write on the books as in the actual exam, there is a limit to how many times you can erase and reuse.

 

Online materials – such as those of MedEntry – have the advantage over UMAT books, in that they can be updated regularly, are written and managed by experienced staff, and are able to better replicate the UMAT.

Simplifying UMAT passages

The passages that you are required to read and understand in the UMAT can be long and dense. Absorbing enough information from the passages to answer the questions can be difficult and your brain will not be able to recall all the information that you read from a passage. However, passages can be broken down into simpler forms to help you better process and recall the passages when it comes to answering the questions.

Paraphrasing

Passages may be simplified using paraphrasing. This helps transform the big, complex paragraphs and passages into small bite-sized pieces of information. Good readers paraphrase as they read. This saves time and helps them to keep the ideas fresh in their mind when answering questions. To paraphrase, you may want to write summaries on the UMAT paper, underline key sentences that you feel capture the main ideas as simply as possible. It is important to be as concise as possible while doing this without losing the main ideas, otherwise this process won’t be very helpful.

Visual Aids

Using visual aids can also help in simplifying a passage. Visualising the subject matter of the passage can help keep your interest in the passage as well as helping you to retain the information. For a story or an extract from a novel, this is relatively easy as they are written to encourage visualisation. However, it can be more complex to do for an analytical piece or article. The best way to visualise for these passages can be to picture a particular aspect of the article. If it is an article discussing Van Gough’s work, picture his paintings or him. For an argumentative piece, try and picture the article as a battle with the author’s arguments battling against possible opposing arguments.

Don’t Oversimplify

However, whilst simplifying is important, do not oversimplify. Be wary of falling into a pattern by assuming that just because some questions have answers that lean a particular way doesn’t mean all questions will. For example, do not assume that all questions that relate to paragraphs about politics will have answers that are negative and critical. To always assume patterns in answers will be costly to your UMAT score. In addition, don’t oversimplify so much that you lose the central idea of the paragraph. Simplifying is meant to help you remember it, not push it aside.

Improving your Critical Thinking Skills

Everyone has their own concept of the world, of how they interpret and predict stimuli. This “concept” is underpinned by their philosophical approach to life. Whilst philosophy may seem to be a branch of knowledge best left for academics, the truth is we all utilize some form of it.

It surprises some people when they are told they use philosophy in just about everything they do – even science. The way we gain knowledge and enquire about it is greatly impacted by how we view the world.

In the UMAT, you will encounter questions that require you to evaluate a study and make assumptions. This means it is imperative that your critical thinking skills are up to scratch before the day of the UMAT arrives.

Important key terms:

Before we introduce any theories of thought, it is important to define some key terms relevant to critical thinking:

  • Reliability: reliability is a method’s ability to produce consistent results if the study was conducted multiple times.
  • Parsimony: Parsimony refers to the idea of “keeping things simple”. Rather than having a long and complicated explanation for the results of a study – is there a more simple and straightforward one?
  • Generality: refers to whether the results obtained from this study be generalized to the population.

Theories of thought:

There are many theories of thought in philosophy. They can be lined up in a spectrum. On the opposite sides we have positivism and relativism. You may find that you fall somewhere between these two theories. These are briefly outlined below.

The concepts of order, external reality, reliability, parsimony and generality are understood differently in relativism and positivism. Positivism believes definite facts can be established and certainty can be achieved. Relativism, on the other hand, believes what is “true” depends on the circumstances of the situation.

Positivism:

Positivism is based on the idea that knowledge can only be gained from observable and measureable things. An observer must view the object from a detached and neutral perspective. This means personal beliefs and external factors are irrelevant during observation.

The theory suggests that any observable phenomenon can be understood and explained in a logical way if there was sufficient knowledge about the situation.

The scientific method:

It is the underlying assumptions of positivism that create the basis for the scientific method. Understanding the scientific method is key to tackling questions in the UMAT that requires you to analyse or interpret results in a study. Below are some assumptions that underpin positivism. Think about how they can apply to your UMAT prep as you are reading them.

 

Order:

Positivism suggests the universe has an inherent order. Understanding the universe can be achieved through drawing links between causes and events. This knowledge can be used to predict future events.

External reality:

Positivism believes everyone shares the same reality. It is assumed that knowledge can be shared and verified. A simple example of this measuring the length of a line in centimetres – regardless of who measures it, the length is still going to be the same.

