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Reapply to Oxbridge or not?

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    I'm new to this forum so firstly, Hi
    Basically for 2012 entry I applied to Cambridge to study medicine and was rejected, and I still don't have any offers for any other universities. I am getting feedback soon but I have a general idea why I was rejected. I think the main reason was my BMAT score (4.1 5.8 3C), however this is not representative of my ability as I had exceptional circumstances and was getting much higher in practice tests. (Stupidly I didn't realise Cambridge made allowance for exceptional circumstances during the BMAT so I didn't inform them about my situation). I am really really confident I can do better in the BMAT. I think my interviews went OK, only because I got the harder questions right after having a stab at guessing but horridly messed up on the simple questions asked of the AS level syllabus.
    I think my academics are good at 8A* 2A at GCSE and 3A*1A predictions at A level with around a 94% UMS average. If I get my predictions I am considering reapplying to Cambridge or trying Oxford out but only if I don't secure any other offers this year. Is it OK to apply for Oxbridge after a gap year with my academics?
    Thank you
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    I think for science applications they really don't like it if you take a year out and do absolutely nothing, because you start to lose critical information, you'd have to do something productive in that year or it would definitely weaken your application.
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    Since you're doing medicine i'd recommend that you go to university if you get other offers.
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    You could do a WWOOF year- sort of kind of weakly linked to science...volunteering on organic farms?

    If I take a gap year at all I might reapply. But I'm not really Oxbridge material...none of my application would be really strong. Yours sounds good though. And you'd know what to expect this year. Did you get an interview?
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    Unless you get rejected everywhere, I wouldn't reject any medical schools who give you an offer as getting a medicine offer is so difficult in the first place.
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    (Original post by johnswift)
    I'm new to this forum so firstly, Hi
    Basically for 2012 entry I applied to Cambridge to study medicine and was rejected, and I still don't have any offers for any other universities. I am getting feedback soon but I have a general idea why I was rejected. I think the main reason was my BMAT score (4.1 5.8 3C), however this is not representative of my ability as I had exceptional circumstances and was getting much higher in practice tests. (Stupidly I didn't realise Cambridge made allowance for exceptional circumstances during the BMAT so I didn't inform them about my situation). I am really really confident I can do better in the BMAT. I think my interviews went OK, only because I got the harder questions right after having a stab at guessing but horridly messed up on the simple questions asked of the AS level syllabus.
    I think my academics are good at 8A* 2A at GCSE and 3A*1A predictions at A level with around a 94% UMS average. If I get my predictions I am considering reapplying to Cambridge or trying Oxford out but only if I don't secure any other offers this year. Is it OK to apply for Oxbridge after a gap year with my academics?
    Thank you
    Yeah definitely I think you should reapply. Autopool criteria for post Year 13 applicants is three A*s at A2, so I imagine Cambridge feels that getting three A*s is roughly the equivalent to 93% at AS. I'm not sure how it works though if you're doing four A2s; whether they would expect four A*s since you've done four, or whether they only want three, and any extra subjects you've done is just a bonus.

    But yeah, I think getting thee A*s will put you in a strong academic position to reapply, possibly more so than people with high UMS at AS, because now you will actually have the grades and not just predictions like the rest of the applicants.

    One option you could consider is only taking three A2s this year, as you will have less workload and this may increase the likelihood of getting three A*s. After all I'm sure you'd prefer A*A*A* than A*A*AA (well this is debatable but still).

    Yes there is the important debate about you being out of education for a year, so your science skills will not be as sharp, but I think if you can make your year worth while with a great placement at a hospital or somewhere, then its not that bad. Some people/admissions tutors/whatever, may prefer a medic to take a gap year and get real experience for a year. It's not like you are wanting to apply for mathematics where a year out of studying will be very counterproductive. I believe Queens' college Cambridge are particularly welcoming of gap year applicants anyway, because they like the maturity of applicants once they've had a year out to do something important. If you really want to prove you are still academically able, and have the time, you could take up further maths or additional further maths, to show that your maths skills are not going down the drain during this year out.

