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No UMAT needed- a good or a bad thing?

greenglacier

Emeritus MSO Staff
Emeritus
See this is where we disagree.
I know, but your post before was a misrepresentation of what I was saying. Meh, this is trivial anyway.

Personally I'd rather be judged by UMAT than by interview. I know too many people who have managed to bulls**t their way through interviews. I don't know anyone who got a high UMAT who I feel didn't deserve it.
 

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Benjamin

Admin (JCU MBBS)
Emeritus
I know, but your post before was a misrepresentation of what I was saying. Meh, this is trivial anyway.

Personally I'd rather be judged by UMAT than by interview. I know too many people who have managed to bulls**t their way through interviews. I don't know anyone who got a high UMAT who I feel didn't deserve it.
Going the other way, how many people do you know that got a terrible UMAT score but you felt deserved more? I know plenty.

Agreeing with Havox here, I think that the interview process is invaluable. I've got a question though, namely, have you ever done an interview GG? I only ask because I thought they were terrible until I did a few and following that I began to see their worth. For anyone to be able to bullshit their way through the Monash MMI for example, I would think would be a very tough and impressive feat. Perhaps the UNCLE interview allowed for far too much interviewer manipulation as it was so personal and the interviewers at JCU were also very much able to be swayed but the MMI, due to the short time exposure to one person but long time exposure to many prevented that, I think. I personally think, after experiencing it and the alternatives myself, that the MMI is miles ahead of the current interview tactics and should be employed in more places. Interviews are about giving a fair representation of yourself so that you can be judged by more than just a score on paper, in that sense I feel they should never be done away with. If the case becomes something such as UQ suffered - applicants being taught how to do the interviews - then perhaps a rehaul of your interview process is required. Keep us on our toes, it's when we're the most honest or transparent.

Back to the OP's question - that's one of many reasons why I actually rejected my GU offer, strangely enough. Not the main one, but one of the minor ones that cemented my decision. On another no-UMAT note, I personally feel that JCU's written application was worthless and doesn't display anything but your bullshitting ability (I wrote mine several hours before I posted it...) but since they only serve to cut down the applicant pool they maintain their worth. The JCU med cohort has yet to yield anyone who I don't like, so there's a positive note.
 
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KIWIpride

Regular Member
It seems that some of you are scared that people with 99.xx ATAR score are anti social geeks with no life and no genuine passion for the course.'

Well...let me tell you something, my Griffith dentistry/dent tech cohort is the best bunch of people ever. They all are just so easy to talk to, very down to earth, have great communication skills, really know what dentistry entails and what it leads onto. This is because I just got back from a full day dentistry orientation.

This is one bloody good evidence that removing umat and interview wasnt a bad decision at all.
 

Havox

Sword and Martini Guy!
Emeritus
It seems that some of you are scared that people with 99.xx ATAR score are anti social geeks with no life and no genuine passion for the course.'
Having talked to some interview applicants actually yes.
 

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chinaski

Regular Member
Actually, I'm not sure if the interview is asking if they're capable of completing the course, but rather, are they the right type of person to be doing the course. Do they actually have the appropriate interpersonal skills and motivation.
The crux:

a) Can such things be reliably identified and quantified?
b) If so, is a population of school leavers an appropriate sample to be judged by such measures?
 

LemonTea

Senior Procrastinator
Interviews are about giving a fair representation of yourself so that you can be judged by more than just a score on paper, in that sense I feel they should never be done away with.
Interview performance gets turned into a score on paper in the end, just like every other selection process.
 

greenglacier

Emeritus MSO Staff
Emeritus
This is straying quite a bit from what I was initially posting in this thread about, but meh, all good fun.

Going the other way, how many people do you know that got a terrible UMAT score but you felt deserved more? I know plenty.
I don't actually know that many people who got a bad UMAT (<50th percentile) who I honestly felt deserved a good UMAT, when put in the context of what the UMAT is actually trying to test. Regardless, yes, I know some, but this doesn't put me off UMAT that much. Medical school selection processes are pretty rubbish (whatever the method), and good people are always going to miss out. Hence, when push comes to shove and numbers have to be brutally cut, I'd be more concerned if a "bad" candidate got in than if a "good" candidate missed out. Therefore I would be far more worried if I saw a few examples of people getting good UMAT scores who didn't deserve them. Hence I tend to weight my views in this direction.

