BackLumbarJack
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My school ,quite literally, offers no help to prospective medicine applicants- of which there are not many. Therefore, as a present year 12 student, I feel grossly underprepared for the grueling year ahead, in which I will be thrown in the deep end without so much as a float. I have no clue as to how I should structure a personal statemnet, how to approach an interview and how to prepare for the UKCAT/BMAT. Academically, I feel as though I am on track to satisfy the standard requirements, yet aside from this I am severely deficient.

Are there any courses/ events/ camps anyone can reccomend for an aspiring medicine applicant, which are not ridiculously overpriced as I am not in the most financially comfortable situation.
Furthermore, can anyone reccomend anything extra I should consider to maximise my chances at universities like UCL, Imperial, Birmingham, Cambridge and KCL, as these are the universities which really appeal to me most.

My Profile currently looks like this:

GCSEs : 9A*
AS: AAAA (on track for this + A* EPQ I hope)
Work experience: 1 week fracture clinic in hospital
Extra curricular: CCF Sergeant, Interact Club Vice-president (raise money for charity), Football in school

Any help would be much appreciated as I am extremely worried in this suituation, as medicine is really the only course I feel I would be able to study, with a career as a Neurologist my ultimate ambition.

Thanks
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nexttime
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First step: This site. It has lots of free resources and lots of experienced members who can answer questions. https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Medicine

Briefly some key points (because I was in the same situation school-wise and ended up putting in a terrible application because I didn't realise what they expected):

- Voluntary work is compulsory, not optional.
- Medical school admissions requirements vary hugely, and applying to places where you will be a strong candidate is vital.
- The personal statement should be full of what you learned from your work experience and voluntary work. Talking about sports and why you chose your A-levels etc just wastes space.
- The competition is fierce. Loads of candidates who have never got below an A in their life will get rejected. 60%+ get no offers at all. Don't underestimate it!
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StationToStation
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Hi from a current applicant! My school also gave me zero help in applying for medicine (or to the UK for that matter - well, they told me that UCAS exists lol.) I don't have any offers yet so you probably should take the things I say with a pinch of salt but I hope I'll be able to offer some useful advise.

I can't stress enough how important it is to do your research. Browse the internet (TSR is great), bombard people who have gone through the process with questions and invest in some books. Go through the websites of the med schools you're interested in and try to extract the key things they're looking for and the things they take into account in the application process. Choose med schools that focus on your strengths. As nexttime said you should look for some volunteering work asap - it will show commitment and you get lots to talk about in your ps and the interview.

If I were you I'd focus on my schoolwork, work experience and some extracurricular reading for now and start prepping for the UKCAT in late spring/early summer. I used the ISC 1000 questions book (would recommend) and the Medic Portal online question bank (would not recommend) and this got me the score I wanted. Apparently Medify is quite good so you might want to consider getting that. I've hear that the UKCAT courses are mainly a waste of time and money. Imo the key thing is to just get some routine, get to know what techniques work for you and what shortcuts you can use to save time (learn to use the number pad instead of the mouse when using the online calculator, for example, and memorize the patterns that can come up in abstract reasoning.) Remember that time is everything in the UKCAT.

I think it's also good to start writing your ps pretty early in the summer. I think I started mine in June and the one I ended up submitting in October was literally nothing like the first version. It doesn't have to be good, but you have to get some words down quite early. If you do that you give your thoughts more time to mature and will be able to articulate the stuff you want to say more clearly and efficiently. I used the ISC book for this too and it was worth a read but not spectacular. It has lots and lots of other people's personal statements in it though so it could give you a general idea of how to construct yours. I think that the most important things with the ps is to edit, edit and edit and be ruthless with it - I, for example, have a tendency to focus on the aesthetics of writing a bit too much and I actually had to write myself a note saying "if it doesn't tell them why you would become a fantastic medical student and a fantastic doctor, it doesn't belong in your personal statement" lmao. It's also useful to get as many people to read your writing as possible. Friends, teachers, the TSR ps feedback system, whoever. Really take their opinions into account but also don't make the changes they propose if it doesn't feel right after weighing what they said - your ps needs to sound like you and not like someone else.

