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!