Important Application Dates (Domestic)

This article provides a list of key dates for domestic students applying to medical schools in Australia and New Zealand in 2019. It also includes links to important websites and course pages as additional references.

Please note that this information was last updated in August 2019 and therefore does not reflect changes made after this date.

The University of Adelaide
(Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery)

The University of Adelaide
(Bachelor of Dental Surgery)

The University of Newcastle / University of New England
(Joint Medical Program)

The University of New South Wales
(Bachelor of Medical Studies / Doctor of Medicine)

The University of Queensland
(Doctor of Medicine – provisional entry)

The University of Western Australia
(Medicine – direct pathway)

The University of Western Australia
(Dental Medicine – direct pathway)

Western Sydney University
(Doctor of Medicine)

University of Otago
(Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery)

University of Otago
(Bachelor of Dental Surgery)

University of Sydney
(Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine)

University of Sydney
(Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Dental Medicine)

James Cook University
(Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery)

James Cook University
(Bachelor of Dental Surgery)

La Trobe University
(Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical))

La Trobe University
(Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours))

University of the Sunshine Coast
(Bachelor of Medical Science)


Understanding the 2019 UCAT Test Statistics

The rankings

The Summary Test Statistics for the 2019 UCAT have just been released. For students, the most important information contained in this report is the decile ranking. Every student’s score has been ranked; e.g. the 9th decile represents a score at the 90th percentile (i.e. a score in the top 10%).

These are the scores for each decile, as shown in the report:

Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 2.11.36 pm.png

To have a good chance of receiving an interview, an ATAR of 99+ and a UCAT score of 2830+ is highly desirable. However, since medical schools use competitive entry, no absolute cut-offs can be given. Some universities require higher scores because of the greater level of competition they experience. For example, UNSW, which receives a very large number of applications, has often required a much higher ATAR and UMAT score in previous years. With this in mind, candidates are advised to apply for multiple universities (even interstate) to maximise their chances of successful medical entry.

A student with a UCAT score of 2700 (8th decile) may also receive an interview, provided their ATAR is high enough. A candidate’s score may also be boosted due to their rural location or disadvantaged circumstances, which means that it is possible for students with a UCAT score lower than 2700 to be offered an interview. In the past, we have seen students with a UMAT score as low as 70th percentile get an interview. (This would translate to a score of 2610 in UCAT.) In the same way, a student with an ATAR slightly below 99 may also receive an interview if their UCAT score is high enough.

As emphasised earlier in this article, entry is competitive, meaning that there are no clear cut-offs or thresholds—they change from year to year. Given that universities typically release a fixed number of interview offers (e.g. to the top 300 students), your chances of getting an interview are almost entirely dependent on how the rest of your cohort performs. Even if some universities may set UCAT thresholds, they generally do so retrospectively, i.e. AFTER examining how the whole cohort performed on the UCAT.

Therefore, to increase your chances of entry, we would encourage you to properly prepare for interviews, as students generally perform very poorly on this assessment. Most candidates underestimate the value of interviews (and hence go in underprepared), and many do not understand how to score highly in them because they don’t realise what the interview is actually assessing. Contrary to popular belief, the interview is not just a ‘chat’: rather than simply being a chance to demonstrate your charisma and eloquence, the purpose of the interview is to assess whether or not you possess specific traits that are highly valued in the medical profession (e.g. empathy, problem-solving skills).

The 5 subtests

The Summary Test Statistics released by the UCAT Office also include a section breakdown. Please note that ‘Total Score’ refers to the sum of the first four subtests. The fifth subtest, Situational Judgement, is not used by every university.

Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 2.17.32 pm.png

Some universities may use cut-offs for individual subtests: for example, in the past Monash University required a minimum of 50 for each section of the UMAT. If cut-offs are also applied to the UCAT, students would most likely have to achieve a score higher than the mean for each of the subtests. Universities have not yet released any cut-offs for the UCAT; we’ll keep you posted by making an announcement once they release any information.

What to do now

With the UCAT over, the ATAR and interview are the only remaining assessments for medical school placement. All students realise the importance of ATAR; however, most students tend to undervalue the medical interview. The interview is the final assessment used to separate candidates who already have a good ATAR and UCAT score, making it extremely important. In addition, each minute of the interview is extremely valuable: for universities that weight your interview equal to your ATAR (e.g. Monash, UWA, University of Adelaide, Curtin), a short interview is worth just as much as all of the work you have put into your Year 12 subjects combined. If you are completing four Year 12 subjects and receive an offer for a 20-minute interview, this would mean that 5 minutes of your interview is equal to one whole Year 12 subject!

If your UCAT score is not very high, it is entirely up to you to decide whether or not you will prepare for interviews. We have no way to guarantee that you will or will not get an interview offer – we simply wish to share what we have seen in previous years. However, on the off chance that you receive an interview offer, undertaking thorough preparation and performing strongly in the interview is a great way to make yourself competitive and score a place in medical school. It never hurts to try—there are students every year who are surprised to receive an interview offer—and we encourage you to make the most of every possible opportunity to get into medical school.

Pro Strategy: How to Master Speed & Accuracy

‘How do you effectively prepare for the UCAT?’ is one of the most important questions a student aspiring to enter medical or dental school can ask. For students who will be sitting the test this year – only a matter of weeks away! – it is a critical question to address, as you need to know what effective preparation looks like in order to make the best possible use of the coming weeks and maximise your final UCAT score. For students who will be sitting the test next year or later, it is also essential that you understand the basic mechanics of UCAT preparation to avoid wasting time on ineffective and unhelpful study.

Effective UCAT preparation should achieve two outcomes: accuracy and speed. Without speed, you will struggle to complete more than a handful of the 233 questions on the two-hour test. Without accuracy, you will race through the entire exam and yet fail to actually get any questions right.

In order to achieve both accuracy AND speed, you need to learn the steps for solving questions properly. This way, you’ll be aware of what you’re doing right and wrong as you’re answering questions, and you’ll have the techniques required to tackle and achieve consistent results for any question you could possibly face.

How does accuracy link to speed? 

Since the UCAT is an aptitude test, a helpful way to think about it is to compare it to a maths exam. When studying for a maths exam, if you try to do lots of mock exams BEFORE you actually know how to answer questions, you will simply waste your time and become disheartened because you can’t get the questions right within the time limit. After all, you can’t solve questions at a consistently high level until you first understand the detailed, step-by-step THEORY (the formulas, steps, processes, etc.). Once you understand every step and process involved in the theory, you can then apply it by practising until you slowly develop accuracy. Whenever you get a maths question wrong – which lowers your accuracy and hinders you from developing speed – you can fix your mistake by identifying where you went wrong and rectifying the issue. Once you’ve identified and resolved all of your question-solving issues, you will be able to solve questions very quickly and get them right every time.

To illustrate the importance of accuracy, and the link between accuracy and speed, here’s a general example.

The link between accuracy and speed.

The link between accuracy and speed.

It’s the same for UCAT preparation: once you understand the theory behind solving questions, practise the steps, and refine all of your mistakes, you will have mastered both accuracy and speed.

The need for speed (and accuracy)

In the past, many students were unable to complete the UMAT (the predecessor of the UCAT) within the set time limits. With 134 questions across 3 sections, and only 3 hours to complete them, even the brightest students struggled to finish every question on the test.

The introduction of the UCAT has raised the bar even higher. With 233 questions across 5 sections, and only 2 hours to complete them, students are required to be way more skilled for the UCAT than for the UMAT if they want to achieve a good score and maximise their chances of getting into medical or dental school. When sitting the UCAT, students only have 14-64 seconds to solve each question, as illustrated in the table below.

Time per question for the UCAT.

Time per question for the UCAT.

Given the time constraints, you need to know the process for solving questions much better for the UCAT than the UMAT – you have no time to recover if you make mistakes. As explained above, making mistakes is very time-consuming: by the time you realise your mistake, figure out what went wrong, and finally fix the mistake, you will have already forfeited the time you need to answer two or three other questions! This means that it is crucial for you to work on your accuracy (by learning and practising the theory) in order to develop speed and solve every UCAT question quickly and correctly.


In order to maximise your chances of UCAT success, the best way to use the final weeks before the test is to spend them building up your speed and accuracy. Take the time to learn the steps, and then practice them. Figure out why you’re making mistakes, and work on eliminating them.

For more UCAT tips and information, get in touch or visit our Facebook page.

When is the latest I can start on UCAT preparation?

Imagine this for one moment. The UCAT exam is in just one month and you still haven’t started preparation.

While it is easy to dismiss this image or push it to the back of your mind, the reality is that many students constantly push back UCAT preparation to deal with their increasingly frantic Year 12 workload. There will always be another math test, chemistry exam or English essay to prepare for, but all the while July draws ever closer.

With only one month (or less) to prepare for the UCAT, your chances of achieving success are very low. The exam consists of 14 different question types that require time to be learned and mastered, meaning that UCAT preparation becomes a herculean task when left to the last minute.

On average, most students require around 150-200 hours to learn the skills tested by the UCAT and complete several practice exams. Therefore, if you only start on preparation 30 days before the UCAT, completing even 150 hours (the more conservative estimate) would require you to spend around 5 hours per day studying for the UCAT – something that is simply not possible to do consistently over a month given the demands of school tests and assignments.

To illustrate the importance of starting early, the table below calculates the amount of UCAT study that early- or late-starting students will need to complete per day in order to be ready for the exam.

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 9.46.22 pm.png

To be ready in time for the UCAT, the most crucial factor is to start on UCAT preparation during (or before) the summer holidays before Year 12 starts. Dedicating 2-3 hours each day to studying for the UCAT is much more feasible during the holidays, as you don’t need to juggle UCAT preparation with schoolwork. Best of all, if you manage to finish learning most of the UCAT skills and begin developing proficiency during this period, you will only need to spend a short amount of time working on your exam-taking techniques later in the year.

But won’t I forget what I studied if I start on UCAT preparation too early?

