In the second year of Applican’s UKCAT course we adjusted and strengthened the course that we delivered to over 100 students in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. We are very proud that our students excelled in one of the toughest and most competitive scoring years of the UKCAT yet. The data below was collated from those students who completed our survey:
Applican 2018 Average: 2653 (663)
Find below the preliminary scores for the UKCAT - note these are not the final scores but an indication of the averages.
And thats a wrap for our 2018 Intense UKCAT courses! This year we helped over 75 students across Northern Ireland, Scotland and England with their UKCAT preparation. Here is what they thought:
100% of students found the course beneficial for their UKCAT preparation
100% of students would recommend the course to a friend
Everyone knows that applying to the University of Edinburgh medical school is tough. They do not use interviews for undergraduate selection and therefore the personal statement is of paramount importance. Until now, the crafting of this personal statement has been a relative guessing game relying on the information form the medical school webpages for an idea of what the screening panel are looking for.
Applican have gained access to the selectors handbook from 2017 which details the mark scheme that the panel utilise to rank medical school personal statements.
The General Selection Points
- There is one place at Edinburgh Medical School for every 12 Scottish students who apply.
- 46% of offers were made to those applicants who scored in the top UKCAT octile. 28% of offers were made to those who scored in the second octile.
- Undergraduate applications are split into 40 points - note that SJT is max 6 points and the top UKCAT octile gets you 8 points. For those scoring top academic points, the 6 non academic (personal statement) points are the differentiator.
- Your Higher/GCSE grades are ranked based on your scores for the academic component.
The Personal Statement
Two selectors will read your personal statement and they will be looking for the level of reflection that you show across three areas. Only the top 10% of applicants of each domain will achieve an excellent grade and receive top scores.
- Personal Qualities
Do you show you are suitable to be a doctor? Have you shown good interpersonal skills? Have you shown a high level of both written and verbal communication?
- Career Exploration
Have you shown an informed application? Have you shown interest in reading and science in the medical career? Evidence of work with 'diseased, disabled or disadvantaged' people.
- Non academic achievement
A good statement will show a broad range of interests across music, arts or sports. Those applicants who have achievements at a local, national or international level seem to achieve more points. Furthermore, evidence of leadership, organisational abilities and social responsibility.
The selection process to Edinburgh Medical School is so competitive. Scoring top points in the personal statement section, for many, is the fine difference between an offer and a rejection.
At Applican, our experts have been helping students to craft their personal statements for over 5 years through both our courses and our individual personal statement packages. To gain access to the selectors handbook and an Applican mentor's advice please feel free to get in touch!
Results day is upon us and a whole year of your work and preparation is about to appear on one piece of paper. Whilst receiving results can often be blinded by panic and emotion, translating your results into a strategic application to medicine and thus your chances of becoming a doctor is really the big question you must consider next.
What Grades do I Need?
We know that for many of you, today will be spent furiously looking up entry requirements for medicine at every medical school you can think of. To help you with this, we have created a table showing you the grade requirements for medicine for Scottish applicants at each of the 5 Scottish medical schools
For further info, see the academic requirements page for each university:
- Aberdeen - https://www.abdn.ac.uk/smmsn/undergraduate/medicine/uk-academic-requirements.php
- Dundee - https://www.dundee.ac.uk/study/ug/medicine/#!faq-2
- Edinburgh - http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/undergraduate/degrees/index.php?action=programme&code=A100
- Glasgow - http://www.gla.ac.uk/undergraduate/degrees/medicine/#/entryrequirements
- St Andrews - http://medicine.st-andrews.ac.uk/teaching/bsc-hons-medicine/medical-admissions/entry-requirements/uk/
What do I do now?
Your next steps depend on the stage of exams you have just completed:
Your National 5 results might feel like the biggest deal in the world right now, but you have to remember several things in the context of applying to medical school.
Your National 5 results will not gain you a place in Medicine, nor do they absolutely rule you out of one.
- No matter if you get straight As or a mixed bag with a few Cs, this does not secure nor break your chances of medicine. There are so many routes to becoming a doctor, so no matter what you get, take a deep breath and remember it might still be possible! (The only grades Scottish universities really care about at N5 are biology, chemistry, english and maths)
- For Medicine, it is more important to get better grades in core subjects (Maths and English) and subjects that allow you to take specific Highers (Biology and Chemistry) than others. So if you have lower scores in these subjects, you might want to think about resitting or reconsidering your options...
- Your N5s act as a platform to grow from, not a trampoline that propels you to an excellent application. Your focus should now be shifting to how to maximise your portfolio for an application next year: volunteering and work experience should be your next project after results day!
These results matter quite a lot, but again - these scores do not promise or completely ruin your chances of getting an offer for Medicine. When analysing your results consider these things:
- Should I be thinking strategically about my Advanced Highers? Regardless of everything else in your application, if you don't get top scores in your Highers and Advanced Highers at the end of next year, you will struggle to get into Medicine. If you have had a bad Higher result, by actually carrying that subject through to Advanced Higher and getting a super score, this can sometimes mean that Universities overlook the Higher blip...
- How will I balance my academics next year? Unless you REALLY want to do 3 Advanced Highers we advise against it as there's nothing to be gained in terms of minimum academic requirements, but everything to lose. All 5 Scottish medical schools will accept 2 Advanced Highers and an additional Higher in S6 and the workload is much more reasonable, so unless you need to compensate for a less than perfect Higher or are wanting to applying to a prestigious Non-Scottish medical school, we recommend you go for the sane choice of 2 Advanced Highers and 1 crash Higher instead.
- Can I still do Medicine? Absolutely. Regardless of what scores you turned out this results day, what is in your control now, is making you application as strong as it possibly can be. This means getting a great UKCAT score, crafting an exceptional personal statement, getting work experience and fine tuning your interview technique. Your exam results can improve down the line, if you really want to be a doctor, your focus must turn to the medicine application process now.
These results also matter quite a lot, but again like highers don't be despondent if they're not ideal. The common questions you might ask yourself may be:
- Where can I still apply? Unfortunately, Advanced Highers do matter and some universities will just flat out reject your application if you do not meet their minimum standards. As with Highers though, all universities are different so it's worth while trawling through their application criteria and importantly EMAIL AND CALL THEM DIRECTLY. You might think that you're annoying them but it's their job to answer any questions you have, so go nuts!
