UMAT Practice does not make UMAT Perfect

Ashton Sheares

The more UMAT practise questions or tests you do will not necessarily make you better at doing UMAT questions. With your current UMAT preparations, ask yourselves: Are you getting better at UMAT? Are you using your time effectively? What do I need to do aside from practising UMAT to increase my score?


So we’ve all heard of the term - “Practise makes perfect.” The more you practise a particular skill – the better you become at performing that skill. If you play soccer, the more time you practise playing soccer - the better you become; If you are studying for your Maths exam, the more you practise questions you do - the better marks you will get in the exam or test. Everyone understands this concept very well so why doesn’t practising UMAT questions make you better at doing UMAT?

Do not begin by do endless amounts of UMAT questions or practise exams.

There is a whole mystery about UMAT preparation. Some people say you can’t prepare for it. Some say you can prepare for it. What’s worse, is when people tell you to prepare for it by just doing lots and lots of practise questions. Just imagine if you go to a physics class for the first time in the year, and all the teacher does is give you past final exam papers for every lesson. Or imagine trying to learn how to play the guitar without anyone to guide you, without learning theory and without referring to any books or youtube.


Even in these conditions, it is possible to do well in physics, it is possible to learn how to play the guitar and it is possible to do well in UMAT – but how much time would you have to waste? Learning physics just by doing past examples would be possible however won’t it be easier and faster if you had a good teacher to teach you the subject throughout the year?


UMAT is the same as any subject in school. In fact, it is easier than physics or any of your other subjects in school or university. It only feels more difficult because you don’t have a teacher to teach you the things required to do well in the UMAT test. So don’t begin by diving into doing practise exams, this will only lead to a long and slow path that might or might not make you master UMAT, which leads us to the next point that saves you a lot of time and worry.


Before practising, you must be taught.

First – learn the skill. After you learn how to do it right, only then you practise to master the skill. In all the times you’ve been told “practise makes perfect”, haven’t you always first been taught how to perform that skill? Think about all the things that you have to practise. Before practising using past end of year Biology exams, you are taught all the topics in the exam for a whole year in class. Before practising to play a difficult piano piece by Beethoven, you need to learn how to read music and where to move your fingers on the piano. Before practising you soccer skills, you need to learn the rules of soccer and taught how to kick the ball properly. How are you suppose to practise your soccer skills if you don’t even know what a soccer ball looks like? UMAT is the same – How are you suppose to practise UMAT without even knowing what UMAT is and what UMAT assesses? There is a whole process you need to go through before practising anything, including UMAT. For UMAT, we have broken down how to learn to do well in UMAT into four steps, with only the last step involving doing a lot of practise questions. Are you skipping the first crucial steps in your UMAT practise?


Step 1: Learn the theory behind the UMAT

First step in learning is not practising endless UMAT papers. You know you have to do well academically and what you learn in high school or university makes sense. Chemisty, English and Maths; all of these subjects make sense once you hear the name. However, suddenly there is another requirement for medicine applications called the UMAT created by a group called ACER and most people dive into this test without even having the slightest clue what the test is all about. You need to know what UMAT is accessing and the theory behind how they access medical candidates before doing practise questions becomes effective.


The ACER website tells us that UMAT will measure three areas: logical reasoning and problem solving, understanding people and non-verbal reasoning. However little information is given compared to your school subjects. There is no curriculum, there is no syllabus and there are no assessment outcomes. We have deconstructed UMAT and realised in all three areas, the assessment outcome is actually very similar. What ACER is a looking for through the UMAT are people that base their decisions on evidence that is presented to them in the question.


Each section displays their information in different ways. This may be in the form of a large piece of text with set rules, a diagram with labels you must read carefully, an extract from a novel or non-verbal symbols and patterns. Test takers must be able to identify relevant pieces of information and use it to solve the question that is presented. This is the case for all UMAT questions regardless of which section it is and this whole process is generally called logical reasoning. UMAT has identified three separate areas in which they assess people, however these areas can be broken down more into specific question types that UMAT uses. We have currently identified 15 questions types in UMAT and each question type has it’s own techniques for identifying information and correctly answering the question. Please see the links down below for more analysis about specific questions types. Needless to say, that you should learn the theory behind these question types before approaching practise papers.