Just as schools teach their math curriculum progressively over the course of a whole year instead of cramming it into the final month before exams, UCAT preparation is best done consistently and over an extended period. Learning the methods to solve each question type over a prolonged period of time allows you to grasp the concepts more fully and to retain what you learn. In contrast, rushed and last-minute study leads to weaker performance and poor retention, meaning that you are likely to make mistakes or forget what you studied (as many students realise when they cram for school exams!).

As explained previously, starting earlier also greatly reduces the stress involved in UCAT preparation and allows you to do a far better job then you otherwise would. 150 hours of preparation is the minimum amount of time required to become proficient – so if you start early, you will have months to improve your proficiency and to iron out any exam nerves!

Is it ever too early to start?

No. There is no downside to beginning UCAT preparation earlier: the earlier you start preparing, the better. With more time to perfect your techniques and less accumulated stress, starting early offers enormous benefits in exchange for a small amount of time invested earlier.

In terms of your test-taking techniques, starting UCAT preparation earlier allows you to develop greater speed and accuracy when solving UCAT questions, as you have had more time to review and perfect your approach to each question type. By starting earlier, you will also gain greater confidence and feel less pressured on the test day.

In fact, starting early could mean the difference between outperforming your peers on the UCAT exam and making critical errors during the exam because you have not completed enough practice tests to become accustomed to the pressures of the exam.

How can iCanMed help?

The extended UCAT courses offered by iCanMed help to guide and direct your UCAT preparation. Achieving UCAT success by yourself is extremely difficult, as the UCAT is designed to test a particular set of skills; the best way to master these skills is to learn the necessary techniques via a structured curriculum. What iCanMed has done is create a course that focuses on not only the questions themselves but also the actual methods for solving them, meaning that you are equipped to tackle any UCAT question you may encounter. With in-depth video solutions breaking down and demonstrating the application of UCAT strategies to different questions, our course reduces the inefficiency and uncertainty that students experience when they try to study for the UCAT without help.

In addition, iCanMed provides 24-hour support, meaning that we can help you to construct your UCAT preparation schedule or review your progress with you. This ensures that you are setting realistic, achievable goals for your UCAT study without compromising your school work and other commitments.

Lastly, our three-stage preparation process covers 21 steps to refine your UCAT abilities. This process provides you with a consistent timeline and practical goals to achieve in your UCAT study, and helps you to make progress in your preparation earlier rather than later.

For more UCAT tips and information, keep an eye on our website and Facebook page.

University Selection Criteria

The UCAT was run for the first time in 2019. How has the introduction of the UCAT changed the entry criteria used by universities for medicine and dentistry courses? To find out, we contacted medical schools throughout Australia and New Zealand for information about their requirements for 2020 admissions. Their final selection criteria are summarised in the table below.

(Please note that some universities also require applicants to have completed prerequisite subjects.)


This information was last updated in August 2019 and therefore does not reflect changes made after this date.

domestic selection criteria - updated Aug 2019.png


This information was last updated on May 16th, 2019 and therefore does not reflect changes made after this date.

international selection criteria - updated May 2019.png

For UCAT tips and course advice, get in touch with us via Facebook or email.

iCanMed Free UCAT Lessons

Welcome to our series of free UCAT lessons! It’s great to have you here and we look forward to working towards UCAT success together with you.

Follow along with Ashton, our Head of Learning, as he breaks down questions from each section of the UCAT and teaches the step-by-step techniques for solving them.

Aptitude tests like the UCAT assess your skills and abilities. To master any skill, you need to become familiar with the process it involves, and then practice that skill so you can perform it efficiently and effectively. Therefore, these videos provide a detailed explanation of the techniques that are currently being used by students on our course, and they will help you to develop the skills you need to answer any UCAT question.

**Disclaimer: we don’t expect you to spend this long on each question! It takes time to teach and learn concepts, especially new or complex concepts. These videos are for teaching purposes, so we take extra time to go through the techniques in detail. Once you’ve learned the techniques, you definitely won’t need to spend more than a few minutes on each question.

Practice makes perfect - but you first need to know what you’re practicing, which is why we provide clear and extensive videos to explain the technique for each question type.

Frequently Asked Questions

Published on February 1, 2019:

1.  How many hours of UCAT preparation should I do per week?
The first thing to remember is that the number of hours you put in does not directly correlate to success. What is more important is how you use that time – whether you’re using it to apply the techniques, overcome your weaknesses, and improve your accuracy and speed. These are the things that will help you to succeed. However, this being said, there is still a threshold for the minimum amount of time you would need to be adequately prepared. We would recommend that you spend at least one 3-4-hour slot per week (e.g. one afternoon on the weekend) on UCAT study.

2.  How important are UCAT practice exams? 
In terms of the actual amount of benefit they provide, practice exams are somewhat overrated. For example, if your maths teacher gives you a calculus exam before you’ve even learned calculus, the exam would not be very useful – it would only drain your stamina and decrease your motivation (which is not a very effective way of learning!). Similarly, UCAT practice exams are only useful once you’ve mastered the steps required to solve every question type. Put another way, practice exams should be used at the last step of your preparation, not the first. Save yourself some time and learn the techniques for solving questions first!

3.  Is UCAT the same as UKCAT?
Yes. According to the official UCAT website, “although new to Australia and New Zealand for 2019, the UCAT has been used for over 12 years in the UK under the test name UKCAT”. The contents of the UKCAT “represent the exact content of the UCAT ANZ test” (

Published on February 7, 2019:

4. For students who usually qualify for additional reading time, etc. (e.g. those who have reading disabilities), how does the UCAT accommodate for them (if it does)?
Candidates can apply for extra time by submitting an application for Access Arrangements when registrations open. For more information, refer to

5. Can Australian candidates use the UCAT to apply to medical schools in the UK that use UKCAT as part of the selection criteria?

Candidates can sit UCAT (ANZ) and apply to UK universities (that accept UCAT UK) with the results. However, candidates cannot sit UCAT (UK) and apply to UCAT (ANZ) universities.

6. There is speculation that the UKCAT is now called UCAT globally (i.e. from this year onwards the name UKCAT does not exist anymore but has been replaced by the name UCAT). Is this true?

UKCAT has been relaunched as UCAT. There is a UCAT (ANZ) test for Australian and New Zealand universities and UCAT (UK) for UK universities.

7. Is there any difference at all between the UCAT (UK) and UCAT (ANZ)? For example, in terms of medical ethics used to solve Section 5 questions, will the UCAT (UK) be based on the UK medical system and the UCAT (ANZ) be based on the Australian system?
The UCAT (UK) and UCAT (ANZ) test contain the same subtests and will not have a specific UK or Australian / New Zealand context; it will be universal.

8. The scaled marks that a student receives is a result of comparing the raw marks of all candidates with each other. In the case of Australian candidates, will they be compared to other Australian and NZ candidates only or pooled with the rest of the world?

The results for UCAT (ANZ) are based on the Australian and New Zealand cohort only.

Published on February 25, 2019:

9. When should I register for the UCAT exam?
We have been informed by the UCAT organisers that as soon as a venue is full, it will not accept any more students. In other words: there is limited seating for the UCAT exam. Therefore, our advice is that you register for the UCAT as soon as possible!

10. When do registrations for the UCAT exam close?

Registrations close on May 17th, 2019. The registration period is relatively short, so avoid leaving it to the last minute.

11. Which UCAT exam date should I register for?

You definitely shouldn’t register for an exam date that is before or during your break, as you would miss out on crucial preparation time. Ideally, you should sit the UCAT as late as possible; in previous years, the UMAT has always been held in the last week of July, so it would be best to select a similar date for the UCAT. However, you should also ask your school about assessment dates to make sure that you won’t have any assignments or tests around the UCAT exam date you’d like to register for.

12. How much does the UCAT exam cost?

It costs AU$298 to sit the UCAT in Australia or New Zealand, and AU$373 to sit the UCAT in other countries. However, candidates sitting the test in Australia may be eligible to apply for the concession rate, which is AU$198.

13. Can I apply for concession?

You are eligible for concession if you hold or are listed as a dependant on a current Health Care Card (HCC) or Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) issued by Centrelink. To apply for concession, you need to submit an online application form before registering for the UCAT exam. The online application form is available here: Applications for concession close on May 10th, 2019.

14. Can I cancel my UCAT exam?

If you cancel your UCAT exam by May 17th, 2019, you will receive a refund. However, if you cancel your UCAT exam after this date, it will be considered a ‘no-show’ and your payment will not be refunded.

15. Can I reschedule my UCAT exam?

If you reschedule your UCAT exam by May 17th, 2019, you can do so via the online registration system. However, if you would like to reschedule your UCAT exam after this date, you will need to reschedule via phone call. Rescheduling is accepted until 24 hours before your test time (but note that rescheduling will become increasingly difficult as the test date approaches since many venues are likely to be full).

Published on April 1, 2019:

16. What is the minimum mark I need to get into medicine/dentistry?
Since the UCAT is being run for the first time in 2019, thresholds from previous years no longer apply. As such, there is no official ‘minimum mark’ that provides guaranteed entry into a medicine or dentistry course. Furthermore, since medicine and dentistry are highly competitive, instead of trying to achieve a ‘minimum mark’ you should focus on scoring as highly as possible in order to outperform any competition. Thresholds set by universities are generally proportional (e.g. the top 10% of students are accepted), meaning that the 'minimum mark' you need to achieve depends entirely on how the rest of your cohort performs.

17. When is the latest I should start UCAT preparation?

You should start preparing now. The April holidays are a valuable opportunity to spend time on UCAT preparation, allowing you to learn the content without rushing and identify all of the issues you encounter for each question type. By starting on UCAT preparation now, you are setting yourself up to make the most of the next few months and will be able to finalise your UCAT preparation during the July holidays (right before the test).

18. How important is the UCAT compared to my academic results?

For most universities, the UCAT is a major criterion in selecting candidates. In some cases, the UCAT is weighted equal to (or weighted more than) your academic scores, meaning that the two-hour test is just as important for determining medical school entry as your academic results from the entire year! Because of this, it’s important to dedicate time and effort to preparing for the UCAT, as this will maximise your chances of getting into your desired course.

