Medicine is one of the most demanding and taxing lines of study amongst all. It most definitely is not everyone’s cup of tea. I really hope all of you reading this article know what you are getting into. It is one of the hardest career paths to embark on but extremely rewarding, fulfilling and personally satisfactory.
I’m sure all of you are determined to start your journey on this wonderful path, so let me guide you on how you can do that, specifically for those of you who are planning to pursue this career in the United Kingdom.
The application for medicine isn’t like all the others in the UCAS. Medicine applicants have to fill in the UCAS form and other details like applicants for all other course but they also have medical entrance tests
- UKCAT (United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test)
- This test helps universities to make more informed choices from amongst the many highly-qualified applicants to medical and dental programs. It helps to ensure that candidates selected have the most appropriate mental abilities, attitudes and professional behavior required for new doctors and dentists to be successful in their clinical careers. It is used in collaboration with other admissions processes such as the personal statement and academic qualifications.
- To those of you reading the article, do not take this test lightly. This test is far from easy. It is a demanding test which requires practice. And trust me when I say this that only practice can make you excel in the test. The test is divided into 4 graded sections and one section which is graded in bands (sent to university- but not included in the UKCAT score)
- Verbal Reasoning
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Decision Analysis
- Situational Judgment Test (Banded)
- You will receive your marks for each of the individual subtests (Verbal reasoning, Quantitative reasoning, Abstract reasoning and Decision analysis) and also the average of these – this is your actual UKCAT score. The UKCAT scaled score is between 300 and 900, and the average candidate scores around 600-although this differs every year. Your target should be to score an average of 700.
- I recommend that along with UKCAT coaching, you should try to do some full practice tests on the computer, as there is a lot of difference between doing practice in books and on a computer (Windows Desktop) with proper timing and the online calculator. For online practice checkout (Medify)
- BMAT (Biomedical aptitude test)
- The Bio-Medical Admissions Test (BMAT) is a subject-specific admissions test for applicants to medicine, veterinary medicine and similar courses at universities. The BMAT is a 2-hour, pen-and-paper test divided into three sections. It does not require a lot of extra study as it is a test of skills and knowledge that learners are expected to have already. The BMAT is owned and administered by the Admissions Testing Service.
- The BMAT is divided into three sections:
- Aptitude and Skills
- Scientific Knowledge and Applications
- Writing Task
That sums up the basic criteria to even be able to apply to medical school. Coming to the next segment of your application, the personal statement. The personal statement has to very articulate and structured and you should realize that this is one of the only platforms where you can market yourself, and make your passion for the career palpable to the university admission officers. Some of the skills and qualities that they look for in a prospective medicine student are such as but not limited to
- Communication skills,
- Manual dexterity (in case of surgery),
- Patience and tolerance,
- Handwriting, writing skills,
- Ability to comfort people,
- Caring, kind, helpful,
- Ability to handle delicate situations with grace,
- Ability to adapt to change.
- Quick reaction time, ability to make split second decisions which are well informed,
- Analytical thinking,
- Be aware of medical discoveries
- Respect for religious practices, and doctrine
There is one mantra that applies to every aspect of the medicine application is “Quality is paramount” not quantity. Your personal statement has to effectively reflect your characteristics and how they make you apt for the career. In the case of medicine there is an almost compulsory necessity for job experience. The medical colleges in the UK are looking for someone who knows what they are getting into and understands the scope, vastness and what this career demands out of an individual. It’s also important for you as an individual to completely grasp what you are getting into be the means of observing the health professionals in action. In the case of the job experience, what you learnt during that period and how that inspired you is what is important and not how long you shadowed a doctor, or how many different doctors you shadowed. Your personal statement should be written by you. It is advised for you to take at-least one person’s opinion while writing your personal statement.
Once you are satisfied with your personal statement we move on to the next step: University Choices.
Three types of teaching styles in medical universities
- PBL – Problem Based Learning
- Integrated (A mix of PBL and Traditional)
- Clinical exposure is given very early on in the course
- Traditional – Lecture based
- Three years of lecture based learning followed by clinical exposure 4th year onwards.
So your choices of universities should really depend on what kind of student you are and how you approach your studies. The teaching style in the university should be the first thing you look for while making the choice. You should definitely look at the overall rankings of the universities, their student satisfaction rates and their specific entry requirements to understand whether you make the cut, and whether or not that university is the right fit for you where you can flourish and succeed. (Rankings)
Every university only has a limited number of seats for international applicants. The number is generally lower than 25 seats per academic year. So be sure to check the admission rate of your chosen university before you apply, so you can estimate your chances of getting an interview call.
There are largely two types of interviews we look at in medical schools,
- Panel Style Interview
- Multiple Mini Interview
- Personality Based
- Analytical skills Based
Before choosing your university, you should reflect on what kind of interview you would succeed at, and apply accordingly. There are also schools with no interviews (Edinburgh), generally more academic oriented.
In the UK, one can only apply to 5 universities, and much to our regret only to 4 medical universities and 1 back up university. When choosing the four universities, I would suggest follow the REACH, MATCH, MATCH and SAFETY technique. As the title probably suggests, you should choose one target university which is one of the best in the field (REACH), followed by two universities which are good and match your credentials and current scores (MATCH) and one university you are sure you will get an offer from (SAFETY).
Hope you found this article helpful. Leave questions down below in the comments and we will try our best to get back to you.
GOOD LUCK FUTURE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor!
Note for Parents, Students, Counsellors: The information above was to the best of our knowledge at the time that this article was published. With every application cycle, or sometimes even during it, Colleges and Universities may change dates, policies, available majors and other relevant information. These updates will be reflected on the College and University websites themselves.
Please refer to the official college websites in addition to reading these articles. These articles are written only to provide general guidelines to students, not as a substitute for individual college websites.