Step 2: Applying the techniques to solve UMAT questions

Once people learn the theory, they are eager to use their newfound knowledge and to solve UMAT questions but there are a few things which you should be careful during this stage of learning. Again, don’t simply jump straight to doing endless amounts of UMAT preparation. The biggest mistake people make at this stage is not taking their time.

If you’re the type to jump straight into doing UMAT practise questions then you must slow down. At the beginning, you will be slow at doing UMAT questions. At the beginning, using the new techniques you learn may seem slow too and this is only natural because you are only beginning to learn how to do something. When learning how to ride a bicycle, people may first use training wheels, then progress to riding on flat ground without the training wheels. People can’t go straight to a dirt track with lots of mounds when it’s their first time seeing a bike and expect to ride really fast. Same with UMAT, do not put yourself on the clock when doing UMAT questions at this stage of learning. Take your time to apply the techniques and to make sure you understand how to do a question. At this stage, you do not need to check the speed at which you do questions but you do need to make sure you are able to logically and correctly get the answers to your UMAT questions. Make sure you get things right first, before you make sure you can get things done fast.


Sometimes it is difficult to know if you are applying the techniques correctly, especially if you have only been learning the theory. If you have tried cooking, you know it’s easier to have someone teach you how to cook the new recipe personally, compared to trying to figure things out for yourself by looking at a cookbook. The UMAT preparation course that you choose is very important. Does the course know what UMAT is assessing? Does the course have a curriculum to teach you UMAT? Does the course demonstrate how to apply techniques to the different question types in UMAT? Does the course have support when you need help or have questions? In mathematics all answers to test questions can be explained logically, but we’ve all had that maths teacher who can’t seem to explain a test answer properly. Don’t choose to the wrong UMAT coach because not only is it a waste of money, you could end up waiting an extra year to get into med school just because of a poor UMAT score.


Step 3: Identify your areas of weakness

When people get UMAT questions wrong, it is important to identify where you went wrong. If you’re learning how to bake a cake, and something goes wrong, you need to know where you went wrong. Did I add too much or too little of an ingredient, was the oven at the right temperature or did I miss an important step? Not being able to identify where you went wrong, will mean that you will never bake the cake in the right way. UMAT has a set procedure to answering questions too. If you are able to identify which part you commonly answer wrongly and find your area of weakness, you can quickly fix the issue and save a large amount of time in your preparation.


Here are some common areas of weaknesses that people encounter while doing UMAT questions. Do you often misread or not notice key bits of information – work on your reading and highlighting skills. Does you often not see the relationships with several bits of evidence – work on your interpretation and linking skills. Do you often not understand what the question is asking for – get to know the different question types better before diving to do more questions. Do you have trouble formulating your answer – become more familiar with the already identified strategies used to tackle particular question types. More in-depth strategies on how to do certain questions can be found in the links below. After you are able to identify you weakness only then you move onto the last step.


Step 4: Refining your techniques and UMAT test-taking skills.

By now, you are well equipped to begin practising UMAT. After learning and applying the techniques, and identifying your areas of weaknesses and fixing them, you should be getting a majority of UMAT questions correct. It is time to refine you techniques and concentrate on reducing the amount of time it takes to correctly do UMAT questions. This is done by practising UMAT questions and past papers. Learn the skills first before practising so finally after successful accomplishing the first three steps, do we actually start lots of practise using UMAT papers in order to improve our speed in which we do UMAT questions.


There are also certain techniques to maximise your time and score in the UMAT test. Always do the easy questions first because you never want to get stuck on hard question and run out of time to do the questions that you know are quicker and easier for you to do. Also, many people find it easier to do a particular section first before moving onto other sections. For example, do all non-verbal reasoning questions first before doing the other sections. This is because questions types that are similar often require a certain procedure to do, and often switching questions types may cause you to slow down because you always have to use a different procedure. For more tips, see more links down below.


Imagine if you had missed those initial critical three steps and jumped straight into practising UMAT papers? You would feel very lost and helpless doing UMAT questions because no one has correctly told you what to do. You would find that UMAT is such a grind because there seems to be no structure to learning UMAT. You would be more worried because you would have no way of assessing if you are on the right track or not. And all of these things cause you to waste a lot of precious time – something which you have very little of because of preparation for your ATAR or university assessments.


I hope this has given you more insight into you UMAT preparation so please don’t simply go into practising endless amounts of UMAT papers. Take the above steps into consideration in order to achieve your UMAT goals in a more structured and less time consuming way.


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