Applying for Medicine is a long and complicated process of entrance exams, voluntary work, interviews…and if you’re just deciding you want to go for it and apply, it can seem like you’ve got a long road to travel. Applying to university isn’t the most straightforward of things and choosing Medicine adds another whole layer of complication to it. In today’s post I’m going to be breaking down the application process and summarising the different things you need to check off at various stages.
(This post was requested by one of the readers of this blog. If you have a topic you want me to write a post on, let me know here. Also head over and check my #AskAMedStudent series to see if any of your questions have already been answered!)
Year 9 – Year 11
Most people will probably start considering Medicine seriously at some point in the second half of their time at high school. You may start developing a bit of an insight into the career by talking to people, and maybe even attending careers fairs and things similar to that. At this stage you might not be sure about Medicine, but you’ll probably be thinking about applying for it and considering whether the career suits you.
The first thing I did with regards to my journey of applying for Medicine was attend the Medlink Exhibition, which was a huge event where they had lots of different medical schools, students, and doctors from different specialities. Even though I spent the whole day saying to my friend “I still don’t even know if I want to do Medicine”, it was really good thing to go to because it gave me a huge overview of the profession, of medical school and the application process…and that got me thinking about it more realistically.
Most schools offer work experience, so even though you won’t be old enough to sit in a GP surgery or in certain hospital specialties, you may want to consider getting some insight into healthcare if possible.
At this stage you’ll also be thinking about your A levels, so if you’re keeping Medicine as an option you’ll need to make sure you’re choosing the correct subjects. Chemistry is required by almost every Medical School and a second science is usually required as well. A selection of medical schools also specify that they’d like Biology, so make sure you look into it properly before choosing your subjects. You also need to make sure you finish high school with the appropriate GCSE grades.
By the time you start college/sixth form you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether you want to apply. Having now turned 16 you should be trying to get all your work experience. Ideally you’re wanting to experience primary care and secondary care. Work experience can take a long time to organise and you might be turned down by a lot of people you ask…so make sure you start early! It’s really important that you keep a work experience diary reflecting on everything you do all the way throughout. A common question everyone asks is how do you actually reflect on work experience? and the great things is that I’ve written a post answering just that. If you want to see examples of my reflections, make sure you go and head over here.
At the beginning of year 12 you should be thinking about getting a voluntary role somewhere as well. Places people tend to go to include charity shops, nursing homes and hospices…but there are many other options. You want to be doing this for a minimum of 6 months before you submit your application, a year would be even better!
Over this year you’ll probably start thinking about where you want to apply as well. You should start looking to attend lots of university open days so you can see which medical schools you’d enjoy being at the most and also which ones’ criteria you fit the best so you can maximise your chances of getting in! Don’t skip this step, you may be thinking that you can find out everything you need from their website, but that’s not true! You need to actually go there for yourself and quite often the admissions tutors mention the type of thing they’re looking for in the personal statement during their talks…so go and pay attention and get a heads up!
The Summer after Year 12
This period of time is absolutely critical and you’ll have a whole bunch of things that you must do over this time. Firstly, you MUST start UKCAT practise as soon as your AS exams are over. Spend the summer brushing up on each of the different sections and book your test for some time within the summer period. Do not leave your test date to after you return back to college. The statistics show that those who sit the test in September score significantly worse than those who do in the months before – so make sure you don’t fall into that category!
You also need to get that personal statement written. It doesn’t have to be the final perfected piece, but a nearly completed one should be what you’re aiming for. Don’t think you can quickly get your personal statement done and dusted over the short time you have once you return to college – you must use the summer wisely for it. Mine took 11 drafts and it’s likely that you will also re-write it a crazy number of times!
You may also think about re-visiting some of your potential university choices near the end of the summer, especially since you’ll have your UKCAT score so you’ll be able to use that as a tool to see if it’d be worth an application to certain places. Have a read of my advice on how to use your UKCAT score, especially if you didn’t get what you were hoping. If you are going to do BMAT, start preparation for that about now as well. Here are some BMAT prep tips to get you started.
Once you get back to college, everything will be a blur – you have less than 1 and a half months to get your UCAS application sent off. You’ll have to focus on putting the finishing touches on your personal statement and filling out the UCAS form. The UCAS form just consists of lots of personal details, your exam grades, predicated grades…a bunch of things like that. There’s also a reference that you teacher writes for you. For some reason everyone has a huge panic over this, but don’t worry about it…it basically doesn’t hold any weight. If you have any sort of extenuating circumstances or need to explain anything, you might want to talk to your teacher and they’ll be able to add it to their reference which will provide an explanation for the university.
Anyone doing the BMAT will have to sit that as well at the beginning of year 13. There are now 2 different dates available for the BMAT, one in September and one in November. Obviously, go for the September one as then you’ll receive your score before you apply so you’ll have the privilege of using it more strategically!
After submitting your application, there are 3 things you should do. Find out what they are here!
Invitations for interviews will start coming in at various different times depending on where you’ve applied after the deadline date. Typically they come just before/after Christmas, which makes most of the interviews some time in January (can be earlier/later though). After doing the BMAT, I would say to spend a little bit of time everyday doing some form of interview prep. There’s lots of different ways you can prepare, so try to mix it up and try some of the different ways I’ve suggested here.
Interview preparation is important, but don’t go crazy over it, remember you have important A-level exams too. Make sure you balance your time well and remember that a lot more of your time should be weighted towards your exams!
After interviews, you’ll hear back with offers or rejections at various different times. Some universities will send them out together whereas others will do it in batches. It might be worth finding out when you should expect to hear back from the unis so you’re not waiting in anticipation several months in advance. Typically, by the end of March you should have heard from every university. Hopefully it’ll be good news, and if you are lucky enough to have more than one offer, you’ll then have to choose a firm and an insurance choice before the beginning of May.
And the final last hurdle (whether you’ve received any offers or not), will be tackling those A-level exams and results day – possibly the biggest hurdle of them all! Check out my top 3 A-level revision tips!
Good luck to all those of you on this journey, or about to start!
P.S. Whatever stage you are at now, definitely make sure you subscribe to this blog to make sure that you don’t miss out any of the tips and advice that so many others are already benefitting from!