UMAT: Undergraduate Medical Admissions Test
The Undergraduate Medical Admissions Test (UMAT) is a multiple choice exam which lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes. It is sat by undergraduate medicine, dentistry and health science degree applicants, and is used as part of their selection procedures for all undergraduate medical courses in Australia and New Zealand (except for JCU). The UMAT is an aptitude test with three sections, designed to assess general attributes and abilities gained through prior experience and learning. The UMAT is held once every year, and can be sat as many times as desired. The exam will be sat on the 28th of July in 2010. This exam is administered by ACER (the Australian Council for Educational Research)
[h2]INTRODUCTION TO THE UMAT WIKI[/h2]
This is an amalgamation of tips and advice offered by MSO users from the numerous threads dedicated to this topic, and does not represent an official stance on the exam. Many users have contributed to this wiki and for that we should all be grateful for their patience and dedication to improving the MSO community.
[h2]APPLYING FOR THE UMAT[/h2]
Applicants should register with ACER to sit the UMAT by 5pm. Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) on Friday 4 June 2010. Late registrations will be accepted up to 5pm. AEST Friday 18 June 2010, on payment of a late fee of AUD$55 in addition to the registration fee. The online registration system will close at 5p.m. AEST on Friday 18 June. It will NOT be possible to register for UMAT2010 after this date. REGISTRATIONS NOW CLOSED
[h3]Who Needs to Apply?[/h3]
The following university courses use UMAT as part of the selection criteria, and as such, you should apply for the UMAT if you have an interest in these courses:
- University of Adelaide: Medicine, Dental Surgery
- Flinders University: Clinical Sciences/BMBS, Vision Sciences, Health Sciences/Physiotherapy, Health Sciences/Occupational Therapy
- Charles Darwin University: Clinical Sciences
- University of New South Wales: Medicine, Optometry
- University of Newcastle/University of new England: Joint Medical Program
- University of Western Sydney: Medicine
- University of Queesnland: Medicine (provisional entry), Dental Science
- Bond University: Medicine
- Monash University: Medicine, Pharmacy, Pharmacy/Commerce, Physiotherapy
- La Trobe University: Health Sciences (Dentistry), Oral Health Science
- University of Tasmania: Medicine
- University of Western Australia: (undergraduate) Medicine, Dental Science
- University of Aukland: Medicine
- University of Otago: Medicine, Medical Laboratory Science, Dental Surgery, Physiotherapy
Applicants will need to sit the UMAT at the nominated test site on Wednesday 28th of July 2010. The exam will last 2 hours and 45 minutes, and have 3 sections.
This is an IMPORTANT exam. Although it is advised that you cannot STUDY for this exam, you must PREPARE for it. These 3 hours will determine your entire med future (for the year), and is often weighted as much as the HSC/other state education system (something which you’ve spent the last 2 yrs on). Therefore, adequate and efficient preparation is a must!
To prepare for the exam, we advise that you do the following things:
- Manage your time. The UMAT will often clash with school trial exams, so organise your time efficiently. Give adequate time for UMAT preparation, and allocate certain times each week to prepare for it.
- Study Well. Remember that it isn't how much time you spend preparing for the umat, it is how you actually pre
- Practice Papers will give you an estimation of the time, help you adjust to the question styles, build confidence, and help you recognise your weaknesses.
- Develop your TECHNIQUE. Technique is more important than accuracy or time. When practicing, do each question slowly whilst analysing your approach/thought processes. Why do you think the answer is C, why did you cross out B, where can you find this in the text, why are you reading the questions first? Do each question type separately, and mark it after every 5-6 questions. When comparing answers, analyse why your technique is wrong (i.e. rather than trying to understand the pattern in a S3 question, work out why you didn't see the pattern), and develop/change your approach accordingly. Similarly, analyse your approach for questions you answered correctly, and try to improve technique and speed.
- Learn the question types. Once you learn the different types of questions, you can identify them in the practice exams and focus on developing your technique for one type of question. This will allow you to crystallise your approach to each question.
- Practice Exams. In order to adjust to the exam date, and build confidence, you should do full practice exams in TEST CONDITIONS (i.e. 2.75 hrs with no distractions and a timer on each section) close to the actual exam date.
- Don't be overconfident. The scores in umat prep courses and practice exams often don’t reflect actual scores on the day. So don’t get overconfident, and always pretend like you’re going to fail and end up with some lousy, repetitive office job for extra motivation.