Published on May 1, 2019:

19. When should I start preparing for the UCAT?
You should start as early as possible. The sooner your start on UCAT preparation, the more time you will have to focus on succeeding in your Year 12 studies, the less stress you will experience, and the more speed and accuracy you will be able to develop when answering UCAT questions. For more information, refer to this article.

20. How should I structure my UCAT preparation?

The best way to prepare for the UCAT is by following a simple 3-stage process: learning the details, then carrying out slow and mindful practice, and then doing practice exams.
Stage 1 ('learning the details') takes the average student 15 hours to complete; it involves being taught how to solve each of the 14 question types, as well as creating your own working table that shows you what each question type is like and how to approach it. By providing examples of different questions and writing down how to solve them, this will help you to think critically and provides a great reference for you to work with once you start completing lots of questions. This stage is completed in one sitting during our UCAT Masterclass 1.
Stage 2 ('slow, mindful practice') comprises the majority of preparation - we generally recommend that students spend 150-200 hours in this stage. The purpose of carrying out slow, mindful practice is to build accuracy and improve speed. The method for achieving this is simple: review your working table, attempt a practice question, identify any issues you encountered when attempting the question, and incorporate those issues into your working table. After doing 30 questions of each type in this way, you will not only be very adept at answering questions of every type but will also have a 'master summary' that shows you how to deal with any possible issue that a UCAT question may present.
Stage 3 ('doing mock exams') is the final stage of preparation, and generally only takes 10-20 hours. After completing Stage 2, you should be very fast and accurate when completing questions, and if you make any mistakes you will be able to identify and rectify them immediately.

Published on JUNE 3, 2019:

21. How can I buy more time for UCAT preparation?
If you find that you need more time for UCAT preparation, you can try to reschedule your UCAT exam to a later date. Rescheduling must be done via phone call, and is accepted until 24 hours before your test time. (However, rescheduling is likely to become very difficult once the test date approaches, as many venues and time slots will be full). Contact details for rescheduling are available here.

How do you balance UCAT with school?

When trying to juggle UCAT preparation and schoolwork, many students end up sacrificing one or the other due to poor time management. However, your UCAT and ATAR results are equally important for getting into medical school. What people often don’t realise is that many universities (e.g. UNSW, Monash University) weight the UCAT at 33% of your final ranking, meaning that it is just as important as your ATAR results. So how are you supposed to manage both?

First, you need to understand what the UCAT is.

The UCAT is an aptitude test that assesses candidates’ ability to make evidence-based decisions and apply medical ethics in professional scenarios. Therefore, in order to score well on the UCAT, you need to develop these particular skills (and the steps that comprise these skills) in order to solve questions CORRECTLY and EFFICIENTLY every time. While the UMAT had three sections, contained 134 questions, and spanned 3 hours, the UCAT has five sections, contains 233 questions, and spans only 2 hours – meaning that speed and accuracy are crucial. Therefore, all of your UCAT study should focus on becoming very familiar with the steps for solving questions so that you can improve your accuracy and speed.


Second, you need to recognise what makes the ATAR difficult.

No matter what Year 12 system you are following (e.g. VCE, HSC, IB), the main difficulty with ATAR study is always the overwhelming amount of content that Year 12 subjects require students to learn compared to Year 11. This, combined with the advanced nature of exam questions, makes it difficult for students to do well in Year 12 using the study techniques and habits they applied in previous years. So not only do students need to work hard, they also need to constantly improve themselves and their study techniques.


So why the struggle?

From our experience helping thousands of students over the last 10 years, we have recognised that the main reason why students struggle to balance the UCAT and ATAR is because they lack awareness about the challenges involved in each test. Put simply, students become so overwhelmed when trying to manage one that they neglect or forget about the other. In order to balance the UCAT and ATAR, students must understand the challenges that each of these tests presents, and then work on preparing themselves for these challenges throughout the following months. The best way to do this is to literally LIST OUT the challenges involved in each test (or each Year 12 subject) – this puts you in a position where you know what to pursue and how much time to allocate for both UCAT and ATAR preparation.


It’s also important to be conscious of the test date for UCAT. Unfortunately, many students become complacent and decide to just cram UCAT preparation before the test date, not realising that the UCAT is not crammable. Doing well on the UCAT requires a change in your thinking process and the development of specific skills (including verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgment). These are not things that you can cram – they can only be achieved by regular UCAT preparation throughout the year. So if you know that medicine/dentistry is what you want to do, and you find yourself with some free time, make this into ‘UCAT time’.


Balance is a result of control, which is a result of awareness. This means that you need to take charge of your own learning and ask yourself some honest questions about what you want to achieve.

For the ATAR, ask your teachers for sample tests and exams so that you can begin to understand what the questions are like.

For the UCAT, reach out to us and check out our Library for more resources.

What Is The Best Way To Study For The UCAT?

As a professional educator, I've spent the last ten years helping over 600 students gain entrance into medical schools across Australasia. Our strategies for UCAT preparation aim to help students learn the exact skills and knowledge they need to answer any aptitude test question (e.g. UCAT and 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!). Although, UCAT is a new for Australia and New Zealand students, it is not a brand new test. We’ve already anticipated the changes and have dissected the UKCAT, the test UCAT is based on. Here are a few points you need to take into account, to sum up how to conduct effective UCAT prep.


Step 1: Learn all techniques to solve all question types in the UCAT

‍UCAT assesses the logical reasoning capabilities (and certain attitudes pertaining to ethics and professional behaviours) of the candidate. Logical reasoning is the ability of a person to make decisions based on interpreting observable evidence and not by assumptions. How UCAT assesses this skill is by constructing questions that require the students to logically reason in five primary mannerisms, i.e., verbal reasoning (section 1), decision making (section 2), quantitative reasoning (section 3), abstract reasoning (section 4) and situational judgement (section 5). UCAT wants to see whether you are good at using evidence to make decisions in many different situations for many different purposes.

In summary, UCAT assesses the candidate’s ability to apply a series of process (i.e. skills) to solve a question, much like mathematics. Therefore, the first natural step to drastically improving your chances of answering a UCAT question correctly is by first learning what the skills (i.e. working) looks like and why the skills works the way it does (i.e. rationale).

Instead, the majority of students dive straight into doing a lot of questions before learning the techniques thoroughly. The common belief in the student community is that the more questions attempted during practice, the quicker they will master the questions. However, it is obvious that this method of preparation is in fact flawed as the primary purpose of practice is to apply a learned process in the hopes of identifying weaknesses and fixing them up. In short, there is no chance a student is able to apply skills to solve the question and learn from it when they don’t even know what that skill is. This method of preparation is a contrast to mindful practice and will only waste time, create further confusion and generate self-doubt. By learning techniques foremost, will take away all these issues and achieve an overall smooth learning experience.

Here are a few video examples of how section 1 UCAT questions are be solved. Click on the image to watch the video!

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 same of the 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 in class will most likely be different to the first one you practice with at home but can be solved with the same technique. So find some questions that are variations of the question you’ve learnt the skills to solve and attempt to apply the same skills to an aesthetically different, but fundamentally identical question.


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 UCAT, you will know exactly how to tackle it.

If you want to know more about how iCanMed helps with UCAT preparation, click the button below!

A Beginner’s Guide to the UCAT

What is UCAT?

UCAT stands for University Clinical Aptitude Test and is the exam that has replaced UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admissions Test). The UCAT is a required assessment in order to be eligible to enter medicine and dentistry in Universities around Australia and New Zealand.

UCAT is an aptitude test made to identify candidates with desirable mental-skills for a career in medicine and dentistry. These skills are broken into five distinct sections of the exam:

1. Verbal Reasoning

2. Decision Making

3. Quantitative Reasoning

4. Abstract Reasoning

5. Situational Judgement

The UCAT is logical reasoning test based off the UKCAT, which is used in the United Kingdom to test their medicine candidates. It is unlike any other exam a Year 12 students would have experienced before as it is vastly different from knowledge-based assessments like Biology or Chemistry. There are more similarities with other logical reasoning exams like the UMAT and MCAT so some skills are transferable but it is essential to learn exactly how UCAT will test their candidates and identify the exact skills required to do well in the UCAT.


What is the test format for UCAT?

The UCAT is a two-hour computer based multiple-choice test. It consists of five separately timed subtests. Once the test has started, time will not pause until either every subtest is finished or the allotted time runs out. Each subtest represents the five different sections and have different amount of questions and time allocated for each section. Students must complete one section first before going onto the next section and the order for the sections remains the same for every student. The order of sections is the same as listed below.

There are 233 questions in total and UCAT has mentioned that it is not expected for candidates to finish the test. The allocated time and questions is:

Section 1: Verbal Reasoning – 44 questions – 21 minutes
Section 2: Decision Making – 29 questions – 31 minutes
Section 3: Quantitative Reasoning – 36 questions – 24 minutes
Section 4: Abstract Reasoning – 55 questions – 13 minutes
Section 5 – Situational Judgement – 69 questions – 26 minutes

There is a one minute “break” before the start of each section which will display instructions. 25% Extra time may be given for candidates with special education needs, disabilities or temporary injuries  and must lodge forms to UCAT to be approved before the exam.

An onscreen calculator is provided on the same screen as the test. For scrap paper, a booklet and pen is provided.


How does scoring work for UCAT?

Presently there is no information on the scoring of the UCAT however the content is equivalent to the UKCAT. For the UKCAT, the first four sections are scaled and scored evenly. Each section has its raw marks converted to scaled scores that share a common range from 300 to 900.

The total score is the addition of the individual scores for the first 4 sections - Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning. This gives a total scale score that can range from 1200 to 3600.

The UCAT is a multiple choice exam, with different sections and question types having different number of answer options. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers and performance on one questions does not influence which other questions are presented.

