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!


Beating The Timer In The UMAT Exam

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.

Practice Question Set 7

Question 1 Sali surveyed 50 teenagers in Bolton High School to see whether or not they had the following hobbies. Some of the responses were placed in the diagram below, the larger the outer circle, the greater the number of teenagers surveyed who regularly practised that hobby.

7 1.PNG

Diagram is to scale.

The diagram suggests that

A.      Computer games was the most common hobby among the people surveyed

B.      In Bolton High School, teenagers surveyed prefer drawing over collecting stamps

C.       At least some of the people surveyed regularly practised both computer games and going to restaurants

D.      Only a minority of the people surveyed regularly practised cooking as a hobby


Question 2

Find the Next Image that logically completes the sequence. 

7 2.png


The following passage is from a short story. Earlier in the day, Hughie visited his friend Trevor, who was painting a beggar at the time. While Trevor was out of the room, Hughie impulsively gave the beggar some coins. In this passage, Hughie finds out the beggar’s real identity.

‘You told  that old beggar all my private affairs?’ cried Hughie, looking very red and  angry.

‘My dear  boy,’ said Trevor, smiling, ‘that old beggar, as you call him, is one of the  richest men in Europe. He could buy all London to-morrow without overdrawing  his account. He has a house in every capital, dines off gold plate, and can  prevent Russia going to war when he chooses.’

‘What on  earth do you mean?’ exclaimed Hughie.

‘What I say,’  said Trevor. ‘The old man you saw to-day in the studio was Baron Hausberg. He  is a great friend of mine, buys all my pictures and that sort of thing, and  gave me a commission a month ago to paint him as a beggar. Que voulez-vous? La fantaisie d’un  millionaire! And I must say he made a magnificent figure in his rags, or  perhaps I should say in my rags; they are an old suit I got in Spain.’

‘Baron  Hausberg!’ cried Hughie. ‘Good heavens! I gave him a sovereign1!’  and he sank into an armchair the picture of dismay.

‘Gave him a  sovereign!’ shouted Trevor, and he burst into a roar of laughter. ‘My dear boy,  you’ll never see it again. Son affaire  c’est l’argent des autres.’

‍one sovereign: a British gold coin

(Extract taken from The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde)


Question 3

‘Good heavens! I gave him a sovereign!’

After finding out the truth, Hughie’s reaction suggests that

A.      He is upset that he wasted his sovereign on a rich man

B.      He is embarrassed that he misjudged the Baron’s identity

C.       He does not believe what Trevor has told him

D.      He feels that he shouldn’t have given the beggar such a generous donation


Question 4

Why does Trevor laugh at the end of the passage?

A.      He thinks that it was ridiculous for Hughie to give the Baron a sovereign

B.      He is mocking at Hughie’s misfortune in losing a sovereign

C.       He thinks that Hughie’s generosity is a laughable trait

D.      He is delighted by Hughie’s kind nature


Question 5

Find the middle of the sequence. 


‍Video Solutions

Question 1 solution below:

Question 2 solution below:

Question 3 solution below:


Question 4 solution below:


Question 5 solution below:



Practice Question Set 6

Question 1

A substitute teacher keeps a record of the classes she has taught during 2010.

This table suggests that:

A.      The highest average compensation received was $24 per class

B.      The substitute teacher would have received more compensation if she had taught more Chemistry classes instead of Mathematics classes

C.       The substitute teacher received $18 or more in compensation per class for at least three English classes

D.      None of the above can be confirmed by the table.


Question 2 Find the missing.

Question 3 Find the middle of the sequence.

6 3.png



The following passage is taken from a novel. Jim Saddler, Ashley Crowther and Imogen Harcourt all live on the Queensland coast. Ashley hires Jim to observe and record the activities of the bird life on his property. One day, while watching a sandpiper, Jim notices a middle-aged woman taking photographs of the bird. In this passage, he visits her to ask about the photograph.

‘Anyone home?’ he called.

There was a voice from somewhere within, but so far  off that it seemed to be replying from the depths of a house several times  larger than this one, a deep hallway leading to cool, richly furnished rooms.

‘Who is it?’ An English voice.

‘Me,’ he replied foolishly, as a child would; then  added in a deeper voice, ‘Jim Saddler. I work for Mr Crowther.’

‘Come on in,’ the voice invited, ‘I’ll be with you  in just a moment. I’m in the dark-room.’

He stepped across a broken board, pushed the door  and went in. It was clean enough, the kitchen, but bare: a scrubbed table and  one chair, cups on hooks, a wood stove in a corrugated iron alcove.  Wood-chunks, newspapers, a coloured calendar.

‘I can’t come for a bit,’ the voice called. ‘Take a  seat.’

He examined the calendar. Pictures of English  countryside. Turning the leaves back to January, then forward again through  the year. Minutes passed.

‘There!’ she said, and come out pinning a little  gold watch to the tucked bodice of her blouse. She was a big, round-faced  woman, and the grey curls now that he saw them without the bonnet looked  woollen, they might have been a wig.

‘Jim Saddler,’ he said again, rising.

She offered her hand, which was still damp where she  had just dried it, and they shook. Her handshake, he thought, was firmer than  his. At least, it was to begin with.

‘Imogen Harcourt. Would you like tea?’

‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘if it’s no trouble.’

He wondered about the one chair.

‘I’ve come about that sandpiper,’ he said straight  out. ‘I seen you taking a picture of it.’

‘Did you?’

‘Yes I did. I work for Ashley Crowther, Mister Crowther, I’m his bird man. I  keep lists – ’ He was shy of making too much of it and made too little. He  could never bring himself to say the word that might have properly explained.

‘I know,’ she admitted, swinging back to face him  with the filled kettle in her hand. ‘I’ve seen you. I saw you yesterday.’

‘Did you?’ he said foolishly, not being used to  that; to being seen. ‘Well then,’  he said, ‘we’re more or less on terms.’

She laughed. ‘More or less. Do you take milk?’

(Extract adapted from Fly Away Peter by David Malouf, p23-25)


Question 4

Which of the following statements best describes Jim’s impression of Imogen?

A.       He thinks that she is quite intimidating for such an old woman

B.       He thinks that she is fascinating and that she shares his interest in birds

C.       He thinks that she is nice and self-assured

D.      He thinks that she is friendly and observant


Question 5

‘He was shy of making too much of it and made too little’ (line 27).

Why is Jim shy about his work?

A.       He is enthusiastic about the work he does, but is afraid of overstating the importance of his job

B.       He thinks that Imogen would despise him for having such an easygoing job

C.       He thinks that observing and recording animal behaviour is not a very important job

D.      He doesn’t want to bore Imogen with a long description of his work activities

Video Solutions

Question 1 solution below:

Question 2 solution below:

Question 3 solution below:

Question 4 solution below:


Question 5 solution below:

Practice Question Set 5

In the diagram below, the first box scale is balanced and the second box scale is unbalanced.

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Question 1 This diagram suggests that:

A.      The rectangular item is heavier than the circular item and the diamond-shaped item combined

B.      The circular item is not significantly heavier than the diamond-shaped item

C.       The diamond-shaped item is more than half the weight of the circular item

D.      The rectangular item is twice the weight of the circular item


Question 2

Which of the following actions would make the second box scale balance?

A.      Replace a circular item in the left box with two diamond-shaped items

B.      Move the diamond-shaped item to the left box

C.       Add a circular item to the left box

D.      Swap the diamond-shaped item in the right box with a circular item in the left box


Question 3 Find the middle of the sequence.

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The following passage is taken from a play. John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth live on a farm with their children. They once had a servant, Mary Warren, but Elizabeth fired her and sent her to Salem after discovering that Mary was having an affair with her husband. In this passage, John and Elizabeth have dinner.

John: It’s well seasoned.

Elizabeth: I took great care. She’s tender?

John: Aye. I think we’ll see green fields  soon. It’s warm as blood beneath the clods.

Elizabeth: That’s well.

John: If the crop is good I’ll buy George  Jacob’s heifer. How would that please you?

Elizabeth: Aye, it would.

John: I mean to please you, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: I know it, John.

John: Cider?


John: This farm’s a continent when you go  foot by foot droppin’ seeds in it.

