How I Got Into Medicine With 30th Percentile UMAT

Brynn OngHealth Science First Year, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

I have been asked waaaay too many times about my UMAT results and how I studied for it. I hope this post can answer these questions once and for all. The reason I have not written any posts on UMAT is simply because I suck at UMAT. 

Personally, I don’t think I can give much good UMAT advice but I can tell you my experience with UMAT in 2010.

My UMAT Results

Now for the big reveal….. my ACTUAL UMAT scores

Section 1: 46 (30th percentile)

Section 2: 45 (35 percentile)

Section 3: 50 (35th-40th percentile)

Overall Score: 47 (32 percentile)

How Did My UMAT Score Compare with My Peers?

Bad. Everyone was doing better than me. My scores were less than half for each sections! Most of my peers had 50th percentile and above for overall. Those gunning for medicine and dentistry had rocket high percentiles (80th to 99th percentiles). Needless to say, I was shattered and almost gave up for the year.

My Overall Experience With UMAT

If you have read my HSFY posts especially the “How I scored A+ and got into medicine” series, I was able to reflect on the mistakes I made and know what I can improve on. Each HSFY subject has  its own uniqueness, patterns and key elements to focus on. However, UMAT is different- I personally found UMAT very random, difficult and worst of all- it is biased.

UMAT is random- In my opinion, some of the questions make no sense to me. Eespecially questions that involve identifying emotion/ mood (I personally found it too abstract)

UMAT is difficult- I am not smart but definitely not stupid either- the questions are very difficult. You need to understand, interpret and pick the right/ closest answer in a very short period of time.

UMAT is biased- You need to be very, very good at reading fast and understand the questions especially for section 1 and 2. For those who failed the English diagnostic test or have average English language skills, UMAT will be very unforgiving to you. I would say I have slightly above average English language skills but still found it very challenging.

How Did I Prepare for UMAT?

I used resources like medentry and face2face. I did lots of practice questions a month prior to UMAT. I was scoring about 50th to 60th percentile in medentry and was feeling quite good for the real thing. But the actual UMAT exam turned out to be way harder than I thought. I think part of the reason is because of time pressure- you simply can’t read the same question over and over again. You need to read and understand fast, then pick the most accurate answer. That was a mission impossible for me. Moreover, I am a person who likes black and white facts. Any question that falls in the “grey zone” will confuse the heck out of me.

Honestly, I don’t know what I should have done differently. UMAT is just so ….. different from other exams!

How Did I Get Into Medicine With My UMAT Results?

I am sure most of you have heard that you need 80th percentile ++ to get into medicine. Undergraduate entry to medicine gets harder and harder every year. The cut off scores gets higher and higher every year. However, the entry criteria has not change over the years. Your entry into medicine depends on

2/3 overall best 7 HSFY paper scores + 1/3 UMAT scores

This is important to know- your HSFY papers marks are worth twice as much as your UMAT scores. My main point is that your HSFY paper score has a heavier weighting and they will determine your chances of getting into medicine.

So instead of giving up, I worked harder in semester 2. Read what I did differently in semester 2 here. I took an 8th optional paper as a backup. As a result, my average HSFY marks (92.8% based on my top 7 papers) pushed my over the cutoff mark and gave me a spot in medicine 2nd year.

So What Can You Do To Improve Your Chances in UMAT?

Again, I want to emphasise that I am no UMAT expert and I don’t think I can give good UMAT advice. But I have talked to friends and students who did extremely well with 80-90th percentile (read this post). Here is a summary of advice that they suggested

  1. Practice, practice, practice- do lots of practice and get yourself used to the type of questions
  2. Improve your ability to read fast, accurately and retain information (try learn speed reading)
  3. Read the answers before you read the question (an interesting advice that makes a lot of sense actually. By reading the answers then the questions- you start to process the answers and eliminate them as you read the question)
  4. Don’t spend too much time on a question- pick your best guess and move on (This is very true. If you have to keep re-reading the question, it is highly likely that you don’t know the correct answer)


UMAT is a hard test which I personally don’t think it accurately reflects your potential to be a doctor/ dentist. However, UMAT has become a standardised test and a pre-requisite to get into medical school for certain universities. There must be some good validity to the test that I fail to see. I hope this post gives you some insight to UMAT. Most importantly, I strongly urge you to NOT GIVE UP if you end up having terrible UMAT scores like me. All the best!


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