Hi! My name’s Ridha and I am a 19 year old student living in Australia. I am keen to enter med school here in Sydney, but unfortunately my current abilities in the UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine Admissions Test) are affecting my chances of getting in. I sat the 3 hour exam last year and did very poorly, and despite doing more intensive prep this time round, I still feel inadequate, and that my marks are not improving sufficiently enough. What could I be doing wrong?
You are probably not familiar with this specific test, but I was wondering what your thoughts on these Medicine entrance tests are, and if you could kindly share some advice on how to generally approach this exam, which is on the 31st of July this year. (Just to give you some background,I am generally above average in academics, this may be completely irrelevant tho).I really enjoy reading your blog, and you make me more and more determined to try to turn every stone to be where you are at now.
Thanks for your message. You can check out some of my replies regarding taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) by searching the tag mcat on my blog. You can also find some more long-winded answers regarding the MCAT in the index here.
Having said that, I cannot claim to know how the test is compared to the MCAT nor do I know what you have tried in terms of studying. I think that it is alright not to feel ready. If you were overconfident that would be worse. Focus on taking a lot of practice exams. Get a feel of the questions, the style, and the pacing you need to work on. If you have the time, set up a mock exam and sit there, as you would for three hours and write a practice exam.
Part of the stress of writing these kinds of exams is being put into a very artificial environment, writing exams that are designed in such a way to be objective and may not be the easiest or best way to gauge your aptitude. It can be very stressful and cloud your thinking. The more comfortable you can make yourself before that test day, the better you can be as you focus on the task and not the situation.
At the end of the day, the exam is secondary. It is a proxy measurement that, in the real world context does not reflect who you are or what you are capable of. When you become a doctor or any professional, it is not how well you can decide between four choices but how you react to problems. So do not get bogged down by the test and let it ruin your day. Granted you still need to perform well enough to be competitive, but think of it as a hurdle to overcome and not as the end-all-be-all.
If you would like more clarifications or ask more questions, leave me a comment in the inbox. Good luck on your studies and take care.
Tom of the Medical State of Mind
I think it really depends on the individual. I have some classmates who really prefer bouncing ideas and concepts off of each other and discussing in groups; I am more of a solitary student and prefer to study alone. I find it less distracting.
Having said that, I still have occasions where studying in a group is preferred, like when we are preparing for a clinical exam. My suggestion is give both a try and see what suits you better.
If I had a panacea to recommend you, I would have loved to share it with everyone; as it turns out, I think we all have what it takes to achieve what we set our minds to: it is equal parts inspiration, determination, and perspiration.
I have not met any physician assistants where I am training so I really can’t comment. If you are looking for some information about PA school, you might find it useful to get in touch with Digiti Minimi. She is currently going through PA school. I hope that will help you. :)
I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Thank you for the compliment. Cheers and take care.
Thank you for your concern. I am doing a little better today but I certainly have had better weeks. I apologize for the lateness of my reply.
I generally feel that it does not matter but it does make applying to medical school easier. I mean this in the sense that you will not run into issues with your academic pre-requisites. If you were to take classes from another college, you may find that the syllabi between the two are not congruent and they may not accept the credits you received from another college. It may mean you have to retake a pre-requisite course. If you attend the same college, there will be no such conflict because their pre-requisites are based on their own college courses.
I think that planning for your financial future is important to consider during your application. The amount of debt you accumulate in medical school is large and you can be surprised how quickly it can add up. If you are a financial situation that may make studies outside difficult, then staying closer to home might be an appropriate option. However, I do not know your circumstances so I cannot comment on that. You must decide that yourself.
I can tell you from personal experience that I did choose to be closer to home exactly for the reason of lowering my debt when I graduated.
Hope that answered your questions and I wish you all the best.
Thanks for your question.
As an aside, if you go into my index, you can find a few posts I have made in regards to the MCAT as well. From my experience of taking it twice, I can say that I definitely did not go into the first exam having walked the right path the whole way leading up to it. I must have cut a few corners somewhere because I did very poorly.
It is really hard to put the experience of the MCAT into words because it is not only a test of knowledge but a test of mettle. You really have to experience once to really know if you did it right.
But there are ways.
One way to know if you have been studying and preparing well is to take a class. There are many programs like Kaplan that offer preparation courses. You get to go through questions and answers together with a group and with a tutor, someone who has done the MCAT before. It can be really great feedback and yield excellent results.
The second option that you can look into is to do practice exams. Many of them. There are many preparation books on the market and they offer a few exams that they have created, tailored to imitate the exam questions you will see. Usually they give about two to four practice exams. I would however recommend going to the source: the AAMC.
They have a testing centre online where you can purchase old exams for a limited time and practice them. These are decommissioned questions but actual questions from past exams so it really helps to show you the level of questioning that you can expect. Not only that, they generally have a large set of old exams you can practice on. This, I feel is well worth your money, not only because it is a bank of high quality questions to practice on but it allows you to really get comfortable with the stamina aspect of the exam.
Hope that answered your question. Cheers.
There are some days on the ward where I feel both. However, if I could go through a day feeling only one, I would choose being sleepy rather than hungry. I simply cannot stand not having food.
Which would you rather feel?