Elizabeth: It must be.

John: You ought to bring some flowers in the  house.

Elizabeth: Oh, I forgot! I will tomorrow.

John: It’s winter in here yet. On Sunday let  you come with me, and we’ll walk the farm together; I never see such a load  of flowers on the earth. Lilacs have a purple smell. Lilac is the smell of  nightfall, I think. Massachusetts is a beauty in the spring! [There  is a pause.] I think you’re sad again. Are you?

Elizabeth: You come so late I thought you’d gone  to Salem this afternoon.

John: Why? I have no business in Salem.

Elizabeth: You did speak of going, earlier this  week.

John: I thought better of it since.

Elizabeth: Mary Warren’s there today.

John: Why’d you let her? You heard me forbid  her go to Salem any more!

Elizabeth: I couldn’t stop her.

John: It is a fault, it is a fault,  Elizabeth – you’re the mistress here, not Mary Warren.

Elizabeth: She frightened all my strength away.

 (Extract adapted from The Crucible by Arthur Miller, p51-53)


Question 4

Elizabeth speaks to John in a way that most strongly suggests:

A.      A little carelessness and amusement

B.      Strong resentment and anger

C.       Some uneasiness and a desire to please

D.      Satisfaction with her husband’s good behaviour


Question 5

What does John think of Elizabeth?

A.      She is an attentive and considerate housewife and mother

B.      She is a good wife, but lacks passion and strength

C.       She is forgetful and does not manage the house well

D.      She has been very forgiving of his past mistakes

Video Solutions

Question 1 solution below:


Question 2 solution below:

Question 3 solution below:

Question 4 solution below:

Question 5 solution below:



Practice Question Set 4

After the hairdresser near his house closes down, Charlie visits a different hairdresser. After considering their four hairstyle options carefully, he decides to select a less expensive option than the one he originally had in mind.

The sign outside the hairdresser reads:

  • A bowl cut is cheaper than a mohawk

  • A military hairstyle is not as cheap as a bowl cut or a full shave

  • Our cheapest hairstyle is $34.99

  • Our most expensive hairstyle is $289.99

Q1. Which of the four hairstyles did Charlie originally have in mind?

A.      A mohawk

B.      A mohawk or a military hairstyle

C.       A mohawk, a military hairstyle or a full shave

D.      A mohawk, a military hairstyle, a full shave or a bowl cut


Q2. Based on the information above, how much did Charlie spend on his haircut?

A.      $34.99

B.      $289.99

C.      More than $34.99 but less than $289.99

D.      Cannot be determined


Q3. Find the missing image.

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The following passage is taken from a short story. Sally is nineteen years old and provides accommodation for American soldiers. She attends a wedding and sees groomsman Brad Jenkins, a young man whose wife has abandoned him and their two children. In this passage, Brad drives past Sally and offers her a lift.


A  dirty-blond head appeared at the window. ‘Want a lift?’

‘No thanks,’  she called, still twenty yards off. ‘I’m walking.’

‘You’ll get  drenched,’ the voice told her. ‘Gunna be a storm.’

When she  came level she saw who it was. She might not have recognised him without the  blue suit and groomsman’s bow tie, but it was him all right. Same unruly head  of hair, same look of broad-faced amusement.

‘That’s all  right,’ she told him. ‘I’ll risk it.’

He looked at  her, his eyes laughing. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘suit yourself. We don’t mind, do  we, Lou?’

She saw then  that there was a child in the back, a boy about four years old, and a baby  strapped in beside him and slumped sideways, sleeping.

‘No,’ the  boy shouted, ‘we don’t mind. We got ourselves, eh?’ He laughed and repeated  it. It was a formula.

‘That’s  right,’ the man said.

‘Hi,’ said  Sally, ducking her head to be on a level with the boy.

‘Hi,’ the  boy said, suddenly shy.

They looked  at one another for a moment, then he said, shouting: ‘Hey, why don’t you ride  with us? We’re not goin’ far.’

‘Where?’ she  asked, ‘where are you going?’

‘Anywhere!  We’re ridin’ the baby. She likes it, it stops ‘er screamin’. We just ride ‘er  and she stops. Anywhere we like. All over. We like havin’ people ride with  us, don’t we, Brad?’

‘Sometimes,’  the man said. ‘It depends.’

‘We like  girls,’ the boy shouted.

The first  drops of rain began to fall. They bounced in big splashes off the roof of the  car.

‘All right,’  Sally said, ‘I’ll ride with you for a bit,’ and she ran round the back of the  car and got in.

‘Well,’ he  said to the boy, ‘we got lucky, eh?’

‘We did,’  the boy crowed, ‘this time we got lucky.’

‘Brad  Jenkins,’ the man told her, starting the car up. ‘And that’s Lou and Mandy.’

‘I’m four,’  the boy announced, ‘an’ Mandy’s one. Nearly. Our mum ran off an’ left us.  He’s our dad.’

She looked  at the man. Oh Delilah, that mouth! she thought. He lifted an eyebrow and  gave a slow grin. ‘Reuters,’ he said, ‘all the news as soon as it happens.  That’s enough, eh, Lou? We don’t want to give away allour secrets.’

(Extract taken from Sally’s Story by David Malouf)


Q4. How does Sally feel towards Brad?

A.      bothered but safe

B.      Sympathetic to his situation

C.       Attracted but slightly doubtful

D.      Suspicious but impressed by his family skills


Q5. Which statement best describes Lou’s attitude towards being abandoned by his mother?

A.      He is compensating for the loss of his mother by seeking to form attachments to others

B.      He believes that he and Brad are fine on their own

C.       He is completely indifferent towards his mother’s departure

D.      He is resentful towards his mother for abandoning him


Q6. Find the middle of the sequence.

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Video Solutions

Question 1 solution below:

Question 2 solution below:

Question 3 solution below:

Question 4 solution below:

Question 5 solution below:

Question 6 solution below:


Practice Question Set 3

Dr Rocket conducts a study in Australia to measure the relationship between body weight and stress, using a number of variables such as Body Mass Index (BMI), level of stress, level of self-esteem and avoidance of sports. He obtains the following correlational data.

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A correlation is expressed by a number from -1 to 1 and describes how strongly two items are related. For instance, a correlation of 0.8 between coffee drinking and memory suggests that an increase in coffee drinking would correspond to a similar increase in memory.

Note that Body Mass Index (BMI) is a weight-to-height measure; the greater the BMI, the greater the individual’s body weight relative to their height.


Q1. Which of the following conclusions can Dr Rocket draw?

a)      There is a strong negative correlation between BMI and level of self-esteem, suggesting that being overweight causes low self-esteem

b)     There is a weak correlation between level of stress and level of self-esteem, suggesting that the two variables have no relationship

c)      The results suggest that an increase in levels of stress is loosely related to an increase in BMI, and an increase in BMI is loosely related to an increase in stress levels

d)     Any person with a higher level of stress is likely to avoid sports slightly more than another person with a lower level of stress


Q2. Which of the following statements is false?

a)      According to Dr Rocket’s results, there is a moderate positive correlation between BMI and avoidance of sports, suggesting that an increase in avoidance of sports corresponds to an increase in BMI

b)     According to Dr Rocket’s results, there is a small positive correlation between level of stress and avoidance of sports, suggesting that an increase in stress levels slightly contributes to greater avoidance of sports

c)      According to Dr Rocket’s results, there is a very small positive correlation between level of self-esteem and level of stress, indicating that there is an extremely weak relationship between self-esteem levels and stress levels

d)     According to Dr Rocket’s results, there is a strong negative correlation between BMI and level of self-esteem, indicating that as BMI decreases, level of self-esteem tends to increase



The following passage is taken from a novel. Dr Schlosser is a general practitioner. He takes his time with each of his patients, making him popular among them. However, after attempting to carry out a complicated medical procedure, one of his patients (Mr Meier) dies. In this passage, Dr Schlosser talks to a specialist (Maasland), with Mr Meier’s widow (Judith) also present.


‘Yesterday  we ran through Mr Meier’s full case history with him,’ he said. ‘That’s  common practice in a euthanasia case. But if I’m right, it wasn’t you who  finally referred Mr Meier to us, was it, Dr Schlosser?’

