Don’t let your hard work go to waste by not utilising some simple test-taking strategies that are laid out in this guide. The UMAT is a 3 hour exam plus an additional 10 minutes reading time. This may seem like a long time but it goes by extremely quickly on the day. There are 134 questions that needs to be done within that time, which means you only have an average of about 80 seconds for every question. 80 seconds is not a lot for each question. Sometimes it may only take you 20 seconds to do a question, but I’m sure everyone has spent 20 minutes on a question before without finding the correct answer. Having enough time becomes a huge hurdle when doing the UMAT test.
It also doesn’t help that UMAT is only once a year and if you don’t do well in the UMAT, it means that you won’t be able to enter your medicine course and you will have to wait for one whole year before you can take the test again. Many students have expressed their worry about time-management so we have come up with this guide to optimise your time in the exam and to make your preparation less daunting.
How to Use the 10 Minutes Reading Time
The 10 minutes reading time occurs before the 3 hours begin and it is intended for you to ensure that you do not have a badly printed booklet. The exam facilitators will ask you to use this time to check every page to ensure that you are not missing any pages or that there are no obvious misprints. I have never heard of anyone receiving a misprinted book before, if it does happen, it will be very rare. During reading time you are not allowed to write using anything and also you are not allowed to leave any fingernail markings on the pages. Reading time is already the beginning of the exam.
We recommend that you simply begin doing the UMAT exam. If you find that there is an error in the booklet, you can always ask for a new booklet later while still doing the exam. Since you can’t write down any working, it is probably best to begin by doing the easier section 3: non-verbal reasoning questions. The questions from each section are in a jumbled ordered just like in the practice exam ACER gives you so you might have to flip a few pages to see section 3 questions. Don’t waste time in reading time by simply reading and not thinking, use that extra 10 minutes to help you complete the UMAT exam.
Do Not Get Stuck on a Single Question
A simple piece of advice you may have heard before: If you get stuck, skip to the next question. Every year we always hear of students getting a bad UMAT score because they spent 20 to 30minutes on a single question and ran out of time. So how much time should you spend on a question?
Doing 134 questions in 3 hours requires roughly 80seconds for each question, so if you’re stuck on a question and 80seconds it up, it would be wise to skip questions. Some question premises are longer because they have 3 or 4 questions associated with that premise. In these cases it’s ok to spend a bit more time to understand the premise because it is usually a lot quicker answering the second, third and fourth questions after you have understood how to answer the first question.
Ideally, you want to answer all the questions that require under 80seconds to do first, before devoting more time in answering the more difficult questions. This ensures that you are able to get the most number of questions correct before running out of time. The worst thing that can happen is running out of time before having the chance to do all those questions that you are able to do quickly.
Don’t sit the UMAT like your ATAR/University exams
Obtaining a good UMAT score requires you to score well in all 3 sections. We have to ensure that we complete a sufficient number of questions in all 3 sections. If it was a normal test or exam like in ATAR, it would make sense to do questions from the start till the finish in that order. However UMAT is different, it is unlikely that you will have enough time to do all the questions properly and also we don’t know how many marks are associated with each respective question. So as a test-taker, our goal is simply to get as many questions correct in each of the three sections, knowing that we won’t have enough time to finish.
We do not recommend doing the test in numerical order (question 1 through to 134). Questions from each sections are in a jumbled order, so you will be constantly switching between section 1, 2 and 3 questions. This switching in mindset to do different section questions takes a bit of time, and generally people work faster if they just concentrate on one section first before moving to the next section.
The Order in Which You Should Do UMAT Questions in the Exam
This is our recommendation on the order in doing the UMAT test. Note that it is only a generalised recommendation and that if you have a personal preference, which differs from our approach, it might be a better to use an approach that suits you. On test day, It is up to you to specifically decide how you want to take the test.
We recommend that you do section 3 first, then section 2 and lastly section 1. (Some people may prefer to do section 2 first, then section 3 and lastly section 1). The importance is that you save section 1 for later. Also, do not do the questions from each section in numerical order, particularly from section 1 and 3. If people get stuck and spend a lot of time on a question, it is usually a section 1 or section 3 question. Always start with the questions that you find are easier or quicker to do, and leave the harder looking questions for later.
We begin with section 3 because we can start doing section 3 questions during reading time. On your first work-through, skip all the hard-looking questions and do all the easy to moderate questions. This should take you about 40 minutes.
Next is section 2 because time is managed a lot better this section. Due to the nature of the questions, you don’t really get stuck doing section 2 questions. If you use the strategies given by iCanMed for section 2 (links below), you will find that it should take about 1 hour to do all section 2 questions.
Now to start section 1 questions, similar to section 3, skip all the hard-looking questions and do all the easy to moderate ones first. Your goal is to never waste time being stuck on a question. Spend a solid hour on section 1.
Now there is 30mins left to do the harder questions from section 1 or 3. There shouldn’t be many section 3 questions remaining, try to finish those as quickly as you can, hopefully in 10minutes. Spend at least the last 20minutes finishing section 1. This method ensures that you have answered as many questions as possible, because you have done all the easy questions and left the hard ones for later. Some may think it is a waste of time flipping pages and skipping questions, but getting more questions done rather than wasting time being stuck on a question is much more time efficient and maximises you UMAT score.
In the last couple of minutes, make sure that you have answered all the questions because UMAT does not penalise wrong answers so take a guess at any questions you may have remaining. You have a 20-25% of getting them right as oppose to leaving them blank.
Getting Faster at Doing Questions
Over 90% of the people taking the UMAT do not properly finish all the questions in the exam. The exam is designed to be very long and have this result. So many people are looking for ways to improve their speed in doing UMAT questions.
At the beginning of UMAT preparation, questions take quite a long time to do. Even after learning the strategies and techniques in tackling questions, it will take some time before getting faster at doing the questions. There is no shortcut or magical tip in increasing the speed in doing UMAT questions. Becoming more familiar with the different ways to tackle each question type is a slow process, similar to learning a musical instrument. These are skills that take time to refine.
Time is an issue for us all. Hopefully by following this guide, you have a more structured way in tackling the exam to ensure you gain your highest mark possible within those 3 hours and 10 minutes. Do see the links below on strategies in tackling each of the sections. Be sure you learn the strategies first before doing a lot of practice questions to make full use of your preparation time before the exam.