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    Hi there,
    I applied to study medicine this year at Bristol, Cardiff, KCL and Barts and the London. I was predicted AAAB at AS in Biology, Chemistry, German and Maths respectively, had work experience, and loads of voluntary work. I have wanted to study medicine for years and have worked hard since the start of secondary school to achieve that goal (I got 6A*s 6As at GCSE). However, two days before my AS exams started, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. My family has a really bad history with cancer with my cousin dying at 13, my uncle dying at 40 and my grandma dying only the year before from it. I had also had issues with depression and anxiety for the past 3 or so years prior to my mum being diagnosed, and so when I got the news it had a pretty big effect on me. She underwent operations on days I was sitting exams, before starting chemo and radio and because my siblings both live away from home and are much older and my dad works away most of the time, I was essentially a carer.
    I applied for mitigating circumstances for all of my exams which I was informed would have been applied to my grades. However, this only increases your mark by a maximum of 5%, which doesn't even come close to making up the difference between my ability during those exams, and the ability I showed throughout my entire AS year at college.
    I ended up achieving ABBc in Biology, Chemistry, German and maths respectively and whilst I know many would be really pleased with this, it is unfortunately not really competitive enough for applying to medicine. I was told by my college that I could not resit the year, as I had not done "badly" enough, and besides I did not really want to. So I went ahead and applied for medicine as a deferred entry in 2017 (not something that is detrimental to my application). Along with my application my college and I wished to inform my universities of the context of my exam results, and we assumed this would not be an issue. However, we were told outright by KCL and barts that they did not accept mitigating circumstances unless it occurs in the A2 year, or it has forced a candidate to repeat a year. I would also like to point out this is completely contrary to the information I received on the open day for KCL, where their admissions dept assured me there was a mitigating circumstances form I could fill out and that my application would not be rejected on the grounds of lower grades. Bristol and Cardiff both supplied mitigating circumstances forms.
    I recieved a rejection without interview from Barts (basis: you do not meet our minimum grade entry criteria), KCL (basis: you do not meet our minimum grade entry criteria) and bristol (basis: your personal statement was not as strong as others). I have yet to hear back from cardiff regarding an invitation to interview and it is now march.
    I appealed the KCL decision on the grounds I felt it was unfair and it was upheld and I was invited to interview on the 5th feb (waiting to hear the result). (Prior to this I fought with their admissions team for them to allow me to submit my mitigating circumstances for consideration via the form they said did not exist but turned out to be very real as I was eventually allowed to fill it out and send it off!) However, they stated in their response that in order to "make up" for my C grade at AS level in maths (not a required subject for medicine), I would have to achieve a higher than usual offer of A*AA at A2. This has required me to resit all bar two of my AS exams, alongside my A2 exams, which is making for a very busy and stressful time for me.
    There is no provision given on competitive courses for people with non-continual disadvantages ie. those who come from a poor socio-economic background or who have been disadvantaged in the education they have recieved, are given an alternative route into medicine via the 6 year programme. However, anyone who has got the knowledge and skills required but due to temporary disadvantaging circumstances did not perform as expected in their exams, is not viewed in the same light. I have found the whole process of dealing with universities exhausting, and on top of everything else I was having to cope with at the time, I felt like I was being punished for circumstances well outside of my control.
    I am wanting to see if anyone else has faced these sorts of challenges when applying to medicine , as I hope to compile enough examples of unfair treatment during the application process towards candidates with mitigating circumstances, to be able to speak to the GMC about it.
    Universities such as barts and KCL do not take a holistic approach to the application process, and do not even read the personal statement or reference. This is disgraceful, especially when mitigating circumstances are involved, and is done purely to make their lives easier. Medicine is a gateway to a career that is people focused and as such they should be assessing candidates based on a lot more than just exam results-this serves no one expect for the universities themselves. Yes, I do not deny grades are important for competitive courses, but only because you need to be academically able enough to cope with the course, which everything bar my AS results says I am. Aside from that, grades only serve the purpose of choosing between applicants, and I know far too many people with all rejections for medicine based on one B grade, who I know would have made phenomenal doctors. The application process must be more holistic and focus more on finding candidates best suited to the job. I am in no way saying I should have been given an offer from these universities if they did not think I met their non-academic criteria, however, rejecting an applicant on the basis of grades which were achieved at a time of great difficulty and disruption, is unfair, unethical, and in my opinion, it is discriminatory.
    So please, let me know if you have had a similar experience, or if you have an opinion on the matter!
    Livvy
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    I'm sorry that your mum has been unwell, it must have been a hugely stressful time for you. I hope she is doing better now.

