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A-levels

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    Hi TSR

    I'm about to start A-levels next year. I'm doing medicine and hope to apply to red-brick unis.

    I want to know what i should do to get started and any tips before the year begins.
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    Make sure you do some reading around the subjects you are doing this summer.


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    A level was a huge step up from GCSE (for me atleast), and the increased workload came round and bit my butt. It may not be the same for you, but in preparation for A level I'd definitely suggest doing some wider reading around your subjects, and get organised by purchasing folders, high-lighters, pads, etc. Sounds obvious, but many people I know didn't bother until halfway through the first term, by which time they'd lost A LOT of their notes.

    Keeping your notes organised will be essential, especially when you get to exam time and have to revise everything. Also, be warned about the 'I can just resit this!' attitude which seemed to be contagious at my college, haha. Get your head down early and kick ass in your first set of exams, and then you won't have to deal with double the amount of work in summer when you really do not need it. At A level the subject content is HUGE compared to GCSE, and so resits are a complete death-trap for your grades, due to the fact that the more resits you have, the less time you have to study for each subject module.

    Finally, during your AS year, try and get some volunteering done in places such as old peoples homes, primary schools for children with special needs, or your local pharmacy or doctors. You'll have less time for it during A2, and it looks great on a personal statement for your university application - admissions tutors for medicine courses especially love to see that you have had previous experience in a care environment. Your school may encourage you to do this anyway, but I thought I'd mention it just encase.

    I hope you find something helpful in what I've written, haha.

    Good luck in your studies!
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    1) Apply to as many hospitals and GP's as you can during the summer, and keep doing so until you get at least one placement.

    2) Whatever amount of work you did at GCSE, quadruple it for A level.

    3) Once you get your GCSE results, research selection procedures for each medical school and find the ones which suit you.
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    Work experience work experience work experience!
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    How am I able to do work experience? No place really accepts me
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    (Original post by Whostolemycookie)
    How am I able to do work experience? No place really accepts me
    Just keep on applying, contact some of the ones you've already applied for again.
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    (Original post by Helloworld_95)
    Just keep on applying, contact some of the ones you've already applied for again.
    Do I just keep giving in my CV? Or what? Sorry new to this
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    (Original post by Whostolemycookie)
    Do I just keep giving in my CV? Or what? Sorry new to this
    Hey, I recently got some work experience in a hospital and my advice would be to either a) keep asking people or b) ask your family/friends/anyone you know if they know a doctor at a hospital. I've found that if you know someone working there it's a lot easier to find a placement.

    Good luck
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    I did lots of vet work experience, so it's a similar sort of thing

    Rather than sending your CV, visit/phone. It's much harder to get refused that way. Really big yourself up haha.

    As for a-levels, just work hard and don't waste free periods!!!
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    (Original post by Whostolemycookie)
    How am I able to do work experience? No place really accepts me
    Ring up all the hospitals near you and actually ask if they cater for work experience students. If yes, ask if you can have an application form. If not, ring all the hospitals near your family members e.g. grandparents if they live away from you ( you can always stay a few days with them during your placement if you get one ).

    I obviously don't know where you live and how many hospitals are near you, but with absolutely zero contacts I got three work experience placements in three different hospitals, just by ringing up and enquiring.

    If all that fails, try elderly care homes, disabled care homes, or any charities that work with children/the elderly/ the disabled/ the vulnerable. It's all good.
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    (Original post by HopefullyMedic)
    Ring up all the hospitals near you and actually ask if they cater for work experience students. If yes, ask if you can have an application form. If not, ring all the hospitals near your family members e.g. grandparents if they live away from you ( you can always stay a few days with them during your placement if you get one ).

    I obviously don't know where you live and how many hospitals are near you, but with absolutely zero contacts I got three work experience placements in three different hospitals, just by ringing up and enquiring.

    If all that fails, try elderly care homes, disabled care homes, or any charities that work with children/the elderly/ the disabled/ the vulnerable. It's all good.
    Will do, Thanks
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    As far as work experience goes I think you need to look further than simply volunteering in a GP/Hospital. Really, what you need is work experience which shows you have an aptitude for Medicine. This can be in a variety of different ways. For example, here are some which some people in my year have done:

    - Care home volunteering. This is fairly popular as it enables you to get face to face experience with patients in a way that volunteering at, say, a clinic doesn't allow you due to confidentiality laws.
    - Assisting with SEN children in school. This is useful because it shows a position of responsibility as well as dealing with children with (sometimes fairly severe) special educational needs and behavioural problems.
    - Lifeguard training. This has put them in a role of public responsibility, as well as including a mandatory first aid training course.

    Basically, use your imagination - there are a lot more relevant places you can gain work experience for Medicine than simply a hospital, with pretty much anything that shows you acting in a caring role towards others being a big bonus.

    I would do these during the summer of GCSE and AS though - Medicine also expects you to perform well academically and you shouldn't underestimate the jump in workload required to perform well at A Level.

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Updated: July 9, 2012
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