How I Scored 99.95 and 100th Percentile For UMAT – Steven Luu
Posted on January 24, 2014 by Steven Luu
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the HSC year is going to be an easy one if you follow these four simple steps. Looking back, my HSC year was difficult and at times completely overwhelming. However, these were the four things that helped me pull through those hard times and complete the year satisfied with what I achieved and how I achieved it.
1. Know your capabilities
I believe this is the most important tip I can offer. During my HSC experience, I constantly saw students worrying about how much everyone else was studying and trying to match it. This is the reason why I’m not going to quantify how much study you should do. There is no set number of hours that will maximise results for a particular student. There is no minimum amount; there is no maximum amount. Much like how every student is individual and unique, so are study habits. You must exhibit self-awareness, recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and establish a study habit that is specific to YOU. Only then can you reach your full potential and attain a depth of knowledge that you are content with.
2. Adopt a strong mindset
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face during the HSC year is receiving bad results. No matter how intelligent you are; you are bound to have disappointments over the course of the year. However, it is the decisions that you make in reaction to these setbacks that will dictate the outcome of your HSC experience. Students who are unable to move on from these obstacles become bogged down by their failures, which ultimately define them. However, students who understand that the HSC is about consistency and learn from their mistakes take control of their goals rather than letting it spiral out of their reach. The HSC is a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Notes and exam solutions are your best friend
One way to reduce stress during your HSC year is to write notes, especially for subjects where questions directly reference the syllabus (science subjects). In my opinion, notes should be concise and address the syllabus, allowing for a swift intake of dense material, reducing stress before exams. I believe notes should be prepared as the ultimate tool, such that a student can adequately answer any question in a variety of ways, solely using the information contained within their notes. You should also write your own notes as the process helps retain knowledge, even when the notes are not looked upon weeks or months later. My advice would be to complete your notes for each exam period two to three weeks prior to their start.
Exam solutions were another integral part to my HSC experience. I found that exam solutions were invaluable in refining my exam technique, training me to recognise the parts of syllabus being tested in each question. Also, when used in conjunction with marking guidelines, exam solutions greatly improved the conciseness and quality of my answers.
4. Time for chillin’
Yes, the advice that every student who has completed the HSC has handed down to students completing the HSC. It is THAT important. The HSC year is a hard one and to do it without giving yourself time to relax and enjoy life is unthinkable. Taking time out to have a break and pick up a hobby makes the year much more fun and also relieves a lot of stress, especially during exam periods.
So that’s the advice I have to give you guys tackling the pressures of the HSC. I know it seems very easy in my position having finished the HSC, but keep a positive outlook and embrace the challenges along the way. Who knows, you might find yourself actually having a good time.
Preparing for UMAT
This is going to be the most important test you do all year if you are intending on entering an undergraduate medical course. Here are some tips on how to approach the UMAT.
1. Be consistent with your practise
The most important thing about the UMAT is maintaining a consistent study habit throughout the year. As students begin to feel the stress of the HSC workload, they ditch their UMAT practice, and ultimately losing touch with their skills and the tough mindset required. Thus, I believe that students must treat the UMAT like a subject, allocating time each week to do drills, and in the 2 months before the exam, doing a two papers a week. Though the UMAT is one test, with regards to it helping you gain entry to a medical course, such as medicine at UNSW, it can be worth as much as your entire HSC year. Thus, it is only logical that you care as much about the UMAT as you do your ATAR.
2. Attempt UMAT papers under exam conditions
The most difficult aspect of preparing for the UMAT is doing those long, 3 hour exam papers. Many students do not take this part of the preparation seriously, taking many breaks in between the paper that would not be offered in the actual exam. Do the practice paper as if it were real, in 3 hours, no less, no more. Time constraints are very tough in the UMAT, especially in the real exam where stress plays a large factor.
My final tip is that you should review every single drill/practice paper you do. I don’t believe that you can’t train for UMAT, whether it be section 1/2/3, and the only way to get better is to learn from your mistakes. Reviewing practice papers are as important as doing them as learning from the answers and explanations allows you to adopt the correct mindset for each section.
In my opinion, the UMAT paper will be the hardest test you do all year and it should be treated as such. If sufficient time and effort is exerted into preparing for the UMAT, I’m sure you’ll get the results you want.
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