- Develop exam techniques. As timing is tight, work out what you will do in the exam (e.g. do each question, skip difficult questions...etc). Decide how long you'll spend on each question, and leave yourself 5-10 mins at the end each section so you can go back and check/try the question again.
- Have a backup plan. Work out what you will do if you're short on time (e.g. cccccc), as making these decisions in the exam will use up additional time.
[h2]CHANGES TO UMAT: A Quick History Lesson[/h2]
Some of these changes were made ages ago, and this is mainly in the benefit of those who are digging up old papers or trawling through old threads looking for advice.
- The number of questions, and time allowed for each section has increased for UMAT 2010.
- Section 1: In the 2009 paper, some of the longer articles were removed, and replaced by shorter 2-paragraph articles. This means that the speed-reading technique may be less effective in saving time. They have also removed any strengthening/weakening/analyzing the argument questions, so be aware of that if you are preparing on your own.
- Section 2: The articles have gotten a lot longer. The 2009 UMAT paper also relied more on getting a certain tone from the passage, rather than picking up cues or analysing behaviour.
- Section 3: There are more pick the middle and 9 square grid questions. There are also less ‘moving around the circle’ questions, and no more ‘find an obscure shape among a ton of lines’ questions.
[h2]GUIDE TO THE 3 SECTIONS[/h2]
Section 1 is the Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving section. Questions assess your ability to comprehend, draw logical conclusions, reach solutions by identifying relevant facts, evaluate information, pinpoint additional or missing information, and generate and test plausible hypotheses. Questions may be word based problems, or graphical representations, and may include anything from comprehension questions to word based riddle solving.
This section is has 44 questions which will be answered in 65 minutes. It is considered the most time-consuming section, and the second most difficult to prepare for.
[h4]Question Types and Tactics[/h4]
These generally give you one page of text (often jargon filled), with a few questions relating to the article. The questions will often ask you for the scope of the passage, or to identify the argument/intention of someone in a given paragraph. Tactics include:
- Skim through the questions first, and underline what each one is looking for
- Speed read through the article, keeping an eye out for whatever the questions want. Think about what the author is trying to achieve. Speed reading is not a difficult skill to pick up and will serve you well in medicine. While it isn’t a prerequisite for doing well, this ability is very useful.
- Go through each option quickly but logically, crossing out the ones that are incorrect, and then choosing the most correct answer.
- Don’t make assumptions
- Only use what the information has given you. If the article says that “smoking is good for your health” then don’t assume otherwise unless evidence is provided in the article.
- Don’t let the jargon hinder your comprehension
- Answer the Question
- Use diagrams/arrows/whatever else helps
These usually have one or two paragraphs filled with facts, and often ask you for the scope of the paragraph, or to synthesise the info to come to a conclusion. Do the same thing as you would for huge passages.
GRAPHS AND TABLES
These make you analyse the data in graphs and tables. Tactics include:
- Skim through the data and try to work out it's organised. Note the group being analysed (whole population, only men…etc), and how the data is presented (percentages, in thousands…etc)
- Read through the questions/options, and eliminate them one by one.
- These questions usually don’t require huge manipulations of numbers, so try a different strategy if you find yourself doing this.
- There are plenty of tricks: learn the typical ones and recognize them in the exam! Tricks include:
- Changing the axis/scales for graphs
- Using non-linear scales (e.g. a straight line on a log scale does not imply a direct relationship)
- Using wrong times/dates
- Confusing you with what the data is for
- Confusing you with percentages and absolute values (e.g. 50% of the MALE population, not 50 males. Or 50% of the population is NOT 100% of the male population)..etc.
- Placing two graphs together, with a different scale (e.g. temperature and humidity may be on the same graph)
- Don’t make any assumptions or generalisations
These give you a lot of numbers/facts, and often ask you to choose the correct statement about these. For example, a question might say that there are 15000 people who know of mso, of which 45% are members and 40% of these are male. 5% of males are moderators, whilst 4% of females are moderators. Are there more male or female moderators? Remember that you are not allowed to use a calculator. Tactics include:
- Don't spend too much time on calculation, and estimate/round numbers instead
- Write them down if you can’t do them in your head.
- Practice simple calculations without a calculator
- Use elimination method and cross off the ones which aren’t correct.
- Beware of tricks (E.g. 50% of males is not 25% of the population)
These are games that often require a lot of logic to solve, and are often quite time-consuming. They include:
- If questions. Questions with ‘if X, then Y’ scenarios, to work out the correct person. E.g. if Mana is lying, then Matt is telling the truth. Mana always lies on Mondays…etc, then who is lying on Friday?
