What is the best way to study for the UMAT?

Michael Tsai

As a professional educator, I've spent the last ten years helping over 400 students gain entrance into medical schools across Australasia. Our strategies for UMAT preparation aim to help students learn the exact skills and knowledge they need to answer any UMAT question accurately, systematically and quickly. We had students last year who spent just one week ( the week before the UMAT) preparing using our strategies and ended up with the mid-90s (don't recommend you to start that close to the test though!). Here are a few points you need to take into account, to sum up how to conduct effective UMAT prep.

 

Step 1: Learn all 15 logical reasoning techniques in UMAT

UMAT assesses the logical reasoning capabilities of the candidate. Logical reasoning is the ability of a person to make decisions based on interpreting observable evidence and not by assumptions. How UMAT assesses this skill is by constructing questions that require the students to logically reason in three primary mannerisms, i.e., problem-solving (Construct/Section 1), interpersonal reasoning (Construct/Section 2), and non-verbal reasoning (Construct/Section 3). UMAT wants to see whether you are good at using evidence to make decisions in many different situations for many different purposes.

iCanMed has gone ahead and dissected past year exams and categorised the questions into 15 major question types across the three sections. Then, iCanMed went ahead and developed step by step methods to 'work out' each of the major question types. Learning these techniques is super important, as, with any skill based preparation, a student learns much better and faster when shown what to do first before practising him/herself. Imagine the difference in how you attempt practice questions in high school maths class if your teacher taught you the theory and techniques compared to not teaching you anything at all!

The majority of students dive straight into doing a lot of questions before learning the techniques thoroughly. The practice often leads to plenty of confusion, guesswork and stress as students are left not sure what they are supposed to do. By learning techniques foremost, will take away all these issues and achieve an overall smooth learning experience.

You can find a lot of these techniques displayed in the iCanMed answer videos on this page, plus you can sign up for our free online course which teaches you exactly how to answer one major question type 'rules' type, here: http://www.icanmed.com.au/p/umatonlinepreview/

 

Step 2: Apply the techniques you've just learnt on questions of the same type

If you were to take a look at the questions belonging to each of the 15 major types of questions, you would notice there are still subtle differences in how each question is written or formatted. Despite the fact that the questions may look slightly different, as long as you recognise they belong to the same type, the same technique can still be used to solve them. Therefore, it is crucial for you to apply the newly learned technique to a variety of question under the same question type to gain experience.

A simple example is learning algebra for the first time - the question used to teach you will probably be different to the first one you practice on but can be solved with the same technique. So it's time to try out your know-how with some good quality questions. There are many questions in this group and via the free online course for you to practice your techniques once you learn them. I also recommend you to try out the questions available on the ACER website (the one that where you registered for UMAT) - you can also buy quite a few questions there for an affordable price. ACER is the group that writes UMAT so regarding the quality of questions you will get the most accurate. I've seen a lot of questions shown to me by students who sourced from the web, tutors that frankly are either poorly written (unsolvable) or are not even UMAT questions.

 

Step 3: After applying your techniques, identify your weak points

After giving a few questions a good crack, you will realise and identify what your weak points are much easier. Examples of weaknesses may include forgetting the correct technique to use when answering the question or could also be that you weren't so good at executing one of the steps in the technique (e.g. interpreting the stimulus). Whatever it may be, step 3 allows you to isolate these issues that influence you the most. It allows you to be in control of your preparation by staying focused on things that are holding you back from achieving top marks.

 

Step 4: Fix up your problems and refine with high-volume practice

This step allows your preparation to fix the urgent matters identified in step 3. A part of the fixing process may require you to return to step 1 to re-learn the techniques or ask questions (feel free to leave questions in the comments below) to find solutions to your problems. After fixing is complete (when you are 100% confident about solving questions belonging to the particular question type), you should move on and do a high-volume of questions of the same type. Only commence high-volume question practice when you have gained and mastered the skills you need to solve a particular question type. When doing high-volume of questions, you can focus on gaining experience by attempting a wider range of questions, rather than worrying about how to even a question correctly. Many students who jump into high-volume question practice, such as doing practice exams, end up limiting their growth very quickly. Gaining experience by solving a variety of similar questions with the same basic technique is very helpful to gain speed, accuracy and consistency. Also if a similar question pops up in the real UMAT, you will know exactly how to tackle it.

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