I pretended  I had to think about it. ‘No, that’s right,’ I said.

Maasland ran  his finger back and forth across the sheet of paper he’d removed from the  folder. ‘I ask you that because it says here… yes, here it is.’ The finger  came to a stop. ‘Yesterday, Mr Meier stated that in October of last year he  came to you for a check-up.’

‘Could be.  He didn’t come in often. If he was in doubt about something. Or for a second  opinion. I was… I am a friend of the family.’

‘And why did  he come to see you in October, Dr Schlosser?’

‘I couldn’t  say. I’d have to look it up.’

Maasland  glanced at Judith, then back at me. ‘According to Mr Meier, you told him in  October of last year that there was nothing for him to worry about. Even  though by then he was already displaying the early symptoms of his illness.’

‘I wouldn’t  know about that, not off the top of my head. It’s possible that he asked me  about something then. Maybe he already sensed something and just wanted to  hear a comforting word.’

‘During that  particular consultation in October, Dr Schlosser, did you remove some tissue  from Mr Meier’s body? And did you then send that tissue to us for analysis?’

‘If I had, I  think I would remember that.’

‘Yes, I  would think so too. Especially since removing tissue is not entirely devoid  of risk. In the worst of cases, it can even accelerate the course of the  disease. I trust you’re aware of that, Dr Schlosser?’

(Extract taken from Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch, p37-38)


Q3. Maasland feels that Dr Schlosser is

A.      Careless and forgetful

B.      A little unprofessional

C.       Somewhat suspicious

D.      Responsible but slightly inexperienced


Q4. ‘If I had, I think I would remember that’ (line 20).

The meaning of Dr Schlosser’s statement is

A.      He is uncertain about whether or not he took a tissue sample

B.      He did not take a tissue sample, as he does not remember doing so

C.       He does not remember whether or not he took a tissue sample, but does not want to admit it

D.      He remembers not taking a tissue sample at that time


Q5. Find the next in sequence.

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Q6. Find the middle of the sequence.

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Video Solutions

Question 1 solution below:


Question 2 solution below:


Question 3 solution below:


Question 4 solution below:


Question 5 solution below:


Question 6 solution below:



Practice Question Set 2

Some computers contain audio packs.

Some audio packs can cause neuralgia.

Some forms of neuralgia are not caused by audio packs.


Q1. Based on the information above, which of the following statements could be true?

A.      No forms of neuralgia are caused by audio packs

B.      No audio packs are contained in computers

C.       No computers cause neuralgia

D.      All audio packs cause neuralgia


Q2. Which of the following statements must be false?

A.      All audio packs will not cause neuralgia

B.      Audio packs are contained in all computers

C.       All forms of neuralgia are caused by audio packs

D.      Some forms of neuralgia are caused by computer usage


Q3 Find the next in sequence.

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Q4 Find the middle of the sequence.

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The following passage is taken from a short story. Lisabeth is a dog lover, but her husband Frank insists that they cannot get a dog because it’s too expensive. However, after hearing about a rescue dog named Owen, she decides to adopt him and bring him home. In the following passage, Lisabeth braces herself for a scolding.


Frank was  sitting on the left side of the couch, holding a bottle of Bud Light. Owen  was sitting beside him, his Yankee scarf showing the interlocking insignia,  the two of them watching the game. Frank had his hand on the scarf as if it  were some kind of lucky charm.

“So,” he  said, “you went ahead and did it?” He was glowering at her, but his look  softened when he turned to Owen, who was staring straight ahead at the TV as  if there were a steak inside of it.

“They won,”  said Frank, his hand scratching Owen’s ears. It looked like they did this  every night. Owen seemed to relax, sniffing Frank’s hand. Jeez, Lisabeth  thought, they even sort of look alike.

“Where did  he come from?” Frank said, a question more than an accusation.

“North  Carolina,” she said tentatively, almost in a whisper. There was a long pause  as Frank regarded the beagle, who looked right back at him.

“He hopped  up onto the sofa, and Rivera got a strikeout, just like that,” Frank said.  “Then he looked at the set again, and Rivera got another strikeout. Till  then, I thought the game was over.”

Owen yawned,  then curled up in a ball right next to Frank, and promptly fell asleep.

“What’s his  name?” he asked.

“Jeter,” she  said. “I named him Jeter.”

Frank  smiled, then laughed, ruffling Jeter’s ears.

“Jeter.  That’s a good name for a dog,” he said. “A scrapper. A winner.”

Jeter opened  his eyes and looked at him, his tail thumping against the couch.

“I’ll get  you some biscuits,” he said, “every time we hit a home run or win.”

Jeter lifted  his head at the word “biscuits.”

Frank  scratched Jeter’s head, behind his right ear. “We can watch the games  together,” he said.

He took the  battered old Yankee cap off his head and put it on Jeter, who licked the  brim, his long ears sticking out beneath the hat. He smiled at Lisabeth.

“Nice dog,”  he said.


(Extract taken from Yankee Dog by Jon Katz)


Q5. From the beginning to the end of the passage, Lisabeth feels

A.      Anxious and then confused

B.      Surprised and then delighted

C.       Nervous and then relieved

D.      Baffled and then pleased


Q6. How might Frank have reacted to Jeter if the Yankees had lost?

A.      He would still be fond of Jeter and allow him to stay

B.      He would have yelled at Lisabeth and told her to return the dog

C.       He would allow Jeter to stay but refuse to help out with pet-related maintenance or expenses

D.      It is impossible to guess based on the information in the passage

Video Solutions

Question 1 & 2 solutions below:


Question 3 solution below:


Question 4 solution below:


Question 5 & 6 solutions below:



Is My UMAT preparation on the Right Track?

Is My UMAT preparation on the Right Track?


As UMAT draws closer and closer, people get more and more worried about how their UMAT preparation is coming along. UMAT is such an important test to get into medical school, it is only right that you want to know if you are on the right track. However, has all the UMAT preparation and practice brought you to a level that you are confident with achieving good results in UMAT? Here are some guides to show you at which stage you of preparation you are at and also what you should be doing in order to progress to the next stage.


Initial Stage:

You are in the initial stage of UMAT preparation if you have done the following:

  • Recently registered to do the test for the first time.

  • Has not begun serious UMAT preparation.

  • Done practice questions but has not learned the techniques to do the different question types.

  • Gone through a UMAT preparation course that does properly break down or teach UMAT.


UMAT is daunting. After registering for the test and attempting to do the free questions that ACER gives you, it becomes obvious that help is needed. Unfortunately there’s just not much good help out there. If you haven’t gotten help yet, you’re at the right place. If you have already purchased a UMAT course, ask yourselves if they properly teach you what you need to succeed. and they his initial stage below.

There are so many students who have chosen the wrong UMAT preparation course. Not many courses dive deeply into what UMAT is assessing and even fewer are properly teaching the techniques required to succeed. Some students spend over a thousand dollars only to be awarded a percentile close to 50. Does you UMAT course tick all the requirements to get past all the stages below? Here is what you should be doing during the initial stages of preparing for the UMAT exam:


What to do during these initial stage of preparation:

  • Find what UMAT is accessing. It is a logical reasoning test that is split into 3 sections. Different sections test logical reasoning in a different way. Take a look at the links below for more detailed information.

  • Get a curriculum or syllabus that actually teaches UMAT. In all your academic subjects, you are always given a curriculum/syllabus that breaks down how the subject will be taught. This is because it is extremely important to break down a subject into sizeable chunks for you digest all the information. UMAT may be a different type of subject but to process you go about learning is still the same.

  • Learn the techniques to do all the question types. Currently, there are 15 question types in UMAT. Each of them has its own particular techniques to overcome and makes the questions a lot easier to do. See the links down below for more information.

  • Purchase the ACER questions. These questions are at a relative low cost compared to private UMAT questions created by companies. Also, you know that since it is created by ACER, the style of questions are quite accurate for the UMAT test.

  • Leave one ACER practice exam to do just before the UMAT.


We recommend that you spend at least 2 months at this stage. Learning the techniques can be quite tricky because there’s 15 questions type and but once you remember how to apply these techniques, you are qualified to move onto the middle stages. If you have planned more time to learn UMAT then it’s great to spend more than 1 month. But because of the limited amount of time people have, it is still possible to learn this stage of UMAT in a week (but we do not recommend this).