- Have specific cases for each option, and if this contradicts the data, then it is wrong.
- Beware of tricks (e.g. just because Mana is telling the truth doesn’t mean that Matt is lying).
- Matching information. These will give you a small amount of info of different people, and ask about a particular person based on their relationships with the others. E.g. Girls A,B,C is dating boys X,Y,Z, who's heights are short, medium, tall, non-respectively. If A only dates medium boys, and Y is taller than X, how tall is C's boyfriend? Tactics include:
- Locate the groups (girls, boys, height) and draw a table accordingly.
- Fill in all the data they give you, and extrapolate this (e.g. Y must be medium or tall)
- To save time, remember your goal and only fill in the info which lets you achieve this.
- Puzzles with rules. These will give you a few rules, and ask you which case is correct/incorrect. E.g. As can only marry Bs. Bs can only marry with groups higher than them…etc. Which is correct? (options have different people marrying others). Tactics include:
- Understand the rules and what they mean
- Go through each option and try to eliminate/contradict them
Materials used to prepare for Section 1 include newspaper articles, graphs, riddles, TIME magazines, medical journals, large text books, Wikipedia…etc. This will improve retention/comprehension, speed, and help you understand which parts of the text are important.
The BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test) used for entry in the UK has a similar Section 1 to the UMAT, so looking at the questions/explanations/marking scheme might be helpful. They can be found here
Section 2 of the UMAT is "Understanding People." Questions assess your ability to identify, understand, and, where necessary, infer the thoughts, feelings, behaviour and/or intentions of the people represented in the situations. In short, this section focuses on being able to emphathise with the emotions that someone is feeling and being able to come up with an appropriate response. Text types in Section 2 include doctor-patient scenarios, biographical passages, diaries, excerpts from novels, and conversations between people.
This section has 40 questions which must be answered in 50 minutes. This section is considered the least pressing in terms of time, but also the hardest to prepare for. Therefore, early preparation is a must. Passages in Section 2 have also gotten pretty long (>1 page) since 2009, however personally, I don’t think speed-reading is a good idea as you’ll need time to analyse your own emotions and get in the mood created by the article.
- How does she feel questions. These usually involve a passage with a question asking how a particular person would feel in that situation, or at a particular time during the passage.
- What is the tone of the passage. These usually just ask you what the tone/mood is in the paragraph.
- What does this mean questions. These usually just ask you what someone meant by a certain action/comment.
- What is their relationship questions. These usually ask the type of relationship that 2 people have (close, brotherly, strained, distant…etc
- CLEAR YOUR HEAD AND COOL DOWN! This section does actually require empathetic reading of the paragraphs more like you were reading a novel
- Identify indications of how someone is feeling through descriptions of their actions (smiling, jumping, laughing are happy, whilst yelling, throwing, furrowed brows are not).
- Put your friend in their shoes. Placing yourself in their shoes may work, however similar experiences may make you assume things, and you may spend too much time trying to sort out your own emotions.
- Cross out incorrect answers and consider the rest carefully. This may require you to read a section of the text multiple times.
- When deciding which answer is better, determine the difference between these two, and whether that difference makes it a stronger answer or not. If you have time, re-read the paragraph to get a feeling of the tone used, leading to the correct answer.
- Don’t: assume, generalize, cross off answers because they’re too obvious or seem incorrect.
Materials you may use to prepare for this section include:
- Novels which express a lot of emotion. Rather than focusing solely on plot, try to understand the emotions that the writer is trying to convey to the reader. More importantly look at HOW the writer is able to convey these emotions.
- Dramas such as Neighbours, Bold and the Beautiful...etc. Attempt to pick out the emotions of the characters, and their reason for certain actions.
- People. Concentrate on the people around you, and improve your perception of emotions.
- Make your own! Increase your emotional descriptive vocabulary, find new words, pick up a thesaurus and find synonyms of those words and so on. A list of emotions you can start off with are here. Try to organise these words on a scale of positive-negative, and strong-weak. For example, ecstatic would be both stronger, and more positive than glad.
Section 3 is the Non-verbal Reasoning section. All the questions are based on patterns or sequences of shapes and are designed to assess your ability to reason in the abstract and solve problems in non-verbal contexts.
This section has 38 questions, which must be completed in 50 minutes. It is generally considered to be the 2nd most time-consuming, but also the easiest to prepare for.
