UMAT percentile and UMAT scores requirement for medicine and dentistry. What if I don't get the right mark?
ATAR, OP, and Year 12 academic achievement (Year 13 in New Zealand)
What to do if you don’t get into medicine in year twelve?
Without a doubt, the biggest fear for any hopeful medical student is the possibility of missing out on a spot in an undergraduate medical course. This is a realistic concern to have: the number of undergraduate medical places in Australia are limited, while the pool of applicants is large. Of course, the best way to prepare for this is to give yourself the best possible chance of earning one of these spots. Work hard in year twelve to secure a great ATAR; prepare for the UMAT as early and as thoroughly as possible; practice for your interview so that you can handle it well on the day. Doing each of these things will boost your prospects immensely.
However, you may find that you still miss out on a spot. If this happens, try to remember one thing: it is not the end of the world. Yes, you may feel like you’ve missed your chance, and you may have to watch other friends going straight into medicine. But there is no question that there are other ways to get into medicine, and that if you want it badly enough, you will get there eventually.
What marks do I need for undergraduate medicine?
This is a bit of a tricky question to answer, as each university uses different admissions criteria and has varying levels of stringency in who they will and wont accept. The university with which I have the most experience is Monash University in Melbourne, so I will use it as an example. Keep in mind, however, that Monash tends to have far higher admissions requirements than most other undergraduate medical courses in Australia (it is probably on par with UNSW), as it tends to have a greater number of applicants.
Monash has a complicated admissions process, comprised of your ATAR, UMAT and interview. In order to actually get an interview offer, your ATAR and UMAT will be considered equally (50% each) to determine who receives an interview. Once you get the interview, it will be considered equally along with your ATAR and UMAT (33% each) to determine who among the interview applicants will actually be offered a place. So basically, they are all of equal importance. In terms of what ATAR and UMAT you need, the two are proportional. The higher your ATAR, the lower your UMAT can be. I have seen a student with an ATAR of 98 be given a place, however this student had a UMAT of 99. I have also seen students with UMAT scores in the low 80s receive offers, but they had ATARs over 99.00. In general, if you can secure an ATAR in the low 99s (e.g. 99.00-99.3), and a UMAT in the mid 80s, you have a decent chance of getting a spot with Monash, depending on how well you interview. These figures are just guidelines, but they offer a ballpark view of the sort of numbers you need to be aiming at.
I didn’t get in – what now?
So you didn’t get in – that’s okay. Cry for a few days, watch some rom-coms, then pick yourself up and get back to work. The most direct option is simply to take a gap year and re-sit the UMAT. Keep in mind however, that you will not be able to change your ATAR, so this option is only worthwhile if you think your ATAR is fairly solid. This option has a number of perks:
• You get a year off, in which you can travel and work. The UMAT can often be taken overseas in several locations (e.g. London), provided there is an Australian consulate/embassy.
• You have more time to think about medicine and to prepare for the UMAT.
• You have more maturity.
I know of a number of people who took this option, and are now studying medicine. While you may be tempted to worry about whether you can even improve your UMAT, there are numerous students who studied hard, and prepared as much as they could for the UMAT in year twelve, only to re-sit it a year later and gain a much better mark. So many things chance in a year’s time – less pressure from school, more maturity, different experiences. Even if you worked hard in year twelve, you can still improve your score dramatically.
What about post-grad?
Post-graduate medical courses are another great option for those of you who are set on medicine, or who simply enjoy science. Most post-graduate medical courses are four years long, and require you to complete a three year undergraduate degree in science or biomedical science first. You will be admitted to a postgraduate medical course based on a combination of your GPA (your marks at university), your GAMSAT score (the postgraduate equivalent of UMAT) and usually an interview.
This option works for many people for a number of reasons. Firstly, the number of applicants is lower than in undergraduate equivalents. Secondly, the GAMSAT is more knowledge-based than aptitude-based, and so many people who struggled with the UMAT are able to handle the GAMSAT more capably. Thirdly, you have three extra years to mature, and this will help you in your application. You also get the opportunity to earn a different degree, study other areas and have a completely different experience of university and life, and that is not at all a bad thing.
I just want to be a doctor...
At the end of the day, there are multiple pathways to becoming a doctor. Undergraduate medicine is the shortest and most direct of these, but in the scheme of a 50-year career, one or two years difference is a fairly inconsequential number. If medicine is your path, and being a doctor is your goal, that’s where you’ll end up.