Middle Stage:

You are in the middle stage of UMAT preparation if you can do the following:

  • Able to pick up a UMAT question and identify which question type it belongs to.

  • Familiar with the techniques behind how to do all the UMAT question types.

  • Done a moderate amount of UMAT practice questions.

Now that you have learned all the techniques to do UMAT questions, it is time to begin applying these techniques ourselves. This stage focuses on getting UMAT questions right, without bothering about time restrictions. At the beginning you will be slow, and you will not get the correct answer each time but that is only natural because you have started to learn something new.


What to do during the middle stage of preparation:

  • Practise questions without timed restrictions.

  • Apply the techniques across learned to UMAT practice questions. Now that you have learnt the theory behind doing the questions, it is time to practice.

  • Identify and correct areas where you make common mistakes. Analyse where you go wrong and take care not to do it again.

  • Get active on Facebook groups and forums. If you are stuck on a particular question, you can always ask people on Facebook very easily. There are also many people who post hard questions and information on those sites, so it’s access to valuable information and questions. An active group is “UMAT Discussion Space 2017” (which will probably change title in the following years):

  • Take note of how quickly you are doing questions but don’t restrict your time just yet – that is for the last stage.


We recommend that you spend at least another 2 months at this stage. Again, it’s better if you have more time but if you find yourself short on time, you can cram to learn UMAT but the results wont be as effective, just like with high school subjects. You move on to the late stages when you realise that you are getting most questions correct and you noticeably quicker in doing questions compared to when you first started. 


Late Stage:

You are in the late stage of UMAT preparation if you can do the following:

  • Able to instantly apply techniques to a question once you pick it up.

  • Get most UMAT questions done correctly without timed restrictions

At this last stage, you can now correctly do UMAT questions so now all you need to worry about is to get questions right within a certain time. UMAT is designed to be a 3hour (plus 10minutes reading time) exam, which means you only have an average 80seconds for each question.

What to do during the late stage of preparation:

  • Practise questions and mock-exams under timed conditions.

  • Refine your highlighting skills. You will need to highlight to do a question efficiently. Unfortunately you are only allowed a pencil in the exam. Ensure that you have different strategies of highlighting to make sure the information that you highlight will stick out. (eg: using an underline and a circle to distinguish two characters in a section 2 question).

  • Refine test-taking strategies that help you do UMAT questions quicker. Some people do questions from 1 to 134 in order. This is not recommended as you are constantly using different techniques because the sections are in a jumbled up order so switching question types may slow you down. It is often quicker to do all section 3 first, then section 2, and then section 1. This is because, if you know what you are doing, section 3 is quickest to do, followed by section 2 then section 1.

  • In the exam, skip questions that take too long or look too hard. You only need about 70% raw mark to get 100th percentile. Often people do not properly finish the UMAT test so it’s better to skip a difficult question rather than waste precious minutes that you could have used to answer the easier questions.

  • Do an ACER practice exam. Hopefully you’ve saved one exam for this stage. Doing it now with all your equipped techniques will give you a confidence boost as you realise you can do UMAT questions quite well.

This late stage is like the end of the year when you have a study break to consolidate your knowledge and refine your test-taking skills for you ATAR exams. It shouldn’t take any longer than 2 weeks so it is good to begin this during your July holidays. Completing this late stage preparation will ensure that you are thoroughly prepared for the UMAT exam and also give you the confidence you need to do well. Good luck!


How to do Section 3 UMAT Questions

How to do Section 3 UMAT Questions: Non-Verbal Reasoning.


When you first look at the sentence “non-verbal reasoning” it won’t make much sense, but ultimately it can be summed up using a simple term - Pattern recognition. The logical reasoning required in this section is to look at weird lines and symbols before you, then try to link all the pieces together to form some sort of pattern. This is difficult for most people in the beginning but after taking a look at our next few steps and a little bit of practice, section 3 can be completed the quickest out of all the three sections in UMAT.

There are three question types in UMAT:

1. Find the Next. Given four objects in a sequence, find the 5th object.

2. Find the Missing. Given a grid or pyramid, find the missing piece.

3. Find the Middle. Given five objects in a random order, find the middle object after placing all the objects in a logical sequence.

These are very distinguishable question types but they all require the same pattern recognition skills just applied slightly different for each question type.

Be aware of all the common patterns in UMAT

UMAT will never use the same question twice so don’t expect the exact same images to appear in the test. What does reappear are the movements used to form a sequence, i.e. how symbols move from image to image to form a pattern. Firstly, it is important to identify what type of pattern is being used then try to identify if it’s moving by any of the common movements listed here.

These are the following types of movements:

1.      MOSAIC: A pattern is formed by the changing ‘colour’ of objects. UMAT is a black and white exam but it can still use different ‘colours’ by adding different level shadings or different patterns. An object may turn from white to grey to stripes to polka dots. This change is colour is usually very easy to see and it is one of the easier movements to recognise.


2.      SHAPE: A changing set of shapes is used to form a sequence. For example, an object might be changing from triangle to square to triangle to square each time. This movement is also easy to spot.


3.      ROTATION: An object keeps rotating by a set amount. You can’t bring a protractor to UMAT so any rotation they expect you to see is in multiples of 45degrees. Objects can rotate either clockwise or anti-clockwise. Here are some easier to see movements:

                                 i.            +45° +45° +45° +45°

                               ii.            +90° +90° +90° +90°

                             iii.            +135° +135° +135° +135°

                             iv.            +180° +180° +180° +180°

Rotating by an increasing amount is also very common:

                               v.            +45° +90° +135° +180°

                             vi.            +90° +180° +270° +360°

What is harder to see is when the object is rotating by different set amounts. Remember that any angle that’s a multiple of 45degrees may be used and rotation may also happen in the opposite direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise):

                           vii.            +45° +90° +45° +90°

                         viii.            +135° +45° +135° +45°

                             ix.            +90° -45° +90° -45°


4.      POSITION: An object moves position by a set amount of “slots” each time. A “slot” is a valid position that an object may move into. You have to realise what are the possible “slots” that an object may move within. For example, you might have a dot moving around in a diamond or you could have a grid with star symbol moving through the grid or you could have blocks that simply move each time. Position movements may be in any direction – left or right, up or down, around another object like a square. Here are the common movements that UMAT uses when objects change position:

An object may move by a fixed amount. This is very common.

                                 i.            +1 +1 +1 +1

                               ii.            +2 +2 +2 +2

                             iii.            +3 +3 +3 +3

Objects may move by an increasing amount. This movement is hard to see:

                             iv.            +1 +2 +3 +4

An object may also move at different set amounts or change the direction of their movement. E.G. It could move up then move down. These are harder to see and a bit less common.

                               v.            +1 +3 +1 +3

                             vi.            +2 -4 +2 -4

                           vii.            +2 -1 +2 -1

5.      COUNTING. If none of the other patterns fit above, it is most likely a counting type of pattern. There is something that you have to count, maybe the number of intersections or perhaps the number of edges in an image. After counting, there is some sort of numerical sequence that appears like 1,2,3,4,5 or 2,4,6,8,10. Sometimes you may have to use some simple mathematical operations like addition, subtraction or division with the objects you are counting in order to get a numerical sequence.


For find the missing question types. If you are given a grid, sometimes the lines of each grid, either horizontal or vertical may have a numerical sequence with the same number. E.g. adding the sides of shapes give 10,10,10 for each horizontal line in the grid.


6.      OVERLAPPING: Sometimes objects may overlap and certain things may occur. Overlapping objects may:

                                 i.            Remain. If objects are identical, they may overlap and you may only see one feature.

                               ii.            Disappear. If objects overlap it is possible that one or both objects may disappear.

                             iii.            Change. If objects overlap, sometimes they change to an entirely different object when they overlap.

Now we won’t be surprised what happens when objects overlap.