A breakdown of the first four sections and their marking scheme is as follows:

  1. Verbal Reasoning – Each question is worth 1 mark each.

  2. Decision Making – Question with one correct statements are worth 1 mark. Questions with multiple statements are worth 2 marks, 1 mark is awarded for partially correct responses.

  3. Quantitative Reasoning – Each question is worth 1 mark each.

  4. Abstract Reasoning - Each question is worth 1 mark each.

Each section may have different number of marks but are scaled evenly to give a score between 300 to 900. The total score will range between 1200 to 3600.

Section 5 – Situational Judgement is a bit different because it’s not deemed as a “cognitive” test but a test to measure “non-cognitive attributes”. Scoring for this section is taken from your raw score and directly placed into one of four bands with band 1 being the highest and band 4 being the lowest.


What score do I need for UCAT?

Medicine will remain as competitive entry so UCAT results will be very similar to the percentile rankings in UMAT. To have a competitive UCAT score, you should rank 90th to 100th Percentile (the top tenth of all candidates sitting the exam).  

There is no data for the UCAT in Australia, but by looking at the UKCAT which is the same test, we can see data for 2017. (Note: raw scores are based off 2017 UKCAT data and are only an estimate from available data)

Section 1 to 4:

Average total score (50th percentile) – 2540 (roughly 56% raw score)
90th Percentile total score – 2860 (roughly 69% raw score)

Section 5:
Band 1 – 31% of total candidates
Band 2 – 42% of total candidates
Band 3 – 19% of total candidates
Band 4 – 8% of total candidates

Previously the UMAT required a 90th percentile to be competitive and it is a good benchmark to aim for the UCAT. This means you need a score of 2860 (roughly 69% raw) and reach Band 1.

Currently, universities have not released their requirements for 2020 intake so there is no information on what exactly is needed for UCAT 2019. We will update the information as soon as it is released.


What is involved in each section of UCAT?

UCAT consists of 5 sections, it can be distinguished into two major divisions (which is how they divide the scoring):
Section 1 to 4: Cognitive abilities testing. This involves logical reasoning and critical thinking.
Section 5: Non-cognitive abilities. This is mainly about ethics, morals and interpersonal-skills.

A more detailed analysis of each section will be on our site in the near future. Here is a quick breakdown of the individual sections:

Section 1: Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning assesses the ability to read and think carefully about information presented in passages and to determine whether specific conclusions can be drawn from information presented. No prior knowledge is required to answer the questions.

21 minutes is given to answer 44 questions. There are 11 passage with 4 questions each. The passage will read like a newspaper or research article.

Questions will have 4 answer options. You are required to choose the most suitable answer and you can only select 1 answer
There will be a statement and you have to choose whether the statement is TRUE, FALSE or CAN’T TELL based on the information from the passage.

Section 2 Decision Making

Decision Making assesses the ability to apply logic to reach a decision or conclusion, evaluate arguments and analyse statistical information. No prior knowledge is required except basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of small numbers). An onscreen calculator is provided and may be used.

31 minutes is given to answer 29 questions. All questions are standalone and do not relate to one another. Each question has an individual premise which may be a set of rules, venn diagram or something visual which you need to interpret. This is liken to learning a set of rules to a “game” and being able to answer a question based on the given rules.

Questions will have 4 answer options with only one correct answer and are worth 1 mark each.
There are 5 statements and you have to place YES or NO beside each statement and are worth 2 marks for fully correct responses and 1 mark for partially correct responses.

Section 3: Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning assesses the ability to use numerical skills to solve worded problems. The mathematics required is at the “A” level in Year 9 in Australian schools, particularly in the topics of rates and ratios.

24 minutes is given to answer 36 questions. A set of rules for a situation or a visual graph may be used to represent the information. Students need to read the graph and all relevant information correctly and calculate using basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) the desired solution. An onscreen calculator is provided.

Most questions will have four questions connected to the same data. Some questions will be standalone and only have one question.

There will be 5 answer options for each questions and you are required to select the best option.

Section 4: Abstract Reasoning

Abstract reasoning assesses your ability to identity patterns amongst abstract shapes where irrelevant and distracting information may lead to incorrect conclusions. You must test, critically evaluate and adapt your process as you are finding the pattern.

13 minutes is given to answer 55 questions. There are 4 different question types in this section.

  1. Type 1 will present you with two sets of shapes labelled “Set A” and “Set B”. There are 6 shapes in each set. You will be given a test shape and asked to decide which set the test shape belongs to.  You will usually be given 5 test shapes for every given sets so 5 questions will use the same data.

  2. Type 2 will present you with a series of shapes and you will be asked to select the next shape in the series.

  3. Type 3 will present 3 images. It will compare the first two images then it will ask you to compare the 3rd image with the answer options in the same way it compared the first two images.

  4. Type 4 is similar to type 1 except you will be given 4 answer options and must select the answer option that belong to a certain set.


Section 5: Situational Judgement

Situation Judgement assesses the capacity to understand real world situations and identify critical factors and appropriate behaviours in dealing with them. This is a non-cognitive assessment and deals more with interpersonal skills. No prior medical or procedural knowledge in hospitals is required however since it assesses interpersonal skills, it is required to understand what is appropriate under general settings.

26 minutes is given to answer 69 questions. A scenario will be given and there will be between 2 to 5 questions associated with that scenario.

Questions will ask you to rate the importance or appropriateness of possible actions.
Questions will require you to rate each of the 4 answer options.
Questions will ask you to select the most/least appropriate from 3 answer options.  


What should I do to start preparing for UCAT?

It is important to Understand what UCAT truly assesses. An understanding of the five sections is required BEFORE you do any substantial amount of practice. This is like learning concepts in mathematics first instead of just diving and doing endless amounts of final year exams. Your school teach school subjects that way and neither should you learn UCAT that way too.

iCanMed has already dissected the components of UCAT, what it’s assessing, how it’s assessing students and how students should tackle questions and prepare from now until July 2019.

  1. Come for a FREE SEMINAR! We have already held free UCAT seminars in Sydney and Brisbane. We will travel around the NEXT FEW WEEKS to all the major cities to hold free face-to-face workshops in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Auckland and Otago.

  2. Follow us on facebook. We’ll update you with the latest news about the UCAT and the best ways to prepare for it filled with top professional advice. You can also ask us anything.

  3. Take a look at the UCAT website but do take note that registrations are not open yet.

  4. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Right now your focus should be on exams in university or high school. As long as you’ve followed us on Facebook, come to our free workshops or register for our course, you will have everything you need to succeed in UCAT and get into medicine. Our course will be available starting in October!

Prep Fails:

  1. “Practice makes perfect” (without first learning how to solve the questions)
    DO NOT jump in and do lots of UCAT practice straight away. You need to learn specifically what UCAT is assessing and strategies to tackle each question type. Doing lots of questions without learning the subject first is a very time-consuming, confusing and stressful process. Learn the best ways to succeed in UCAT from us:

  2. “As long as it works, it’s fine”.
    An aptitude test like UCAT has a logical process to solve every question. If you are not sure why something is correct, you may have gotten the answer wrong. Even you select the correct answer (since it’s multiple choice), you may have the wrong reasoning , which will lead you to select wrong answers in the future. You must learn the correct processes and strategies.

  3. Trusting the wrong preparation. Already there is a lot of incorrect information out there given by preparation companies. We have seen students been led in the wrong direction, which actually has an effect of lowering their score. Do not trust other places so easily. Look at our content, it should make perfect step-by-step sense and allow you to see real progress. That’s how UCAT preparation should be.    


Important dates to note:

1 March 2019 - Online registration opens at 9am

1 March 2019 – Test booking system opens (fees TBA however there are concession rates).

16 May 2019 – registration closes 5pm AEST

17 May 2019 – Test booking system closes 5pm AEST

1 July 2019 – Testing commences for UCAT

31 July 2019 – Last day of testing for UCAT

You can access your UCAT score immediately after your test.

Early September 2019 – Universities receive your UCAT score


I’ve started preparing for UMAT, did I waste my time?

Even though UCAT is a different exam, there are similar aspects to both the exams since they are both aptitude tests.
UMAT Section 1 is still very relevant in the UCAT. You may still use some preparation material from Section 1 as long as it is actually educationally sound.
UMAT Section 2 is not relevant at all and should be discarded from your preparation.
UMAT Section 3 is somewhat relevant but has undergone massive changes. You shouldn’t use UMAT preparation from this section.


Subscribe for all the latest and best information to beat the UCAT

The UCAT is new to next year. To keep up to date and have the insight on how to get the best marks in UCAT, make sure you follow or see us.

Free face-to-face seminars:



No More UMAT, Welcome the New Medicine Entry Exam – UCAT

2018 is the last year the UMAT will be held. From 2019 onwards, medicine and dentistry will require the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT).

The UCAT is the new admission test used by all the universities in Australia and New Zealand for their medical, dental and clinical science degree programs. This means that medicine and dentistry applicants for the 2020 intake must be advised that they will no longer be required to sit the UMAT but rather the new UCAT.

If you have sat the UMAT this year in July 2018, your score will be valid for applications this year. This was the last UMAT to be held and there will no longer be any more UMAT in the future.

For those applying in 2019 for the 2020 intake, you must register for the UCAT. Registration begins 1 March 2019. Testing takes place throughout July 2019.

Please note that the UCAT will be used for all universities that offer undergraduate entrance to medicine and dentistry. Some postgraduate universities will also use UCAT. Most universities have NOT yet updated their website to reflect this change. Here is a list of all the universities that will use the UCAT:

University of Adelaide
Curtin University
Monash University
The University of Newcastle/University of new England
The university of New South Wales
The University of Queensland
University of Tasmania
University of Western Australia
Western Sydney University
The University of Auckland
University of Otago

What’s the difference?

The UCAT is still going to be an aptitude test except now it is over TWO hours with FIVE sections. It is a computer-based test that cannot be paused for a break once started. The five sections to the test are done consecutively and you’re unable to jump between sections but have to complete them one at a time. There is a time limit for each section. There are some similarities to UMAT with the styles of questions given, however there are also some drastic differences.