The UKCAT is horrendous (have fun) but I thought that the BMAT was actually pretty fun. Their website is really useful. Go through the assumed subject knowledge guide to revise the sciences, and most importantly, do the past papers. Maybe twice or even more. They're gold. Analyze your answers to the questions that went wrong so that you won't make the same mistakes again. On the same website you can also find the past papers for exams like TSA and IMAT and they can be fairly useful practice too. I bought the ISC book for the BMAT too and it was decent but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, the questions weren't that similar to the style you get in the actual BMAT.

With regards to the interview... Hmm. I thought it was incredibly useful to build a database of experiences you can use to answer questions. You know, stuff that happened in your work experience or hobbies or school or wherever, where you showed some of the important qualities like empathy and teamwork. If you build a database instead of coming up with answers to specific questions you'll be better able to answer any curve balls they throw at you as they often put a twist on the classic questions, plus you sound less rehearsed which is always good. It can also be useful to videotape yourself while answering questions because in addition to hearing how your answers sound you'll also be able to see how your nonverbal communication is and try to improve on that. I used, surprisingly, the ISC book for this too, and it was actually really really useful. I'd also recommend reading "A very short introduction to medical ethics" as ethical questions are common and you'll need to be able to consider all aspects of them critically. I don't live in the UK and the med schools where I live don't interview so I wasn't able to attend any courses etc. If you're going to go to a course I imagine that an interview one would be most useful. You should probably read what people say about them, choose one or two promising ones and try to get a lot out of the experiences - I've seen some people here go to like 10-15 courses but I doubt that's useful.

Best of luck. Your stats so far look great - just do plenty of research and I'm sure you'll be fine. // oh my god I just saw how monstrous this post is, sorry about that hahaha
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BackLumbarJack
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(Original post by StationToStation)
Hi from a current applicant! My school also gave me zero help in applying for medicine (or to the UK for that matter - well, they told me that UCAS exists lol.) I don't have any offers yet so you probably should take the things I say with a pinch of salt but I hope I'll be able to offer some useful advise.

I can't stress enough how important it is to do your research. Browse the internet (TSR is great), bombard people who have gone through the process with questions and invest in some books. Go through the websites of the med schools you're interested in and try to extract the key things they're looking for and the things they take into account in the application process. Choose med schools that focus on your strengths. As nexttime said you should look for some volunteering work asap - it will show commitment and you get lots to talk about in your ps and the interview.

If I were you I'd focus on my schoolwork, work experience and some extracurricular reading for now and start prepping for the UKCAT in late spring/early summer. I used the ISC 1000 questions book (would recommend) and the Medic Portal online question bank (would not recommend) and this got me the score I wanted. Apparently Medify is quite good so you might want to consider getting that. I've hear that the UKCAT courses are mainly a waste of time and money. Imo the key thing is to just get some routine, get to know what techniques work for you and what shortcuts you can use to save time (learn to use the number pad instead of the mouse when using the online calculator, for example, and memorize the patterns that can come up in abstract reasoning.) Remember that time is everything in the UKCAT.

I think it's also good to start writing your ps pretty early in the summer. I think I started mine in June and the one I ended up submitting in October was literally nothing like the first version. It doesn't have to be good, but you have to get some words down quite early. If you do that you give your thoughts more time to mature and will be able to articulate the stuff you want to say more clearly and efficiently. I used the ISC book for this too and it was worth a read but not spectacular. It has lots and lots of other people's personal statements in it though so it could give you a general idea of how to construct yours. I think that the most important things with the ps is to edit, edit and edit and be ruthless with it - I, for example, have a tendency to focus on the aesthetics of writing a bit too much and I actually had to write myself a note saying "if it doesn't tell them why you would become a fantastic medical student and a fantastic doctor, it doesn't belong in your personal statement" lmao. It's also useful to get as many people to read your writing as possible. Friends, teachers, the TSR ps feedback system, whoever. Really take their opinions into account but also don't make the changes they propose if it doesn't feel right after weighing what they said - your ps needs to sound like you and not like someone else.

The UKCAT is horrendous (have fun) but I thought that the BMAT was actually pretty fun. Their website is really useful. Go through the assumed subject knowledge guide to revise the sciences, and most importantly, do the past papers. Maybe twice or even more. They're gold. Analyze your answers to the questions that went wrong so that you won't make the same mistakes again. On the same website you can also find the past papers for exams like TSA and IMAT and they can be fairly useful practice too. I bought the ISC book for the BMAT too and it was decent but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, the questions weren't that similar to the style you get in the actual BMAT.