Becoming familiar with all the common patterns used in UMAT is crucial to getting better at section 3 questions. Once you are able to identify the movement being used, all you need is more practice to see how the different types of movements are applied. For everyone, there is usually a breaking point when they become familiar with all the common movements, then section 3 becomes very easy to them. The following will help you recognise that movements easier:


Focus on one object at a time

UMAT often makes things difficult for us by using multiple patterns to create one big pattern. For example, it may mix a mosaic movement with a shape movement to create the overall pattern. To overcome this, focus on one movement at a time. Form a pattern with each movement one at a time and then compare both patterns at the end.

Do not try to look at both movements at the same, as you will easily get lost trying to keep track to two movements simultaneously. It’s definitely possible to track each movement concurrently but it is definitely slower than completely tracking one movement of one object first, before moving onto the next object.


Look for the easier patterns first.

For patterns with multiple objects (sometimes identical objects), there is at least one object that is moving in a easy to see way. For example, with a rotation movement, there is at least one object moving at +45° +45° +45° +45° or perhaps at  +90° +90° +90° +90°.

Do not be fixated to find the pattern of a difficult moving pattern. If you are spending more than 20seconds looking at an object and still have no idea how it’s moving, then focus on another object, which is probably moving in a much easier way. Once you have determined the pattern for the easy objects, it becomes much easier to see the pattern for the harder ones.


For find the middle question types, superimpose your images.

Find the middle question types are often the most difficult questions to deal with. When given a rotation or a position movement, people often try to imagine where the beginning of the sequence is and then where is the next in the pattern. Keeping everything in your head will only confuse you, particularly when you are not familiar with all the patterns yet. Draw things on paper!

Focus on the movement of one object and superimpose all the images into one. When all five objects are in the same image, it makes it a lot easier to see how that object is moving. Here is an example below:

umat practise question.png

For the example we can see how line is simple moving 45degrees each time. Here is what it looks like after superimposing the images:

Find the Middle.png

Now we can see clearly where the middle is. This technique really shines when you are given much more difficult patterns as it really simplifies how to identify the order in find the middle questions.


I hope this article has been a big help to your UMAT preparation. Please feel free to comment or ask questions below. If you want more information, do check out our courses at iCanMed and our facebook page for free goodies. If you like what you see here, you might also want to see other guides and articles in the links below:

How to do Section 2 UMAT questions

How to do Section 2 UMAT questions: Understanding People

Section 2 questions are the most straightforward and easy to do out of the three sections, however it appears there is the most misunderstanding about how to ‘understand people’ in UMAT. Everything in the UMAT exam is about logical reasoning, even in section 2. Your answers should always be based off evidence and there is always a logical and structured way of thinking to arrive at the correct answer. We will dive into how to do section 2 questions, but before that, we will clear some common misconceptions.


What Section 2 is NOT about

We have heard many strategy and approaches on how to do section 2 UMAT questions in UMAT. There are some which are slightly off the mark and some which are completely ridiculous. Here is a list of myths about UMAT section 2 that you should avoid:


·         Myth 1: Read psychology books.
You do not need to be a psychologist or psychotherapist to understand people in UMAT. ACER has designed UMAT for undergraduates and it doesn’t expect people to know psychology. In fact, over analysing some questions will lead to incorrect answers and this section is a lot more simple than it may first appear.


·         Myth 2: Put yourselves in the perspective of the character and choose what you feel is right.
UMAT does not want you to put yourselves in the shoes of a character and answer the question subjectively. It is a logical reasoning test and it wants you to objectively look at all the facts in order to select an answer. If everyone would choose what he or she feel is correct, then everybody would be correct. However there is only one correct answer that follows from the evidence that is given in the text.


·         Myth 3: Get in touch with your emotional side.

People have been told that reading books that heighten your emotions, such as raunchy romance novels, is a great way to develop you skills in understanding people. This is a myth, it is does not target UMAT development and it is a complete waste of time. Reading English books in general may help by improving you English but this does not directly teach you how to do Section 2 questions correctly.

·         Myth 4: You need to speed read.

You do not need to speed read or skim through the text first. Whilst being able to read and comprehend English is a desirable skill to have, it is more important to read and understand a piece of text by only reading through it once. If you have to read through a text more than once, it becomes very time inefficient because there is a lot of text. If you are trying to read the text as fast as possible and find that you have to go back and reread the text, then you need to slow down and spend more time understanding the text the first time you read it.


Here are some of the common myths we have heard. Please feel free to post up some of the things you may have heard in the comments below. We are always interested to hear any strategies people have heard or done and we can give some constructive feedback.


What Section 2: Understanding People is about

Section 2 is just like any other section in UMAT – it is a logical reasoning test. You need to be able to logically arrive at your answer using the evidence that is presented to you. In section 2’s case, all the evidence is presented in a large piece of text that writes about the interactions between characters. This text is typically in the form of a novel, a play, an excerpt or a cartoon. Your task is to play detective and observe the characters in the text.


The types of questions you will be asked in this section are:

1.      WHAT questions

What happened in the text? What are people’s opinions towards certain events? Give summary of what happened.

2.      HOW questions

How are people feeling? What are people’s emotions, feelings and state of mind?

3.      WHY questions

Why are people doing the things they do in the text? Why are people feeling the way they feel? What reasons are motivating the characters?

4.      ADVICE questions

What should the person do next? What should the person have done instead?

5.      Cartoon questions

Given a cartoon, identify the sarcasm and find the deeper meaning in the cartoon. Cartoon questions are typically easier and much quicker to do compared to the other question types.


The key to answering these questions is realising that all the information is given in text with a narrator. There is no need to guess how someone is feeling, all the answers should be clearly given somewhere in the text, usually through the narrator. That is why you are playing the role of a detective rather than a psychologist; you have to find the pieces of evidence in the text to support your answer. In section 2, the text is usually very large, so what are the things that you should take note of that could be really useful evidence in answering the questions?


What evidence do I need to know?

A section 2 question is typically quite long and a lot of the text is not important in answering the question. Ideally, you do not want to read a piece of text more than once because in your first time reading through the piece of text, all the valuable pieces of evidence should be highlighted. So when you answer questions, all the evidence is nicely laid out, which makes it much easier and quicker to do. Please note that a lot of the information is gathered form the narrator of the passage.


Things to highlight:

·         WHAT - Body Language, facial expressions, notable actions (e.g. punching, trembling, slamming).

·         HOW - People’s emotions and state of mind

·         WHY - Reasons for actions or feelings.


You do not need to read between the lines in Section 2. All the evidence that you need to answer questions is explicitly written in the text, you just have to find it. Highlighting these three types of evidence is really all you need to answer the questions.


Understanding people based off the evidence.

As we gather the evidence about people, we can begin to understand the characters. UMAT is a multiple-choice test so the words they use to describe a person will be different from the words you may use. Sifting through answers can sometimes become confusing and time-consuming. A method is needed to quickly eliminate wrong answers and simplify what the answer should be. Typical a UMAT question and answers may look like this:


How is Bob feeling towards Claris?

A.      Happy

B.      Attracted

C.      Ecstatic

D.     Uncomfortable


We will be continuously looking back on this example. If we look at the answers here, they can be split into different categories.


Category 1: Positive or Negative

When you arte highlighting evidence in the text, every piece of evidence can be split into either being positive or negative. For example, if Bob and Claris shook hands. Is that positive or negative? It would be positive if they are meeting each other for the first time and they are trying to be polite. It would be negative if Claris was the boss of Bob and he felt uncomfortable because he knew he was about to be fired from work. 


After identifying whether it’s positive or negative you can immediately cross out certain answers. If Bob was negative towards Claris then the answer is “Uncomfortable” because all the other words are positive. If Bob was positive towards Claris, then the you can immediately eliminate “Uncomfortable” from your answer without much thinking.


There are certain words which are neither positive or negative but rather neutral. An example would be “surprised”. Is it a good surprise or a bad surprise? These words require more context to support whether they are positive or negative so be sure to find more evidence to support your answer. 


Category 2: high intensity and low intensity

If two words are both positive, for example “Happy” and “Ecstatic”, we can tell the difference between the words by looking at its intensity. In this case here, “Happy” has a lower intensity compared to “Ecstatic”. Now when you are looking at your evidence, you need to determine whether someone is at a high intensity or a low intensity.


