Medicine @ Exeter | Q&A

These questions have been answered by Molly, a 5th year medical student at University of Exeter.

What is most likely to come up in Exeter interviews and how should I prepare specifically for Exeter?

The interview structure has changed quite a bit since I was there, as mine was a traditional panel interview and now they use MMIs. However from my experience of doing 3 MMIs most universities tend to ask similar questions. Prepare for generic questions such as “why Medicine” and “why Exeter”, discussing your work experience and what you learned from it, and how to answer ethical questions (I used the ABCDE method to remember the points to cover – autonomy, beneficence, confidentiality/consent, do no harm, equality). Also think of key examples of where you have demonstrated important skills such as team work, communication and leadership. This should help you prepare for any MMIs.

How should I prepare for the MMIs?

Think of key points to answer the common questions that I have mentioned in my answer to the question above, but don’t try and memorise answers as you’ll come across rehearsed and ingenuine. Go back over notes that you made on your work experience/volunteering and think about what you learned and why that will make you a good medical student. Practice being succinct in your answers as you won’t have much time at each station. Perhaps invest in a book of practice questions and practice with friends and family so you become more confident. It might also be worth practicing role play stations as these can feel very forced and fake as it’s such a strange situation!

How much choice do you get to intercalate? Are you only allowed to intercalate if you are in the top X% of the year or can you just intercalate if you want?

This may change by the time you get there, but the top 20% of the year are given an automatic offer to intercalate, and everyone else apart from the bottom 20% can apply and are given the places that are left over. In my year everyone who wanted to intercalate managed to do it so it wasn’t an overly competitive process, but again this changes year to year. I believe your choice of course may also be affected by your ranking, as only a certain number are allowed to intercalate in courses outside of the medical school (e.g. medical sciences, clinical education) so for that it helps if you’re in the top 20% but other than that you should still be able to intercalate regardless.

How do they use the UCAT?

I would advise you to always check the entry requirements on the website here:

However I believe the UCAT score and the academic score are combined to rank candidates for selection for interview, and academic score is derived from your predicted A-level grades. So the more A*s you have predicted the more you can get away with an “average” UCAT score. I think there is also an overall UCAT threshold that everyone invited to interview has to meet, but this changes every year. In my year it was an average of around 680, but the year before it was 702.5 so it really depends on how everyone else does.

Do they accept applicants who have to retake exams due to this year’s A-level exams being cancelled?

Unfortunately I don’t think I can answer this question as this year’s circumstances are very unique. I think your best bet would be to contact the admissions team who will be able to advise you further. Sorry I couldn’t be more help with that one!

Is it expensive to live there?

I would say it’s less expensive than London but more expensive than a lot of other university cities. To give you an estimate, my rent is about £480 a month for an average house, and all other costs are pretty much the same as anywhere else! I guess I spend less on travel than I would in some other places as you can walk pretty much anywhere in the city, or buses are quite cheap so I’ve managed to get away with not having a car for 4 years! Also if you choose to go to Truro for a portion of your course it’s a bit cheaper there than in Exeter.

Which campus would you advise living in?

Personally I would advise living near St Luke’s because that’s where you’ll spend the majority of your time over the first 2 years. I had friends who lived on Streatham campus, which is about a 45 minute walk to St Luke’s, and they enjoyed being more in the “hub” of everything in terms of society activity etc, but did say the distance became a bit of a pain. But then if you like cycling it probably wouldn’t be too bad!

How big is the medical school – how many students approximately?

In my year there were 125 students, but they’ve expanded significantly since then. I think there are now about 200 per year group but I can’t find anything to back this up!

How are you taught communication skills?

You start off with a short taught session on history taking, firstly in general, and then more specifically on certain systems (e.g. sexual health history, neuro history). You then practice with your peers, either one-to-one or in front of the group and get feedback on your communication. Sometimes they bring in actors to pretend to be patients, and they also give you feedback which is really valuable! In addition to this you have specific sessions on breaking bad news, communicating with deaf and blind people, communicating to a team etc. You’re given loads of opportunities to practice before you go to the wards, which I found really really useful, as you think you’re decent at communicating but actually end up learning lots of super helpful techniques that you hadn’t thought of before. They also have cameras in the clinical skills area and you get allocated your own sim card, so you can film your own simulated consultations and watch them back to reflect later.

What’s your favourite thing about the city of Exeter?

I love that it’s small enough to feel like home and you find your way around really quickly, but also big enough that there’s lots going on! Everywhere is walkable so it’s easy to just walk down to the highstreet, or to the club for your night out (saves a lot of money on taxis!), which also helps to keep me active and fit! It’s also so close to the coast so it’s really easy to go somewhere pretty for a day out on the weekend! Oh, and also the food! There are loads of great food places ha!

How far can clinical placements be?

When you’re based in Exeter they can be based pretty much anywhere in Devon, but they do try to send you to places that are travellable by public transport or pair you up with someone who has a car if it’s far away! They will also reimburse you some money for any placements over a certain number of miles.

Are there opportunities to get involved with research whilst studying there?

Absolutely! I actually got published in my 3rd year because of work I did on a Student Selected Unit. Everyone does an SSU in 3rd year that is solely based on research, and I was lucky as the group I was allocated to where really keen on helping me get published, but even if you don’t have that you can always seek out opportunities. The key is to show enthusiasm and make good contacts! You can also choose to intercalate in a subject that has a research component. Exeter University is really active in research, so it’s a great place to be if you’re interested in that.

How are your clinical years structured?

In 3rd and 4th year you rotate around most of the different hospital specialties (1 or 2 weeks in each) as well as spending a few weeks in GP. Every week we have to write up a patient case and present it to our supervising consultant to get feedback, and we also have clinical competencies to complete. In addition we have an academic day every week where we have lectures and clinical skills teaching. In final year you have 5 blocks of 5 week placements, so you get to really get involved with the ward team and make a difference, and then you also have your elective where you get to go and experience medicine somewhere else in the world and travel a bit! Then you have your “Preparation for Practice” block where you shadow a junior doctor in preparation for starting work!

Thank you Molly for answering these questions! You can follow her on Twitter:

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Posted by:Life of a Medic

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