    It is a big shame that it happened right around the time of your exams, and that it has had such an effect on your grades. However, while you have had a very unfortunate time, I don't think your anger at Barts and King's in particular is entirely justified.

    First off - the increase in exam marks being "only" 5%. I think it's impossible for exam boards to realistically assess how each candidate has been affected by particular circumstances - some will barely be affected, others will fall to pieces when faced with similar challenging situations. They don't want lots of people claiming mitigating circumstances on the off chance they'll get a big increase in their grades. There could be a role for predicted grades/coursework grades to be used instead, but that would give teachers an incentive to falsely predict high grades.

    Secondly, you have missed out a couple of key pieces of information, namely what your UKCAT score was, and what your A2 predictions were, including whether you were carrying on all four subjects to A2. Both Bart's and King's have standard offers of AAAb, so if you were not continuing Maths to A2 and not resitting, you would not meet that. If you were not predicted AAA then you would also not meet their criteria.

    Both universities have their selection policies clearly on their website, and neither of them appear to use AS grades particularly - King's use a combination of UKCAT, GCSEs, A2 predictions and PS/reference, and Bart's use UKCAT and predicted UCAS tariff points. So if your UKCAT was below their cutoffs, that might be what knocked you out, or if you are only doing three A2s and predicted As, your UCAS tariff would not meet Bart's criteria. It does sound like King's messed you around with the mitigating circumstances form, but you have no evidence that they don't read your PS or reference (which I assume also mentioned your circumstances?) so I would be careful making accusations like that or threatening GMC referrals.

    Medicine is extremely competitive, and 60% of all applicants, many of whom have excellent grades, will get no offers in any given cycle. If you go through the medicine profiles page you will see that there are people getting offers with AS grades similar to yours or worse, so don't blame everything on those. You have obviously had a horrible year, and the whole application process can only have added to your stress, but it's not over. You are still waiting to hear from King's and Cardiff, and even if you don't get any offers this time, you can work hard for your A2s and reapply in September during a gap year. Good luck with the rest of the process!
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    (Original post by Helenia)
    I'm sorry that your mum has been unwell, it must have been a hugely stressful time for you. I hope she is doing better now.

    It is a big shame that it happened right around the time of your exams, and that it has had such an effect on your grades. However, while you have had a very unfortunate time, I don't think your anger at Barts and King's in particular is entirely justified.

    First off - the increase in exam marks being "only" 5%. I think it's impossible for exam boards to realistically assess how each candidate has been affected by particular circumstances - some will barely be affected, others will fall to pieces when faced with similar challenging situations. They don't want lots of people claiming mitigating circumstances on the off chance they'll get a big increase in their grades. There could be a role for predicted grades/coursework grades to be used instead, but that would give teachers an incentive to falsely predict high grades.

    Secondly, you have missed out a couple of key pieces of information, namely what your UKCAT score was, and what your A2 predictions were, including whether you were carrying on all four subjects to A2. Both Bart's and King's have standard offers of AAAb, so if you were not continuing Maths to A2 and not resitting, you would not meet that. If you were not predicted AAA then you would also not meet their criteria.

    Both universities have their selection policies clearly on their website, and neither of them appear to use AS grades particularly - King's use a combination of UKCAT, GCSEs, A2 predictions and PS/reference, and Bart's use UKCAT and predicted UCAS tariff points. So if your UKCAT was below their cutoffs, that might be what knocked you out, or if you are only doing three A2s and predicted As, your UCAS tariff would not meet Bart's criteria. It does sound like King's messed you around with the mitigating circumstances form, but you have no evidence that they don't read your PS or reference (which I assume also mentioned your circumstances?) so I would be careful making accusations like that or threatening GMC referrals.