I've got a question though, namely, have you ever done an interview GG? I only ask because I thought they were terrible until I did a few and following that I began to see their worth.
Fair call, I haven't actually ever sat a med/dent school interview, due to only being able to apply to one school (which doesn't use interviews). My observations are based purely on what I've heard of interview experiences and the people I've seen do well (and not-so-well). I should probably make this clearer when commenting on interview validity.

For anyone to be able to bullshit their way through the Monash MMI for example, I would think would be a very tough and impressive feat. Perhaps the UNCLE interview allowed for far too much interviewer manipulation as it was so personal and the interviewers at JCU were also very much able to be swayed but the MMI, due to the short time exposure to one person but long time exposure to many prevented that, I think. I personally think, after experiencing it and the alternatives myself, that the MMI is miles ahead of the current interview tactics and should be employed in more places. Interviews are about giving a fair representation of yourself so that you can be judged by more than just a score on paper, in that sense I feel they should never be done away with. If the case becomes something such as UQ suffered - applicants being taught how to do the interviews - then perhaps a rehaul of your interview process is required. Keep us on our toes, it's when we're the most honest or transparent.
I actually agree with you here. If you look back, I don't think I've ever disputed the value of the interview in general - only the value of some of the less well conducted interviews (such as the Otago dentistry interview - which also happens to be the one I've seen the most people go through). Unfortunately the MMI has yet to make it to NZ, but from what I know about it, it does seem to have some good validity. However, I still don't like the idea of it having a large role in ranking candidates (I don't have an issue with it being used as a threshold to weed out weak candidates though: in fact I think a well-designed MMI could easily enhance the admissions process if used in this way). I think the qualities tested by the interview are ones that only need to be tested to a threshold level. It's good to weed out inherently poor communicators, but I think communications skills can be improved quite significantly during med school. This is opposed to something like the critical/scientific thinking tested by UMAT S1, which is always important, isn't picked up as easily, and an area where I'd like my doctors to be as competent as possible.
 

Benjamin

Admin (JCU MBBS)
Emeritus
Having talked to some interview applicants actually yes.
Agreed.

It's not just that, either. I personally feel that the ATAR isn't the be-all end-all and definitely only provides a snapshot of your life. I've known people with 99ATAR's to finish highschool then bludge their way through life and I've known people with lower ATAR's to come out and work harder than ever imaginable. It comes down to what your priorities are and how you want to judge people, personally I don't go upto someone and say, "Hey, my name's Ben. What was your ATAR at school?" because that's not how I judge people.

I don't actually know that many people who got a bad UMAT (<50th percentile) who I honestly felt deserved a good UMAT, when put in the context of what the UMAT is actually trying to test.
I forgot momentarily that the NZ system does not require such a high UMAT score because they're all post-grad.. perhaps you forgot that the majority of universities in Australia see a UMAT score of <90% as a bad UMAT score. If a bad UMAT score simply meant below average - i.e. <50% - then I would surely advocate for it, but with the current system I can't, namely because the simple numbers game of it all means that 90% of the applicants aren't going to get through. When you consider that it's judging that many people the skew changes from 'bad' candidate who go in versus 'good' candidate who didn't to 'good' candidate versus 'best' candidate. I personally don't believe that the UMAT has that kind of differentiating power - yes, it can determine good from bad, but not good from best.


I don't have an issue with it being used as a threshold to weed out weak candidates though
Once again I refer to what I mentioned above - if there were a mixture of good and bad candidates then this would be easily do-able, but with the current best and best of the best setup I feel the interview is one of the few ways to differentiate between these types of candidates.

It's good to weed out inherently poor communicators, but I think communications skills can be improved quite significantly during med school. This is opposed to something like the critical/scientific thinking tested by UMAT S1, which is always important, isn't picked up as easily, and an area where I'd like my doctors to be as competent as possible.
Here I agree with you.. mostly. Instead of throwing in a rebuttal I'll ask this: so you believe that S2 of the UMAT better shows a candidates ability to interpret and relate to people than viewing actual interaction in realistic situations? How about S3? What exactly does that even show that the ATAR doesn't?
 