    Lastly, I think if you hit three A*s, and get good BMAT and UKCAT scores, you will be in a very strong position whatever university it is you're applying to next year. Say you got offers for medicine this year, you could accept these offers, and come summer when you get your results, either you do well enough that you can meet your offers (I imagine none of them will ask for three A*s) and go to uni, or do extremely well and get three A*s, at which point, you can decide to not go to uni this year and reapply. Then I think even if you still don't get an oxbridge offer, the other unis which gave you offers last time, will still be likely to give you an offer this time. From reading TSR recently, it appears that telling UCAS you completely want to withdraw your application to go to uni in 2012, and instead want to reapply next year, is very straight forwards and easy to do.

    I just remembered one more thing, when you reapply, you'll be sending off your UCAS application before October 15th. By this time you will want to have planned everything you want to do on your gap year, where you will be working, what you will be doing, and have this written down on your personal statement, so that unis can see if what you are doing is productive. So you'll really only have a month or so after results day to get everything planned for your gap year.
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    (Original post by v2p)
    Yeah definitely I think you should reapply. Autopool criteria for post Year 13 applicants is three A*s at A2, so I imagine Cambridge feels that getting three A*s is roughly the equivalent to 93% at AS. I'm not sure how it works though if you're doing four A2s; whether they would expect four A*s since you've done four, or whether they only want three, and any extra subjects you've done is just a bonus.

    But yeah, I think getting thee A*s will put you in a strong academic position to reapply, possibly more so than people with high UMS at AS, because now you will actually have the grades and not just predictions like the rest of the applicants.

    One option you could consider is only taking three A2s this year, as you will have less workload and this may increase the likelihood of getting three A*s. After all I'm sure you'd prefer A*A*A* than A*A*AA (well this is debatable but still).

    Yes there is the important debate about you being out of education for a year, so your science skills will not be as sharp, but I think if you can make your year worth while with a great placement at a hospital or somewhere, then its not that bad. Some people/admissions tutors/whatever, may prefer a medic to take a gap year and get real experience for a year. It's not like you are wanting to apply for mathematics where a year out of studying will be very counterproductive. I believe Queens' college Cambridge are particularly welcoming of gap year applicants anyway, because they like the maturity of applicants once they've had a year out to do something important. If you really want to prove you are still academically able, and have the time, you could take up further maths or additional further maths, to show that your maths skills are not going down the drain during this year out.

    Lastly, I think if you hit three A*s, and get good BMAT and UKCAT scores, you will be in a very strong position whatever university it is you're applying to next year. Say you got offers for medicine this year, you could accept these offers, and come summer when you get your results, either you do well enough that you can meet your offers (I imagine none of them will ask for three A*s) and go to uni, or do extremely well and get three A*s, at which point, you can decide to not go to uni this year and reapply. Then I think even if you still don't get an oxbridge offer, the other unis which gave you offers last time, will still be likely to give you an offer this time. From reading TSR recently, it appears that telling UCAS you completely want to withdraw your application to go to uni in 2012, and instead want to reapply next year, is very straight forwards and easy to do.

    I just remembered one more thing, when you reapply, you'll be sending off your UCAS application before October 15th. By this time you will want to have planned everything you want to do on your gap year, where you will be working, what you will be doing, and have this written down on your personal statement, so that unis can see if what you are doing is productive. So you'll really only have a month or so after results day to get everything planned for your gap year.
    Thanks that's encouraging
    Are you a reapplicant by any chance?
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    It sounds like your re-application would be a strong one, if it comes to that. I'd suggest applying to Cambridge rather than Oxford, simply because the application to offer ratios are so different.

    Turning down a medicine offer though, should you get one, is not advisable. Even if your application next year is very strong, you are still far from certain of getting an offer, and even if that risk is just 10% (many would argue its always higher), is taking that risk really worth it?

    See what the other unis do, but if you are unsuccessful, you are in a strong position. Do something useful, but also something fun with the gap year. Medical gap years are generally considered an advantage due to the extra experience and extra maturity.