- Can I still do Medicine? Absolutely, however if you don't meet the minimum requirements it is trickier but but definitely not the end of the road. No little letters on a piece of paper can tell you if you'll be a good doctor or not, so don't give up and you'll get there even if it takes a little longer than you'd hope. If you've exhausted all undergraduate opportunities in the UK, then you have 2 options - 1) study medicine abroad at an English-teaching university, or 2) apply again as a graduate. They may seem like the worst possible choices, but if you really want to be a doctor then investing 3/4 years doing something you don't want so that you can spend the next 45 doing something you do isn't the end of the world (and a few years experience will, in this graduate's opinion, make you a better doctor anyway (sorry Jack!))
- I got the grades - what next? For those with conditionals you have nothing to worry about - so sit back and bathe in the glory that in a few weeks you will be beginning medical school. For those applying for 2018 entry, one word - UKCAT. After meeting minimum academic criteria your next big hurdle is the UKCAT, and you need to nail it. Our courses run across Scotland and the UK and are run by current medical students who have years of combined experience teaching the test (and we've all done it ourselves which is more than can be said for other companies!) But take today off - you've earned it!
RESULTS DAY HOTLINE
For personal advice please give Team Applican a ring to discuss your options and any questions that have cropped up this Results Day.
Our mobiles will be open all day so give us a ring!
Securing your place in Medicine depends not only on your SQA exams; more importantly it requires a strategic selection of university choices, a perfectly crafted personal statement and the highest score you can muster in the UKCAT. Applican's courses guides you through this application minefield and helps you personalise your application to the results you receive in your exams. Below are the Scottish Applican dates this year:
UKCAT: 25th August 2017
Applican Course: 9th-10th September 2017
UKCAT: 19th August 2017
Applican Course: 2nd-3rd September 2017
Choosing to study medicine as a graduate is an insane choice; that is a fact. It’s a huge personal and financial undertaking that few people outside the medical world will understand, and as a graduate your chances of being successful in gaining a position are significantly less than if you had applied straight out of school. But, it can be done. As a graduate student at the University of Glasgow currently in my 3rd year, trust me it may seem impossible, but it’s not – it’s just about playing the game, being smart with your application and using your age and experience to your advantage, rather than apologizing for it. So with this in mind, here are my top 5 things to consider when applying to medical school as a graduate.
1. Your application is not scored in the same way school-leaving applicants are, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Because they are often 16 or 17 when they are applying, school leavers, or “schoolies” as they are affectionately referred to at my university by the graduates, are chosen for medical school based on potential to be great medical students and doctors with very little time to prove their worth. Graduates (or “posties” for postgraduates) however, are scored based on attained achievement, and as such need to show that in the 3+ years since leaving school that they have achieved what would be expected of someone wanting to enter the medical profession. Bear this in mind when writing about your work experience when you got when you were 18 – it might’ve been enough then, but if you haven’t significantly developed it over the years you may come off as lazy and lacking commitment.
2. Apply to medical schools that best fit you, your experience and your eventual career aspirations.
All medical schools are different…to an extent. Yes, they all produce GMC-qualified doctors at the end, but they can differ greatly in their approach to medicine and the type and aspirations of applicants which they accept. For example, many of the inner-city medical schools are heavily involved in biomedical research, and as such individuals with traditional science backgrounds with a view to pursuing academic medicine or research may be able to use their experience in these fields to their advantage. Alternatively, medical schools in more rural areas may have a focus on providing excellent teaching for rural medicine, and those that are so inclined to practice out in the sticks. In practice, this means that once you’ve identified your strengths and you’ve thoroughly researched the universities which you are considering applying to, you can make it look like your application is tailored to a specific medical school, when really you’ve just applied to universities that share many of the same characteristics.
3. Don’t limit yourself to graduate only programmes – the lure of surrounding yourself exclusively with other graduates is tempting, but the competition is FIERCE (and they know this).
As a 25-year old applying to medical school, the thought of surrounding myself with 18 year olds for 5 years filled me with dread, and graduate-only programmes like that run in the much-coveted Warwick medical school were, for a long time, the only ones I considered applying to. Because they are so appealing to graduates like myself however, they attract an extremely high calibre of applicant and are therefore fiercely competitive to gain a place. Secondly, with a few notable exceptions they tend to have much smaller intakes than the traditional A100 medical courses, and as such the ratios for applicants:offers is much higher (sometimes around 20:1). So whilst by all means apply to them and I wish you the best of luck, but as someone who goes to a medical school with students aged 18-30 trust me, it doesn’t matter where you eventually end up studying medicine, and long as you get to study medicine.
4. Think hard about tuition fees and how you will fund yourself
At the risk of sounding like every parent ever, you need to think about how you will pay your way through medical school. As a graduate on a 5-year course, you are considered a “second first-degree student”, and as such will be staring down the barrel of a £9000-a-year-in-tuition-fees gun to study in England, and unless you are part of the 1% scraping that kind of money together every year for 5 years can be borderline impossible. So what to do? Aside from the obvious save as much money as you can before starting, it is essential to think about where will be cheapest to study – if you are from Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, studying in your respective region as a home student will drastically cut the amount you will be expected to pay each year. This means that depending on where you live in the UK for residency purposes will massively impact the number of medical schools you can realistically afford to attend, and yes in an ideal world this is perhaps not fair, if you really will do anything to get into medical school it may be a compromise you have to make.
5. Finally, don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a place whilst still in your final year of university (you have a much better shot once you graduate)
Ever since your school exam results day where you failed to get the grades you needed for medical school, you’ve everything right – you’re sporty, you’ve done the work experience in the care home, you have extracurriculars coming out your ears and you’re on track for that essential 2.1 or better and may even get a cheeky publication out of your honours project. You are the model student personified with a bullet-proof personal statement to match, but as days turn to weeks and weeks to months and still no updates on UCAS you begin to lose hope until it happens. “Unsuccessful”. And again. And again. And again. And it’s a horrendous, but it’s also OK, and that’s because in a way it’s be to be expected because you still haven’t proven anything yet. Medical school (and being a doctor) is not just about hard work, but it’s about continuous hard work and commitment, and, perhaps brutally, the only way for a graduate to show this is to not just be predicted that 2.1, but to actually have it. With a degree you have PROVEN that you can work and commit towards a goal until completion, and that’s exactly what they want. So if you don’t get in first time, just make sure you nail your exams and your year out so that come next year, you can make them regret not giving you a place the year before.
