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Pre-UMAT 2018 Discussion Thread

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SirNubby

New Member
Hello there first time. Was the exam comparitively similar to acer's? Also, any other Yr 11 studying for umat already?
 

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LMG!

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It makes me feel a little ill to create this, but questions regarding preparation strategies for UMAT 2018 have started appearing, and I'm the designated MSO UMATmbassador, so it's clearly time.

This opening post will be updated with information as it is made available, but at this stage, registrations for the 2018 exam are not yet open and a date for the exam itself has not been released (though it is likely to be a Wednesday in late July).

GOOD LUCK, COMRADES! Go forth and multiple choice!
 

LMG!

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It seems that, at least for non-standard entry, focus on improvement should be geared towards Sections 1 and 2, and less so for Section 3.
Except... S3 is by far the easiest category to improve upon. A bit of TLDR: last year I got a %ile rank of 92 (183). Not a bad score, but a fair way off the lowest UTAS offer at 96th %ile (189).

In the hindsight that comes with experience (last year was also my first year of sitting UMAT), I realised two things let me down. Poor time management and faffing about second guessing myself in S2. The S2 thing was easy (ish) to address. Pick an answer, stick to it, move on. Bam bam bam. My score went from 66 to 73 despite spending 20 minutes LESS on the section during the exam when compared to last year. While this obviously helped a bit with time management, the most effective time management technique I found was practicing S3, getting proficient at recognising patterns, eliminating options, and identifying answers. This meant I could do some S3 questions in as little as 10 seconds. I could also more readily recognise questions I knew I'd only waste time on, so I'd eliminate the obvious non-answer/s, then make an educated guess and move on.

The flow on effect of both of these strategies was: I had 30-40 minutes extra to devote to section 1. It also meant I finished the whole exam, which I did not come close to doing last year. I also improved my %ile rank to 98 (198). There's little evidence to show that you can make big improvements in S1 or S2 unless you were really screwing something up. So practicing S1 questions will be useful to get a feel for them, but the best thing for improving S1 scores has got to be having adequate time to read all the questions.

S3 practice buys you that time.

IMO. :D
 

acbard9

BSc (Pharmacology) Graduate
What was your strategy for any of your past UMAT attempts? :) This year I started with Section 3, took too long, and just did the rest in order so to speak :).
 

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LMG!

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What was your strategy for any of your past UMAT attempts? :) This year I started with Section 3, took too long, and just did the rest in order so to speak :).
Last year, my first year, I used the following strategy:
  • S2 (my best section and a vital priority for UTAS which was the only uni I'd applied to)
  • S3 (5 options instead of 4, and because I was sure I'd not be finishing the whole exam and would have to 'blind guess' some questions, I wanted that extra 5% added to chance!)
  • S1 (4 options instead of 5, small increased chance of correct answer when blind guessing as outlined above).
  • I did ACER exam 3 prior to signing up for UMAT to see if there was any point (it's been a while since I did an exam...!). Once I bit the bullet and registered, I did the rest of the ACER exams and a couple of MedEntry exams that I got from a friend. I didn't do any review of incorrect answers. I also did all the S3 type assessments we had at work (WAIS and WISC Matrix Reasoning and Raven's Progressive Matrices! Haha! <-- I do not recommend any of these, by the way!)

Pitfalls:
  • Lack of experience
  • Poor time management
  • Poor anxiety management
  • Ran out of time on S1 questions (which I anticipated would happen), but this was worse than expected when coupled with anxiety (working memory went OUT THE WINDOW and I couldn't read and then remember a single question in the last 15 minutes of the exam - I totally wasted all the time after the final warning with panicking and forgetting and re-reading and achieving nothing).

Post-exam Debrief with Self:
  • I'm not usually particularly prone to anxiety. And I'm several years out of Uni and therefore not regularly exposed to exam-like conditions in which to familiarise myself with the anxiety that is unique to those scenarios. And as much as I find practice exams useful, they're not stressful. Therefore, exposure therapy to better manage the Last 15 Minute Freak Out was not going to be possible. And was likely to occur again. SO...
  • Make a plan to improve speed so that the whole exam could be finished on or before the 15 minute warning. Avoidance, in this instance, was going to be my friend!
  • Change section order to S2, S1, S3, again to avoid trying to do wordy questions with lots of working memory load in those last hectic few minutes, and generally when cognitively fatigued in that last hour.
  • Do full practice exams to time limits to increase stamina and efficiency BUT do this by setting section time limits, and sticking to them. S2 30 minutes, S1 80 minutes, S3 60 minutes, 10 minutes 'spare'. By the end of my self-imposed practice period, I was achieving this consistently. For the few practice exams I did last year, I didn't achieve it once.