    Medicine is extremely competitive, and 60% of all applicants, many of whom have excellent grades, will get no offers in any given cycle. If you go through the medicine profiles page you will see that there are people getting offers with AS grades similar to yours or worse, so don't blame everything on those. You have obviously had a horrible year, and the whole application process can only have added to your stress, but it's not over. You are still waiting to hear from King's and Cardiff, and even if you don't get any offers this time, you can work hard for your A2s and reapply in September during a gap year. Good luck with the rest of the process!
    Hi Helenia,

    I can't recall my exact UKCAT score but it was in the top 10% and I had a band 1 for situational judgement. My predicted grades for A2 are A*AA, and my college does not allow a resit of an AS that you are not carrying forward. However, those are both irrelevant, as both universities stated the basis of their rejection being my failure to achieve their minimum academic entry requirements of the B grade at an AS level. And in reference to your point about retakes, I am resitting both AS chemistry exams and my AS german exam this year, alongside my A2 exams. Whilst I know that resits seem like a way of levelling the field, consider the fact that I am now doing three extra exams, that's three extra exams to revise for, taking time away from my A2 exams. If I had to resit these exams because I didn't work hard, or I just wasn't as academically able, that would be fair enough, but the point is I was disadvantaged last year because of my home situation, and now I am disadvantaged this year, as most people will have fewer exams than me, and so it is easier for them to achieve the required grades in those exams as their time is not spread so thinly. Resits are not the answer and in many ways they make it harder for you to achieve the grades needed. I argued this exact point with KCL when they tried to force me to resit my maths AS level, (despite the fact my college does not allow it). I would also like to say I got an A and a B in my first two maths exams, and then a U in the final one which was because I had had no sleep for 3 nights because of being up with mum and everything got a bit much. It is for this reason that there needs to be less of an automatic turn to resits where mitigating circumstances are involved, and more time spent looking at other evidence of academic ability (more info below).
    It is also worth noting that I am applying for 2017 entry and both universities have just released their new entry criteria for 2017 entry and both have withdrawn their AS level requirements for entry to the A100 course, and now only require AAA at A2. This means effectively that the entry requirements for me are higher than those for people applying for the same year of entry as I am which is unfair in itself.
    Whilst I understand the difficulty of not giving greater than a 5% mark increase in exams, I was not actually stating that as the issue. The issue is that universities then use this as an excuse to say that your mark has already been adjusted to compensate for the circumstances, which is simply not true-it is a token amount and should not be considered to bring the grades back onto a level playing field. For that reason, candidates applying with mitigating circumstances should have their applications viewed separately, (which KCL told me at their open day would happen, but their admissions team then later said it would not) and a holistic approach should be taken, with particular attention being paid to other examples of academic achievement e.g. GCSE grades, A2 predictions, UKCAT score etc.

    Obviously I looked at the entry requirements for both universities, but I think you are mistaken to say they do not use AS grades-i think you might have looked at 2017 entry requirements which were not in place in september- as both do and have cited my C grade as the reason for my lack of an invitation to interview. KCL and Barts state clearly in their information on their selection process that they do not look at personal statement or reference, this is not something I have jumped to conclusions about, it is a statement of fact which they themselves make clear.

    I understand how competitive medicine is, as I have known I would apply to study it for years and so have spent a very long time looking into the process. I do not mke these accusations lightly, and having spent hours reading the admissions policies of the universities where they state that the academic context of candidates application should be taken into account, I believe that they are going against their own guidance, and that of the GMC. As I stated in my original post, I would have no grievances with the universities at al if my rejection had been based on any other part of my application, and I certainly do not believe that I should just be handed a place at med school just because I had mitigating circumstances. The point I am making, is that the selection process is incredibly unfair towards people with temporary mitigating circumstances, and if provisions can be made for applicants who come from a disadvantaged backgrounds, I do not see why this should not be the case for mitigating circumstances. I know that medicine is extremely competitive, and this is almost the whole point-I want to be able to compete! I and others like me should not be immediately rejected and taken out of the running, due to circumstances completely outside of our control. I am asking for the application process to be a level playing field, not to be given an unfair advantage over others. And I certainly would not be making these accusations if my grades were not the basis for my rejections (as I stated in my first post, i have no qualms with bristol as they stated it was down to my personal statement not being as competitive and was nothing to do with my grades, which is completely fair and I respect their decision).
    So thank you for your reply, but please do not make assumptions that this is some petty grudge I hold that has no basis. I am aware that applying to medicine is always difficult regardless of circumstances, but try and see it from the perspective of having the usual competitiveness, plus all of this.
    Livvy
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    I am in a similar situation to yours and wanted to know if you ended up getting the offers then/what are you doing now?
 
 
 
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