The UKCAT countdown is on - here are 10 straightforward things you can be doing to help prepare for this seemingly impossible exam.
The run up to the UKCAT can be a very stressful and difficult time. With expensive preparation courses on offer and some people saying that it is ‘an intelligence test that you can’t revise for’, it can be hard to know how you can best prepare for this important test. At Applican’s course we thoroughly prepare our students for both the UKCAT and the BMAT and help assist you through these challenging few months.
Applican have created a TOP 10 TIPS on how to prepare fully for the UKCAT without breaking the bank!
1. Get fast at mental maths.
The quantitative reasoning section of the UKCAT can be horrible if you can’t do mental maths rapidly – it is such a tightly timed section and you don’t want to be relying on the fiddly calculator. Start by reminding yourself of basic maths principles - addition, subtraction, multiplying and diving – and start testing yourself regularly until you can quickly solve simple questions in your head or on pen and paper. If you are struggling to become efficient at mental maths, we think this website has some great shortcuts for solving maths problems that could buy you precious seconds in the UKCAT: http://www.cut-the-knot.org/arithmetic/rapid/rapid.shtml.
2. Be smart with UKCAT resources.
You may feel pressured to attend expensive UKCAT courses because a lot of your friends are going and you feel that you may be at a disadvantage. Whilst these courses are useful to some people, at Applican we believe that you can prepare effectively with other, more reasonably priced resources. The important thing is finding a method for the questions that suits you - we believe you can do this with books and online resources. The ISC Medical ‘1000 Questions UKCAT Practice Questions’ is a really great place to start – only £15 from Amazon, it gives a nice flavour of what kind of questions you will face and allows you to start practising your question answering technique.
3. Patterns. Patterns. Patterns.
At first glance the abstract reasoning section is the most intimidating on the test. However, the more practice you do looking at the patterns, the easier it gets – and believe it or not for most people it is their highest scoring section. At the Applican course we work through pattern identifying techniques and how to find the answer quickly. There are only so many abstract patterns that the examiners can think up, so you will find that if you practice lots of patterns, you will recognise some similar patterns in your test and get easy marks!
4. Two birds with one stone: start speed reading medical news.
Verbal reasoning is often thought of us the easiest section to prepare for – read a paragraph and answer some questions, right? Wrong. This section is so tight for time that it is impossible to read all the words on the screen - so you have to become very proficient at analysing large chunks of text ultrafast. This can be done whilst also reading relevant news in preparation for your interviews. Good resources could be the BBC News App, the Guardian or the student BMJ. Start sourcing relevant and current medical news everyday and discipline yourself to quickly scan read it. Become effective at pulling out the key details of each article and you can train your eyes and brain to become masters of the verbal reasoning section!
5. Start reading GMC documents.
The Situational Judgment section of the UKCAT is notoriously difficult to prepare for – most people forget about it completely! At Applican, we think it is really important that you familiarise yourself with GMC documents such as Good Medical Practice (found here: http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/good_medical_practice.asp) and also Tomorrow’s Doctors (found here: http://www.gmc-uk.org/Tomorrow_s_Doctors_1214.pdf_48905759.pdf). It is amazing how much of the SJT is pulled directly from these documents, so even by reading through them you can earn yourself some valuable points in this section. They are also really useful documents to get to know early on before your interview preparation begins.
6. Ethical principles.
Ethical awareness is an essential part of interview preparation, however it can also be very useful for the Situational Judgement section. ‘Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction’ is an excellent read and only £5 on Amazon. This book teaches you principles that can be applied to many scenarios you will be presented with in the situational judgement section.
7. Time management.
September can be tough. Your teachers will be pressuring you for UCAS forms and personal statements and sometimes that feels like your highest priority. Applican advises our students to start a UKCAT preparation plan 4 weeks before their test day so that you feel fully ready for the exam. We assist our students with a planned timeline and offer our own UKCAT resources at our courses that are running in the next few months across the UK. Even if you only use the resources that we have outlined in this list you will have loads of things to keep busy with!
8. Online timed practices.
In principle the UKCAT is quite a simple test – most people could answer basic maths and comprehension questions correctly if they had enough time. What makes this exam so difficult is the time restrictions: you have to answer questions uncomfortably quickly. Therefore, it is vitally important that you are ready for these time restraints and don’t get caught out on the big day! There are many resources online that you can get your hands on that offer good exam condition practice tests – you should use these in the week before UKCAT D-Day.
www.medify.co.uk starts at £30 and gives you several practice tests. The official UKCAT website also offers free practice tests and you should use these as the very last practice before your real test!
9. Night before and mental preparation.
The UKCAT is not like GCSEs or A-Levels – it is not technically a ‘knowledge based’ test, but rather designed to be ‘ability based’. Therefore, the very nature of this exam demands a slow and steady preparation plan – not a panicked all-nighter of studying the night before (save these for when you are in medical school!)
At Applican we advise a relaxing and chilled out night before your UKCAT – being calm and focused mentally is the key to success right before this particular exam!
10. Your score.
The averages and scoring for the UKCAT changes each year, and so does how universities use them – whilst 670 was a great score one year, it could be a low score the next. When you receive your score after the test and when you hear other people speaking about their own scores, just remember to take it all with a pinch of salt and not to panic. No matter what score you get, it does not rule you in or out of any medical university application – there is still many other obstacles in the process you have to navigate around. Even if you have a bit of a blip on the day, there are still many other options open for you because different universities weight the UKCAT very different. This is the information we provide at our 2 day courses and help you find the universities that best suit you strengths.
Good luck in your UKCAT - remember preparation is key!
If you found this blog post useful and are interested in attending our 2 day course which covers UCAS choices, UKCAT, BMAT, personal statements and interview techniques and preparation – make sure you book a place on one of the Applican courses which are running across the UK within the next two months!
For free content, a full mock exam and more interesting blog posts including our last year average score, check out our Intense UKCAT page.