This means when evaluating a study in the UMAT, you should see whether the results have high replicability. That is, whether it will produce similar results if it was conducted again.

Reliability

Positivism maintains that humans can depend on their senses and methods of thinking where careful observation and logical thought has been used. It suggests that our memories are accurate.

Parsimony

Positivism believes the simplest explanations are the best. A theory should not be cluttered with unnecessary complexity. This is particularly important when tackling pattern questions in the UMAT – is there a simpler answer available?

Generality

Positivism suggests results of a study are not entirely useful if they are only relevant to those particular set of circumstances. Results obtained from a study must be able to be generalized to other sets of circumstances. This may include predicting future results. In terms of critical thinking for the UMAT, this translates to whether the results from the study can be used for a different set of circumstances.

Relativism:

Relativism suggests it is impossible for anyone to observe things detachedly as we are influenced, whether subconsciously or consciously, by personal experiences, viewpoints and social values.

Relativism is particularly useful for humanity subjects. Whilst the scientific method is useful in analysing and predicting things in a systematic and logical manner, it does not take into account external factors – that is, inconsistences, conflicts and differences in beliefs. These are aspects that make up what it means to be human.

This is particularly important when it comes to the ‘Understanding People’ questions in the UMAT. You will have to interpret passages and understand the subtleties of language.

Relativism also very heavily relies on communication. Communication differs from individual to individual, from culture to culture. Differences in the meaning of words or gestures due to cultural differences can give rise to conflict. This is particularly important for questions in the UMAT where you have to interpret the actions of an individual and their effects on others.

 

Listed below are a set of assumptions that underlie relativism:

Order:

Relativism believes order is dynamic. It is changes as our own human perceptions of life, society and beliefs change. Despite the amount of knowledge we gain, a definitive understanding of world order will never be reached. Ultimately, our perception of the order of the universe will be influenced by societal and personal values.

External reality

Relativism suggests that we look on the world from within ourselves. Everyone already has a picture of the world, and it is through our feelings and understanding that we interpret this picture to create our own reality.

Reliability

Relativism is based on personal interpretation and memorization of stimuli. Our senses can be fooled and influenced easily – either by personal or cultural values. Our memory is not 100% accurate. Researchers therefore cannot rely on their senses to give definitive records. However, our skills of reasoning can be taken as a reliable method of organizing data and ideas.

Parsimony

Relativism believes life and society cannot be summed up in a simple explanation. It is rarely possible to sum up any situation in a neat formula. There is the risk of oversimplification.

Generality

Relativists do not believe that individuals should be categorized. The uniqueness of each event and person should be valued. It is also this uniqueness that makes predicting future events difficult. Relativists believes it is dangerous to generalize from studies.

Relativism also very heavily relies on communication. Communication differs from individual to individual, from culture to culture. Differences in the meaning of words or gestures due to cultural differences can give rise to conflict. This is particularly important for questions in the UMAT where you have to interpret the actions of an individual and their effects on others.

So what is the point of this?

You will need to think about this for the UMAT. There are many ways of analyzing a situation. Each method is usually based on a philosophical approach that influences the way you interpret the data and the conclusions you come to. Your philosophical approach to understanding the world is a key factor in your interpretation. Of course, the approach you choose will depend on what study you are analyzing in the UMAT. You may end up using different methods for different types of questions.

Ultimately, being aware of your philosophical standpoint is important. It influences greatly how you approach each question on the UMAT.

 

Useful links:

http://umatpracticequestions.com.au/

http://www.umat.net.au/free-umat-sample-questions/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Time management in the final year of school

The final year of school can be a tough year. If you want to do well and obtain entry into your chosen course, you have to put in the effort and work. On top of assessments and exams, there is also UMAT preparation. How do you fit it all in? We have tips for you below on how to optimise your time.

UMAT preparation is a subject

A lot of students find it a difficult task to manage all their subjects and do UMAT preparation as well. But the process can be made easier starting with a simple mindset change. Treat UMAT preparation as if it were one of your subjects. By thinking of the UMAT this way, you will be reminded to study for it regularly. This could mean doing UMAT revision every night. If you want to get into medicine or other health fields, you have to remember that your ATAR is not the only factor taken into account. The UMAT also plays a significant part. In fact, a good way to look at it is that the UMAT is a subject that has its exam earlier in the year!

