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    Hi. This is really aimed at anyone who might have graduated in an arts subject and is now studying medicine as an undergrad, or who wants to do so.

    I'm planning on applying for an undergrad medical course next year, but have an arts degree and my a levels were in arts subjects as well. So I'm going to try and get A levels in Biology and Chemistry next year, while revising for the BMAT etc. Want I want to know is

    1) How easy is it to take A-levels by yourself? I'm happy enough doing the work just by personal study, but every board seems to involve so much coursework, how on earth am I supposed to arrange that?

    2) Can anyone give be an indication of what they think my chances are? If I outline my academic record and work experience, can anyone give me a realistic appraisal?

    Work experience: 1 week in a hospital, shadowing a medical student; 1 week in a GPs office, shadowing a GP. Some charity work throughout the years.

    Academic: GCSEs (mostly arts, no biology) 12 A*s; A levels 3 As and a B (English, History, Latin, Greek); Undergrad: Classics (Oxford, 1st) Masters', 2 years of DPhil.

    Thanks very much for any help.

    Also, if anyone has any suggestions about which A-level boards would be good for external candidates, I'd been very grateful to hear it.
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    Afraid i don't fit your target person criteria - but I'm a 3rd year medic who's done a few open days now & am possibly medic-contagious because a few friends from various backgrounds at my college are now applying for grad or undergrad medicine!
    so have picked up a few things from their UCAS fun this cycle...

    (Original post by d750)
    1) How easy is it to take A-levels by yourself? I'm happy enough doing the work just by personal study, but every board seems to involve so much coursework, how on earth am I supposed to arrange that?
    My PPE neighbour self taught Chemistry in a few months & proceeded to get an A...but had a fairly mathsy background. Did you do separate or double at least to GCSE?

    & do you definitely need full A levels in both Biology & Chemistry? If you're happy to prepare for "BMAT etc" then i think there are some courses with aptitude exams where only Chemistry is essential. & possibly even some where if you do the GAMSAT (apparently hellish) then you don't need the relevant A levels at all for a graduate accelerated course (with the major financial benefits that brings)? this is just from memory though & may be out of date by now though - websites would be the place to check.

    Coursework you can do as an external candidate at local colleges - the further education places might be more flexible than schools?

    2) Can anyone give be an indication of what they think my chances are? If I outline my academic record and work experience, can anyone give me a realistic appraisal?
    TBH, think it will depend where you apply & then obviously how you interview.

    e.g. for Oxford - if you could perform in approx. the top 60% of their applicants in the BMAT you'd definitely get an interview. & they then interview relatively few candidates per place (2.5).

    But for other courses where the academics aren't used so much once you're above a minimum then possibly your work experience might let you down. There are some threads in here discussing what this cohort of successful (& unsuccessful) candidates offered. As you've described yours seems fairly comparable to an average, but slightly doctor stalking biased & lacking care experience perhaps (although you didn't specify with the charity work what that entailed)*? Admissions tutors might expect more from a graduate applicant to confirm their commitment to the change of direction etc. But contacting the Admissions Tutors directly & asking/or at open days or other graduate applicants (there are a few medic specific forums out there - PM if you haven't found them..) might be the best way to gauge this.

    Hope this might give some useful things to think about - good luck!


    * e.g. work with the young, elderly, people with disabilities, as a health care assistant/support worker.
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    (Original post by Elles)
    Afraid i don't fit your target person criteria - but I'm a 3rd year medic who's done a few open days now & am possibly medic-contagious because a few friends from various backgrounds at my college are now applying for grad or undergrad medicine!
    so have picked up a few things from their UCAS fun this cycle...



    My PPE neighbour self taught Chemistry in a few months & proceeded to get an A...but had a fairly mathsy background. Did you do separate or double at least to GCSE?

    & do you definitely need full A levels in both Biology & Chemistry? If you're happy to prepare for "BMAT etc" then i think there are some courses with aptitude exams where only Chemistry is essential. & possibly even some where if you do the GAMSAT (apparently hellish) then you don't need the relevant A levels at all for a graduate accelerated course (with the major financial benefits that brings)? this is just from memory though & may be out of date by now though - websites would be the place to check.

    Coursework you can do as an external candidate at local colleges - the further education places might be more flexible than schools?



    TBH, think it will depend where you apply & then obviously how you interview.

    e.g. for Oxford - if you could perform in approx. the top 60% of their applicants in the BMAT you'd definitely get an interview. & they then interview relatively few candidates per place (2.5).