When applying to medical school, you have one goal - to simply get in. However, once you embark on your medical journey, the world of medicine opens up to you and for a while that can be a bit overwhelming. Cardiology, respiratory, neurology, orthopaedics, nephrology, urology.....the list of words thrown at you goes on and on and on. This blog is here to give you a head start to the game, with a number of unusual specialties that not many people think about venturing into when they think of themselves as future doctors. So the next time you’re discussing medicine with fellow applicants, talking with your work experience staff or even in your next med school interview you can show off how vast your knowledge of the medical world is and how determined you are to be part of it.
Maxillofacial is a specialty which is usually surgically based, centring around facial, jaw and oral issues. In the UK, degrees in both medicine and dentistry are required to practice this speciality. In recent years this surgery has sprung to fame thanks to well-publicised developments in surgeries such as facial transplants. In addition to the extreme surgeries, many cosmetic facial procedures can be carried out by these specialised surgeons.
Dermatology as a specialty deals with the treatment of skin and, unbeknown to many, nails and hair. After completing junior doctor years, dermatology usually requires around 3 years of practicing general medicine before completing around 4 years of specialist dermatology training. From treating skin conditions with medicines to performing minor surgeries, dermatology has become a infamous through videos such as those of Dr. Pimple Popper, an American dermatologist who films her dealings of consultations from pore of Winers to abscesses. If you’re not easily disgusted, look up her videos!
Endocrinology looks at the hormones in the body and deals with any imbalances or hormonal problems. It’s a vast area, dealing with ailments from diabetes to Cushing’s syndrome to fertility issues. Endocrinology works like a puzzle, finding where the problem is and thinking about the effects up and downstream of where the hormone comes from. Around 4 years of specialist training is required to become a consultant in endocrinology. A huge issue that endocrinologists deal with that every applicant should know something about is diabetes (know the difference between type 1 and type 2!)
Haematology is the study of blood and its components. Haematologists deal with treating blood disorders from sickle cell anaemia to leukaemia. Once completing junior doctor and general training years, haematology specialist training usually lasts 2-3 years. Have a look at the student section of the British Society for Haematology’s website for more career information and some cool student essays about haematology.
Many people don’t realise that critical care is a specialty in itself and isn’t just run by general medical doctors. Helping patients who are at their most vulnerable, critical care is highly specialist and requires 3 years of acute care training following junior doctor years and then a further 5 years of critical care specific training. Critical care is closely linked with anaesthetics and emergency medicine, with doctors quite often having dual consultancy.
Sport medicine, as might be expected, deals with the prevention and treatment of injuries in sports. Practice of sports medicine is usually on the private market or through affiliation with a certain sport governing body or team. Sports medicine generally is heavily orthopaedic based but can also deal with drugs in sport, sports nutrition and concussion. Check out the Calgary Stampede’s blog article on sports medicine in a rodeo for an unusual case of sports medicine.
Pathology is the study of causes of disease, mostly through the examination of body tissues. There are many sub-specialties of pathology, such as neuropathology and histopathology. Becoming a pathologist requires around 6 years of training post junior doctor years. Pathologists look for irregularities in tissue samples which can range from whole organs to minuscule biopsies.
Dealing with inflammation and autoimmune disease ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, temporal arteritis and lupus, rheumatology manages a large array of pathologies. Pioneering biologic treatment available for some of these conditions are sometimes discussed in ethical interview settings due to their high cost and side effects.
As medicine is all about team work and utilising the multidisciplinary team, all of the above specialties will work together alongside other specialties to ensure excellent patient care. It is important to remember that in medicine, no doctor works in isolation and it’s essential to have an understanding of what other specialties do and how they can help your patient.
Samantha is a medical admissions officer at a top UK medical school. Her name has been changed for this article. All answers are specific to the university at which she works and are intended to give a general overview only.
Tell us a little about your job.
I'm a medical admissions officer, which means that I’m responsible for overseeing all applications for our undergraduate medicine course from the point of submission up until matriculation.
We also deal with many pre-application enquiries, primarily questions about our admissions policies such as qualifications, work experience, personal statements and the UKCAT.
What’s your typical day like?
That depends on the time of year. In the run up to the UCAS deadline in October we deal with hundreds of enquiries, often from people who have just had their results, and advise people on the possibility of a successful application.
From then on we are scoring applications academically and ranking them in order of achievement. Then we are preparing for interviews. After those, we assess the interview results with a view to sending out decisions in March. That involves essentially ranking people on their scores, and taking into account contextual factors like adversity and widening access programmes.
What’s your role during interviews?
Making sure everything goes smoothly. I check that everything is set up properly, and that the applicants have all their documents uploaded before the interview, and bring their ID and qualifications. We then check that the correct applicants and correct number of applicants are invited and present. We also check that all the interview questions have been screened for potential discrimination and for how well they work.
What does that kind of test involve?
We take a test group of staff from different backgrounds to make sure there is no bias in favour or against any particular group.
So you’re not involved in interviewing people?
No. Largely, it’s medical tutors who carry out the interviews - academics, supported by senior medical students who act in role-playing scenarios.
Say an applicant called up, in the middle of their National 5 or GCSE year, and wanted to know what they should be doing to prepare for applying. What would you tell them?
First thing they have to do is get their grades. Ideally, you need As in the correct subjects - whatever the university you’re applying to asks for. The competition is so fierce.
In this year you should also be thinking ahead - entry to medical school depends on a lot more than grades. You should be reading widely, thinking about preparing for a medical career, and thinking about the type of work experience that it’s possible for you to get. You should also be choosing your highers very carefully. It changes depending on the university, but most will need chemistry and another science.
What if the same applicant called during their A level/higher year?
Similar things apply, in that you need the grades in the right subjects. You should also be practicing for the UKCAT. By now you should have started building your personal statement. This isn’t just work experience. Universities are all looking for well-rounded individuals with non-academic skills and hobbies, and volunteering. We like to see that people have had a position of some responsibility , for example as a school captain or scout leader. Everyone’s been a prefect.
What if an applicant doesn’t get the grades? What should they do?
We don’t consider resits at my university, unless there are significant mitigating circumstances such as serious illness (not just “I felt sick on the day”) or close bereavement in the run up to exams. That might be different at other institutions.
If this person didn’t have that?
