Applying for Medicine or Health Sciences for 2017?

Undergraduate medical and health science are some of the most difficult courses to gain entry into after Year 12. Register for UMAT 2016 now!


Register for UMAT 2016 now!

Undergraduate medical and health science are some of the most difficult courses to gain entry into after Year 12. In addition to achieving a competitive ATAR or OP and passing or achieving a suitable subject score in prerequisite or assumed knowledge subjects, a competitive score on the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admissions Test (UMAT) is a requirement for entry into all Australian and New Zealand undergraduate medical programmes and some optometry, dentistry, oral health and clinical sciences courses. An interview also forms part of the selection process for many medical courses. See the UMAT website for a list of courses for which UMAT is required. If you are intending to apply for one of the undergraduate courses that require UMAT, you must sit the UMAT test in the year before your preferred course commences.

Registrations for UMAT2016 are now open.

The UMAT2016 information booklet for relevant courses beginning in 2017 is available now. Timely registrations close at 5.00 pm AEST on Friday 3rd June 2016. Late registrations close at 5.00 pm AEST on Friday 17th June 2015. The 2015 registration fee is $250.00 (GST inclusive) or $150.00 for Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card Holders. Late registrations cost an extra $65.00. There is an additional fee of AU$185 for applicants wishing to sit the UMAT test outside of Australia or New Zealand. Credit card is the preferred method of payment.

The UMAT test is an aptitude test designed to assess ability in three areas:

  • Logical reasoning and problem solving
  • Understanding people
  • Non-verbal reasoning

The developers of UMAT advise that intensive preparation for UMAT is not advisable or necessary, but that it is important to become aware of the type of questions that will be asked in the test. Early registration is advisable as 12 months of online access to Practise Test 1 is included in the registration fee. There are also some sample questions in the UMAT Information Booklet. Practice Test 2 and Practice Test 3 have also been prepared by the developers of UMAT and 12 month access to practice tests can be purchased for $35.00 each. A set of additional practice questions prepared by the UMAT developer is available for a cost of $19.00. Answers for all practice materials are provided and Practice Test 1 and Practice Test 2 come with worked solutions.

Commercial UMAT coaching courses are available. An Internet search will yield several UMAT coaching course options. The UMAT office and participating universities do not endorse any of these UMAT coaching courses. Anecdotally, past Year 12 students and many current medical students believe that they have benefited by completing a UMAT coaching course. Some have reported that they believe the UMAT coaching course built their confidence for sitting UMAT.

However, these beliefs are not supported by the research on the effect of coaching on entry into medical courses. Research by Professor Barbara Griffin and colleagues into the effects of coaching through commercially available UMAT preparation courses has revealed that:

  • Results of tests of social understanding and problem solving are unlikely to improve through coaching (Griffin, Carless, & Wilson, 2013).
  • For high ability students, tests of non-verbal reasoning using pattern recognition skills may be improved for by coaching, but only if coaching is accompanied by extended practice (Griffin, Carless, & Wilson, 2013).
  • There is no statistical difference between the interview scores of coached shortlisted applicants and shortlisted applicants who did not receive UMAT coaching (Griffin, Carless & Wilson 2013).
  • Students who had been coached by one commercial UMAT preparation provider held the belief that their UMAT performance would improve as a result of participating in the UMAT coaching course. However, the UMAT performance of this group was statistically no better than the uncoached group (Wilkinson & Wilkinson, 2013).
  • Students accepted into Medicine who received UMAT coaching showed significantly poorer academic performance in every year of their medical degree compared to those who did not receive UMAT coaching (Griffin, Yoemans, & Wilson, 2013).

In summary it would seem that commercially available UMAT coaching courses may build perceived confidence in sitting for the UMAT, but that this is unlikely to translate into improved UMAT performance or medical course performance compared to those who did not complete a UMAT coaching course. Accordingly, it appears that those who cannot afford UMAT coaching course fees, travel time and expense are not disadvantaged in terms of UMAT performance, interview performance or academic performance in their medical degree.

For a review of this research see a recent article published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

References

Griffin, B. & CY Hu, W. (2015). Reducing the impact of coaching on selection into medicine. The Medical Journal of Australia, 203, 363. doi: 10.5694/mja15.00891.

Griffin, B., Carless, S., Wilson, I. (2013). The effect of commercial coaching on selection test performance. Medical Teacher, 35, 295-300.

Griffin, B., Yeomans, N. D., & Wilson, I. G. (2013). Students coached for an admission test perform less well throughout a medical course. Internal Medicine Journal, 43, 927-932.

Wilkinson, T. M. & Wilkinson, T. J. (2013). Preparation courses for a medical admissions test: effectiveness contrasts with opinion. Medical Education, 47, 417-424.


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