In the example above with Bob and Claris, how would you tell which intensity someone is at from reading a text? High intensity is usually very obvious as it is depicted by actions such as crying, hitting or some action that is uncontrollable. If Bob was jumping for joy or rolling on the floor laughing, he was probably “Ecstatic”. If there are no signs of high intensity, then he would be classified as low intensity. So the answer now could either be “Happy” or “Attracted”.


Determining your final answer

After eliminating answers using the categories technique, we look at the definition of our remaining answers (sometimes there’s only one answer left, so we don’t even need to do this step).


In our example with Bob, if he was happy and at low intensity, the possible answers are “Happy” and “Attracted”.  There will always be something in the definition of our remaining words that will set them apart, which is very obvious to find within your evidence. In this case here, it is the word “Attracted”. Attraction implies that there is some romantic inclination Bob has towards Claris. So now, in your evidence, you look to find any romantic thoughts or actions from Bob. If you find some, then you answer is “Attracted”. If you don’t find any, then your answer is “Happy”.


These techniques sound simple and it really is. Determine the categories of your characters: Positive or negative, low intensity or high intensity. Eliminate the answers with the wrong categories and then look at the definition of the remaining words to find evidence to support your final answer. This strategy works well with WHAT, HOW and WHY question types, which is the bulk of UMAT section 2 questions. The other question type simple need an extra step to determine the answer.


Advice Question Type

This question type will ask what a person should or will do next, or what should a person have done instead. There is no real trick to this one, the key to answering these questions is look at the WHYs which should already be highlighted if you have been highlighting your evidence.


You answers in this section should always somehow include or address the reason why people are doing things. If someone is feeling sad, and you are asked to give advice, you need to look at the reasons why that person is feeling sad. You can always find that reason why in the text. There will always be one multiple-choice answer that will include or take into account that reason.


Cartoon Question Type

This question type is often much quicker to do compared to the other question types because you don’t have to read much. All you have is a cartoon or drawing with a simple caption. To do cartoon question types, you need to remember the essence of what you are dealing with – a cartoon to make people laugh. Often, this humour is achieved through sarcasm.


When doing cartoon question types, always be aware of the sarcasm and do not take things literally. You must always try and find the deeper meaning that the author of the cartoon is trying to convey. Don’t be too fixated on the characters, but remember that it’s the author that’s trying to convey a message. Cartoon question types are much easier to do compared to the other question types.


There you have it. All the strategies you need to do well in section 2. It is actually a lot more straight-forward than what many people think. After using these techniques, some people even question whether UMAT should be so easy. I hope it helps and if it does, check out our other strategies and articles in the links below.






Why UMAT Preparation Can Be Easier Than Most Imagine

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.


Common UMAT Rumours

Rumour #1 – UMAT cannot be prepared

UMAT assesses the logical reasoning ability of a person, that is, the ability to make sound decisions based on the evidence without the influence of emotional preference and assumptions. The question you need to ask yourself is ‘have I gotten better at making sound decisions (i.e. logical reasoning) compared to when I was five years old?’. If your answer is yes, then clearly logical reasoning is something you can get better at and therefore be improved. What stops most students from successfully preparing for UMAT is the method. Read HERE to learn the best method for UMAT preparation. 

Category Result: Frankly untrue!


Rumour #2 – Practising questions and doing past papers is the best way to master the UMAT

Like math tests, the UMAT assesses the skills of a person to ‘figure out’ a question. If a student learns the methods (i.e. skills) to solve math questions, guess what, the math questions become much easier to do. Learning UMAT works the same way. Now, imagine if you went to math class and your teacher did zero teaching for a new topic but just gave you questions from last year’s exams to do. To no one’s surprise, you will probably find doing the questions confusing and frustrating. Learning the techniques well, to begin with ALWAYS trumps practising questions with no prior knowledge any day of the week.

Category Result: Frankly untrue!


Rumour #3 -  The best strategy to working out section 2 questions (understanding people) is by picking the answer that would most resonate with you if you are the character in the question stimulus

·         Question: Why does UMAT assess a person’s ability to understand others?

·         Answer: To see whether the person can accurately identify the emotions of OTHERS as an indicator for effective communication

·         Question: Can you accurately identify someone else’s feelings by assuming they would feel the same way as you in a particular circumstance?

·         Answer: No.

The whole point of understanding people is to understand THEM, not assume they are the same as you. Understanding people is achieved by carefully observing their behaviour, body language, choice of vocabulary, the mannerism of speech, etc. when you interact with them and making a decision (based on this evidence) about the kind of emotion they are experiencing. In short, the more sensitive and observant you are about others, the more likely you are to interpret their emotions correctly. The rumour describes a process which is opposite to the logical method to know someone better; you are assuming that person has the same emotions as you. Doesn’t make any sense!

Category Result: So far from the truth its surprising people even believe in it!


Rumour #4 – Getting 100th percentile in the UMAT is nearly impossible

Having coached UMAT for the last ten years, you start seeing some interesting trends. The most interesting of these trends is the raw mark (out of 300 total marks across three sections) students get and their corresponding percentiles. Here are the approximate trends:

To achieve 50th percentile:

If a student achieved an overall score around 150/300 marks (averages out to be 50/100 per section), they tend to receive an overall percentile of 50th percentile (meaning that your overall score is in the top 50% of all test takers who sat UMAT in the same year).

To achieve 100th percentile:

If a student achieved an overall score around 210/300 marks (averages out to be 70/100 per section), they tend to receive an overall percentile of 100th percentile (meaning that your overall score is in the top 1% of all test takers who sat UMAT in the same year). Another way to think about UMAT as if it’s a super hard exam where the top mark out of everyone who sat it was 70%.

Here is the scary part:

The difference between the marks per section between a person who achieves 50th percentile compared to 100th percentile is a mere 20 marks. We can extrapolate for every extra mark you gain over 50 marks, your percentile will dramatically increase. If we were to do one more calculation, which is finding out how many marks on average is assigned to each UMAT question, we would find that there is an average of 2.24 marks allocated per question (300 marks divided by a total of 134 questions).


·         A mere 20 marks separates a result of 50th percentile and 100th percentile

·         An average of 2.24 marks is allocated to each UMAT question

·         Therefore, the number of extra questions a person needs to answer correctly to move from 50th to 100th is only 8.93 questions.

Doesn’t sound as nearly as impossible as you originally thought right? I believe the reason as to why students are not getting an extra nine questions correct is due to the mistakes they make during preparation. Read HERE to learn about the types of mistakes you should avoid when preparing for UMAT.

Category Result: Frankly untrue!

Rumour #5 – If you are better at English, you have a better chance of doing well in the UMAT

Yes, section 1 and 2 of the UMAT is written in English. Therefore, for you to do well in them requires you to have a firm grasp of the English language, enough to accurately interpret the question stimulus, question stem and what each of the answer options means. Students may need to extend their vocabulary to achieve better comprehension. However, success in the UMAT is much more dependent on the logical reasoning techniques you apply when answering questions. See HERE and HERE to view these techniques. In summary, you need to have a certain degree of English to attempt the exam, but your English skills alone will not get you top marks.

Category Result: Somewhat true!


Rumour #6 – UMAT questions assesses scientific knowledge and math skills

ACER states that UMAT is an aptitude test that assesses attributes and abilities. It specifically says the test is not curriculum-based and does not expect candidates to have a foundation in any secondary school subjects with a specific mention of knowledge and skills in mathematics or sciences (source:

UMAT results form part of your application alongside academic results (e.g. ATAR or GPA) and the outcome of the interview. Your academic results already express your academic prowess, which would make no sense for UMAT to assess the same thing again. If you find any practice questions from online websites or forums, private tutors or UMAT prep companies that require you to know specific mathematical or scientific knowledge and skill, you can be sure that whoever wrote the questions do not understand what UMAT is all about. Time to throw the questions into the bin!

Category Result: Frankly untrue!


Rumour #7 – The earlier you start preparing for the UMAT, the better the chance you have in achieving a greater score

There are no disadvantages with starting preparation early. In fact, if you ask students who are sitting UMAT this year, most of them would tell you an earlier start would have helped give them more time and less pressure to study for the exam. However, it is important to note that there is no direct causal relationship between how much time you spend in preparation for an exam and the mark you are likely to receive IF your preparation methods are incorrect. This rule goes for any test preparation. If you are preparing for something in a way that is inefficient or incorrect, you will not improve your score despite how much effort and time you put into it. In fact, you are more likely to feel exasperated and lose confidence due to bad preparation methods.