It is possible, depending on admissions criteria, to overcome less-than-stellar grades with a strong UKCAT score. It all depends on how much weighting the university gives to each. If this isn’t possible, my advice would be to consider doing a life sciences degree and applying as a graduate.
Does it matter if an applicant went to a private or state school?
Not a jot. We do have Widening Access criteria, which is for people whose circumstances might have affected their ability to fulfil their potential (for example, having been in care). This will not apply to most state school pupils, and can apply to some private school pupils.
How much work experience should people get?
We recommend up to a fortnight, but this doesn’t have to be consecutive or even two separate weeks. It could be an afternoon a week over the course of several weeks.
What if someone has more than two weeks?
It wouldn’t give them any advantage with us.
What if someone has less than two weeks, say only one?
We might question their commitment and motivation, but this can also be shown with research and discussions with healthcare professionals in a variety of fields.
What if they don’t have work experience in a hospital or GP practice?
We recognise that it can be difficult, particularly for people in rural areas where confidentiality issues are more likely. What we’re more interested in are the skills that applicants have developed from their experience. Experience in a care home would be fine, or a pharmacy. Even if it’s a paid Saturday job, that’s okay. In a pharmacy they’d be engaging with members of the public about healthcare and learning about medicines, for example.
How much do references matter?
Well, at my university, very little. As long as it’s not appalling, it won’t make a difference - we don’t give it a formal score. Other universities might.
How do you use personal statements?
We use them primarily in the interview. They aren’t scored, but again, this is specific to my university. Other institutions will actively score the personal statement. Also, our policies are evolving all the time.
How should applicants prepare for interview?
The essential skill that we are looking for is communication - that’s the most important one, and it’s tested at every part of the interview. Applicants should read widely and be aware of issues facing the medical profession. They should know their personal statement inside out and be prepared to back it up when questioned. They should give some thought to ethical issues which may come up, and that may depend on what’s in the news.
Do you have any advice for applicants on the day of interview?
Make sure that you’re there in good time; that you look professional (don’t leave your interview suit on the bus, for example); don’t bring your mum; make sure you’ve done your homework. It’s all the obvious stuff that applies in any interview situation.
How does the experience of applying differ for overseas applicants?
Not hugely. They still have to apply through UCAS and sit the UKCAT. They also still have to be interviewed, but they have the option of coming to our university for the the interview or attending an interview in East Asia. Essentially, the process is the same.
What’s your biggest pet peeve about medical applicants?
Applicants who don’t put all of their qualifications on their UCAS form. This can lead to them being summarily rejected. If they then tell us they do have the qualification, we have to reinstate them, and go through the whole process again. That, and applicants who don’t read our website before calling up. The information is there!
Do you have any top tips for applicants?
Think ahead and don’t leave it all to the last minute. An application to medical school needs a lot of time and preparation. It shouldn’t be dashed off.
What would you say, finally, to 2019 applicants?
During my time as an undergraduate medical student I have struggled at a number of points. During the pre-clinical years, in particular, I found the style of teaching and learning difficult to engage with at times. The highly academic focus with limited patient contact was useful for developing my knowledge of the basic scientific principles of medicine, but I have always preferred learning in patient-based settings. This was the rationale for me omitting the (then) optional intercalated year of study and directly entering the clinical years of medicine. Now that I have reached the clinical years, the scientific learning from before has become contextualised and I now feel comfortable and confident putting it into practice. I can now begin to visualise the end-goal of becoming a clinical doctor and I thoroughly enjoy my work with both patients and clinicians alike.
In clinical medicine, we rotate in 4-6 week blocks around the specialities – for this blog post I will describe a standard day of my Obstetrics & Gynaecology rotation.
8am – pre-operative ward round.
We get kitted up in our scrubs and join the medical team on the ward for a handover from the night team. In Obs & Gynae these ward rounds could include pregnant people who might need a caesarean section, or some major gynae operations such as hysterectomies. These ward rounds are usually rapid but allow some time for us to meet the patients and briefly hear about their stories and clinical presentation.
9am – operating theatre
Once you are a senior student (and if you are lucky with the consultant!) you can get scrubbed up (handwashing and surgical gowning) which allows you to get involved with the operation. This might include suctioning some blood during a caesarean section or suturing some deep tissues in a gynae operation. For me, this was hugely superior to the cadavers we learn from in the pre-clinical years.
12am – lunchtime tutorial
Quick lunch whilst a consultant gives us some formal teaching on an element of Obs & Gynae – this could be how to manage a natural delivery, dealing with miscarriages, communication scenarios or fertility treatments. Whilst in clinical years we do learn a lot of the important bits on the ward, we are still supported with more formal small tutorials.
1.30pm – clinic
Shadowing in a clinic allows medical students a chance to see a broad range of pathologies, but also to observe the history taking and clinical communication of the consultants – some clinics might include the high risk antenatal clinic (working with twin pregnancies or mothers with serious health conditions), the fertility clinic or the general gynaecology clinic.
Most of our days will finish by 4/5pm – and a lot of our weeks will include a few half days, so we often maintain the same amount of free time as previous years of university. For Obs & Gynae, medical students are expected to attend at least two night shifts – during these we get involved with a lot more things such as assisting with natural deliveries (most medical students will deliver a baby!), take blood from patients, assist in C-sections or take histories from patients directly.
In clinical medicine placements you are often welcomed as part of the clinical team and have the privilege of speaking and engaging with really impressive doctors and interesting patients every day. For those of you struggling with the idea of text book learning, PBL or dissertations for intercalated degrees – have faith that patient contact in clinics and suturing wounds in theatres are just around the corner!
“Inter-what?” is usually the reply I get when people ask me what year of medical school I’m in and I have to bring out my well-rehearsed explanation; intercalation is a year out of conventional medical school, where students join the Honours year of another degree to get an extra degree (usually a BMedSci). Different universities offer different courses and offer the intercalated year at differing times in the course of the medical degree, while some don’t offer it at all. Generally, the degrees on offer are biomedical sciences-based but sometimes options such as medical literature and global health are available. Some universities offer the chance for students to complete their intercalated year at a different university if the course they would like to take isn’t offered at their home university. Of the universities that offer intercalation, some may make the year competitive to get into or, in the case of the University of Edinburgh, it may even be compulsory.