With regards to the interview... Hmm. I thought it was incredibly useful to build a database of experiences you can use to answer questions. You know, stuff that happened in your work experience or hobbies or school or wherever, where you showed some of the important qualities like empathy and teamwork. If you build a database instead of coming up with answers to specific questions you'll be better able to answer any curve balls they throw at you as they often put a twist on the classic questions, plus you sound less rehearsed which is always good. It can also be useful to videotape yourself while answering questions because in addition to hearing how your answers sound you'll also be able to see how your nonverbal communication is and try to improve on that. I used, surprisingly, the ISC book for this too, and it was actually really really useful. I'd also recommend reading "A very short introduction to medical ethics" as ethical questions are common and you'll need to be able to consider all aspects of them critically. I don't live in the UK and the med schools where I live don't interview so I wasn't able to attend any courses etc. If you're going to go to a course I imagine that an interview one would be most useful. You should probably read what people say about them, choose one or two promising ones and try to get a lot out of the experiences - I've seen some people here go to like 10-15 courses but I doubt that's useful.

Best of luck. Your stats so far look great - just do plenty of research and I'm sure you'll be fine. // oh my god I just saw how monstrous this post is, sorry about that hahaha
First of all, thank you soo much for the time and effort you invested in your post and good luck with getting offers!
If you dont mind me asking, which universities did you apply to and how did you go about 'applying to your strengths' in this regard? Does it require checking which are UKCAT heavy, GCSE/personal statement heavy etc or are there other elements to consider too?
Furthermore, could i ask what other literature, aside from the medical ethics: a brief introduction, you read in order to better equip your repetoire of medical knowledge prior to writing your PS and attending interviews.
Also, I understand the importance of quality not quantity when work experience is considered, however how much would be deemed a sufficient amount to fuly reflect upon as I am finding it extremely hard to comeby.

Sorry for the barrage of questions, but it seems every seed of knowledge I recieve blossoms into curiosity.

Thanks again
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StationToStation
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(Original post by BackLumbarJack)
First of all, thank you soo much for the time and effort you invested in your post and good luck with getting offers!
If you dont mind me asking, which universities did you apply to and how did you go about 'applying to your strengths' in this regard? Does it require checking which are UKCAT heavy, GCSE/personal statement heavy etc or are there other elements to consider too?
Furthermore, could i ask what other literature, aside from the medical ethics: a brief introduction, you read in order to better equip your repetoire of medical knowledge prior to writing your PS and attending interviews.
Also, I understand the importance of quality not quantity when work experience is considered, however how much would be deemed a sufficient amount to fuly reflect upon as I am finding it extremely hard to comeby.

Sorry for the barrage of questions, but it seems every seed of knowledge I recieve blossoms into curiosity.

Thanks again
No problem, happy to help!

I applied to Oxford, KCL, Edinburgh and Exeter and I've had interviews at Oxford and Exeter so far. Oxford's just the dream tbh, KCL and Edinburgh are really UKCAT heavy and my UKCAT was quite good, and my A2 equivalent results are also really good and Exeter is really heavy on those. There's a lot to it, but basically I was fairly certain I'd get an interview at those unis and I also really liked them all. For example, KCL mostly shortlists based on GCSEs if you have them and the UKCAT, so if you get over, say, 690 band 2 in the UKCAT, I think that KCL would be a pretty "safe" option with your GCSEs. The criteria you mentioned are a good starting point, and I think you basically should just google around about how the selection concretely happens and then see how well your application would fit into that. Don't forget to think about where you'd actually want to go to though - it's where you'll live for the next 5/6 years so it's definitely not irrelevant!

Here are some of the books I've read:

- Bad Science - Ben Goldacre (a really good read, would recommend. It's so funny and it teaches you to think way more critically about science.)
- I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that - Ben Goldacre (again a really good read: this consists mostly of columns he has written over the years. Read Bad Science before this though if you're interested in his writing.)
- When breath becomes air - Paul Kalanithi (this book is just wonderful, really. It's written by a neurosurgeon who was dying of cancer and in it he reflects on his work as well as life in general.)
- Gratitude - Oliver Sacks (a really beautiful and wise little book as well)
- Trust me, I'm a (junior) doctor - Max Pemberton (an incredibly funny diary-like book of a doctor trying to survive foundation year 1.)
- Phantoms in the brain - V. S. Ramachandran (a really really interesting book on phantom limb pain as well as some other neurological phenomena)
- The music of life - Denis Noble (a fascinating little book that basically argues why we shouldn't think of living creatures as simply the products of their genes anymore because the interactions of different levels of abstraction in life are far from being as simple as that)
- The Noonday Demon - A. Solomon (a really good book on depression, would recommend if that's something you're into. This is the only book I mentioned in my ps.)
- Perspectives of psychiatry (a good read but tbh don't bother if you're not that into psychiatry)
- Textbook of medical physiology - Guyton and Hall (going through this atm. A really fascinating and well-written book and I'd recommend it if you want to understand better how stuff happens in the body.)