New Plan:
  • S2 first (UTAS was/is still my priority and this remained my 'strength' section) but without the faffing about. I practiced some S2 questions in the lead up, not for the content, but to become comfortable with the feeling of making a gut decision and then forgetting it and moving on. This worked beautifully for me! 50 minutes down to 30 minutes, and 66 to 73 for score.
  • S1 (because now I was also planning to apply to JMP and WSU, so this section suddenly gained some extra significance, but also because I knew from experience and soul searching that leaving this section to last was not going to be beneficial for a number of reasons. During practice, I mainly focused on picking up when questions were asked in the following manner: "which answer is NOT..." because I was missing that quite a bit and making stupid errors. In the end, I don't recall many actual UMAT questions following this method, so whether it was useful or not, I don't know... I guess, practicing properly reading questions can only be beneficial!). My score went from 58 to 61. Not a huge jump, but that's the difference between an interview and nada for JMP if you're non-rural.
  • S3 last this time (resigning myself to the lost 5%, but also committing to improved time management that would mean blind guessing wasn't necessary). I definitely practiced this section the most, not to get better necessarily, but to get faster. I memorised some of the mapping patterns, and found I used them quite a bit during the actual exam and was very pleased I'd done this. I ended up needing the 10 minutes I'd set aside as 'spare' because S1 took me 90 minutes, not 80 as planned, so it meant I did have to do new questions in the last 10 minutes while also managing my freak out. Fortunately, because I knew I only had a few questions left to do in that time period, and due to the nature of the questions themselves, I found I was much more able to remain focussed and not get lost in panicked thinking. I just kept methodically working through the patterns. The benefits of non-verbal vs verbal reasoning when highly aroused!! My score went from 59 to 64, but equally importantly, I did this section 20 minutes faster than last year and went into it confident I could do that (necessary given it was my last section and there was no plan C or D!) due to the practice I'd done.

2016 Exam: guessed about 15 questions without even reading them due to running out of time and panicking. 92%ile.
2017 Exam: finished final question as invigilator was saying "pencils down". 98%ile.
Conclusion: TIME IS YOUR FRIEND. Figure out all the ways in which you can maximise it to your advantage. Practice these methods in the lead up if you have time/access to materials.

(turns out I am still passionate about this freaking exam... whoda thunk it?!)
 
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acbard9

BSc (Pharmacology) Graduate
How do you think you as a person became good at S2? Do you feel like you have a large vocabulary? I got 53 both times :/. Would you say there are techniques/anything that goes through your mind when you do S2?

Also, I've not done any UMAT 'courses' so to speak, but what are these "mapping patterns" for S3 :).
 

LMG!

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How do you think you as a person became good at S2? Do you feel like you have a large vocabulary? I got 53 both times :/. Would you say there are techniques/anything that goes through your mind when you do S2?

Also, I've not done any UMAT 'courses' so to speak, but what are these "mapping patterns" for S3 :).
Re: S2. I'm a clinical psychologist and voracious reader of novels. I have a very good vocabulary, and a very good emotional vocabulary specifically. I think those two factors stand me in good stead to 'naturally' perform quite well. The clinical psychologist part of me is also what I had to overcome with the tendency for overanalysing and second guessing though... haha!

That said, I don't recommend doing a psych degree just to improve your S2 score :D

(In fact, unless you're doing something really wrong that you can address, S2 is notoriously difficult to improve upon).

There are many mapping techniques for S3 questions. If you type that into google you'll be inundated with resources.

ETA: in the post exam chat, some people reported feeling like mapping hadn't been particularly useful for them, but I certainly relied on it on a number of occasions so... That said, I'd also understand if ACER made deliberate moves away from questions that can be answered in this manner, given what they're trying to do with the exam (ie. create an assessment that is as immune as they can make it to practice effects).
 

Q3

Regular Member
If UTAS only considered S2 scores and had no threshold for other sections, wouldn't that just make it so that students only answer S2 questions? I ask because UWS seems to give S3 little or no weighting (no one knows the formula) and so what's stopping people from gaming it by ignoring irrelevant sections?
 

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acbard9

BSc (Pharmacology) Graduate
Well tbf, if you did only want to go to those Universities, then you could "game it". Although, considering other medical programs like the JMP or UNSW Med require at least 50/50/50, you may want to do well in all of the sections to increase your chances at more Universities :).
 

A1

Admissions Speculator
Moderator
If UTAS only considered S2 scores and had no threshold for other sections, wouldn't that just make it so that students only answer S2 questions?
We believe S2 is a hurdle at 60 first then applicants are ranked on Overall score/percentile. No point passing the hurdle to fail on Overall.

I ask because UWS seems to give S3 little or no weighting (no one knows the formula) and so what's stopping people from gaming it by ignoring irrelevant sections?
It is apparently true that you can ignore S3 for WSU, but if it's sub-50 you've disqualified yourself from Monash, JMP, UTas & Curtin.
 