[h4]Question Types and Tactics[/h4]
In general, tactics to approach this section include:
- Go with a messy approach to working out sequences. If a few clues point to a certain answer, do not continue checking everything until you are sure. Choose it and move on - it is hard to finish this section in time.
- It may also be helpful to rotate/move your pencil (make the rubber end the shape) in order to visualize the movement/pattern, as moving them in your head may cause mistakes if you get distracted.
Tactics for each question type include:
WHAT COMES NEXT
These questions give you 3 or 4 boxes, and ask you to find a pattern in order to identify the next box in the sequence. Tactics include:
- Analyse specific components separately, rather than all the components at once. This is because, for example, the pattern for how the dot moves may be different to the square’s movement.
- Identify any components which vary a lot in the options, and try to find the pattern for these. You don’t want to spend time working out the pattern for a dot, only to realize that you ended up eliminating one option.
- There are A LOT of patterns which involve a shape moving one step at a time (or in increasing steps) in a certain direction. It is therefore beneficial to assume that a component is moving in this pattern.
PICK THE MIDDLE
These questions give you a completed pattern, however they mix up the questions. They ask you to arrange it in order, and then pick the middle one. Note that these questions often don't have a question attached, 5 answer options (A,B,C,D,E). These are usually the most difficult type, and also the most asked. Tactics include:
- Find any repeating options and eliminate them. E.g. if 2 boxes are exactly the same, they will probably go on either end so use them to start off with the pattern. If there are 2 pairs, then the remaining box is usually the middle.
- Don’t bother finding the sequence. If you have a hunch that one is the middle, don’t find the order for the rest
- These patterns often also involve rotating/moving a component in a certain direction. Therefore, choose a component and test out the pattern by following it through in each box until you get stuck. Then work backwards to find the middle. Remember that if it seems like the shape will move 5 steps (E.g. will move around a pentagon), then this is often useless as it will go around in circles.
- Also try mapping the movement. This involves drawing on one base where each component is in all the options, and then trying to find a pattern based on this.
FILL IN THE MISSING BOX
This is usually in a 3-by-3 grid format, and require you to find a pattern in order to find the missing box. To identify this pattern:
- Try rotating the components in each row, to get the next box.
- Look at each row/column, and superimpose the 2 shapes from the 1st and 2nd square in order to achieve the third
- Try adding or subtracting certain components to others (e.g. if there are vertical lines in the first 2 boxes, and they disappear in the last one, there might be a ‘subtraction rule’ with 1st box – 2nd box = 3rd box)
- If they ask you to complete the picture, notice the components and their colours, as well as their position relative to others (above, below…etc). It may be helpful to sketch the shape in the square, and choose the most similar one.
Materials which will help in this section including anything which tests pattern recognition skills: IQ books, aptitude test books, mensa quizzes.
ACER booklets seem to be poor preparation for this section. They are often too easy, and have been taken out of the umat for a particular purpose. That being said, you should still do some to get an appreciation of the style/structure of the questions.
[h2]ON THE DAY[/h2]
This will be the first time many of you will sit the UMAT, and it can be a very confusing, nerve-wracking process. The following is just some information of what to expect, and some advice on what to do on the day of the exam:
- DONT tire your brain out beforehand. Do a few questions to get your brain working, but don't do an entire paper on the day or the night before (if you get the morning session). It's going to be a really long day and you'll need all the energy you can get.
- The most important tip I can probably give you is to STAY RELAXED before the test. Find good stress-reduction tactics (talking, eating, meditation…etc), and do it no matter how stupid it is.
- You have about an hr between when you enter the hall, and when you start the test, and most people sit there in a very tense silence thinking about the questions and what to do. It’s scary how quiet 2000 people can be in a warehouse that echos. Point being: don't do it, you seriously won't be able to do anything in that hr that you haven't done before. Just CALM DOWN, RELAX, and FOCUS.
- Bring a watch. Some people set their watches backwards because it helped to keep track of time better (so if you had 50 mins for S2, set it to 11:10 and start it when they say go).
- This may only be for some people, but I found it exceptionally helpful for not getting distracted by small sounds (ie squeaky tables) by wearing noise reducing ear plugs. They cut out small sounds but leaves you able to hear the more important announcements like changing sections. Do not wear them if you are not used to them (ie if you did not do practice exams with them) because they will most likely distract you just as much as the small sounds will.
- Go to the bathroom beforehand! Even if you don't feeling like you need to, you will waste precious time if it hits you during the exam. If you need to go but can't leave, it will distract you throughout the entire exam!