For more information on how to begin preparation, check out our Beginner’s Guide to UCAT, which will be posted up shortly.

Why was UMAT replaced with UCAT?

A consortium of Australian and New Zealand universities have been discussing on a way to improve the old UMAT exam. They have recently decided to change it to the UCAT because they have deemed it more reliable in assessing the skills required for medical and dentistry students.

This information was only made public on Monday 24th September 2018 but the relevance of UMAT towards students successfully completing the medical degree has been in question for a few years and extensive research has been done. Take a read here for more detail into the research done:

What do I do now?

1. Watch out for incorrect information - There is already a lot of misinformation out there about the UCAT from a lot of private preparation providers.

2. Take note of important dates - 1 March 2019 is when registration for UCAT begins. Testing will occur throughout the month of July 2019. More information can be found on the UCAT website:

3. Keep up to date with the most accurate information – Our website will always display the latest information.

4. Follow us on Facebook – To be kept in the loop, join us here:

Day in the Life of a Medical Student

Every day is a different at the hospital, regardless of whether you’re a medical student or much further along in your career. The day depends on who walks in the door, what they’re story is, what illness or injury they have.  That doesn’t even take into account what specialty rotation you are on (General Medicine/ General surgery/ Neurology/ Trauma/ Plastic Surgery etc), which hospital network you’re placed at… the list goes on. Confusing as it is, I’m hoping this article can provide a little insight into what you have to look forward to!

As a little disclaimer before we get into it, I picked this day to document primarily because it erred more on the side of being exciting and, well, I want you to know how diverse and fun hospital life can be as a medical student. However, my days are by no means always this busy nor lacking to this extent in formal teaching and lectures so please take this example with a grain of salt. This is also a day in my life as a third year, clinical medical student and looks very different to my preclinical years! If you’d like me to write one about a day in the life of a preclinical medical student or even another variation of a clinical day in the life please feel free to leave your request on the iCanMed Facebook page!

Anyway, let’s get into it.

5.30am: ‘BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP’ were you jolted out of your pleasant reverie by that? Because I was. Regardless of whether or not I’ve had my eight hours 5.30 will probably never feel like an appropriate time to be awoken from my slumber.

6.00am: Depart the house. Ward rounds aren’t until seven, but one of the unfortunate realities about hospital placements is that they can really be quite far from where you live.

6.54am: Arrive at the hospital. I’m more asleep than awake, but quickly stop feeling sorry for myself when the interns pointedly inform me they’ve been there for ½ an hour already and I’ll be in their shoes before I know it.

7.00am: Start ward rounds. This is the point in the morning where we visit all the inpatients who the team is responsible for and determine the plan of action for each of them that day. It’s my job to run and grab folders between patients (not that fun, but really wakes you up) and to write the occasional inpatient progress note (somewhat more fun).

9.00am: Radiology meeting. Today’s round was snappy, efficient and there were no new admissions in the emergency department so we arrive on time and get the good seats in the meeting room for once.

10.00am: Mandatory coffee break. A lull in the action of the day means it’s time to refuel with coffee, and have a casual research meeting with my supervisor. 

10.30am: Clinic! Typically one of the better learning opportunities as a medical student, especially on days like today when the opportunity arises for me to see some patients on my own, and hopefully answer some of their questions, before they go on to seeing the doctors.

12.00pm: Lunch. Today I opt for a longer lunch and eat at the park across the street with a friend who is on a different specialty rotation at the moment. We talk about how pathology makes no sense and throw a frisbee for a dog that keeps coming up to play.

12.30pm: Tutorial. This afternoon it’s one on peripheral vascular disease and I can’t say I’m particularly excited about it.  

1.00pm: Surgery! I grab a couple of biscuits as sustenance, attempt to charm the theatre receptionist into lending me a locker key for the afternoon and go down to the operating theatre for the second case on the afternoon list. Today is a simple laparoscopic cholecystectomy, open inguinal hernia repair kind of day.

5.30pm: I run out of steam just about when the operating list ends and it’s time to head home. The bad news is its peak hour traffic, the good news is tomorrow’s a Friday!

6.45pm: HOME. I finally make it back after moving at snail’s pace. Why is it that the traffic always has to be worse on the way back at than the way in?

8.30pm: Independent study. After having dinner and gathering enough strength to get myself off the sofa I want nothing more than to go straight to bed. Alas there is work to be done and I should probably put in at least an hour of study. 

10.30pm Bedtime! I am fully aware of how early 10.30 is for bed, but trial and error has lead me to realize that I will most probably sleep through my alarm if I don’t get my eight hours. 

When I reflect on why I am disproportionately excited by eleven hour days and getting up before the sun, two broad themes come to mind; that I become bored far too easily, and that I love stories. Although the general process of the day may be similar, the patients, their medical issues and the narrative of how they came to end up sitting in front of you in the hospital is ever changing, and often fascinating. As a bonus, the nature of a doctor’s work is always varied, where a more academic approach is required to piece together symptoms and test results to come up with diagnoses and conclusions (as you might do on a ward round, or in clinics) and a task-based approach is more relevant to the hands-on aspects of the job (like putting in IV drips, suturing in ED, or surgery!). Hence medicine offers me variety to combat boredom and constant contact with people who will kindly tell me their stories.

I subject myself to being a cliché by saying this, I know, but I really do feel privileged to live out a day-to-day routine that I genuinely enjoy. Even more so, I’m privileged that I’m able to say with confidence that I’m working towards a job I know I will love!

As always give the iCanMed Facebook page a like if you’re interested in reading more!

Highlights (and a few Lowlights) of the Preclinical Years

For those of you who haven’t yet begun browsing the ‘Future Students’ or ‘More About: The Faculty of Medicine’ tabs on every University’s website and physical prospectus, here’s a very brief aside on the structure of medical school to give you a clearer idea of what it is we’re talking about before we get into the article. If you’re already a seasoned expert, feel free to skip down a couple of paragraphs!

Aiming to speak broadly about Australian Universities, the most typical breakdown of medicine as a course is two years of preclinical learning for undergraduates (one for postgraduates) and three to four years of clinical schooling and/ or research terms. The preclinical years are aimed at instilling a foundational level of theoretical knowledge. That is, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, pathology for each system and the basics of things like medical law, ethics and epidemiology. The University usually sprinkles in a placement day here and there, just to keep us on our toes, but essentially all of preclinical is spent in lecture halls, tutorial rooms, labs and looking for the cheap snacks on campus. The clinical years provide the ‘real life’ experience of medicine if you will, and give us the opportunity to hang out in the hospital pretty much all the time (save for a few tutorials and weekly lectures). It’s during the clinical years that people seem to put all the little bits of knowledge together, get a grip on the practical skills, and generally learn how to doctor. 

Let’s face it, the preclinical years of medical school- no matter where you go- rarely live up to the standard of the clinical years. To me, it makes total sense, it’s not until you hit the hospitals and/ or clinics full-time that you feel as though you’re a part of what you actually signed yourself up for. Even so, although I can’t say I miss it, preclinical definitely wasn’t all bad, if bad at all! So, here we are again to reflect upon the highs and the lows, the pros and the cons, the hits and the misses- and hopefully give you a taster of what you have to look forward to. 

Let’s start off with a couple of lows so we can end on a high! The not-so-good parts about my personal preclinical experience generally fit under the broad category of a sort of ‘small fish in a big pond’ syndrome. What do I mean by this? In essence, medical school is a different ball game to high school and, at least in the beginning, it can take a bit of getting used to. From what I’ve seen, heard and experienced a lot of us finished up our high school years having gotten into a good rhythm, we had an idea of how many hours of study was enough and the little techniques that worked for us. Then, suddenly, the carpet is pulled from under our feet and for a while there all the study tips that we honed so well didn’t seem to work anymore and we started receiving exam scores that were sorely disappointing. This is exacerbated by the fact that medical school tends to attract people who are very strong academically, and there is always someone who seems to be “way smarter and way more on top of it than me”. This same principal applies to everything in University really, the pool of people becomes larger, the competition more heated, and hence your exposure to rejection and disappointment is increased tenfold. Aside from this, the only distinctly unpleasant incident that I recall from my preclinical years was a situation in which a patient refused to have me in the room during their consultation. Truly, this was a no-big-deal incident and it has happened to me a few times since. In hindsight, patients do ultimately have their right to choose not to see us medical students. Plus, there will be many, many more who will kindly let you speak to them/ elicit their clinical signs/ take their blood the list goes on!  

In saying this, the most memorable moments of my first two years of medical school are, of course, all the best ones! Academically speaking, it was starting anatomy tutorials that captured my interest. Using the prosection specimens to visualize all the intricate puzzle pieces that constitute the human body and, ultimately, dissecting cadavers for myself was an experience that I had been looking forward to since the first day. It certainly didn’t disappoint! Then, there were the glimpses into moments of ‘real-doctoring’ on our first few clinical placements. These days at major tertiary hospitals (and the smaller rural ones), GP clinics or rehabilitation facilities were admittedly few and far between during my first two years, but certainly made for the most standout moments and always left me buzzing with excitement (as most days at the hospital still do now). Alongside this, there were the smaller victories. Simple things like being satisfied with how I performed on an OSCE (our practical exams which are notoriously more difficult to pass than our written exams), receiving credit for good work, or having a patient thank you for spending time with them that made for a few particularly joyous memories amongst the mediocrity of sitting in class after class. Then there were the co-curricular surgical workshops, and teddy bear hospitals and sock puppet-making with primary school children and a whirlwind of social events… need I even mention the friendships?

Medical school is a process, and though I find myself putting great emphasis on how incredible the clinical years have treated me (so far that is), the building-block years are equally as important. No matter how average or bland some days can be (there’s a limit as to how much you can enjoy a lecture, I know) set your sights on the end goal, and know that you only carry your greatest hits with you anyway.

If you’d like to follow all future articles that arise please LIKE the iCanMed Facebook page and feel free to send us a message if there’s a particular topic that you’d like to read about!

