Tag Archives: UMAT preparation

I don’t have time for the UMAT during year 12, should I do the GAMSAT instead?

A lot of people think because their final year of school is such a busy one, they should forget about doing the UMAT and focus on their studies instead. Some say, “Don’t worry if you are not sitting the UMAT, you can always just sit the GAMSAT during Uni and get into Medicine that way”. Whilst this is true, the graduate entry route is no doubt harder. You compete with a far wider range of test takers. The percentage of students who actually get into Graduate Medicine is also far lower than the UMAT percentage intake.

The decision to sit either the UMAT or GAMSAT is your choice. Below is a table comparing the Undergraduate and Graduate route into medicine to help you decide.

Undergraduate Route v Postgraduate Route

  Undergraduate entry into medicine – UMAT Graduate entry into medicine – GAMSAT
Total test duration 3 hours 6.5 hours
Test type Multiple choice Multiple choice and extended response
Essay questions None Yes
Assumed knowledge None Yes. You are expected to know about:           Humanities          Social sciences           Biology           Physics
Number of sections One section – all three types of questions are now mixed together Three separate sections
Constructs tested
  •  Logical reasoning and problem solving
  •  Understanding people
  • Non-verbal reasoning
  • Reasoning in humanities and social sciences (requires essay)
  • Written communication (requires essay)
  • Reasoning in biological and physical sciences (previous knowledge assumed)
When does the test take place? You can only sit the UMAT in you FINAL YEAR of secondary schooling or higher.  Students in year 11 or lower are NOT eligible to sit the UMAT even if they are undertaking year 12 subjects You can sit the GAMSAT if you have completed a bachelor degree, or will be in your second last year/final year of study in a bachelor degree at the time of sitting the GAMSAT
Criteria for entry Entry into undergraduate medicine has three usually equally weighted factors:

  • Your year 12 ATAR score (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) and;
  • Your UMAT score and;
  • Interview score or oral assessment
Entry into graduate medical and dental program is based on these three criteria:

  • WAM (Weighted Average Mark) or GPA (Grade Point Average) of bachelor degree and;
  • GAMSAT score and;
  • MMI (Multiple Interview Rounds)

These factors may not be equally weighted. Universities may differ in their weighting of performance on each criteria

Median age of test-takers UMAT – 18 years (Usually school-leavers) GAMSAT – 25 years (from a wide range of backgrounds, lawyers, engineers, scientists, accountants, etc)

 

So should I do the UMAT instead?

If you are still undecided, consider these points:

  • GAMSAT is almost twice the length of UMAT
  •  GAMSAT has both multiple choice questions AND essay writing. The UMAT is entirely multiple choice.
  •  UMAT has no assumed knowledge. (It is an aptitude test) The GAMSAT assumes previous knowledge in several areas of sciences. (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc)
  • In order to be able to sit the GAMSAT, you have to spend about 3 more years at University studying a Bachelor degree that may not help you in your medical career.
  • By sitting the UMAT, you can start studying what you want straight away. Year 12 is already stressful enough, the last thing you would want is to continue studying at that same pace to achieve a high GPA/WAM in your bachelor degree so you can have the chance to gain entry into graduate medicine.

 

 

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.

What is the UMAT?

Considering a career in medicine?

Then you need to know about the UMAT.

UMAT stands for Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test.

It is a three hour exam administered by ACER (The Australian Council for Educational Research), and it tests your ability in three areas:

*logical reasoning & problem solving

*understanding people, and

*non-verbal reasoning

Most Australian and New Zealand Universities use your UMAT score, together with your high school results and your performance at an interview, in their selection of students for medicine, dentistry and health science courses.

There is help available to students who want to get the best possible results in the UMAT. Online courses such as those offered by MedEntry can greatly assist your preparation for the UMAT.

Registrations for the July 2013 UMAT test are already open, so you had better get your skates on!

Negative marking in UMAT

You will never know whether or not there is negative marking in UMAT. This is because ACER does not release information on how your ‘markings’ on the answer sheet are converted into UMAT scaled scores. This information is kept ‘confidential’.

Even with negative marking, you will not be disadvantaged by random guessing. For example, in the Australian Mathematics Competition negative marking was used in the past – you got minus one fourth for choosing the wrong option out of the five options. This means if there are 100 questions and you guess randomly, you will get 20 right and 80 wrong, so 20-80/4=0. When negative marking is used, it is weighted so that students are not disadvantaged by random guessing. So random guessing is a zero sum game. Most high stakes tests use ‘negative marking’ to avoid the ‘lucky monkey’ problem.

While ACER says ‘no marks are deducted for an incorrect answer’ and ‘all questions carry equal marks’, unless the ‘confidential’ information on how your answers to UMAT questions are converted into scaled scores, you can never be certain. ACER also says ‘all questions carry equal marks,’ but how is this possible when all candidates do not get the same questions? It is known that there are some differences in the questions given to students sitting the UMAT in the same year. Further, ACER says you can’t prepare for UMAT. Evidence is to the contrary.

Most high stakes tests take several factors into account (one of them being negative marking) when calculating results. However, since they do not release the information on the factors they take into account, we can only draw conclusions based on available scientific evidence – on Rasch models and so on. ACER may or may not use negative marking in obtaining the raw score (which is irrelevant), but almost certainly uses some variation of it (eg, the percentage of questions right out of those attempted) in arriving at the scaled score (which is what is relevant).

The best approach for students is to try to eliminate at least one (preferably two) of the options and then guess; rather than randomly guess.

UMAT Preparation

I hear that the UMAT is hard, so why shouldn’t I pursue the graduate medical entry path instead of all this UMAT Preparation?

The graduate medicine entry route requires that you complete a degree first before applying for Medicine. This means studying hard for an additional 3 or 4 years (and paying the fees), with no guarantee of getting into Medicine. You also need to sit a test called the GAMSAT, which is a six hour test (compare this with UMAT which is a 2.75 hour test) as well as doing well in the interview. The GAMSAT has been described by most people as “the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to do in my life”. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do a Biomedicine or Biosciences degree, you will automatically be offered a place in Medicine. If you miss out on a place in Medicine, you may end up with a degree that is not useful for your future, and a waste of several years.

The median age of students entering graduate medical programs in Australia is 25.4 years. By that age, you would have completed your medical degree and probably working as a Registrar in your chosen specialty if you choose the Year 12 entry (UMAT) route. Imagine entering medical school at 25 via graduate entry, then trying to study for the specialist training exams in your early thirties with family to care for!

Further, when you apply through the graduate entry pathway, you can only apply to one university (with only three preferences) and you will be interviewed only by one university. The universities have colluded to make it this way, so that it is less work for them and easier for them to select students (although it imposes harsh restrictions on aspiring doctors).

Even if you are planning to enter medicine through the GAMSAT route, it is strongly recommended that you undergo UMAT Preparation and sit the UMAT test. This has numerous benefits: the thinking skills you will develop in the UMAT Preparation course will be useful for GAMSAT as well; one section of UMAT is similar to that in GAMSAT; you can assess your competition; the experience of sitting a unique test such as the UMAT gives you confidence in sitting GAMSAT later on.