I chose to complete intercalation because having another degree gives a slight edge for application to junior doctor jobs and I felt that I wanted an extra year to prepare myself for beginning my clinical placements. I chose to complete my BMedSci in Reproductive Biology and for the first time in my life at university, I had to choose electives (mini modules of study). Intercalation allows for more autonomous learning that medicine quite often doesn’t.
In my first semester, my mornings consisted of lectures which were delivered in a style very similar to medicine while my afternoons were dedicated to “self-study”. During the afternoons of self-study, my time mainly consisted of reading science papers. I found that the main difference in learning style between medicine and intercalation is that papers informed my revision more than notes taken during lectures. In medical lectures, the information given is mainly evidence-based facts, whereas in the Reproductive Biology lectures, the information provided was centred around cutting-edge research which was often debated and not concrete. Reading papers provided arguments of differing views on the research and for the first time, I learned to not take information at face value and to challenge where the information was coming from.
During my second semester, I had to conduct research and write a mini-dissertation on my findings. The projects undertaken allow people to choose an area of science in which they are interested and is another prime example of intercalation allowing for more autonomy. Projects can be lab-based, literature-based or statistics-based, meaning that there is something for everyone! If you like to be hands-on and practical, lab projects are best for you, whereas if you prefer reading and weighing up arguments, literature research is great. If epidemiology and trends in numbers take your fancy, then statistics-based projects are perfect for you.
For me, intercalation has been a really fun year! It’s allowed me to meet new people from a different course and has enabled me to appreciate the work that goes on behind the research which informs a doctor’s practice. I feel that my academic writing and critical thinking skills have improved massively thanks to this year and I would highly recommend intercalating.
Intercalation is a great opportunity, but it isn’t for everyone. It’s another year of university, with fees and living costs adding up and extra time to gaining that all-important medical qualification. Some people may not like the research aspect of most of the courses on offer or may decide that focussing on medicine is what’s best for them. Therefore, it’s really important to consider whether or not you’d like to do the intercalation year before choosing universities to apply to, as it may influence your choices.
As ever at Applican, if you have any questions about intercalation and choosing a university, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Pre-clinical medicine varies across all medical schools: please enjoy Applican Tutor, Alex Clark's experience of their first and second year at the University of Edinburgh!
Preclinical medical students straddle a strange, fine line between “university” and “medical school”. My past two years of study have involved a mix of widely varied experiences: from the first-year tutorial on washing my hands; to the sudden, unwelcome realisation that I was an actual adult expected to cook every day;to the time spent in the anatomy lab; the nights out with friends; the repeated (failed) attempts at taking blood from a long-suffering peer; and the daily 9am lectures of second year!
Mornings were always an early start. Last year my lectures always began at 9am, which may feel normal to you but is outrageous to many of my friends now! Most of my days I would be in central, which at my university houses most of the lecture theatres, tutorial rooms, and the anatomy lab. It’s very different from a hospital. I’ve enjoyed that aspect - it means I’ve spent time in the beating heart of the university, surrounded by people from all types of courses.
So once I have rushed into my lecture, I settle in for fifty minutes of a clinician (if we’re learning about the liver, our lecturer may have spent her entire career treating people with liver disease) or professor (alternatively, she may have discovered a new way to treat cirrhosis) going through the basics of some aspect of anatomy, health, disease, or treatment. I type as I watch lectures, but beside me a student might be taking beautiful, handwritten notes. Though I try to keep up, something about this particular lecture, some aspect of the functioning of a liver lobule, might not make sense to me.
On any day I would have between zero lectures and five, with a “normal” day probably falling between two or three. They wouldn’t all be scientific - I’ve had modules on ethics, social issues (what is the impact of poverty on patients? How does healthcare differ for LGBT people?) and statistics. They all come together to allow us to understand health from a molecular level to a social one.
Let’s say that this particular day is a Tuesday, and instead of a second lecture I have to get to PBL.
Problem based learning is a staple of most medical schools, to different extents. I had two sessions a week. We’d look at one case on a Tuesday, decide what questions we needed to research, then come back on the Friday to discuss what we found. This week, the case might involve a patient who presents looking yellow.
“He’s jaundiced”, the student beside me might say. I definitely heard that word in the lecture we had the day before, but I’m struggling to get my head around how the whole thing works.
So I ask.
Suddenly, I can have ten medical students helping me to come to grips with the concepts from that morning. I feel a veil slowly lifting.
As I leave PBL ninety minutes later, I feel a lot more confident about tackling liver physiology. It’s 11:30, and my next class isn’t for a few hours. I take the time to eat and sit in the sun for twenty minutes, chatting to a friend. She could be a biology student I met in a freshers mixer. We’d talk about anything other than our courses.
At that point I might head to the library to go over the morning’s lecture and write up my notes. Having discussed it, I feel like I’m in a much better place. I make my notes understandable for when I will need them to study for exams, then stare at my screen. I could start on PBL research, but I have until Friday for that! Instead, I flick through my workbook for anatomy, looking at the questions I will have to answer.
Just before 2pm I head to the anatomy lab. This is the only time I get to put on a white coat! Anatomy sessions in my first years happened maybe once a week, or slightly less often, depending on what we were studying. Like PBL, the anatomy is relevant to our lectures, so I spend some time holding a liver. I pass it between my hands, feeling the weight and contours. Then, I move to another station and see a whole abdomen, feeling along the veins to see how they connect. Anatomy practicals are a fantastic way to learn, and we are all so grateful to the people who donate their bodies for our education.
At 3:30, my classes are done for that day. I head back to my flat to shower and write up my notes. As I cook dinner, I chat to my flatmate. Maybe she’s off to the gym. I consider going with her, getting fit, being active…
I go to a pub quiz instead.
My time in preclinical years have been two of the happiest - and busiest - of my life. While some medical schools have their students on the wards from the first week, I chose to study at a university that gave me a gentle introduction to patient care. I built up the knowledge I needed to move slowly into clinical scenarios. That won’t suit everyone, and there’s no denying that five years spent with hospital time from the get-go would leave you well prepared for life as a doctor. It’s all down to personal preference.
If you have any questions about preclinical medicine, feel free to get in touch with us at Applican and we will be happy to answer.