There's really no need to read this much if you don't want to, I'm just a bit nerdy lmao. Picking one or two books on topics you're interested in and really reflecting on their content should be more than enough.

With work experience it's always so hard to give any numbers, especially since as you said the quality of reflection is far more important than the quantity of experience. If I were you I'd find a volunteering placement as soon as possible and continue in that at least until the interviews. I'd maybe also try to get a GP shadowing placement and also one or two more hospital ones.
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BackLumbarJack
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No problem, happy to help!

I applied to Oxford, KCL, Edinburgh and Exeter and I've had interviews at Oxford and Exeter so far. Oxford's just the dream tbh, KCL and Edinburgh are really UKCAT heavy and my UKCAT was quite good, and my A2 equivalent results are also really good and Exeter is really heavy on those. There's a lot to it, but basically I was fairly certain I'd get an interview at those unis and I also really liked them all. For example, KCL mostly shortlists based on GCSEs if you have them and the UKCAT, so if you get over, say, 690 band 2 in the UKCAT, I think that KCL would be a pretty "safe" option with your GCSEs. The criteria you mentioned are a good starting point, and I think you basically should just google around about how the selection concretely happens and then see how well your application would fit into that. Don't forget to think about where you'd actually want to go to though - it's where you'll live for the next 5/6 years so it's definitely not irrelevant!

Here are some of the books I've read:

- Bad Science - Ben Goldacre (a really good read, would recommend. It's so funny and it teaches you to think way more critically about science.)
- I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that - Ben Goldacre (again a really good read: this consists mostly of columns he has written over the years. Read Bad Science before this though if you're interested in his writing.)
- When breath becomes air - Paul Kalanithi (this book is just wonderful, really. It's written by a neurosurgeon who was dying of cancer and in it he reflects on his work as well as life in general.)
- Gratitude - Oliver Sacks (a really beautiful and wise little book as well)
- Trust me, I'm a (junior) doctor - Max Pemberton (an incredibly funny diary-like book of a doctor trying to survive foundation year 1.)
- Phantoms in the brain - V. S. Ramachandran (a really really interesting book on phantom limb pain as well as some other neurological phenomena)
- The music of life - Denis Noble (a fascinating little book that basically argues why we shouldn't think of living creatures as simply the products of their genes anymore because the interactions of different levels of abstraction in life are far from being as simple as that)
- The Noonday Demon - A. Solomon (a really good book on depression, would recommend if that's something you're into. This is the only book I mentioned in my ps.)
- Perspectives of psychiatry (a good read but tbh don't bother if you're not that into psychiatry)
- Textbook of medical physiology - Guyton and Hall (going through this atm. A really fascinating and well-written book and I'd recommend it if you want to understand better how stuff happens in the body.)

There's really no need to read this much if you don't want to, I'm just a bit nerdy lmao. Picking one or two books on topics you're interested in and really reflecting on their content should be more than enough.

