In year 11 your main focus should definitely be your GCSEs and getting the best grades you can in those. Your grades don’t have to be perfect but a lot of medical students do have a good number of As at GCSE, so the more 8 and 9s you’re able top secure now the more medical schools you’ll meet the entry requirements for.
Throughout year 11 you can also slowly start gathering any work experience that you can, but this is likely to be difficult if you’re not 16 yet. Don’t worry if you can’t secure any medical work experience as most people wouldn’t have at that stage, but perhaps keep a lookout for places you can apply to as soon as you finish your GCSEs, particularly for voluntary posts. A lot of medical schools like to see evidence of long-term volunteering (minimum 6 months) and the longer the better. As soon as I turned 16 I submitted my application to volunteer at a hospice and I managed to do that for 1 and a half years before submitting my UCAS application, so it’s definitely worth finding out places that will take on students as volunteers near you and getting in touch with them as soon as possible.
If there are any opportunities to gain a further insight into medicine: online conferences, careers fairs etc. you should definitely attend those to help develop your understanding of what medicine is like and what the later stages of the application process will involve. It’s never to early to start building insight and confirming whether medicine is for you.
Finally, if you’ve finished year 11 and are waiting to begin year 12 all of the above would apply, but I’d like to put a strong emphasis on trying to find a voluntary role. Sometimes you might find yourself contacting a lot of different places before you find someone willing to let you volunteer so it’s better you start asking round as early as possible. Also have a search of local hospital trusts near you to see if any of them offer any work experience schemes – you normally have to apply for them so make note of any application deadlines to make sure you don’t miss out.
I wouldn’t recommend pre-preparing for A-levels over the Summer period as you’ll need to find put what specifications you’ll be following and it’s probably best if you follow along with your class. You can learn for A-levels in a similar way to GCSEs, the only difference is that A-levels go into more depth and are a little more applied so you’ll find yourself doing more practice questions and past papers that you would have done for GCSE.
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