    (Original post by v2p)
    Say you got offers for medicine this year, you could accept these offers, and come summer when you get your results, either you do well enough that you can meet your offers (I imagine none of them will ask for three A*s) and go to uni, or do extremely well and get three A*s, at which point, you can decide to not go to uni this year and reapply. Then I think even if you still don't get an oxbridge offer, the other unis which gave you offers last time, will still be likely to give you an offer this time. From reading TSR recently, it appears that telling UCAS you completely want to withdraw your application to go to uni in 2012, and instead want to reapply next year, is very straight forwards and easy to do.
    Are you absolutely certain about this? I have no idea myself, but the it seems like consequences of getting it wrong are pretty high so you'd have to be 100% sure before you did it!
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    (Original post by johnswift)
    Thanks that's encouraging
    Are you a reapplicant by any chance?
    I'm going to be very blunt: don't reject any Medicine offer. The advice given is all well and good for any subject but medicine.

    Medicine is a subject that is vastly over applied for by people who are all extremely capable. It is full of applicants with 100% A*s at GCSE, it is full of applicants who are reapplying after getting A*/A in all of their A levels, it is full of postgraduate applicants who have (or will have) completed science degrees, it is full of much more mature applicants who finally decide to apply. Medicine also focuses a lot on interview performance and blind test performance, both of which can easily go very well or very badly, regardless of how "good" you are. Luck will always be a factor, no matter how good you are. I do sympathise with your post, but in summary it sounds like you messed up BMAT (but still got an interview, indicating it did not go horrendously) and messed up a few interview questions, yet you still question their decision in rejecting you?

    Medicine is also a subject in which there in no real perceived "best" or "worst" university; they are all very competitive and none will get you a notable leg up over the other. In fact, Medicine at Oxbridge is very traditional (i.e. a bit outdated), and Cambridge especially has a reputation for bad teaching or neglectance of the clinical and social skills associated with Medicine. It is downright stupid to reject another offer in the hopes of aspiring to study at Cambridge, unless you are almost guaranteed an offer (for you this would mean 4A*s at A level) or unless you have an auxiliary reason which would stop you from studying this year.

    Applying next year will by no means guarantee you places, especially if you do no choose to do something constructive. Achieving 3A*s at A level is no light task either. I would say you should definitely accept and try to meet any offer you receive this year. If you receive no offers then if anything that is more a cause for concern rather than to be adamant about where you want to study medicine.

    Tl;dr; the "prestige" of medicine at a top uni is never, ever worth the hassle, stress and work required to reapply. When you consider that you are not at all even guaranteed any offer when you reapply, this is augmented. Reapplying will also put a lot of pressure on your A2 exams (you will need to get at least 2A*s to be reasonably competitive. You will also need to start relevant and recognised work experience, you will also need to continue with academia in some way). When you consider that other unis are pretty much just as good, it would be madness to reject an offer.


    Also, you sign a legally binding contract through UCAS when you accept an offer that you will attend that university. Worming your way out of that come September is going to be tricky to say the least. Also, meeting an offer (even AAA) is never a formality.
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    (Original post by johnswift)
    If I get my predictions I am considering reapplying to Cambridge or trying Oxford out but only if I don't secure any other offers this year.
    I think you've got the important point there - I definitely wouldn't take a year out to reapply if you secure other offers. Not because I don't think your academic record is strong, but because Medicine really is so competitive.

    I would also say that, yes, of course Oxbridge is good for Medicine but there are plenty of other places that are just as good (or better, some might argue). The league tables don't really apply for Medicine. I don't know what other unis you've applied to, but say you got offers from places like UCL, Nottingham, etc... I honestly don't think it'd be worth it to turn those offers down, just for a shot at Oxbridge.

    It's definitely possible in your position to take a gap year and reapply to Oxbridge, but make sure you're okay with the risks if you're turning down other offers to do so!