Why do YOU want to become a doctor?

If you’re considering going into medicine as a career, chances are you’ve been asked (probably about 100 times) “Why do you want to become a doctor?” by every relative, teacher, careers counsellor, friend and checkout-counter-lady-making-small-talk. I found it perplexing, particularly when nobody seems to default to the same line of questioning for my sister, who is an artist, or any of my friends, who are undertaking a commerce degree, that people are so fascinated with my reasoning behind going into medical school. In fact, on occasion it almost sounded like a trap, by which everyone was waiting to catch me out as someone who isn’t doing it for the right reasons, or worse yet, for me to admit I’m only studying medicine because my parents gave me a choice between that or law.  

This is a theme that recurred in my life time and time again particularly around interview season, and occasionally still comes to haunt me nowadays when I meet somebody new. And still, I struggled for far too long to express myself in a coherent way or shorten my rambling story into a digestible one-sentence response. Why did I really want to become a doctor, and why did everybody care so much to ask?

To set the record straight, I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up surrounded by a medically inclined family and, despite the Asian-as-they-come grandparents on both sides I was never even encouraged, let alone pushed, into becoming a doctor (nor a lawyer for that matter). Instead of plastic stethoscopes and syringes, I passed my afternoons snipping little scraps of fabric, drawing colourful shapes I called dresses or jumping around in ballet shoes.

It wasn’t until my more senior high school years that I realized what I really wanted was a job which allowed me to work with people, rather than sit at my computer; that I was not too shabby when it came to the sciences, but was never going to be better than passable at math, nor have the patience to read and write enormous chunks of text on an everyday basis. Somewhat simultaneously, I happened to fall into, and in captivation with, the social justice program at school and quickly decided that whatever I was going to do when I graduated had to allow me to continue on that trajectory. With a little assistance from google (see search history for “job that combines science and people” and/ or “social justice in science”), oh and my school careers counsellor, eventually all the dots connected and medicine became an option to consider for the first time in my life.

Considering the only exposure I’d had to real-life doctoring at this point was whatever they showed on channel seven, I then went in search of proof that saving peoples’ lives from some insane accident every day and dramatic love triangles is the reality of a doctor’s day to day practice. Doing this the only way I knew how, I took up two weeks of work experience at a hospital, where I understood nothing of the medicine itself but had the opportunity to grasp a small snapshot of the job and the lifestyle.

The point I’m trying to make is, eventually I came to realize the gravity the question, “why do you want to become a doctor?”, and when I sat down to think about the experiences that led me to the decision, I was suddenly far better at formulating an answer. The necessity of knowing ‘why’ was not for the sake of being able to give a smooth response to whomever I was making small talk with, or to be able to speak confidently in an interview, but because I owed it to myself to be sure that medicine was what I wanted before I started jumping through the hoops to get there.

Medicine is fascinating, dynamic and the more I experience the more I understand that it’s a privilege to work with patients. Still, it’s undoubtedly difficult work, and it seeks people who are wholeheartedly committed. It demands a lifetime of study/ learning/ CV building/ extra degrees/ research projects, can be physically and emotionally taxing and is a job that doesn’t lend particularly well to a good night’s sleep or weekends off. Believe me, if you asked an intern they’d say that I don’t even know the half of it!

Of course I don’t mean to turn you away from going after the dream, if you ask me being a doctor is probably the coolest job out there! Nevertheless, I do want to encourage you to seek an opportunity to understand what the job entails for yourself, and be firm in your personal whys as well as your ultimate goals. At the end of the day, it’s those reasons that tend to serve as your motivators when you have too many exams, or you’ve barely had enough sleep, or nothing is going right and it would be easier to give up and go a different path. 

So I guess the question I’m really asking here is, why do YOU want to become a doctor?

Want to read more about medical school in the upcoming weeks? Make sure to LIKE the iCanMed Facebook page for updates!

What to expect from your first week of medical school

My first day of medical school can be likened to the first day, of my first year of high school. My lab coat was as oversized as my school blazer (although I don't think I’ll be growing into it), the campus was far too large and I was on high alert trying to understand all my new classmates and how I fit in to the whole picture. Only this time I was well aware that a large chunk of these people were in the top 1% of academic genius high school graduates in the country.

 Intimidating as it all seemed, I jumped out of bed that first morning buzzing with enthusiasm for the next big turning point in my 17 year existence. On the bus ride to uni I tasked myself with creating a list of things I was likely to learn that first week, deciding in for myself that rationally we were going to have to cover a tiny bit of excruciatingly dry basic sciences, but surely we’d spend the large majority of our time learning procedural skills like IV cannulation and studying anatomy by cadaveric dissection! Of course, as reality would have it, I was instantly proven wrong and we started our dream course with a full day of the ten stages of the Krebs Cycle!

Prepared as I evidently was not, here are a few things I would have liked to know going in to my first week of medical school.

 1.     You have to learn to walk before you can run!

 Upon reflection I set my sights unrealistically high on the kinds of skills I would be acquiring and practicing as soon as I started at Uni. Maybe I spent too much time day-dreaming about being a character on Grey’s Anatomy over the summer; but I know a great deal of medical students, brimming with enthusiasm and expectation for their career as a doctor, experienced a similar reality check. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you wont be performing operations, or even taking patients’ blood, from day one. Instead, the days are filled with basic anatomy, physiology and a whole lot of biochemistry in the form of lectures and tutorials. It can be dry, and it’s common for students to question whether they made the right choice. However, if you’re anything like me small excitements like taking blood pressure manually and listening to an interesting patient’s story will tide you over until your clinical years- that’s when you really get to run.


2. Your university experience will be different

Everyone has heard about the negative aspects of the medical school experience; having twice as many compulsory classes as your high school friends, studying for an exam every six weeks and the sacrifices you have to make in your social life. Although I don't deny you’ll be in class, or studying in the library for a greater number of hours than the average first year university student, an outsider’s perception of the amount of work you have to put in can be deceiving. The fact is most weeks are more than manageable, and medical students have as much a propensity for parties as the next person. As a bonus, seeing your classmates regularly and constantly is a rarity at uni and makes med one of the easiest courses in which to make a group of close friends!


3. You might feel lost in the beginning

As with any big start in a new environment, medical school can be a bit of a shock to the system in the beginning. The little fish, big pond analogy becomes incredibly real when your lecturer begins shooting questions to the audience and other people are jumping to respond before you’ve understood what you’re being asked. A lot of people will tell you you’re amongst the “cream of the crop” or that they're impressed by how clever you are, and still you might feel as though you aren't quite sure whether you fit this pre-assumed mold. Though it certainly seems at the time that everybody else is adapting a lot more quickly than you, we’ve pretty much all been there and done that. There’s no harm in taking time to find your feet!


4. You will meet amazing people

After my first few days at the university, I came home totally elated that the people I had met were some of the most humble and easy-going despite their long list of accolades, and warning’s I had heard about cockiness or bullying. The culture of medicine is really one that fosters and rewards passing knowledge on to your colleagues. In the hospitals this means consultants actively teach and support their registrars, who pass do the same for their residents, who are looking after the interns- with everyone working towards best patient care! This whole concept of sharing information, and giving back by teaching trickles down into medical school and the older students are more than willing to volunteer their time to teach you. You’ll also have a unique opportunity to meet expert scientists and clinicians that are giants in their fields, and fellow likeminded peers who understand both your aspirations and struggles.


In my first week of medical school I discovered the exceptional boredom only biochemistry lectures can inflict upon you, the correct way to wear the earpieces of a stethoscope and how many minutes it took to run from the carpark to the classroom. I found role-models in my seniors and lifelong friends in my peers, I was introduced to the library that stayed open the latest (“for when exam time rolls around”) and which shop sold the cheapest snacks. Cheesy as it sounds, I experienced my first taste of the joy and true privilege of being in medicine, and remember that week as a great one.

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The Day I Received My Medical School Offer

Allow me to set the scene for you.

It’s the 18th of January 2016 and I’m visiting my grandparents in a not-very-well-known part of Indonesia where the weather is stifling and the internet connection is questionable at the best of times. I’m the first of many grandchildren to take an interest in medicine, much to my grandmother’s delight, and the whole household- aunties and cousins and family friends and dogs alike- all know that today is the day I find out whether or not I got into medical school. Whether I have failed or succeeded. Needless to say, my main objective of the morning is to stay in bed as long as humanly possible, where Wi-Fi is inaccessible and no university acceptance email could ever catch me. What you don’t know can’t hurt you right? Not really. The anticipation gnaws away at me like necrotizing fasciitis (Ha. Med joke!) and eventually I have to drag myself out of bed to face my inbox. I take my seat at the dining table and pretended not to notice how the whole family has congregated around the edges of the room to watch my reaction.

In hindsight, they must have been a little concerned at the number of times I refreshed the email in disbelief and how manically I clicked on the link that said ‘accept this offer’ before I even thought to turn around and announce my big news.

Now, a couple of years down the track, I can safely say that I reflect on the memory of that day- one all-important, life-changing, turning-point of a day- and say it was not nearly as dramatic as my anticipation of it might have suggested. Despite a tragic inward battle, a great deal of disbelief and serious concern that the university was going to retract their offer if I didn’t accept it as quickly as the struggling Wi-Fi signal would allow, I did manage to get in!

The moment I opened the email is actually a bit hazy in my memory. I put it down to the stress of it all, or maybe the fact that it was a literal dream come true. However, what I do remember with a great degree of clarity, is how my family members were not nearly as astonished as I had expected them to be. In fact, they smiled, and congratulated me, and said “I knew you could do it”. Yes, I realize that phrase is the most standard of standard responses in the context of praising someone for an achievement. Nevertheless, reflecting on the memory makes me wonder- why is it that I was so certain I wouldn’t get in? Sure, there’s an extent to which it is natural to be nervous about an important decision that is out of your hands, but why, in this situation, did I have more doubt about my ability to succeed than anybody else?