    But for other courses where the academics aren't used so much once you're above a minimum then possibly your work experience might let you down. There are some threads in here discussing what this cohort of successful (& unsuccessful) candidates offered. As you've described yours seems fairly comparable to an average, but slightly doctor stalking biased & lacking care experience perhaps (although you didn't specify with the charity work what that entailed)*? Admissions tutors might expect more from a graduate applicant to confirm their commitment to the change of direction etc. But contacting the Admissions Tutors directly & asking/or at open days or other graduate applicants (there are a few medic specific forums out there - PM if you haven't found them..) might be the best way to gauge this.

    Hope this might give some useful things to think about - good luck!


    * e.g. work with the young, elderly, people with disabilities, as a health care assistant/support worker.
    You'll need more work experience. Most graduates have upwards of 3-4 years worth of the stuff.

    My best friend has a history degree (from Cantab *Spit*), and then did A-Level chem herself in a year to be able to apply to the med schools she wanted to. If you get your head down and put the hours in, it shouldn't be a problem.

    A word of advice, if applying post doctorate, play it down in your UCAS form. I know that quite a few med schools reject people on this basis, as "medicine is a vocational degree, not an academic challenge", so to give yourself the bast shot possible, concentrate on what else you have to offer.
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    (Original post by Fluffy)
    You'll need more work experience. Most graduates have upwards of 3-4 years worth of the stuff.

    My best friend has a history degree (from Cantab *Spit*), and then did A-Level chem herself in a year to be able to apply to the med schools she wanted to. If you get your head down and put the hours in, it shouldn't be a problem.

    A word of advice, if applying post doctorate, play it down in your UCAS form. I know that quite a few med schools reject people on this basis, as "medicine is a vocational degree, not an academic challenge", so to give yourself the bast shot possible, concentrate on what else you have to offer.
    As for sitting A-Levels on your own back, look up the NEC (National Extension College).
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    Thanks very much for your feedback.

    (Original post by Elles)
    My PPE neighbour self taught Chemistry in a few months & proceeded to get an A...but had a fairly mathsy background. Did you do separate or double at least to GCSE?
    I did single award Chemistry and Physics, so I do have Chemistry GCSE, although it is quite rusty.

    (Original post by Elles)
    & do you definitely need full A levels in both Biology & Chemistry?
    I don't actually need both, or even either. It would be possible to apply to St. George's just with GAMSAT, and to GKT just with UKCAT, with no A-level requirement. But I'm keen to be able to apply for an undergraduate course as well - I plan to spend the next year working (the plan is in a care home), and so I can't apply to start before 2007. So it gives me the time to do A-levels and a much, much better chance of getting a place. It would be financially more difficult, but still possible.

    (Original post by Elles)
    Coursework you can do as an external candidate at local colleges - the further education places might be more flexible than schools?
    I'll definitely need to look further into it, but it seems like going to a fe college just for the practicals and written exams could be possible.

    Oxford's a tricky one for grad entry. I can't apply to the accelerated programme because its only for science grads, and graduate places for the undergrad course are a maximum of 3. But I think it'll be worth trying anyway - the interview would have to go very well though.

    (Original post by Elles)
    (although you didn't specify with the charity work what that entailed)*?
    I've been working for a homeless charity for just under 7 years now - it's only an evening a week, but I'll probably still mention it on the application. I've also worked for SCOPE, but only for a fortnight while I was still at school. And I worked for a children's charity one summer. I might as well put it all down.

    I'm hoping some extracurriculars may be useful, even though they're unrelated to medicine. I've been JCR pres and always been quite active around uni. I think that'd be worth mentioning, even if it doesn't show a commitment to a caring profession.

    (Original post by Elles)
    Hope this might give some useful things to think about - good luck!
    Yes, thanks, it's been very helpful.
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    (Original post by Fluffy)
    You'll need more work experience. Most graduates have upwards of 3-4 years worth of the stuff.

    My best friend has a history degree (from Cantab *Spit*), and then did A-Level chem herself in a year to be able to apply to the med schools she wanted to. If you get your head down and put the hours in, it shouldn't be a problem.

    A word of advice, if applying post doctorate, play it down in your UCAS form. I know that quite a few med schools reject people on this basis, as "medicine is a vocational degree, not an academic challenge", so to give yourself the bast shot possible, concentrate on what else you have to offer.
    I should have about a year of relevant experience when I do apply. Do you think that'll still be a problem? I'm hoping that if I can apply to at least one undergraduate course, it shouldn't be as competitive.

    I won't be applying post-doc, I think. I've pretty much decided just to stop where I am. Thanks for the advice, though - I guess I shouldn't make it that obvious, especially as I'm going to be quitting.
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    (Original post by d750)
    I should have about a year of relevant experience when I do apply. Do you think that'll still be a problem? I'm hoping that if I can apply to at least one undergraduate course, it shouldn't be as competitive.
    All medicine courses are undergraduate - even the GEPs! Also I wouldn't be so sure on full courses being less competative than GEPs - figures for 2005 entry show there is little in it now, some 5 year courses attracting over 20 graduate applicans per graduate place. BL 5 year had the same amount of graduate applicants per graduate place (75 places) as Warwick GEP!