    If you do decide to take a year out, it'll be crucial that you do some strong medicine-related work during that time.
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    Thank you for your advice and replies wonderful people
    I will only take a gap year if I do not get any offers this year for medicine. I have 2 interviews to go so I might end up not taking a gap year to reapply.
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    Just to add if anyone's still following this thread.
    I received my feedback and it said

    "Great UMS...strong application....55 applicants for 11 spaces, 35 were interviewed...the interview was disappointing as the questions asked based on schoolwork were not clearly answered"

    That's the reason I was expecting really, I know I messed up some pretty basic AS level stuff.
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    If you get an offer at another medical school - take it.

    If you reapply, try again, sure.
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    (Original post by johnswift)
    Just to add if anyone's still following this thread.
    I received my feedback and it said

    "Great UMS...strong application....55 applicants for 11 spaces, 35 were interviewed...the interview was disappointing as the questions asked based on schoolwork were not clearly answered"

    That's the reason I was expecting really, I know I messed up some pretty basic AS level stuff.
    Sorry it took me so long to reply, I haven't been online much, and then I had to trawl through Minerva's latest posts to try and find the one I was looking for :holmes:.

    Anyway, here is the thread I was referring to. http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...221&highlight=
    You may want to double check and give Minerva a pm though, just to make sure.

    I think what nexttime, Llewellyn, and Ms Kooky have told you seems like great advice, and they obviously know a lot about what applying for medicine is really like.

    Despite the very real and costly risks of foregoing any medicine offers you get this year, in favour of reapplying next year, when you may get turned down by the same places, or you may fail on the BMAT and UKCAT which are dependent on a bit of luck, your feedback does seem to be encouraging. I'm not really sure how medicine interviews work, and maybe the others can clarify this, but would I be right in assuming Oxbridge medicine interviews are not as purely academic and focused on testing your academic ability, as Oxbridge interviews for other subjects, such as mathematics, where really they only care about how good you are at maths? If Oxbridge also look for other qualities in medicine applicants, such as your decision making, or your understanding, reasoning and judgement of ethical principles, and things like that, then it seems to be that you did well in these aspects of the interviews. It may be that the only hurdle you fell short on was academic knowledge, which can be attributed to nerves, and since now you know what you need to do, you can prepare well for it next time.
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    (Original post by johnswift)
    I'm new to this forum so firstly, Hi
    Basically for 2012 entry I applied to Cambridge to study medicine and was rejected, and I still don't have any offers for any other universities. I am getting feedback soon but I have a general idea why I was rejected. I think the main reason was my BMAT score (4.1 5.8 3C), however this is not representative of my ability as I had exceptional circumstances and was getting much higher in practice tests. (Stupidly I didn't realise Cambridge made allowance for exceptional circumstances during the BMAT so I didn't inform them about my situation). I am really really confident I can do better in the BMAT. I think my interviews went OK, only because I got the harder questions right after having a stab at guessing but horridly messed up on the simple questions asked of the AS level syllabus.
    I think my academics are good at 8A* 2A at GCSE and 3A*1A predictions at A level with around a 94% UMS average. If I get my predictions I am considering reapplying to Cambridge or trying Oxford out but only if I don't secure any other offers this year. Is it OK to apply for Oxbridge after a gap year with my academics?
    Thank you
    you could always just take the ukcat for 2013 entry this summer and see what you get before coming to any definate decisions. I know oxbridge don't use ukcat but it would affect your other choices probably, so it might make the decision to reapply a bit easier if you knew your UKCAT score (maybe)? - just a suggestion

    good luck
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    (Original post by v2p)
    I'm not really sure how medicine interviews work, and maybe the others can clarify this, but would I be right in assuming Oxbridge medicine interviews are not as purely academic and focused on testing your academic ability, as Oxbridge interviews for other subjects, such as mathematics, where really they only care about how good you are at maths?
    A good question that is quite hard to tell quantitively, and probably depends on tutor preference anyway. Generally speaking, most colleges have on 'academic' interview and one 'ethical/other' interview (although that wasn't true of my interviews, for example). They'd be unlikely to accept you if you showed an inability to empathise at all, i'd guess (although you do wonder with some medics you meet), but beyond that its hard to tell just how important this part of the application is.

    They ask similar ethical questions for clinical school interviews too, but drop the classical 'academic' questions.

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