Have you arranged work experience for your medical application? If so, great! Maybe you’ve got something in a hospital, or a GP office, where you’ll see actual doctors practice on actual patients! That’s fantastic. Unfortunately, it won’t matter at all unless you know how to use it.
At Applican, our core message is that it doesn’t matter WHAT experience you manage to get, it is about HOW you use it and what you learn! Maybe you’re in for an afternoon; maybe you’re in for a fortnight. Maybe you didn’t manage to get that kind of specific work experience - you missed out on the available slots and didn’t have any contacts. It happens to lots of people, and it’s okay! You can make your non-clinical work experience just as relevant. Volunteering in a care home, or hospice, or with children, and all your other employment and voluntary work can all be more than enough, if you use them correctly.
You’ve probably heard that work experience is more about what you learned than what you did a thousand times, but it’s really true. Here are 10 top tips to make your medical work experience matter.
1. Put in the effort to find work experience
Although clinical experience often isn’t necessary, it’s still helpful to your application and you should make an effort to try to find opportunities. If you aren’t able to get any, redirect that effort into making sure you have a variety of other useful experience that has allowed you to build skills like teamwork and communication, and characteristics like empathy. Then do a whole lot of research yourself into the career of a doctor!
Medical schools don’t just want you to know what you’re getting in for, and have the required skills, they want to know that you want this. Showing motivation is vital in a medical application, so get motivated and put in the work.
2. Think of questions beforehand
Medical schools want you to have sought and undertaken some form of experience (or at least research!) to widen your understanding of a medical career. Applying to medical school is both a university and a job application, and they want to know that everything you know didn’t just come from Grey’s Anatomy (the TV show, not the textbook!). Therefore, if you do work experience and zone out the whole time, or let the staff pass you by without talking to them, then you may as well have spent the day at home.
One way to avoid this is to write a list of questions out before you go into your placement. What do you want to know? How can you expand upon what you’ve already researched? Ask doctors about their jobs, about what their time at medical school was like, what their normal days involve. This doesn’t mean have a list of questions held in front of you as you grill some unsuspecting consultant! Just use the list to make sure you’ve thought about what you want to know, and maybe check it half-way through the day (alone!) to see if you’re on the right track. Work your questions in when it’s appropriate.
3. Don’t just talk to doctors
Teamwork is an important aspect of being a doctor, and this includes working in multidisciplinary teams with other healthcare professionals like nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and physiotherapists. You should definitely be trying to find out what work is like for other members of this team, and understand the role that everyone has to play. Obviously, this is within reason - don’t interrupt a busy nurse as he’s trying to do his job!
This teamwork aspect is why it’s also great to talk to people in other caring environments like homes for the elderly.
4. Find out about the good, bad and ugly
It’s very important to know about the negative aspects of working as a doctor as well as the positive ones. So ask doctors what they like about their jobs, and what they don’t like! You can also discuss this with other professionals who work in a caring role. This is not only to show that you have a thorough understanding in your personal statement or interview, but also to help you decide if this is the career for you!
5. Ask about anything you’re confused about
There is no point in watching some aspect of a healthcare professional’s work if you don’t understand what they’re doing or why they are doing it. Whenever you don’t know something, it’s an opportunity to learn. Most people will be happy to explain things to you, as long as you are polite, enthusiastic, and catch them at the right time!
6. Try to see a variety of situations, including ones where no patients are present
Being a doctor isn’t all performing surgery and taking histories - there is a lot of other work that needs done, including administrative work, prescribing and discussion with colleagues. It’s good to know about all aspects of the job you want, not just the “exciting” bits.
7. Write notes or keep a diary
Before I go any further with this tip - you must ALWAYS be careful about patient confidentiality. Never write down anything that might identify a patient. This doesn’t just mean avoiding referring to them by name, but can include details like age, ethnicity, where they are from… Besides, the patient specifics aren’t what are important to your work experience!
With that said, it would be a real shame if all of your efforts in getting work experience and all of the excellent questions you asked were to go to waste because you forgot what happened! When you get a spare moment, or maybe just after you leave your placement for the day, write down things that you have seen and learned. Note what you feel, what surprised you, what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy! It will all come in handy later.
8. Reflect afterwards
After your work experience is over, set a writing target for yourself, such as 400 words. Then sit down and reflect on everything you experienced. Again, be mindful of confidentiality, but this should be more about your thoughts and feelings on a medical career.
Reflection is part of being a medical student and a doctor - throughout your career you will be asked regularly to reflect on your studies and practice, so it’s a good skill to start learning. Be honest - what thing about my week put me off this career?
If you are going to write about your work experience in your personal statement and talk about it at interview (and you are!) then this is the best way to get your head around what everything you saw means and how it has helped you. You should relate it to your other experiences and skills (for example, you saw a doctor display leadership, and you learned to be a leader as captain of your Korfball team) and your knowledge of medical ethics (for example, you saw a patient waiting for a liver transplant, and you have read about the ethics of transplant allocation).
9. Choose your medical school wisely
Some medical schools like Bristol may ask for specifically medical work experience for a prescribed length of time. These are exceptions, rather than the rule. If you have a fortnight or more of work experience in a medical setting, maybe that would be an advantage in applying there! If you don’t, there are plenty of medical schools with less stringent requirements.
It is totally reasonable to think about which medical schools you want to apply to based on whether or not you have a chance of getting in - applying where you won’t be accepted is a waste of everyone’s time! That said, make sure you’re also applying to places you want to live in, and courses you want to study.
DON’T call up the admissions department and ask whether you’ll get in, as this is not looked upon favourably! All the entrance requirements should be available to you somewhere.
10. Be grateful and polite
They’re doing you a favour!
As part of the Applican course, we help you mould and focus your work experience in preparation for submitting your personal statement and discussing it properly in an interview setting - to find out more about our course click here:
2014 - 93%
2015 - 91.25%
2016 - 89%
2017 - 89.5%
Since starting Applican in Northern Ireland in 2014, we have helped thousands of students across the UK with the competitive Medicine admission process. For the fourth year running, we are very proud to share a consistently exceptional offer rate from the students who attended our courses last year.
20, 730 applications to study Medicine in the UK in 2017.
Only 9% of them will receive an offer.
Applican worked with 176 students across the UK in 2017.