    (Original post by d750)
    I won't be applying post-doc, I think. I've pretty much decided just to stop where I am. Thanks for the advice, though - I guess I shouldn't make it that obvious, especially as I'm going to be quitting.
    My advice would be to make sure you get something out of your D.Phil, even if it *only* a masters... Unless you have fantastic reasons for quitting, it might not look too good on your UCAS form...
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    (Original post by d750)
    I've been working for a homeless charity for just under 7 years now - it's only an evening a week, but I'll probably still mention it on the application.
    'probably' mention it??!!!??! This is infinitely more important and impressive than anything you cited as 'experience' in your first post. Moreover, it is sustained...

    You should definitely mention it!!!
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    (Original post by Fluffy)
    All medicine courses are undergraduate - even the GEPs! Also I wouldn't be so sure on full courses being less competative than GEPs - figures for 2005 entry show there is little in it now, some 5 year courses attracting over 20 graduate applicans per graduate place. BL 5 year had the same amount of graduate applicants per graduate place (75 places) as Warwick GEP!
    Do all full 5-year medical courses have a fixed quota for graduate applicants, then? I'd assumed I'd be competing openly with school-leavers, rather than being judged to different standards. That would certainly make it harder. Do you think you can give me a realistic appraisal of my chances of getting on to a medical course? I'll be 25 at the time of application, by the way. It's just a huge decision - I really, really want to do medicine, but if I stand very little chance of being able to do it, I may just have to live with not doing it and not take an incredibly risky step.

    (Original post by Fluffy)
    My advice would be to make sure you get something out of your D.Phil, even if it *only* a masters... Unless you have fantastic reasons for quitting, it might not look too good on your UCAS form...
    I already have 2 master's degrees, so I don't really see the need to get something from the DPhil. Its just that the desire to do medicine has been building and building and now I feel I just need to act on it, even if it does mean quitting without anything to show for it.
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    (Original post by d750)
    Do all full 5-year medical courses have a fixed quota for graduate applicants, then? I'd assumed I'd be competing openly with school-leavers, rather than being judged to different standards. That would certainly make it harder. Do you think you can give me a realistic appraisal of my chances of getting on to a medical course? I'll be 25 at the time of application, by the way. It's just a huge decision - I really, really want to do medicine, but if I stand very little chance of being able to do it, I may just have to live with not doing it and not take an incredibly risky step.
    .

    Many do not have strictly set in stone quotas, but they are never going to accept 100% graduates... There is a certain amount of competition, and you will always be competing with the rest of the graduate field, rather than the school leaver field. Have a look at this web site if you haven't already (it will give you an idea of who is more graduate friendly):
    http://www.medschoolsonline.co.uk/

    Also bear in mind that a few medical schools are stopping taking graduates on their 5 year courses. Nottingham stopped from 2005 entry, and St Georges last graduate cohort on their 5 year course will be 2006.

    I already have 2 master's degrees, so I don't really see the need to get something from the DPhil. Its just that the desire to do medicine has been building and building and now I feel I just need to act on it, even if it does mean quitting without anything to show for it.
    Unless there is a great reason why you really cannot finish your DPhil, I would just get it done (I know that's no mean feat!). Having anything uncompleted on your UCAS form will not stand you in good stead, unless you have some kind of mitigation. To look at it from an admissions tutor point of view, "if you can't keep at your D.Phil, why should medicine be any different?". Given how many forms they have to read to whittle down the field, that is just the sort of thing they look for to justify rejection without interview...

    Of course, I have no idea what your personal circumstance is, or if you have mitigating reasons for not finishing your D.Phil, but at a minimum I would write up for a masters, no matter how many of them you have, or finish the big one.
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    (Original post by d750)
    Oxford's a tricky one for grad entry. I can't apply to the accelerated programme because its only for science grads, and graduate places for the undergrad course are a maximum of 3. But I think it'll be worth trying anyway - the interview would have to go very well though.
    I didn't know about a grad quota... so had an internet nosy.
    Doesn't seem it's especially fixed, or only fixed at the upper boundary at least though - so presumably the competition comparison is to the whole field of applicants rather than just fellow grads?