The unfortunate truth is, somewhere along the lines someone told me that only the kid who’d been learning anatomy from their surgeon parents since they were ten, or the guy who started private UMAT tutoring in year nine, or the school captain, sports-star, perfect ATAR model student was going to get into medical school. What’s worse? I totally believed it, and I get the impression that there are plenty of current high school students who are full of potential (yes, all of you guys) that will believe it too.

Now, please don’t take my message the wrong way. I don’t mean to say that the process is going to be easy, that you shouldn’t study or don’t need to work hard. Nor is this a platform on which to brag and put down anyone that may have missed out on their offer the first time around. But, what I am here to do is set the record straight once and for all and say- medical students are not that special!

I consider it a blessing that I went on to put a great deal of effort towards getting into my dream course, despite feeling so uncertain about the outcome. But there are still far too many students who I have conversed with about medical school entry that are where I was two or three years ago. Students who begin half their sentences with “I know I’m probably not smart enough” or “other people are already way ahead of me” or even “I don’t come from the right demographic, I’m not at a private school or a selective school” when, realistically, a great deal of them are more than capable. I hate to think that some of these students may go on to give up their dream because somebody painted them a false picture, and told them they would never be able to achieve it. So please allow me to be the opposing voice and say that truly, it is possible and you have what it takes.

The bottom line is, if you truly want to get into medical school give it everything you’ve got! Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about how other people are more equipped than you are and take yourself out of the race before you’ve even started running. Prepare thoroughly, give yourself as much control over the process as possible, and go into the university acceptance period with confidence that you’ve given it your best shot. Above what everybody else has to say, putting yourself in the game is the first step to reaching that end goal!

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Everything You Need To Gain Acceptance into Medical School

Five Alarm Bells To Know When To Avoid A UMAT Preparation Course

Selecting the wrong UMAT preparation course could not only shatter your chances of scoring well in the UMAT but also waste significant time, effort and money. It’s always astounding and upsetting to see the sheer number of students being continually left behind by poorly-designed courses that simply don’t work. In fact, most UMAT courses over-complicate the preparation process and never teach students the fundamental skills required to succeed, even at the cost of $800 to $3000 per course. 

This article will take the chance to uncover the most common (and most worrying!) flaws that will not only prevent the development of essential skills for achieving top marks in the UMAT but in some cases actually can more cause harm than good. The list is created with a combination of best practice education design in mind (so that students improve their test-taking skills as intended) and the feedback from the thousands of messages I’ve received from students. Many students have contacted me via email and Facebook about the issues they have encountered with the preparation advice and courses they’ve undertaken.

Flaw #1: No teaching 

Most, if not all, UMAT coaching providers stress the importance of practice and therefore provide ‘courses’ in the form of extensive question banks for students to practice and develop their skills via repetition. While this sounds great and all (don’t get me wrong, I agree that practice plays a huge part in getting ready for UMAT), the question remains: how can someone get good at something through simple repetition when they were never taught how to do something correctly, to begin with? 

Here is another example:You are not doing particularly well in math and therefore decide to get a math tutor to improve your ability to solve math questions. Instead of teaching you how to solve math questions in a step by step manner (and hopefully in a way that helps you realise why you were committing previous mistakes) the tutor gives you five past exams about the very math topic you are struggling with. Then the tutor proceeds to tell you to do them - without any further knowledge and skill about the topic than you already have. Don’t only would you develop extremely slowly (if at all!), the process will take an extremely long time. Also, why would you pay for a service that is not designed to help you improve?

I’ve come across many UMAT coaches and courses that offer to teach - however, not only is the teaching generic and highly-subjective, meaning that you can’t apply the same technique even to similar questions to get the same correct answer. I have even heard of places that recommend students to find their ways in answering UMAT questions. Imagine going to a math tutor only to be given questions you don’t know how to do and be told that you should just try and find your way of answering questions. To me, it not only sounds like the tutor doesn’t know the subject well enough but frankly doesn’t understand how to help students either. 

Like math, you need to understand exactly the skills you need to solve UMAT questions to do well in it. Correct teaching not only helps clarify exactly what a student should or shouldn’t do but also helps students much more quickly and comprehensively in establishing a rock solid understanding of the nature of UMAT questions with the appropriate techniques in mind. Unless you are interested in wasting time and becoming frustrated over why you are not able to improve your marks in UMAT after repeated practice, then make sure your course offers to teach. Make sure their teaching is not ‘just okay’ or general, make sure the teaching is so specific that you are left crystal clear as to what is expected of you to overcome the obstacles each question presents. 

Flaw #2: Practice questions without answers and explanations

Now because you’ve understood the importance of high-quality teaching when it comes to selecting the best UMAT course, it is also very important for a course to remind you of the teaching for reinforcement as you apply them to sample questions. Over the last month, I have seen so many questions posted on the iCanMed Facebook group from students looking for help answering or understanding of the approach due to the questions not coming with answers or explanations, at almost a rate of one question per hour. Let me remind the readers of why a student would invest time, effort and money in a course, the answer - to improve whatever skills required to increase the chances of scoring well in the UMAT. 

Not only do a lot of tutors and courses not offer teaching to start with, most of the same tutors and courses don’t offer explanations to questions either. So, how would a student know whether he/she is doing the question correctly and know what they should be improving on? Without the combination of teaching and aligned question explanations student can’t even learn from their mistakes. Students are left without any idea of what they did wrong and continue to try various and often unverified ways to answer questions. Again another serious flaw to consider when looking for the right course, unless you are interested you are interested in spending more money to find another private tutor or submit your questions onto forums for other equally inexperienced students to help you out with answering questions. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. 

Flaw #3: Inconsistent, high-subjective and incorrect recommendations  

UMAT assesses logical reasoning and critical thinking. Logical reasoning is a skill where someone uses their objective interpreting and understanding of observable evidence as a basis for making a sound decision. Critical thinking describes the black and white mannerism in which a person thinks as they are undertaking logical reasoning. In short, to do well in UMAT, the student needs first to be able to systematically ‘work out’ a question by applying the same critical attention and disciplined ability to interpret information in an unbiased and non-assumptive manner. These skills are the kind of things you would like your doctor and dentist to have, opposed to one who makes decisions based on assumptions and carries out procedures via emotionally-fuelled decisions. 

Again, there are many tutors and offer ‘advice’, ‘explanations’ and ‘strategies’ that do not align with the basic skills assessed by UMAT. A good example is advice often given to students about how they should be answering section 2 questions. Section 2 is titled ‘understanding people’ which is, in fact, your ability to find relevant evidence in the text that suggests a person’s emotions. For argument sake, if you read a passage where the character is crying in an inconsolable manner, you can safely and objectively interpret the character as extremely upset. However, a prominent way in which section 2 questions should be answered is to in fact take away the focus from the character and the passage but rather focus on how you, the candidate, would feel if YOU were in the same circumstance as the character.  This is the advice I’ve heard for numerous years which is one that not only does not align with what UMAT assesses but is one that can easily cause more harm than damage. The strategy, in essence, tells you to disregard the descriptions about the character in the passage and instead impose your personality onto the character. It is saying that you should impose your personality on anyone you meet, (e.g. friends, family, patients, strangers) and assume everyone feels and thinks like you. 

I am certain for you to be able to empathise well with others, you do not make this assumption but rather be critical in looking for information and objectively interpreting it for you to decide the emotion state of another human being. If you find that the recommendations offered by the tutor or course are very subjective and inconsistent, the chances are that their recommendations won’t be the ones you need to consistently answer UMAT questions correctly. 

Flaw #4: Poorly written and outdated questions 

I’ve been recently inundated with questions from students, especially those wanting me to look at concerns they had over free trial exams offered by several UMAT companies. Some of the questions were well constructed while others only distantly resembled UMAT questions at best. 

Poorly written question type #1 - MATH questions not UMAT questions

There are always questions written that required more than basic arithmetic to answer that seemed to be more of a math question from a year 11 curriculum than UMAT. According to ACER, ‘[UMAT] is not curriculum-based and presupposes no particular subjects at secondary level.  UMAT does not require any knowledge or skills in mathematics or sciences, or in any other area of the curriculum.  It is designed to complement your academic results, not to replicate them’. 

Poorly written question type #2 - Excessively difficult UMAT questions

There are frequent examples of UMAT questions that have been written to be excessively difficult compared to the actual exam. Key examples of this include convoluted questions after the main passage that are tricky to comprehend and stimulus passages that contain far too many variables or conditions in a typical UMAT question. For many students, doing easier questions is much easier to learn from and reinforce taught techniques, where questions that are made to be overly complex and not representative of UMAT questions could cause serious confidence issues and preparation confusion. 

Poorly written question type #3 - Outdated questions 

The best indication of the question styles in upcoming UMAT exams can be found in the free ACER trial exam you receive upon registering to sit the UMAT. ACER (writers of UMAT) tend to evolve questions year after year to update the appropriateness of the questions to asses what they intend to assess with UMAT (i.e. logical reasoning and critical thinking). This means typically speaking, once questions are removed from the UMAT, there is a very low chance (or no chance at all) that the same question types will re-emerge. So the best way to verify whether the questions you are doing will be constructive towards your preparation, compare them to the ones found in ACER’s trial exams. 

Number #5 Flaw: No Help When Needed

It is widely understood and accepted that everyone learns differently. Whether it may be the way you prefer to acquire information via live teaching or self-discovery or you prefer to learn things in giant chunks or easily digestible lessons, you need to make sure the course you choose has a feature to accommodate to your learning style. After what use is it when all the information is front of you, but you have difficulty understanding it?

Also as experience tells me, the last month before the UMAT is always the most hectic when it comes to students desperately seeking for answers to their learning woes. So, what does your ideal course need to include? It needs to include a support system that offers personalised feedback anytime to help you use your time to develop all necessary skills effectively and efficiently. Whether you are planning to finish UMAT preparation before the academic year starts or have urgent questions the day before the UMAT exam, the last thing you want is to receive no response from the course provider about your issue. Having additional support is never as important as the time you need it the most. 