89.5% of our students received at least one offer.
Find out more about the Applican Courses running this summer!
Everyone knows applying to medical school is super competitive – but with free fees on offer for Scottish students at Scottish universities, the spots at these medical schools can often have the highest number of applications in the UK.
Therefore, when you pick your perfect combination of four medical schools on UCAS, it is important to be fully aware of the selection process for each course and choose tactfully based on your results.
At the Applican course, we offer a full guide on all the medical schools across the UK, and help our students select the courses that best fit their profile. With 89% of Applican students receiving an offer for medicine last year, we believe that the information that we have is invaluable: this article offers a flavour of the guidance that we give at our courses.
University of Edinburgh
Often the highest ranked Scottish medical school, Edinburgh is notoriously difficult to get an offer from. Boasting world class research facilities and teaching – Edinburgh is renowned for medicine.
Some things have changed this year in the Edinburgh selection process which is really important to be aware of. The programme is now 6 years long, with a compulsory intercalation in third year. The University do not interview undergraduate applicants (yet!), so the personal statement and UKCAT combo is of total importance!
UKCAT: High score usually required, significant emphasis on SJT section. Most successful applicants will have a Band 1 or 2 in the SJT.
PS: They give special weighting to some specific aspects of the personal statement. Jack Henderson, the mentor for the Scottish Applican course and 5th year Edinburgh medical student, is an expert at crafting personal statements for the Edinburgh selection process. Some of these key things include an interest in academia, leadership, teamwork and a care for others.
University of Glasgow
Known for it’s research opportunities and emphasis on PBL teaching, The University of Glasgow medical school is a popular choice.
UKCAT: Selection to interview is based completely on UKCAT ranking. The top 800 get called to interview, so only apply if your UKCAT is strong!
PS: Not used for selection to interview, but we advise if you are applying here to include lots about problem solving skills to use in your interview! At Applican’s course, we help to give your personal statement direction based on what course you apply to.
Interview: Traditional panel based. Often use personal statement for the basis of the interview. One interview tends to include an issue or ethical questions that you are expected to discuss in detail.
University of Dundee
The graduates of the Dundee medical school are sometimes considered the best clinicians in Scotland – this is because of the high clinical focus of their course from day 1.
UKCAT: Selection to interview is completely based on UKCAT and N5/Highers/GCSE combination.
PS: Of little importance – only used in several MMI stations.
Interview: MMI. At the Applican course we spend the second day preparing our students for MMI style interviews. Dundee MMI is infamous for having some bizarre and tricky actor stations in their MMI.
University of St Andrews
Only lasting three years before students complete their last three clinical years in Edinburgh or Manchester; St Andrews medical school offers an excellent pre-clinical medical programme.
UKCAT: Highest 400 UKCAT applicants will be selected to interview.
PS: St Andrews ask for evidence of your qualities and experience that is suitable for medicine. Similar to Edinburgh Medical School applications, it is important to tick off exactly what they are looking for in your personal statement.
Interview: MMI. Your score in the MMI is combined with the SJT section from the UKCAT.
University of Aberdeen
Boasting some of the highest student satisfaction scores of all medical programmes, Aberdeen offers excellent teaching, but also one of the most competitive application processes.
UKCAT: Used as a component for selection to interview. Last year the lowest score to get brought to interview was 2180.
PS: Do not place a significant emphasis on personal statement.
Interview: MMI. The MMI set up is very similar to Dundee and St Andrews stations.
Preparing to apply to Scottish medical schools can be particularly difficult. At the Applican course we help our students pick which universities to apply to based on their academic profile, as well as helping to adjust your personal statements so that they are suitable for the universities you pick. We also prepare all of our students for each type of interview process they will face.
With 89% of our students receiving an offer for medicine last year, we believe that the information that we have for medical applicants is really useful.
Our UKCAT and Applican courses will be running in summer 2018!
Book your place here!
In our opening year of running out UKCAT course, we helped over 50 students across the UK with preparation for this big test. And the results are in!
Applican 2017 UKCAT Student Average Score: 2671
National 2017 UKCAT Average Score = 2540
On average, Applican students scored in the top 30% of students sitting the exam.
Applican 2017 UKCAT Student SJT Banding:
45% Band 1, 50% Band 2
National 2017 UKCAT SJT Banding:
28% Band 1, 42% Band 2
95% of Applican Students scored within the top 2 bands of SJT.
The average scores are out, and scores are higher across all sections from last year... read the full report, released today, below.
In the first year of starting our UKCAT course, we have helped almost 50 students across 4 cities over the UK with their UKCAT preparation. Thank you to everyone who came along and good luck for your test day!
Our final stats:
100% of students thought our course was beneficial for their UKCAT preparation
100% of students attending the course would recommend the course to a friend
On Friday, Applican hosted a fully booked UKCAT course in Edinburgh - here is what the students who attended thought about the course!!
Again, 100% of students thought the course was beneficial for their UKCAT prep
Again, 100% of students would recommend the course to a friend.
Thursday marks GCSE results and last week many of our 2016 Applican students received their A-Level results. We were delighted that 89% of students in our 2016 season received at least one offer for UK medical school.
Receiving results is always a time filled with questions. It can be hard to know what your results mean for your future - which universities you have ruled in, which you have ruled out. For some people, they want to know whether medicine is an option, and what they need to do to increase their chances of a place. Others, want to know how to maximise their strong results and apply to the places that weight their results as highly as possible. Sometimes, knowing the inside track is what you need. At Applican, we can give your realistic advice about how to use your strengths and weaknesses to succeed in the application process. Each year we contact every UK medical school to find out exactly how they select their applicants. Then we sit with your application and ensure that you meet every cut off that they set the previous year. This advice is crucial and is why our success rates are so high.
Therefore on Monday, Applican HQ will be running a Bank Holiday Q&A Clinic. Call our team for any question you have and you can get your answer. What do your results mean? Or if you are kicking off the application process when you go back to school, get in touch for any questions you have about the process!
To register for your consultation, either call 07702246407 or fill in the form below and we will get back in touch with you.
Also, Applican season is just kicking off with spaces still available on some of our courses. To have a look at where our 2 day application & interview prep courses are running, or to book a place on our UKCAT course, then have a look here: www.applicancourses.com/book .