For many, UMAT is the one test that stands in the way between them and a career in medicine. Every year there are students who achieve great academic success or have the personality and passion for doing fantastically in an interview, only for being denied the opportunity due to a subpar UMAT result. As a result, the difficulty of the UMAT test has reached new found heights of a seemingly impossible test that requires more luck to do well in than anything else on the big day. Before you get sucked into all the stories about how you are either born with the skills to do well in UMAT or that UMAT is unpreparable, let’s have a look at what UMAT assesses. Not only will you soon realise the ability to do well in UMAT isn’t some ‘God-given’ talent but rather skills that you already possess which can be easily adapted to answer UMAT questions quickly and accurately.
1. What does the UMAT assess?
Firstly, UMAT assesses the student’s ability to logically reason. So, what is logical reasoning?
If you break it down, the word ‘reasoning’ is understood as the action of thinking where a conclusion or opinion is reached based on the existence of justification. In simple words, ‘reasoning’ is what a person does when they want to make sure their decision is the most appropriate decision they can make, that is by finding information (let’s call it ‘evidence’) to justify their point of view. Logically reasoning occurs as a person thinks systematically by taking into consideration of all relevant information and its inferred meaning to make a sound decision.
Everyone knows how to logically reason!
An easy example to explain logical reasoning is a decision everyone makes every morning, ‘what am I going to wear today?’. As you open the door to your wardrobe, immediate questions come to your mind, ‘what am I doing today?’, ‘who am I going to meet?’, ‘what’s the weather going to be like?’. All these questions appear as your way of logically reasoning, and in this case to pick the most appropriate clothing for what the day entails. On the flipside, if none or only some of these questions were asked, and relevant information not considered as part of the decision-making process, there is a big chance your choice of clothing will end up letting you down somewhere during the day. I think you get the point.
How doctors use logical reasoning
In the same way, doctors use logical reasoning on a day to day basis, that is when diagnosing and treating patients. For doctors to make appropriate decisions about what illness the patient is suffering from and the best type of treatment regimen to recommend, he or she will need to go through this same logical reasoning process. Doctors are critical about asking the kind of questions that will give them the information they need to base their judgement on. Sounds familiar?
The secret UMAT is trying to find in students
UMAT, being an aptitude test that assesses the natural ability or tendency of someone to logically reason, is crucial for selecting ideal candidates for medicine. The higher you score in the UMAT, the better you are at logical reasoning. It’s that simple. Now we all know what skill is required to do well in UMAT and it’s something that everybody has and have had for a long time, it’s time to dive a little deeper to understand exactly how we are supposed to apply our logical reasoning skills in the test.
Let’s ask us this question, have we become better at logical reasoning when making decisions compared to our 5-years old selves? The answer is a big yes! So not only do we already have the skill UMAT is looking for, but we can also become better at doing it. But, how do we get better at logically reasoning for answering UMAT questions?
2. How to get better at answering UMAT questions
Logical reasoning is a skill. A skill is an action involving a series of steps with the purpose of obtaining an ideal outcome. In the case of UMAT, all you need to learn are the exact steps to answer questions in a correct and timely manner. To help you understand, iCanMed has created an entire resource bank of videos dedicated to teaching you the exact steps (i.e. techniques) to solve UMAT questions. You can view the logical reasoning skills for answering questions found in:
· Section 1 HERE
· Section 2 HERE
· Section 3 HERE
The result of great UMAT preparation lies in your ability to apply logical reasoning in unique ways to solve a variety of questions. For you to do so, you must follow the below stages in preparation. Also, please do not move onto the next stage before you’ve thoroughly mastered the current.
Stage 1: Learn the techniques - learning the techniques first and foremost gives you an exemplary reference as for how you should be answering questions. Learning the techniques ensures you remove any confusion and start preparing the correct way from the get to go.
Stage 2: Apply the techniques – once the technique is learned, it’s time to use it yourself. Find a question that can be solved by the technique taught in step 1. Use the technique and find yourself gradually becoming more familiar with how it solves questions. Pay extra attention to the function of each step to solving the question.
Stage 3: Find your weaknesses through self-reflection – paying critical attention in step 2 will pay its dues by helping you identify the type of mistakes you are likely to make EARLY on in your preparation. Knowing these mistakes is crucial for customising your preparation to what YOU need.
Stage 4: Fix up your weaknesses to refine your approach – the only thing left to do is to fix up your weaknesses and improve. You can start asking specific questions to the pros to find solutions to the issues you are experiencing. Preparing for UMAT in this way not only helps target personal problem areas but helps you develop the skills in a quick and logical manner.
Take home message:
UMAT is, in fact, a test that everyone can do brilliantly in where it all takes is a dedicated student and a very smart preparation strategy. Be prepared to learn and conquer UMAT the easy way by checking the rest of our resources page for more practice questions, tips and proven strategies.