The following article has been published by UCAT NIE – The National Institute of Education nie.edu.au and republished here with permission.
BEWARE PARENTS, TEACHERS and STUDENTS!
The shift from UMAT to UCAT took place without much warning and with only the university admission offices having been made aware ahead of the change. For everyone else it did come as a surprise and truth be told, it has created a lot of work for people like us who had spent a lot of time researching and developing courses for the UMAT. But at the end of the day, this change is nothing new in the education and training industry and something that every professional educator has to anticipate and be prepared for all the time.
While most students are completely oblivious to this fact, the school syllabus and curriculum gets updated on regular basis just about every year and sometimes these changes can be quite pronounced. But you do not see teachers walking off the job or panicking about the changes. This is because it is a part of our job and when changes happen, you just need to adapt, create new lesson plans, resources and get on with teaching. Change and ongoing learning is a part of a teacher’s job description!
On the other hand, there are opportunistic individuals and businesses, that absolutely love big changes. The fact is, that there is always some anxiety associated with change and if you can turn the anxiety into fear and panic, then you can easily make some money out of it. This business model is not new and has been used for centuries by everyone form backyard salesmen to very large cooperation who capitalise on fear. In-fact in today’s world, we are completely surrounded by it, from organic labels on water bottles, to outrageous insurance policies and unrealistic security threat prevention technology, the list goes on and on. While addressing many of the above fear campaigns is well outside of our scope, the fear campaign about UCAT is definitely something that we can address.
Since the introduction of the UCAT in late September 2018, we have been seeing more and more opportunistic businesses coming out of the woodworks, targeting parents, career teachers and students directly and capitalising on their fear. Their strategy is simple:
Create doubt and disappointment in your current level of preparation.
Create doubt and distrust in your current resources, teachers and tutors.
Enforce the belief that the only chance of surviving the UCAT is with them and they are the only specialists!
Common lines and misleading information that is used by these companies and individuals include:
UCAT is a completely different test than UMAT!
Situation judgement is a completely new construct and no one in Australia knows anything about it!
UCAT is based on UKCAT so you should stick with a company from UK.
And, have you seen the completely new Abstract Reasoning questions?
While some of the above statements have some element of truth, they are mostly misused only for one purpose. To scare and make a sale…. so do not fall for these cheap tricks. Most of the companies that are now targeting Australia are from the United Kingdom, but on the same token, Australia is not short of its own, home-grown con artists who are joining the panic band.
The truth about UCAT does require a much better explanation, but in short
“YOU SHOULD NOT PANIC!”
Everything about the UCAT is good news for anyone who will be sitting this new style of admission test to get into medicine or dentistry. It is understandable that you maybe worried about having been preparing for the UMAT until now, but it is OK. Your preparation has not been in vain and you have not wasted your time. While the UCAT is structured and administered differently than the UMAT, most of the skills that you learned while preparing for the UMAT are still very relevant and directly transferable.
For instance, Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the UCAT tests the exact same skills that Construct 1 of the UMAT was testing. Except, now the skills of UMAT’s Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving have been broken down into specific sub-construct such as Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making and Quantitative Reasoning. Hence, anything you learned while preparing for Construct 1 of the UMAT would have prepared you for the first three sections of the UCAT.
As for the Construct 2 of the UMAT, yes, it is true that this section is no longer relevant directly. But then again, skills learned in Understanding People, do provide a very solid foundation for conflict resolution and situational awareness. The only main different is that now, with the new section of the UCAT (section 5: Situational Judgement), you do need to change your perspective as you need to internalise the scenarios and put more emphasis on putting yourself in other people’s shoes while thinking of your answer choice from the medical ethics standpoint. The fear campaign by overseas organisations that Australian company’s do not have the knowledge to teach for this section is completely bogus. Situational judgement is not a new testing concept in Australia by any means. This particular testing construct has been used by many universities, collages and various industries long before the UCAT. Some universities like University of Newcastle, and Bond University already had Situational Judgement questions in their additional admission criteria into undergraduate medical courses. While we cannot speak for other Australian companies, we can assure you that NIE has been training students for this construct long before its introduction in the UCAT.
And finally, there is the scare tactic about the Abstract Reasoning section (S4). OK, with this section there are some substantial changes. But 1/3rd of the skills that students learned for the Construct 3 of the UMAT is still directly relevant. Section 4 of the UCAT still has the “Continue the Sequence” questions, exactly as they were presented in the UMAT. As for the other question types, while they are different, they are really not as difficult as the Construct 3 questions of the UMAT. Hence, preparing for them is really not rocket-science and can be achieved with some consistency and perseverance.
At this point, you may be asking yourself…so if NIE thinks that they know how to prepare students for the UCAT then why did they partner with a KAPLAN? The answer is simple! NIE does not provide a half-baked service. We know that preparing new and relevant resources will take some time, yet we have a professional obligation to many of our clients to provide them with up-to- date advice and service. The UCAT being adopted from the UK, meant that there had to be a good quality service provider in the UK. We researched a number of service providers and realised that KAPLAN preparation resources were miles ahead of other companies in the UK. And so, the logical choice was to join hands with them and offer their products to our Australian clients with some added personalised services.
Meanwhile, we are still working on other resources. We are reviewing other publisher’s books and will have some of them on offer once we have narrowed our choice down to a good few.
In conclusion, whether you are a UCAT candidate, a parent or a teacher, please do not be worried about the UCAT. The positives of the UCAT outweighs any negatives by a long shot and we truly believe it is a change for the better. And if you are still worried or have any questions, just pick up your phone and call us direct on ph: 1300 974 187 / mob. 0412 439 115 OR write to us to firstname.lastname@example.org