With work experience it's always so hard to give any numbers, especially since as you said the quality of reflection is far more important than the quantity of experience. If I were you I'd find a volunteering placement as soon as possible and continue in that at least until the interviews. I'd maybe also try to get a GP shadowing placement and also one or two more hospital ones.
With regard to the personal statement, should it mostly be comprised of reflections upon my work experience and volunteering? What else should I include to maximise its efficacy?
Also, how did you find the interviews; is this where the additional reading and research really comes into perspective?
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StationToStation
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(Original post by BackLumbarJack)
With regard to the personal statement, should it mostly be comprised of reflections upon my work experience and volunteering? What else should I include to maximise its efficacy?
Also, how did you find the interviews; is this where the additional reading and research really comes into perspective?
Yeah I think that the majority of your ps should be reflection on those things. You want to show them that you have a thorough understanding of the ups and downs of medicine and you want them to see that you have the qualities like empathy etc etc that a good doctor needs. You need to write about specific instances and always back up your claims with evidence though - there's no use in just writing "I am an empathetic person and I know that empathy is an important quality in doctors". Instead you could, for example, tell them about a time when you showed empathy during your volunteering or something and then describe the difference it made to that person, or tell how during your shadowing you saw a doctor showing empathy and realised how vital it is. I think you should devote a chunk of your ps to other stuff too though. You want to have strong opening and finishing paragraphs (keep it short), some stuff about hobbies to show you're well-rounded (always link these back to medicine though by explaining how the skills you've gained will help you as a doctor or student) and a few words on sciencey stuff you're excited about (I mentioned a book on depression and talked a bit about the disease itself, and also mentioned the advances in Parkinson's research and the potential of CRISPR).

I thought that the interviews were ok and definitely not as scary or overwhelming as I thought they'd be. Yep I think this is really where all my reading and thinking about my motivations to do medicine and stuff paid off. Obviously a lot of the things I had thought about never came up but I think I also managed to give some good answers to many questions that would've made most people trip up. I think that for me the most important thing that reading helped me with is that it made my thoughts regarding medicine more mature and helped me get a far better idea of what being a doctor entails and why that's something I want to do more than anything else. That was incredibly important to me: I think you should aim first to clear your own thoughts on medicine. You'll only be able to effectively communicate these thoughts to others in your ps and interview after you've managed to do that to a sufficient extent.
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tessa w
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Hello,
I am currently in Year 12.I am studying Chemistry,Maths,Biology and Psychology.
GCSEs:6a*,3a and 2b
AS :AAAA
Work experience:Volunteering at Hospice for about a year and I have applied for many work placements at hospitals.
When i apply for universities next year,which universities should I avoid?
And advice on how i can improve my application?
Any help would be appreciated.
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StationToStation
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(Original post by tessa w)
Hello,
I am currently in Year 12.I am studying Chemistry,Maths,Biology and Psychology.
GCSEs:6a*,3a and 2b
AS :AAAA
Work experience:Volunteering at Hospice for about a year and I have applied for many work placements at hospitals.
When i apply for universities next year,which universities should I avoid?
And advice on how i can improve my application?
Any help would be appreciated.
Hi there,

It's really early to think about which unis you'll apply to. Of course you can look around and see if there are any unis you like in particular, but as your UKCAT score will probably be a really big factor in your decisions there's no point in thinking about it too much yet. Your GCSEs are not good enough for Oxford and it's probably wisest to avoid a few other GCSE heavy unis too but other than that your stats so far should be good.

Maybe read a few interesting books/articles and start trying to articulate your thoughts on questions like why do you want to be a doctor. Other than that, and work experience of course, it's probably best to focus on your grades for now and start thinking about the UKCAT and your personal statement in late spring or early summer. Good luck
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tessa w
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(Original post by StationToStation)
Hi there,

It's really early to think about which unis you'll apply to. Of course you can look around and see if there are any unis you like in particular, but as your UKCAT score will probably be a really big factor in your decisions there's no point in thinking about it too much yet. Your GCSEs are not good enough for Oxford and it's probably wisest to avoid a few other GCSE heavy unis too but other than that your stats so far should be good.

Maybe read a few interesting books/articles and start trying to articulate your thoughts on questions like why do you want to be a doctor. Other than that, and work experience of course, it's probably best to focus on your grades for now and start thinking about the UKCAT and your personal statement in late spring or early summer. Good luck
Thankyou for your advice
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issyd10
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First of all get as much work experience as you can (both medical and non-medical)- you can then show how well rounded you are as a person. Also your personal statement should mainly be a reflection on your work experience and hobbies

I had a book on how to write a personal statements and looked online for help- there's a lot of information out there

The medic portal is my go to website on all things medicine application

Personally I wouldn't worry too much about the interview prep side now- much more relevant at the beginning of year 13 where you can ask any medical professionals you know to help interview you

I found that year 12 was the perfect time to get interesting with hobbies and work experience (SO VERY IMPORTANT!!!!) and then worry about the actual application after the year 12 exams. For UKCAT I started prep using websites and books 2 months prior and did a course (however my score wasn't amazing but anyway I still got an offer from Plymouth!)
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