Hope everyone is safe and well during these unusual times. With schools closing early and everyone finding themselves with months of free time ahead I’ve had a few questions about what you can do help your medical school application. I appreciate this may be a difficult time for some of you and by no means do you have to do any of this, but for anyone who’s trying to find out what they could do, here are some pointers…
This post is written aimed at those who’ll be finishing year 12 this year, so is specifically tailored to the position you will all be at, however, feel free to read if you’re here earlier (Or even later) than this as there will be tips that’ll be applicable to you all.
1. Consolidate your A-level learning
This is number 1 on my list because it is by far the most important. Though your schools and colleges may have closed you’ll still have content to cover and it’s therefore so SO important that you focus most of your energy on this. This isn’t your Summer holidays so you do need keep on top of learning first year content so you have that learnt and practised to the best of your ability before the next year begins. I’ve written a blog post summarising the way I revised for my A-levels which may help.
After you’ve made sure you’ve sorted out this year’s learning you may even want to consider jumping ahead and having a little look at Year 2 content. This definitely isn’t a must (I know I was never one for jumping ahead with content), but it may be worthwhile as second year of A-levels does get pretty intense and you’ll relieve some of the weight of application pressure and managing workload by doing so. I’ve published my A-level notes and many students have found it helpful to use them as they condense all the key points for both Biology and Chemistry. Check them out here!
2. Start Working on Your Personal Statement
The personal statement is something you should have finished and pretty much perfected before starting Year 13, so now’s the time to start. A personal statement takes time, and many many revisions so don’t leave it till the end of your Summer to begin working on it. Mine took 11 drafts, months of late nights and lots of tears to have it the way I wanted! I know writing a PS is not easy, you start with an empty word document have the cursor blinking at you and you have no idea where to go or how you want yours to read. In actual fact, writing a PS is a methodical Science and there is an approach to it. I specifically designed a Personal Statement Planner to help aspiring medics draw out the most relevant experiences, structure it appropriately and include buzzwords that’ll impress admissions tutors. Click here to get yourself a copy of my planner! And for more advice on how to make writing your personal statement easier, click here!
3. Keep up With Medical News
I know the news can be a little over-bearing at the minute so take your time with it. But all I’m saying here is don’t stop reading about other things happening or things that have recently happened in the medical world: recent advancements, ethical topics, NHS pressures etc. I always say you don’t need to be reading any fancy journals or anything like that, BBC Health and Guardian Healthcare are more than sufficient. You also don’t need to memorise news articles or anything like that, the idea is that it builds your awareness of the medical world. Don’t just read passively, but try to mentally reflect and think analytically on the issues you’re reading about. You may want to discuss anything of interest with family, friends, other potential medical school applicants where possible – doing all that will help build your critical thinking skills which will be of great help when it comes to interviews! When I was applying for Medicine, I used to write up short reflections on areas that interested me. Here are 5 of the most useful ones that might be worth you having a read over.
4. Read Some Medical Books
Because why not? They’re enjoyable and at the same time you’re building on your insight into the medical profession. I’ll list a few that’d I’ve read/are popular amongst medical students and medical school applicants:
5. Get Some Virtual Work Experience
I’ve heard some of you with concerns regarding no longer being able to get the work experience that you have planned to do so over the Summer. The first thing I want to say is please don’t worry, a lot of other students will be in the same position as you and the situation we’re in was unavoidable and medical schools will understand better than anyone else. There’s an excellent Virtual Work Experience online course put on by Brighton and Sussex Medical School which you can enrol on to for free and it looks amazing, so that may be worth checking out. You’ll even get a certificate of completion for it!
6. Think About Where You Want to Apply
The application deadline is in October so not too far away at all, you should definitely start ruling in and ruling out universities. University open days will not be possible in the same way they were before, but a lot of universities are producing extra online content to help give you a better idea of what it’s like to study there. Some universities are even considering putting on virtual open days so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the medical school’s you’re interested in.
Besides the open days, each medical school has a website with a wealth of information on it. You should start making a list of all the potential places and then check their selection criteria on their websites and decide how likely you are to match each one. If you’re confused about anything or have more questions that the websites aren’t able to answer, I’m here and free to help out and so are hundreds of other med students, you just have to say hi! You can contact me on instagram or submit a question anonymously via my #AskAMedStudent series!
7. Start Preparing for the UCAT/BMAT
This is at the bottom of my list because it’s something you should think about doing in a few months time. Right now if you can vaguely decide where you want to apply you’ll then know which of the admissions tests you’ll have to sit and then after that you can start preparing.
Here’s my ultimate UCAT tips post answering the most commonly asked questions, advising you on how to prepare.
Here’re are my posts with more advice on the BMAT as well as my strategy for approaching BMAT questions.
I hope that’s helped provide a little more direction and clarity. Remember take things at your own pace and to look after yourself. Any questions or worries, feel free to get in touch!