Q3

Regular Member
I guess it's also possible that ACER aligns your marks so prevent stuff like that happening. I know that for GAMSAT they use one of the sections to normalise the scores of the others.
 

A1

Admissions Speculator
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I guess it's also possible that ACER aligns your marks so prevent stuff like that happening. I know that for GAMSAT they use one of the sections to normalise the scores of the others.
GAMSAT scores are valid for two years, they need to normalise one year's scores, section by section, with the previous year's to make them comparable against each other.

UMAT is valid for one year and the sections are to measure different areas of strength, it seems strange they would use one to normalise the others.
 

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LMG!

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If UTAS only considered S2 scores and had no threshold for other sections, wouldn't that just make it so that students only answer S2 questions? I ask because UWS seems to give S3 little or no weighting (no one knows the formula) and so what's stopping people from gaming it by ignoring irrelevant sections?
I don't think anyone has said UTAS only consider S2 scores, and that's because it's not true. They have a higher S2 hurdle of 60 (in the same way JMP do for S1) for some applicants, but then, those applicants (non-standards and non rural school leavers) are ranked on raw UMAT aggregate score, with totals around 190-200 required to be competitive (around the highest requirement in the country due to the small amount of places available via these routes). Disregarding S1 and S3 would be a very bad idea. Even for school leavers and rural applicants, who don't have to meet the S2 60+ hurdle, a total UMAT aggregate of 150+ appears necessary.

JMP require a 60/50/50 minimum for non-rurals and 50/50/50 for rurals, so their S1 emphasis is offset by this in the same way it is for UTAS/S2.

You're right with WSU that it seems there'd be no need to worry about S3 if that was the ONLY Uni you were applying to (and if you were confident enough in their established marking system to be sure they weren't going to change this around a bit and maybe increase the value of S3 scores), but a low S3 score in isolation would still rule you ineligible for a number of other unis and most people aren't applying to only WSU.

By far, imo, the best way to approach UMAT is to try your best for the whole exam regardless of question type, tbh.
 

LMG!

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How early did you guys start last year? Would you say a month, with not much on, is enough to do quite well?
I started before that, but yes, I definitely think a month of prep is enough if you use it wisely. Obviously doing prep doesn't automatically mean you'll "do quite well", but it'll mean you're as prepared as you can be, which, well, you can't really ask for anything more than that :D
 

wanderer_m

New Member
Hello!
If I were to try the UMAT once more next year (2017 was my first year as a 1st year university non-standard applicant) and my ATAR in 2016 was 99.50, approximately what overall UMAT percentile would I need to be offered an interview from UNSW (Assuming my GPA was also high enough to be considered)? Would high 80s be sufficient or would they be looking at a minimum of low 90s percentile?
 

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A1

Admissions Speculator
Moderator
Hello!
If I were to try the UMAT once more next year (2017 was my first year as a 1st year university non-standard applicant) and my ATAR in 2016 was 99.50, approximately what overall UMAT percentile would I need to be offered an interview from UNSW (Assuming my GPA was also high enough to be considered)? Would high 80s be sufficient or would they be looking at a minimum of low 90s percentile?
Ref > [Undergrad] - 2017-18 Med schools Selection Criteria Y12s & Non-standards

With 99.50 you need around mid-80%ile to get an interview with about 10% chance for a place, 90%ile for roughly 50/50 chance.

However since UNSW combines ATAR+GPA the question is what GPA you need to maintain 99.50 equivalent, I think around 6.5 on UAC scale. A lower GPA would drag your ATAR equivalent down then you need higher %ile to compensate.
 

p_body

New Member
Hey guys, given that this thread has popped up I'm just wondering how we can all collectively improve on section 1? It's just that the actual section 1 questions in this year's UMAT seemed very different to the questions I could find in the ACER papers and others.
 

LMG!

Moderator
Admodistrator
Hey guys, given that this thread has popped up I'm just wondering how we can all collectively improve on section 1? It's just that the actual section 1 questions in this year's UMAT seemed very different to the questions I could find in the ACER papers and others.
My absolute number one tip for S1 improvement is to get faster/more efficient at S2 and S3. Practice S3 and learn to quickly recognise the basic patterns, and don't second guess yourself(/waste time) in S2. This'll give you the time required to carefully read S1 questions, methodically complete calculations, and improve your accuracy.

IMO :D
 

LMG!

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It is apparently true that you can ignore S3 for WSU, but if it's sub-50 you've disqualified yourself from Monash, JMP, UTas & Curtin.
q2017. Update re. WSU: this actually appears to NOT be the case as of the interview invites we've seen go out this year. Just FYI... S3 definitely appears to have mattered greatly (not as much as S1 and S2, but definitely enough to be the difference between invite/no invite).
 

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