Tag Archives: UMAT test writing techniques

10 Tips for UMAT Success!

1. PREPARE! If you wanted to do well in a test, you wouldn’t walk in unprepared. The UMAT is no different, despite what ACER may say. Make sure you prepare appropriately for the test by exposing yourself to UMAT style questions that you are likely to receive on the day so that you can hone you logical reasoning and and problem solving skills as they are essential to scoring high on the UMAT.

2. UMAT Prep Courses – beware of the scams! 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 organisation, you are sure to get the quality preparation that you pay for so that you can practice your UMAT skills, gage your strengths and weaknesses and improve your ability to respond efficiently to questions in a timely manner.

3. 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’.

4. Speed Reading! It would be beneficial 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.

5. 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 (ie. 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.

6. Arrive Early! Make sure you organise to get to your designated UMAT 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 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).

7. 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).

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Don’t try and think like the test writer! 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.

Inside the minds of the UMAT test writers

The general aim of multiple choice tests is to gain truthful information about what students have learnt. The UMAT is slightly different as it tests an individual’s generic skills rather than specific content (as multiple choice tests usually do), however, the process by which test writers create psychometric tests such as the UMAT is very similar to the processes for creating any other multiple choice test. Writing a multiple choice test is much harder than it seems. For every question that is ultimately published there would have been many questions and drafts that were written, trialled and rejected, prior to arriving at the final question that is issued as part of the test. ACER states that “all test questions must pass detailed panelling, trial testing, analysis and final review.” This scrutiny ensures that all of the questions on the test are relevant, fair and reliable, enabling truthful results to be attained.

The following are the two most basic and fundamental elements to writing an effective multiple choice test: Firstly, test writers eliminate any barriers that could potentially prevent a knowledgeable candidate from responding correctly.  Secondly, they will discard any clues that could assist a ‘less-than-knowledgeable’ candidate from correctly answering the question. This means that those who have not practiced or did not learn the skill should answer incorrectly.

The vocabulary used (other than terms you are expected to know) in multiple choice tests is generally kept simple (except in the case of Section 2 of UMAT which uses complex emotion vocab) and is usually high school level – sometimes a little higher. Therefore, if you are finding it quite difficult to understand the vocabulary throughout your preparation and practice tests, it is something you should work on before sitting the actual test.

Testers will not ask questions that can be answered using your common knowledge. You should always refer to and draw from any information or content provided in the question or the material you have learnt in order to answer the questions.

When creating the answer options, test writers will aim to keep all options at relatively similar lengths because it is likely that a longer option is the correct answer due to a more lengthy explanation. Beware of this, because longer options make great distracters. Distracters are options that are extremely close to being correct and aim to put a little bit of doubt in the candidate’s mind when they think they have the correct answer. Often you will be able to eliminate options until you are left tossing up between the correct answer and the distracter. This highlights the importance of using the process of elimination to eliminate all incorrect answers first. If you need to make an educated guess, the chance of selecting the correct answer then becomes much higher. Test writers will also avoid using the same words in the stem and the correct answer as it is often an obvious clue to the solution. This can work both ways, as associations between the question stem and the answer can act as great distracters.

You should beware of trying to think like the examiner or assume that they are trying to trick you. While they are often trying to trick you, it could waste valuable time you could use to answer the questions and it could also cause great confusion, not to mention the endless cycle of ‘what do they think I will think?’ Trying to anticipate the moves of a test writer can be quite dangerous and it is generally best to just focus on answering the questions using the information you know or through your own logical reasoning and  UMAT practice that you have done. Nevertheless, you can always look out for some of the small things mentioned above when preparing for or sitting a test like the UMAT.