Recently, I met an exceptionally bright and very diligent student who spent around 5-6 hours a day, every day, practising UMAT questions for two whole years. The result? The student scored in the 60th percentile while achieving state ranking for his subjects and completed his high school performance with a perfect ranking.

To find out more about how to prepare correctly, check out this article:

Category Result: Somewhat true and frankly untrue!


Rumour #8 – You can cram UMAT a month out from the exam

First, we need to look at what ‘cram’ means in the context of UMAT study. Since UMAT does not require students to recall any information, ‘cramming’ in this case does not refer to rote learning books and books of information. Rather, UMAT requires students to apply techniques to ‘figure out’ questions to select the best answer. If anything, cramming for UMAT is similar to cramming for a math test – you need to quickly learn the techniques to work out a question and then apply the techniques to questions to gain familiarity. The problem with cramming for UMAT in this way is that the resources for the teaching of UMAT-answering techniques are nowhere as readily available as the resources for teaching math techniques. So, only if you had these resources handy would ‘cramming’ for UMAT be possible. P.S. here are some for you: HERE

Category Result: Somewhat true and frankly untrue!


Rumour #9 – If someone got 98th, 99th or 100th percentile, they MUST know how to do every UMAT question perfectly

By referring you back to rumour #4, we’ve learnt it’s not all that impossible to gain top percentiles in the UMAT. In fact, you only need to answer approximately nine more questions correct than the person who scored 50th percentile to get a 100th percentile. Coupled with the fact UMAT is a multiple-choice test meaning that on any day, the candidate has a guaranteed 25% chance of guessing the correct answer, the chances of getting ‘lucky’ in the UMAT is relatively likely. I do not endorse anyone to hope on luck to carry them to UMAT stardom, but I would like to share a general piece of advice when asking high-scoring UMAT students for help. Advice: Unless the student can systematically break down how each UMAT question is solved, like how your math teacher breaks down a math question in class, tread with caution.

Category result: Frankly untrue!


How To Make Sense Of Your UMAT Score And What Score Should You Aim For

Here is an example of the statement of results you will receive in mid-September displaying the outcome of your UMAT test. The three things you need to understand is the ‘scores’, ‘overall score’ and ‘percentile’.


Explanation of Scores:

1.       The numbers 1, 2 and 3 represent the scores the student achieved in each construct (or otherwise commonly known as a section). Each of the section scores is expressed on a scale of 0 to 100. So, if the student achieves a score of 61 for section 1, it means that out of 100 total marks, he/she scored 61.

Explanation of Overall Scores:

2.       The overall score is simply the individual scores of each section added together. In the case above, by adding 61 (section 1 score), 71 (section 2 score) and 37 (section 3 score), the student achieves a 169-overall score out of a total 300 marks.

 Explanation of Percentile:

3.       Derivation of percentiles occurs from comparing your overall to the overall scores of all other test takers. It provides a rank which allows you to see how you have ‘stacked up’ compared to the rest of the test taking cohort. In this case, the student achieved the 79th percentile. The easiest way to interpret this percentile is that your overall score is in the top 21% of all test takers who sat UMAT in the same year. A higher percentile means that you are ranked higher, with fewer test takers scoring more than you.

So, what score is a good score?

Before I get the gist of what score is a good score, you must remember one thing. You should always aim for 100th percentile for the UMAT or any test for that matter. Instead of looking for minimal mark thresholds and aiming for those, you should instead be focusing your energy on learning the techniques to answering every single question you come across. Aim to score the 100th percentile because:

1.       You can’t really ‘aim’ for a percentile – since the percentile is calculated from comparing your overall score with the overall score of others, the percentile rank you gain at the end of the day is something out of your control.

2.       You can never go wrong with a high percentile – a lot of students ask for a ‘safe’ percentile they should try to aim for but often than not, the percentile you achieve in UMAT is only a part of the consideration when medical schools select for ideal students. Depending on how much weighting is allocated to the UMAT, compared to your ATAR or GPA and interview score, the ‘importance’ of UMAT changes. Most universities will allocate anywhere between 30% to 50% of their total selection weighting to UMAT. In turn, it means the remaining 50% to 70% of your total selection criteria is allocated to ATAR or GPA and interview score, which is also out of your control.

Here is an example:

University A weights UMAT 40%, ATAR or GPA 40% and interview 20% and have 100 spots available for the 2018 medical school intake.

·         Since UMAT scores typically are released before GPA and interviews, a good way to think about your chances of getting into the medical school at University A is whether your UMAT mark lies within or outside the top 100 applicants for the course.

·         If your UMAT percentile is high, say 98th, 99th and 100th, your chances of being placed in the front of the top 100 applicants, is also quite high. If your UMAT percentile is on the lower end, say 70th to 80th percentile, you may not be placed in the top 100 applicants when UMAT is taken into account by itself.

·         However, your position in the top 100 could change drastically depending on the results you obtain in the two other selection criteria.

·         You should always aim for the highest score possible in UMAT is that it provides some buffer if you end up with slightly less than ideal results in your ATAR or GPA and interview

With all this said, what is a good UMAT score?

Speaking generally, if you achieve top grades (i.e. minimum 98 or 99 ATAR), you should be fine with a low to mid-90th percentile in UMAT. Unless, the university you are applying to have cut-offs such as the requirement for you to score at least 50/100 marks per section or a minimum UMAT score, percentiles in the 90s should do the job. However, remember you are always competing with other applicants and their scores. Make sure to stay organised and have a solid strategy in making sure you achieve the best marks you possibly can in all three categories.


How To Answer UMAT Questions Quickly And Accurately

Step 1 – Learning the techniques (most students completely skip this step)

iCanMed has identified there are 15 question types found in section 1, 2 and 3 and it is up to you to learn the exact processes to answering each type of question. When I mean figured out/learnt exactly the steps you would take for each of the 15 question types to the extent where if you were given a question, you would be able to list the steps you take to answering every question.

Specifically, you will need to make notes on:

1.       What you need to read in the stimulus of each question type

2.       The summarised version of the key findings in each stimulus (e.g. table format to present the information in a way that summarises all important information with the relationships between each other)

3.       What the question stem asks you to do

4.       Justification on why you selected one option as the correct answer, and the other three options as incorrect (provide justification for all)

Preparation is not about feeling ok or not ok; it's about knowing what you explicitly know or not know. It's the same with any other test. If you know how to answer a math question is because you can do the working to get to the right answer, if you don't know how to answer a math question it is because you either cannot complete the working or don't know where to start. You need to MEASURE your progress - and the best way to measure UMAT prep is to see if you can write down the steps you take (as suggested from 1 to 4). Only when you can, you are 'properly' prepared - because you can see it. The steps described above allows you to build accuracy (i.e. actually getting questions correct).

Step 2:

The next step to take after finalising techniques for all UMAT question types is to start attempting a variety of similar questions e.g. you figured out how to do rules type questions, now it's time to apply the techniques to additional rules type questions. This practice will help you build 'transferability' meaning that the technique you have acquired can be used for new but similar questions. Making your techniques 'transferable' is very important as now you have the skills to figure out unfamiliar questions.

An analogous example can be made about how after learning the steps to solving a particular math question and then attempting several math questions if you were then given a similar but previously unseen math question you can still figure it out with ease. Completing step 1 and step 2 help you build accuracy and consistency, respectively.  


Step 3:

The last step after building accuracy and consistency is to build speed in completing UMAT questions. There is no value completing the exam quickly and getting the questions consistently incorrect. The development of speed occurs after the mastery of step 1 and step 2 when you have become so accustomed to the process of answering questions (step 1) and gain superior confidence in applying the process in new questions (step 2). Therefore, the only way to increase speed is to:

i)                     know what to do very well (covered by step 1 and step 2)

ii)                   be able to carry it out very quickly (covered by step 3 below)

Only now is the time you should spend doing a high-volume of practice questions - for only your speed and no longer for your accuracy and consistency.