- For the same reason, do NOT drink coffee or energy drinks beforehand. They contain caffeine which is a diuretic and will make you more likely to need to use the bathroom during the exam
- During the breaks, don't think about the questions and what you did/didn't do. Just breathe and try to calm yourself down, and get into the mind frame that the next section requires.
- The questions are HARD. Don't underestimate them or get overconfident. They will be harder than any prep you do, and the stress/atmosphere will make it really difficult to concentrate. Stay focused, think about each question quickly and logically, and do NOT think about the effect the exam will have on your future.
- Also, remember to have fun. The UMAT was one of my most memorable experiences because it was the first time I was surrounded by so many people who had the exact same passion for med that I did, and who needed this just as much as I did. It's probably one of the only times where you're in a room with 3000+ people who would all completely understand and empathise with everything your going through, so try and think about that instead of your future.
[h4]What do my scores mean?[/h4]
When you receive your results, they will look very similar to what is shown above. In previous years, percentiles were provided for each and every section but that practise has now been abandoned. There are three sets of results you'll have to decipher:
- Overall Score
- Your overall score is derived through a formula that uses the results from each section to produce a number up to two decimal points. This is then rounded off, and provided to you. According to ACER, the method by which they achieve the overall score cannot be replicated by candidates. Producing an overall score is also done according to ACER to produce a standardised score across years, so that scores from two different years are comparable. Some universities will use this overall score as it is, but many will not.
- Section Scores
- For each section, a score is provided. This score is not a percentage of how many questions you got right in the UMAT, but a scaled score that you cannot come to without knowing ACER's methodologies, which are kept quite secret. Nor is it out of 100, as some people assume. It can be out of 100, it can be out of a number greater than 100, or lower than 100. An easy way to think of it is that each section will be out of the highest score achieved that year for that section.
- In the bottom right, you'll be provided with a number that is your percentile. A percentile determines how well you have performed compared to the rest of the UMAT cohort. For example, in the image above, a percentile of 91 indicates that your overall score is equal to or better than 91% of candidates who sat the exam. At the same time, it also means that it is equal to or less than 9% of UMAT candidates. Some universities, such as Monash, use just this whole percentile to offer interviews because they wish to select the top number of candidates from each year. In the past, Monash would use the sum of the percentiles of each section, but this is no longer the case.
- My Total UMAT Score
- Your total UMAT score, and one that you see often floating around in UMAT discussions is the total of the three sections scaled scores. So in the above example, it would be: 63 + 56 + 62 = 181. Many universities will use this score to offer you an interview and in the calculation of an offer. Some universities, such as the University of the Western Sydney, will 'weight' this total score to derive a weighted UMAT score. For example, UWS uses the formula: S1 score * 1 + S2 score * 1 + S3 score * 0.5 = weighted UMAT score, essentially halving the final section's worth.
These charts can be used to calculate an approximate percentile ranking based on your UMAT Section and Overall Scores in 2008. Locate your UMAT Section and Overall Scores on the horizontal axis of the relevant charts and read off the corresponding percentiles. For example; a UMAT Overall Score of 60 is equal to a percentile rank of approximately 91. This means that you scored equal to or higher than 91% of the candidates who took UMAT2009.
Also, it might be helpful to note the general trends in the graphs for each year and how steep the slopes are. That will give you an indication of how hard the exam was for that year/how well people performed. A really steep gradient means that people generally did really well and therefore getting a few extra Q's right for example going from a score of 55 for one section to 57 would mean a large jump in your overall %ile, or in other words, how well you did in relation to everyone else.
The development of the UMAT led to the establishment of UMAT preparation courses. These courses often include drills for separate sections, full length practice exams, a face-to-face workshop and interview prep guides. Some courses provide hard copies of materials, however much of it is only available online. Many courses suggest different strategies or skills which can be developed to succeed at different questions, and provide explanations about why answers are considered to be correct or incorrect. Anecdotally, these courses improve performance in the UMAT; however it is possible to do well without paid preparation. Please refrain from discussing them on MSO.
For more information and discussion about prep courses, please refer to the following:
(Medicine and Medical/Health Studies) at www.boredofstudies.org
For more information/contact details, take a look at the following links:
- UMAT INFORMATION BOOKLET. This is a guide released by ACER, which also contains free, sample questions.
- UMAT Contact Details:
Phone: (03) 9277 5746 International: (+61 3) 9277 5746
Fax: (03) 9277 5757 International: (+61 3) 9277 5757
- Purchase ACER's practice materials
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