Practice Question Set 1

A group of primary school students go on an excursion to the zoo. Their teacher allows them to explore the zoo on their own, but only as long as they follow these restrictions:

1.       They must visit all 6 of the zoo’s exhibits (tigers, giraffes, elephants, zebras, turtles and emus) exactly once

2.       They must visit the elephants sometime before the tigers but after the giraffes

3.       After visiting one exhibit, they cannot next visit another exhibit starting with the same letter as the previous exhibit

4.       Tigers cannot be the last exhibit they visit

5.       They must visit the zebras immediately before or after the giraffes


Q1. How many different orders are there in which the students can visit the exhibits?

a)      Three

b)     Four

c)      Five

d)     Six


Q2. If a student visits the elephant third, each of the following could be true EXCEPT

a)      They visit the zebra first

b)     They visit the turtle fifth

c)      They visit the tiger fourth

d)     They visit the giraffe second


Q3 Find the Missing

1 3.png


Q4 Find the Middle

1 4.png


The following passage is taken from a novel. Lori is a busy wife, mother and community volunteer. Her father-in-law is preparing to marry Amelia, and therefore both Lori and her husband Bill are busy with the wedding arrangements. Bill’s aunts Honoria and Charlotte (the ‘Harpies’) also offer to help out. In this passage, Bill and Lori discuss the wedding plans.


‘If the  Harpies are rude to you,’ he declared, ‘I’ll strangle them.’

‘I should  hope so,’ I said lightly, but one glance at my husband’s thunderous  expression told me that he was not in the mood for levity. ‘What brought your  aunts to mind?’

‘A phone  call from Father,’ he replied. ‘Honoria and Charlotte will be arriving at  Fairworth House on Monday.’

‘Monday?’ I  said, my heart sinking. ‘Why so soon?’

‘They say they’re coming early to help  Amelia with the wedding, but you and I know they’ll do nothing but nitpick  and nag.’ Bill laughed bitterly. ‘I wouldn’t put it past them to spend the  next three weeks trying to talk Father out of marrying Amelia.’

‘Fat  chance,’ I said scornfully.

‘“An artist in the family,’” said Bill,  mimicking Honoria’s penetrating nasal drawl. ‘“What on earth were you thinking, William? We could understand  it if she dabbled. Everyone dabbles. But she sells her paintings. For money.  My dear, it simply isn’t done!”’

‘They  wouldn’t be stupid enough to talk like that in front of your father, would  they?’ I asked incredulously.

‘I almost  wish they would,’ said Bill. ‘It’d be a treat to watch Father kick them out  of Fairworth.’

‘If they  spout off about Amelia, he will,’ I said. ‘And they won’t be able to stay  with us because we don’t have a guest room anymore.’


(Extract taken from Aunt Dimity and the Summer King by Nancy Atherton, p4-5)


Q5. What does Bill think of Aunt Honoria and Aunt Charlotte?

a)      He thinks they are afraid that the wedding will go badly

b)     He respects their concerns, but doesn’t like the way they express them to others

c)      He dislikes their critical comments and unkind treatment of others

d)     He thinks that they are stupid for not realising that Amelia loves his father


Q6. In the middle of the passage, Lori is feeling

a)      Disbelieving

b)     Furious

c)      Amused

d)     Shocked


Video Solutions

Question 1 & 2 solutions below:


Question 3 solution below:


Question 4 solution below:


Question 5 & 6 solution below:

Am I Committing The Biggest UMAT Preparation Mistake

#1 Mistake in UMAT Preparation – Practising large numbers of questions (e.g. drills, exams, quizzes) too early or as the only approach, or both!

If you have been preparing for UMAT over the last couple of months or know someone is preparing for it, you might have heard the following about how they feel about attempting UMAT questions:

·         “No matter how many questions I do, I never seem completely get it.”

·         “Getting UMAT questions correct seems to be more to do with a ‘best guess’ more than anything else.”

·         “I am okay in one section, but I struggle badly in the other two.”

·         “I have been doing exam paper after exam paper, but I still have no idea how well I will do in the UMAT.”

·         “One day I get almost every practice question right, and on another day, I only get half of them correct. What’s happening!!”

·         “Sometimes I get questions right, and sometimes I get the similar questions completely wrong.”

·         “I’ve spent so much time and effort practising questions, but I have no idea if I am getting better.”

If you have heard any of the above from friends or have experienced something comparable in your preparation, then the most likely reason is that of what you did (and didn’t do) during your preparation.

When I get any of the above responses I usually ask the student two things:

Question 1: “Tell you about your preparation strategy.”

Of every 100 students, I ask this question, 99 would tell me ‘well, I got some questions from my friends, found some online and bought exam papers and drills and I just started doing them”. I would follow it up with the next question.

Question 2: “So, if I was to give you a random UMAT question right now to do, would you be able to confidently explain to me how you would answer it in step by step manner?”

Of the 99 students, I ask this question, 99 of them would respond “not really?”.

ISSUE: BINGO! Majority of students jump into practising tonnes of questions without even having learnt how they are supposed to answer them. 

Remember the time you went into a math test having completely forgotten or massively under-studied for it? Or, you missed a few days of school and went into class only to be given math questions to practice? Not only would you have ZERO ideas of how to do the questions, you know at the back of your head that unless you went back to learn the techniques and workings in solving the questions properly, but there is also NO CHANCE of you getting better at any of this. So, why would you put yourself in the same position of jumping into practising UMAT questions without first knowing how to do them?

UMAT is a test that assesses the logical reasoning ability (i.e. skill) of a person. The way to learn any skill well is to be first shown what that skill looks like at its optimal level of performance, that is, the perfect version of it. Only then would you know what to strive towards and mimic what needs to be done for you to be as skilful as demonstrated.


Instead of jumping into a sea of practice questions and exams, ask yourself this question, ‘do I even know how I am supposed to answer UMAT questions?’ if the answer is an honest ‘no’, you need to follow the following steps:

1.       Learn the techniques – be shown how to do UMAT questions! As obvious and simple as it sounds, this is the step 99% of students don’t do.


Like a good math teacher would teach you how to dissect and answer a math question, you also need to be shown how to dissect and answer a UMAT questions. To access some teaching, click to learn some techniques to solving section 1section 2 and section 3 questions. Do not rush this step. I like to say, take this step slow and make sure you understand everything before you move on to the following steps. The step is honestly the make or breaks step for your chance of ever getting accepted into medicine.

How would you expect to perform well in a test when you don’t even know how to do questions in the first place!!


2.       Apply the techniques – knowing the techniques is completely different to using them. Apply the techniques to some simple questions to start getting used to them yourself

After that much-needed lesson in step 1 above, it’s time to attempt a few questions. Hold your horses, however; it’s not quite the time for you to dive into billions of questions just yet. Pick a few questions that look like the one you’ve just learnt the technique to solve (why would you pick anything else anyway? Why would you learn how to do algebra and then practice your technique on calculus questions? Confusing…). This step is vital as it allows you to try out the technique and discover a few very interesting things…which leads to step 3! Try applying techniques via the following links:

  • Practice Question Set 1: HERE

  • Practice Question Set 2: HERE

  • Practice Question Set 3: HERE

  • Practice Question Set 4: HERE

  • Practice Question Set 5: HERE

  • Practice Question Set 6: HERE

  • Practice Question Set 7: HERE

3.       Find your weaknesses! – After attempting a few questions, you will probably very quickly realise you are not as competent as you thought you were. No worries! This step takes care of that.

Compared to most students who did not complete step 1 and 2, you are at a much better place. Here is why. Without having first learnt a systematic method to figuring out questions, these students can only feel bad about getting questions wrong. Period. By not having a reference approach, students will not and cannot identify why they got the question wrong. Why? Because there was no reference approach to start with!  It’s like baking a cake without ever knowing the ingredients, recipe or even what a cake is supposed to look like. You, on the other hand, can easily pinpoint what part of the process you were particularly weak in. Make a list of your weaknesses and…

4.       Fix up your weaknesses and become great! – how you have a list that needs to be fixed, then all you need to do is to fix them. Easy! (hint: the earlier you do this in the year, the more time you have to fix it up – think about that all year 11s 😉)

You may want to go back to step 1 and review the teacher again. Maybe you forgot what to do, or maybe things aren’t as solid as you would like them to be. It is also a very good time to get some professional help. By the way, the only type of professional help you should get is the type that can teach you the techniques and fix your specific weaknesses.

If you are still reading this article, it means you are taking UMAT seriously and finding this article helpful. In that case, you need to take my advice when finding professional help to be as CRITICAL as possible when finding the right course and tutor to help you achieve greatness in UMAT. I have ever in my ten years come across maybe two other tutors who know enough about UMAT to give you this kind of preparation.

Most of the students I get come from all the other types of tutors and courses that profess the importance of doing endless practice tests and practice questions alone with no teaching whatsoever, and guess why they are still asking for help? The answer is simple; they still don’t know what they are doing.

If you are interested in getting the best head start on UMAT preparation or looking to salvage your prep with a week remaining until the big day, here is what you can do:

1.       Enrol in our free online course and learn the same way we’ve just described. iCanMed’s free online course contains 13 lessons (around 5% the content of the full paid version) to help you master ‘rules’ type questions, a section 1 type question commonly found in recent UMAT exams. Click HERE

2.       Read why the iCanMed course stands alone as the most complete and supportive course available WITHOUT the massive time commitment and hardship of going through countless questions. A comparison is due! HERE it is.


3.       Join our Facebook group and LIKE our Facebook page! Our coaches are available daily to help answer any questions and regularly post advice on the ‘UMAT Discussion Space 2017’. For our page, search iCanMed on Facebook and ‘LIKE’ to receive notifications of upcoming free workshops, articles and giveaways 😊


4.       Talk to us. If you want to cut the queue and talk to me directly, just do so. You can email me on or give me a buzz on 0481557933. I am always happy to chat and look forward to getting to know you to recommend how you can get prepared the best way possible!