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LemonTea

Senior Procrastinator
I've known people with 99ATAR's to finish highschool then bludge their way through life and I've known people with lower ATAR's to come out and work harder than ever imaginable.
In absolutely everything except kindergarten, it's the result that matters. Effort is absolutely irrelevant.
 

Benjamin

Admin (JCU MBBS)
Emeritus
In absolutely everything except kindergarten, it's the result that matters. Effort is absolutely irrelevant.
You've never seen someone work ridiculously hard, harder than you think possible and fail.. then thought, "Sheesh that person is impressive"? You've never raced someone, competed against someone and won but still felt that the other person was better than you were? Never felt that they deserved it more? I know I have.

Going back to what you actually quoted though, I'll fill in what was implied - I've often seen people with lower ATAR's succeed more - i.e. have better end results - than those with higher ATAR's. My point being that the ATAR is merely a snapshot of your highschool life and doesn't always give a clear indication of what your future will hold.

Interview performance gets turned into a score on paper in the end, just like every other selection process.
Similarly, what was implied was that the 'score' generated from the interview was more realistic of a judgement than the UMAT score. As GreenGlacier commented though, this isn't always the case.
 
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Havox

Sword and Martini Guy!
Emeritus
In absolutely everything except kindergarten, it's the result that matters. Effort is absolutely irrelevant.
Problem is that I don't believe that High School results correspond well to university achievement.
 

LemonTea

Senior Procrastinator
Going back to what you actually quoted though, I'll fill in what was implied - I've often seen people with lower ATAR's succeed more - i.e. have better end results than those with higher ATAR's.
You should have just said that school result doesn't always correlate with life result. It sounded as though you were talking about effort rather than result.

And it is the result that actually affects things. If a certain result is reached, then it will have a certain set of consequences regardless of how much effort was expended to reach that result. And how does one measure effort, anyhow?

Problem is that I don't believe that High School results correspond well to university achievement.
That doesn't contradict my point that results (be they school results, uni results, corporate profit, whatever) matter infinitely more than effort.
 
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Benjamin

Admin (JCU MBBS)
Emeritus
And it is the result that actually affects things. If a certain result is reached, then it will have a certain set of consequences regardless of how much effort was expended to reach that result. And how does one measure effort, anyhow?
[offtopic]First, please note that the first line of my reply has been removed - it was a spiteful remark and I'm sorry.[/offtopic]

On your reply - "how does one measure effort, anyhow?" - certainly not with the UMAT.

That doesn't contradict my point that results (be they school results, uni results, corporate profit, whatever) matter infinitely more than effort.
In terms of clear-cut 'success', yes. But the case here is infinitely more complex - 'success' does not necessarily mean a good GPA in Medicine, this has been stressed on this forum over and over again. I've often heard from senior doctors and people on this forum alike that the real learning, the real development of who you are as a doctor comes during your internship. Thus at the initial admissions level into University they aren't trying to get the people who will get the highest GPA but rather scouting out the ones that have seemingly the right attitudes to 'succeed' later in their career. That's the difference between say GU and JCU - GU prepares for only university taking the smartest applicants, whilst JCU prepares for the impending future by judging the applicants based on what they're going to experience.

N.B. I chose JCU only because it's a clear example - i.e. they favour rural students because they teach rural medicine and rural students are more likely to return to rural areas and use their learning.
 

greenglacier

Emeritus MSO Staff
Emeritus
I forgot momentarily that the NZ system does not require such a high UMAT score because they're all post-grad.. perhaps you forgot that the majority of universities in Australia see a UMAT score of <90% as a bad UMAT score. If a bad UMAT score simply meant below average - i.e. <50% - then I would surely advocate for it, but with the current system I can't, namely because the simple numbers game of it all means that 90% of the applicants aren't going to get through. When you consider that it's judging that many people the skew changes from 'bad' candidate who go in versus 'good' candidate who didn't to 'good' candidate versus 'best' candidate. I personally don't believe that the UMAT has that kind of differentiating power - yes, it can determine good from bad, but not good from best.
Actually both the NZ med schools are undergrad (with a minority of students getting in through graduate entry). At both schools 90th percentile is still highly desirable, and at Otago 100th percentile almost guarantees admission. It just works out that people getting 50th percentile can still get in with very good (but achievable) academic grades. Generally speaking you want at least 80th percentile (and anything above this is a bonus). In this climate I think it performs quite well.