    (Original post by How to assess your chances: some statistical information)
    http://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/med...sessingchances
    Graduate applicants to the standard course
    19 applications from graduates were received, and eight applicants were short-listed, of whom one was awarded a place.
    Surprised how few - although happy for the one success on a personal level!
    & my useful-ness is depleted. But if you want a student's-view re. the Oxford standard course or interviews feel free to get in touch.
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    (Original post by Fluffy)
    Many do not have strictly set in stone quotas, but they are never going to accept 100% graduates... There is a certain amount of competition, and you will always be competing with the rest of the graduate field, rather than the school leaver field. Have a look at this web site if you haven't already (it will give you an idea of who is more graduate friendly):
    http://www.medschoolsonline.co.uk/

    Also bear in mind that a few medical schools are stopping taking graduates on their 5 year courses. Nottingham stopped from 2005 entry, and St Georges last graduate cohort on their 5 year course will be 2006.
    Ah, that's unfortunate. I was hoping there wouldn't be any distinction between school leavers and graduates applying to the full courses. Had had a look at the website - it's certainly useful. Didn't know SG wasn't accepting grads onto the 5 year - I was actually going to phone them on Tuesday to ask.

    (Original post by Fluffy)
    Unless there is a great reason why you really cannot finish your DPhil, I would just get it done (I know that's no mean feat!). Having anything uncompleted on your UCAS form will not stand you in good stead, unless you have some kind of mitigation. To look at it from an admissions tutor point of view, "if you can't keep at your D.Phil, why should medicine be any different?". Given how many forms they have to read to whittle down the field, that is just the sort of thing they look for to justify rejection without interview...

    Of course, I have no idea what your personal circumstance is, or if you have mitigating reasons for not finishing your D.Phil, but at a minimum I would write up for a masters, no matter how many of them you have, or finish the big one.
    I still really don't see the point in finishing the DPhil. It'll take at least another 2 years, by which stage I'll almost be 27, and couldn't finish a medical course before 32, or really have enough time for a family until 35. That doesn't sound too bad, but ideally I'd really like to start as soon as possible. Will it necessarily be a problem to have incomplete study? Study isn't for the piece of paper at the end of it. The years have been useful, even if they don't give me any actual qualifications.
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    (Original post by d750)
    I still really don't see the point in finishing the DPhil. It'll take at least another 2 years, by which stage I'll almost be 27, and couldn't finish a medical course before 32, or really have enough time for a family until 35. That doesn't sound too bad, but ideally I'd really like to start as soon as possible. Will it necessarily be a problem to have incomplete study? Study isn't for the piece of paper at the end of it. The years have been useful, even if they don't give me any actual qualifications.
    If you leave your D.Phil by choice, then yes it might be a massive issue - especially as theoretically you are close to the end. Your best bet is to get into this dialogue with medical schools you like the look of. The problem with non-completing, isn't the lack of anything to show for it as such, it's the fact that you quit. There are far more people who want to study medicine, at all levels, than there are places - to look at it bluntly (and from the sort of perspective an admissions tutor would look at it - not my own personal view!), they might not want to take a chance on someone with a track history of quitting.

    You're really not old. So I doubt you would get away with using that as an excuse. I'll be 33 when I qualify (God willing!).

    If you want to sound someone with experience in this out, then I suggest joining Admissionsforum (if you haven't already) and send 'Conkers' a PM. Up until this academic year she was head of admissions and will definitely tell it how it is, as well as being in a postition to offer more constructive advice as an insider.
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    (Original post by Fluffy)
    If you leave your D.Phil by choice, then yes it might be a massive issue - especially as theoretically you are close to the end. Your best bet is to get into this dialogue with medical schools you like the look of. The problem with non-completing, isn't the lack of anything to show for it as such, it's the fact that you quit. There are far more people who want to study medicine, at all levels, than there are places - to look at it bluntly (and from the sort of perspective an admissions tutor would look at it - not my own personal view!), they might not want to take a chance on someone with a track history of quitting.

    You're really not old. So I doubt you would get away with using that as an excuse. I'll be 33 when I qualify (God willing!).

    If you want to sound someone with experience in this out, then I suggest joining Admissionsforum (if you haven't already) and send 'Conkers' a PM. Up until this academic year she was head of admissions and will definitely tell it how it is, as well as being in a postition to offer more constructive advice as an insider.

    Thanks - I've joined admissionsforum now. I think maybe I will try to get a Master's out of the DPhil. I can probably try to write it up to an MLitt next year, in time for 2007 entry. But that would make it difficult to get a job as an HCA etc. - I'd probably have to settle for the odd hour here and there.
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    NHSProfessionals? the "agency" of the NHS - so all about flexible working.

    Don't think they operate in every area though & the turnaround application-start working time can be quite slow when your availability is more limited. But, great uniform :nurse: & i was impressed with the induction training & supervised shifts.

    & i think you can be offered more permanent jobs or be 'requested' by a department on a more ongoing basis once you've tempted a few.
 
 
 
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