Setting time limits

A good way to include UMAT preparation as a subject is to set a time for doing practise UMAT exams. Have certain weeks where you will do a practise exam – school holidays might be ideal. Spend some time before that week studying for it by attempting some drills and reading the section guides at your own pace. Not only does this strategy make you study for the UMAT, it also develops self-directed learning. Learning in universities is independent. Lecturers do not regularly remind you of up-coming assessments or help you stay on top of what you are learning – it is your responsibility.

Splitting your time

It is easy to lose track of time when all you are trying to do is get on top of assessments. This can lead to spending too much time on one subject but not enough on others. Therefore, it is a good idea to set a maximum limit on each subject. By having a maximum limit of about 4 hours per subject, you can fit more into one night’s worth of study time.

The ATAR

The ATAR is calculated by taking into account the scores of your top four subjects and 10% of your next two subjects. This means the maximum number of subjects that goes into calculating your ATAR is six. Depending on which state you live in, English may be a compulsory subject included in your top 4, as is the case in Victoria.

If you are studying more than 4 subjects, the following tips when applied together may help you divide an appropriate amount of time to each subject.

Scaling –

Some subjects are scaled higher than others. For VCE, Specialist Mathematics is scaled higher than Mathematical Methods (CAS). This means if you get the same study score for both subjects, when scaled, Specialist Mathematics will give you a higher study score.

It may be a good idea to focus on the subjects that are scaled higher.

Play to your strengths –

Playing to your strengths means focusing on the subjects required for your course. Some courses require a certain study score in order to be eligible. This means if you are doing a subject which you are not really good at, but it is required for your course, you should spend more time on it so that you can improve. You may be good at another, but it may have a low scaling or is non-compulsory. Therefore, it is a better idea to focus on the more “important” subjects.

A final word:

The final year of school passes very quickly, but at times it can feel like a drag. It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you are just living from assessment to assessment. Whilst it is important you study for your assessments, you need to know what you are studying for.

Goals and Motivation

Set a goal to work towards throughout the year – this may be the course you wish to get into. It serves as motivation for all your studies. Whenever you get tired of studying for a subject or you are stressed, take a breath and remember that all this work you are putting in now goes towards achieving your goal.

Useful links:

http://umatpracticequestions.com.au/

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.

UMAT advice

UMAT advice: Analysing a UMAT question

To analyse, you must look closely at a problem, break it down into parts and understand how they all fit together. It is important to develop a way of keeping track of the mechanics of the problem so that you can recall how everything fits together as you work through long problems or a problem with several associated questions. This can be done through writing out a formula on the side of the problem, drawing little mind maps or diagrams, underlining key phrases or simply putting a line through what you have already worked through or determined to be wrong.

UMAT advice: UMAT Section 1 is about problem solving, logical reasoning and crtical thinking. This section includes some problem solving questions. To answer a question like this, you have to break it into parts. You should be able to separate any unknowns, variables or concepts and understand how they make up the problem. It’s not just about a straight forward maths problem or comprehension. Instead, this section is all about using critical and logical reasoning to determine an answer.

UMAT Advice: UMAT Section 2 is about reading passages and answering questions. While this may seem like simple comprehension exercises, there is far more to this section than it appears. The questions purport to test your ability to read other people’s emotions and feelings. Sometimes there are questions that ask for over arching elements of the whole passage like tone or views of the author that can only really be grasped from understanding the passage as a whole. In addition, many people overlook the little introduction to the passage or other information included that may not seem overly important but may give you clues to help you answer questions such as what the authors intention is. Having an excellent knowledge of emotion vocabulary is of great help here. Having wide life experiences is also useful for this section.

UMAT advice: UMAT Section 3 is all about the patterns. This section is often seen as the hardest or the area where people have the most trouble. However, you know that it’s all about the patterns. Each problem must have a logical solution. How you analyse the problem and break down the components will determine how easily and correctly you answer the problem. There are a range of different types of pattern questions that can be asked; from finding which is the next in the series to finding which is the missing segment. The analysis and technique to answer these questions is the same for all.

To answer a question you need to be able to analyse it. As you begin to break down more and more problems, you will find that the skill becomes easier and takes less time. Analysis is crucial for not only all the sections of the UMAT but for other exams and everyday life as well.

UMAT sample questions will give you an idea of the types of questions asked. There are more UMAT Sample questions on MedEntry Blogs (click on ‘Older Posts’) at the bottom of the UMAT blogs page.