Regardless, the problem you've pointed out isn't unique to UMAT - all standardised tests lose discriminating power at the upper end. In NZ we've given up on using the common high school examination to determine the absolute top achievers for this very reason.

Once again I refer to what I mentioned above - if there were a mixture of good and bad candidates then this would be easily do-able, but with the current best and best of the best setup I feel the interview is one of the few ways to differentiate between these types of candidates.
Speaking purely hypothetically here, it strikes me that the best solution to this problem would be to enhance the discriminating ability of UMAT and the tools used to determine your academic ranking. As it is I think you're pushing the interview beyond its limits.

Here I agree with you.. mostly. Instead of throwing in a rebuttal I'll ask this: so you believe that S2 of the UMAT better shows a candidates ability to interpret and relate to people than viewing actual interaction in realistic situations? How about S3? What exactly does that even show that the ATAR doesn't?
Person-to-person interaction has components that can be taught fairly easily, and components that can't. I think that UMAT S2 is a reasonable enough proxy for those inherent qualities to save the expense of interviewing. I don't regard it as superior to interview though (although given the standardised marking it could be argued to be fairer).

I think UMAT S3 should be abolished.
 

LemonTea

Senior Procrastinator
I forgot momentarily that the NZ system does not require such a high UMAT score because they're all post-grad.. perhaps you forgot that the majority of universities in Australia see a UMAT score of <90% as a bad UMAT score. If a bad UMAT score simply meant below average - i.e. <50% - then I would surely advocate for it, but with the current system I can't, namely because the simple numbers game of it all means that 90% of the applicants aren't going to get through. When you consider that it's judging that many people the skew changes from 'bad' candidate who go in versus 'good' candidate who didn't to 'good' candidate versus 'best' candidate. I personally don't believe that the UMAT has that kind of differentiating power - yes, it can determine good from bad, but not good from best.
You can make very similar arguments about how ATAR cannot differentiate good from best, but that's not a strong case for scrapping ATAR. Not to mention most med schools view <95 or 96 as an ATAR that will not even be considered.

You can say that ATAR measures an entire year as opposed to 2 hours, but then the UMAT measures 2 hours as opposed to 30 minute interviews.

How about S3? What exactly does that even show that the ATAR doesn't?
In theory it is supposed to show reasoning, in contrast to Yr 12 which can be done with subjects that mostly tests your ability to be a human photocopier. The extent to which prepping by remembering common patterns help in S3 is debatable.
 

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greenglacier

Emeritus MSO Staff
Emeritus
Sorry but doesn't effort correlate with result?
I suspect in most examinations it does, but not particularly strongly. Everyone has an innate result that they would achieve with minimal effort, and any effort above this will tend to improve the result. Problem is the innate result isn't the same for everyone.
 

Benjamin

Admin (JCU MBBS)
Emeritus
Sorry but doesn't effort correlate with result?
Not in all cases. There are circumstances that affect everyone differently and thus the effort put in may not correlate directly with results.

It just works out that people getting 50th percentile can still get in with very good (but achievable) academic grades.
See, this would be okay with me. It's the fact that even those people with very, very good academic grades are not even considered due to the UMAT being a threshold.

Speaking purely hypothetically here, it strikes me that the best solution to this problem would be to enhance the discriminating ability of UMAT and the tools used to determine your academic ranking. As it is I think you're pushing the interview beyond its limits.
Once again I agree with you - the UMAT is already pushed to it's limits as is the interview, removing the interview however only results in pushing the UMAT and ATAR further to their limits. Something needs to be changed, but no realistic solution has been found as of yet.
 

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