Top tips on how to put together a successful application to study Medicine from student Faye...
1. Know what the University wants
All medical schools have different requirements and it’s crucial to know what they want from you, so you can pick a medical school whose requirements align with your strengths. For example, some medical schools place a lot of importance on your GCSE scores, whereas others focus more on UKCAT scores.
The Medical Schools Council is a useful resource to use when comparing medical schools!
2. Get hands on work experience (not just shadowing)
Volunteering at a care home, for a local sports team, or at a charity shop for an hour a week is far more valuable than following a doctor around for weeks on end and most universities recognise this. Although shadowing gives a useful insight into the career, before you are a medical student you can’t actually do anything in hospitals. In comparison, volunteering experience can be used in your personal statement to demonstrate skills that are more applicable to medicine.
3. Keep a diary on work experience
This will be invaluable for when you go to write your personal statement and need examples of times when you have demonstrated skills that show you are suitable for medicine (e.g. empathy, communication, teamwork etc).
4. Expand your knowledge beyond your A-levels
Keep up to date on current medical topics. I did this by downloading the BBC news app and setting my interests as science, medicine and the NHS. You could also read articles on the BMJ or other journals. If you read an article you find genuinely interesting, you could talk about it in your personal statement or interview! Just make sure you know the topic well and aren’t trying to show off because you may be caught out.
5. Know your admissions tests
Most medical schools ask for you to do a UCAT, however some ask for the BMAT. Make sure you check directly on the university website which one they want as other websites (UCAS or Medical Schools Council) may be slightly delayed.
Once you know what admissions test you need to take, book it! Book as early as possible, as test dates and centres get booked up quickly and may be far away from where you live. Additionally, if you book your test early in the season, and get sick or don’t feel ready, you can cancel the test and book it later on in that season and still apply that year.
There are plenty of online resources for the UCAT like ‘Medify’. With the UCAT, the questions aren’t THAT hard; it’s the timing that makes it virtually IMPOSSIBLE, which makes practicing on your timing so important.
6. Don't listen to anyone who tells you "you can't practice"
You will hear countless people tell you this - usually in relation to UCAT or interviews. This is completely wrong. Use (reliable) online resources and practice, practice, practice! At least you will walk into that interview/admissions test with confidence and knowing you did everything you could to secure your place at medical school.
7. Get your grades!
Above all this has to be your priority! If you are lucky enough to get an offer, don’t let it slip through your hands. Work hard to get a minimum of 3 As and don’t take your eyes off the prize!