Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test
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The Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT, // EW-mat) is a test administered by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in Australia and New Zealand to assist in the selection of domestic students into certain health science courses including most Medical (MBBS or MBChB or MD) and Dentistry (BDSc or BDS) courses, as well as other health science courses such as physiotherapy and optometry. The UMAT is used for domestic applicant selection into undergraduate courses only; applicants for graduate courses must sit the GAMSAT and international applicants must sit the ISAT instead. Each year, the UMAT is held on a single day in two sessions (morning and afternoon), typically during either late July or early August in test centers located in major cities in Australia and New Zealand, as well as a select few other global cities. The nature of the UMAT is quite different from typical high school examinations or university examinations; academic excellence does not necessarily equate to an outstanding UMAT result.
Before the introduction of the UMAT as a component of university entrance requirements, the sole criterion for entry into medical or health science degrees in Australian universities was final year high school (Year 12) results. In New Zealand, entry was following completion of the first year of a related degree, with applicants selected based on their GPA for that year. A consortium of universities found this criterion too restrictive, as it did not reflect all the qualities required to successfully study and practice medicine. Consequently, the UMAT was introduced to assess the qualities deemed by ACER and the UMAT Consortium universities to be important to the study and practice of medicine and the health sciences. These qualities include: critical thinking and problem solving, ability to understand people, and abstract non-verbal reasoning. The first use of the UMAT was in 1991 for applicants to The University of Newcastle for selection into their medical program.
As of 2013, the UMAT consists of three multiple choice sections over a total of three hours:
- Section 1: Logical reasoning and problem solving (48 questions)
- Section 2: Understanding people (44 questions)
- Section 3: Non-verbal reasoning (42 questions)
It is important to note that as of 2013 each of these sections, whether in part or in full, can be completed in any order over the duration of the three hours.
A candidate's UMAT score consists of three numbers, one raw score for each section of the test (this is not a percentage and the algorithms for their calculation have not been revealed by ACER), as well as a percentile ranking for each section. A final percentile and overall score (found usually by summing the three raw scores, but which can differ slightly due to each score's decimal places which are not shown on the candidate's statement of results) are given as part of the final results, and it is these final scores which are primarily used to determine the UMAT criteria for university admissions. For example, if a candidate was given the raw scores for Sections 1, 2, and 3 as 55, 60, 65 respectively, their overall score would be 179-181 and their percentile approximately 90.
As of 2012, all UMAT scores are valid for one year, this differs from the previous validity period of two years.
The UMAT is now an entry requirement for all UMAT Consortium universities, which constitute the vast majority of medical schools in Australia and New Zealand. Each university determines its own cut-off scores for UMAT results (based either on the "raw" section scores or section percentiles, depending on the university), obtaining the results directly from ACER. Some Universities, (for example, the University of Otago), may also independently scale each section of the UMAT in their selection process. In determining whether or not a candidate should be awarded a place, most universities also take into account a structured or semi-structured interview (such as a multiple mini interview) with the candidate, as well as Year 12 (Australia) or Year 13 (NCEA in New Zealand) results. Some universities, such as the University of Queensland, do not use interviews as part of the selection procedure.
UMAT Consortium universities
The following universities are members of the current UMAT Consortium:
- The University of Auckland Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery
- The University of Adelaide - Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Dental Surgery
- Bond University - Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
- Charles Darwin University - Bachelor of Clinical Sciences (articulating with Flinders University’s Northern Territory Doctor of Medicine)
- Flinders University - Bachelor of Clinical Sciences/Doctor of Medicine
- La Trobe University - Bachelor of Health Sciences (Dentistry)/Master of Dentistry, Bachelor of Oral Health Science
- Monash University - Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Physiotherapy
- The University of Newcastle/University of New England - Bachelor of Medicine - Joint Medical Program
- The University of New South Wales - Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Optometry/Bachelor of Science
- The University of Otago - Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
- The University of Queensland - Doctor of Medicine (provisional entry - as of 2015)
- The University of Tasmania - Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
- The University of Western Australia - Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Dental Medicine
- The University of Western Sydney - Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Due to its inclusion as a mandatory admission requirement into medical and health science courses, as well as the highly competitive nature of entry into such courses, there has been some controversy regarding the UMAT's relevance, structure and necessity. ACER do not release their marking and scaling procedures. As well as this there are a number of different test booklets, with many of the questions uniquely appearing in one. From other tests administered by ACER (e.g. the Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA), it is known that ACER likes a simple version of item response theory presumed to correct for varying item difficulties. The accuracy of this scaling is, however, disputed.
- International Student Admissions Test (also created by ACER)
- GAMSAT (also created by ACER)
- List of admissions tests
- Controversy around medical students’ selection, University of Canberra.
- UMAT not a reliable predictor of uni success: study, Medical Observer
- University of Adelaide UMAT Information Session 2013, University of Adelaide.
- UMAT Percentile Graph 2011, Med Students Online
- The medical maze, The Age. Retrieved 2013-06-26
- Hopmann/Brinek/Retzl (eds.): PISA zufolge PISA—PISA According to PISA. Hält PISA, was es verspricht? Does PISA Keep What It Promises? Wien: Lit-Verlag 2007 (Reihe Schulpädagogik und Pädagogische Psychologie, Bd.6). ISBN 978-3-8258-0946-1. See in particular the essays by P. Allerup and J. Wuttke.