The earlier you complete step 1, step 2 and step 3 for a particular answering technique, the more time you have to focus on completing the same steps for other answering techniques. For the preparation to manifest in the development of solid techniques and skills required to answer UMAT questions, each step must be 100% completed before moving to the next to ensure maximum effectiveness.


Advantages Of Starting UMAT Preparation Early

Everyone knows that early preparation has its benefits, but just how early should UMAT study begin? I would like to take the opportunity to list down some advantages of starting UMAT preparation early and provide a timeline that will give you the most advantage heading down the stretch.

Advantage #1: Learning at your pace

From my ten years experience as an educator, I have never taught a student or class the same way; this is because of the sole reason that everyone learns differently. Some students learn better when they are given visual representations of the concepts taught, rather than just being verbally told them. Other students like to learn through hands-on experimentation and discussing it with other students. Whatever the way you choose to adopt to learn UMAT, you need to have time. Early preparation allows you to have the luxury of finding out what learning style works best when studying the UMAT, compared to two months out from the UMAT when you are already swamped with school work, assignments, trials and extra-curricular activities. 

Advantage #2: Spend more time on the things that need more time

By learning at your pace also allows you to spend more time on the harder question types. Almost every student has a section in the UMAT that they find much more difficult compared to the other two sections. Once you know this, it could mean you need more time to completely dissect the questions, understand the techniques, and apply them to get the hang of it for the harder section. With more time on your hands, you can properly plan, organise and take the extra steps that need to be taken to learn answer questions correctly before you become bombarded with endless work once the academic year commences. Getting the trickier section out of the way allows you to maintain your confidence while learning the techniques to the easier sections for the remainder of the year.


Advantage #3: Receive help earlier to improve faster

Starting your UMAT preparation earlier also means you can have more time to fix up weaknesses and seek more help if needed. Every year around mid-June I start to be bombarded with inquiries from students asking for help. However, due to the end of term test and assignments, most of the student can only really start studying in the July holidays, leaving them around three weeks to complete UMAT preparation.  

Frankly speaking, this is not enough time for anyone to comfortably complete preparation, especially if they are aiming to score top marks in one of them most important tests of their lives. If a student started at least six months earlier (let alone a whole year earlier), he or she will most likely not be in the same predicament. Another danger of starting late is that if you are counting on a tutor or course to help you go from zero to hero in just a couple of weeks and for some reason, it doesn’t help you in the way you wanted, you are left with very limited options. You won’t even have time to look for other help.

And if the tutor or course you use is helpful, you are the one who still needs to spend the time in perfecting it. So, give yourself the time to do that.


Advantage #4: Give yourself less stress and pressure

I have not yet talked to a year 12 student who didn’t wish to go back in time and learn the UMAT properly when they had the time. Their advice for anyone in the lower years planning on sitting the UMAT? Try your best to complete UMAT studies before year 12 starts.  

For many high-achieving students, a successful year isn’t only determined by the top grades achieved at the end of year exams. Other commitments in school and outside of school also take up a good chunk of your week. The typical lifestyle of a pre-med or pre-dent is busy enough at it is and if not managed well could be enough to trigger mid-year burnouts. Unexpected tests and responsibilities keep popping up left right and centre, and one question remains ‘when would you ever have time for studying UMAT?’.


How To Do Section 1 UMAT Questions: Logical Reasoning And Problem Solving

Section 1 in UMAT is the most diverse and time-consuming section in all of UMAT. It also happens to have slightly more questions compared to the other two sections. UMAT is a logical reasoning exam and each section is trying to assess your logical reasoning skills in slightly different ways. Section 2 sees if you can logically understand people in a text. Section 3 sees if you can logically determine a non-verbal pattern. This leaves us with Section 1, logically determining everything else, which they call ‘problem solving.’

The scope in Section 1 questions is much larger; you have lots of words, diagrams, graphs, tables and topics you have never seen or learnt before. Section 1 is assessing your ability in digesting all this new information to see if you can understand and apply what UMAT gives you to answer the questions. Another way to look at it is picking up a new board game for the first time and learning to play it. You need to look at the rulebook, the board and the pieces to figure out how to play the game.

There are a total of seven question types in section 1:

  1. Rules – a set of rules/conditions are imposed when answering questions.

  2. Arguments – four arguments are presented, you need to choose which argument either supports or contradicts the information given.

  3. Diagrams – Interpret a diagram/drawing that is presented.

  4. Graphs – Interpret a graph that has an x-axis and y-axis.

  5. Tables – Information is presented in a table format.

  6. Order – question involves specific position arrangements.

  7. Venn Diagrams – question involves categories that overlap with one another.

In this article we will look at some beginning strategies that can be applied across all question types and some common difficulties people have when doing section 1 questions. In the future, there will be articles on specific question types. Check the links below for related articles. iCanMed does offer a free preview that teaches the Rules Question Type so be sure to check that out.


Common difficulties when doing section 1 questions

  • Missing or forgetting about a vital piece of information

  • Misreading or misinterpreting information

  • Not seeing links between information given

  • Having to reread information many times before understanding

  • Not knowing how to begin answering a question

  • Taking a long time to do questions

If you are having these difficulties, take a look at the following strategies that help in doing section 1 questions.


Reword any rules, conditions or information into your own words.

If there is an important rule or condition, or any piece of evidence that is relevant, it is good to rewrite that rule into your own words. People often think that doing working out will slow you down in doing the question. Perhaps it will in your ATAR exams, however because UMAT Section 1 is liken to learning a new board-game for every question, you need to be able to quickly and accurately recall every new rule or condition. Do not keep everything in your head, it will only confuse you but have all vital pieces of information written down neatly, which greatly helps in answering questions.

If there was a condition like: “Francis orders sushi if he is running late on time and it is past 2:00pm.” One possible way to rewrite this is: “If >2pm, Francis - Sushi” Remember that you can use whatever shorthand you like as long as you understand what you wrote.

There are a few reason you should rewrite important information into your own words. Firstly, it helps you remember and recall the information more easily. An important part of section 1 is being able to recall all the new information and this strategy immensely helps with this. Secondly, if you had to reread the information again, you don’t have to read the whole sentence but you can simply read your shorthand. This actually makes it a lot quicker to do question because you don’t have to go back to reread and reinterpret information that is given. Thirdly, information is laid out in a neat way to make it easier to form links. Sometimes you may put information in a table or on an already existing graph or diagram, if you information is nicely laid out, this makes it easier to link all your information together to see some connections you might not have been able to see otherwise.


Draw conclusions from each piece of evidence

Most of the text in section 1 is very important, just like a rulebook in a game. After reading one rule, fully digest it and link it with any previous rules before reading on. After rewording a rule, give yourself an example so that you can clearly see what is happening. Ideally, you don’t want to read a question more than once and usually you won’t have to if you have spent time rewording it and giving yourself an example. I’ll say it again because it is so important, spending a little bit of time to understand the information saves a lot of time in the future when you are answer the question.

If you are given a diagram, graph or table take note that the most important pieces of information are in the titles, labels and units. Do not jump straight into the answering the question without dissecting the diagram. Sometimes, some of the rules given in the text can be directly drawn on the diagram for better understanding. You want to simplify things as much as possible as it helps with recalling and applying all the information when you need it.  


Never assume any information that is not given

Many times, people make mistakes by assuming some information, which was not given in the question. UMAT challenges people in section 2 by being open minded, to take into account all possibilities that the question may have and selecting the appropriate answer. Making assumptions without evidence is often a source of error in doing questions.

For example, for the condition “Francis orders sushi if he is running late on time and it is past 2:00pm.” We know that after 2pm Francis will order sushi but we can’t make the assumption that before 2pm he doesn’t order sushi too. Until we are given more information, we cannot assume what happens when it is before 2pm and leave open any possibilities. To understand what has been restricted and what is still possible will make section 1 easier to do when you are formulating your answers.


Summary of strategies for section 1

Here we have some strategies that can be applied to all section 1 questions:

  • Reword any rules, conditions or information into your own words

  • Draw conclusions from each piece of evidence

  • Never assume any information that is not given

These are only the beginning strategies for section 1 questions. It will still greatly help you in your UMAT prep. For more specific techniques, check out the links below. Especially for the Rules Question Type, iCanMed has already made their course available for free to teach that question type.