Work experience is a vital part of your application to study dentistry. You should try to gain a wide variety of experience which you can discuss in your personal statement and at interview. Although work experience in general practice is essential also consider other areas of dentistry such as hospital dentistry or orthodontics.
Work experience will allow you to gain an insight into the field of dentistry and confirm your interest. It also allows you to develop many of the skills required to be a successful dentist such as communication and team work as well as providing an opportunity to show your caring nature. Remember work experience does not always have to be directly related to dentistry, voluntary work will help you to develop many transferable skills and provide close contact with the general public.
Try to gain as much work experience as you can in a range of different places. Make sure you emphasise in your personal statement what you gained from this experience and how it has confirmed your desire to pursue a career in dentistry.
Tips for getting Work Experience
- Contact as many places as you can, as early as you can.
- Don't just concentrate on dental positions, consider other caring roles.
- If you're having difficulty going through general channels, consider contacting dentists directly via their secretaries to see if you can arrange places that way.
Resources for getting Work Experience
- NHS list of UK dental practices - .
- Do-It - Volunteer directory of opportunities within the UK - .
- Gap Medics - Short term Dentistry work experience abroad .
- Volunteering UK - Volunteer opportunities in the UK .
Each universities requirements can be found on their website. Links to these websites can be found below along with relevant contact details.
- A selection of Dentistry Personal Statements can be found in the TSR Wiki Click here.
- If you would like your personal statement reviewed in confidence by the TSR team of advisers, post in Ask A PS Helper Only our team of advisers, yourself and the TSR moderators will be able to view it.
- The most important factor (other than grades) in getting an offer is your personal statement. Your personal statement must be no more than 47 lines long (47 lines in Word does not mean 47 lines on the form!) and no more than 4000 characters. In these 47 lines you must sell yourself to university admissions tutors as much as possible, they will decide if you're called for interview so you must impress them. Remember they will be reading hundreds and hundreds of Dentistry personal statements, make yours stand out from the crowd if you can! Make sure your PS is focused entirely on an application, even if you're applying for 2 other non-dentistry courses.
- What should I include in my Personal Statement?
- Reasons for choosing Dentistry
This is an extrememly important part of the personal statement. Why do you want to be a dentist? Each person has their own response to this question but you must explain clearly to the admissions tutor your reasons for undertaking a career in dentistry.
- Work Experience
The admissions tutors are interested in caring experience which may or may not be dentistry related. This could be anything from shadowing a dentist to working weekends in a care home. Include how you got involved in such work, how long you have been doing it, how much time you spent doing it and most importantly, what skills you have gained from it. This section can include anything you have done which contributes to your investigation of a career in dentistry.
- Interests and hobbies
Remember the admissions tutors want to see you have interests outwith your academic pursuits. Exceptional academic students don't necessarily make the best Dentists, you must be able to communicate and empathise with patients. Tell the tutors what you do in your spare time, why you do it, if you've achieved any outside recognition and why your hobbies and interests might be relevant to a career in dentistry.
- Areas of responsibility including paid employment
Being a dentist requires a great deal of responsibility, paid employment is a good way of showing you are responsible. It may also help your communication skills.
- Conclusion about why you should be picked
Finish on a positive note, if a tutor hasn't already made a decision, the final sentence is your last chance to sway them either way so make it perfect.
- My personal statement is too long, help!
- Cut out the waffle.
- Cut out things which are not relevant such as names of dental surgeries/hospitals.
- Remember its a Personal statement
- Ask your referee to mention things which won't fit in your PS
- Use shorter phrases where possible (eg 'school's prize' instead of 'prize from my school')
- If you're unsure Ask A TSR PS Helper
- My personal statement is too long, help!
- Read, re-read and read again your personal statement! However many drafts it takes, make it perfect.
- Get someone else to check your personal statement for any spelling or grammar mistakes which would instantly make a bad impression.
- Make the start of your Personal statement interesting - this is the first thing the admissions tutor will read so grab their attention.
- Ensure your application is ready in time for the UCAS deadline.
- Don't worry if you don't hear anything for a while, even if your friends are hearing things, it doesn't mean anything.
- Don't use lists on your personal statement, continuous prose is much better.
- Use paragraphs and maintain structure to your personal statement.
- Don't lie on your personal statement, be prepared to be questioned on everything which you put in it.
- Read the prospectuses (in paper form and online- they update this fairly regularly)– some universities publish documents that say what they want to see in your personal statement – if they ask for specific things, you must include them – otherwise there is no point in applying there.
- If you do an unusual extra curricular activity, put it in - It will get you talking at interview!
UCAT - the main TSR page on UCAT
The Website for this years UCAT is now open. You must sit the exam between the 3rd of August and 1st of October 2020.
Used by University of Aberdeen (only offer graduate entry dentistry), Cardiff University, University of Dundee, University of Glasgow, King’s College London, University of Manchester, University of Newcastle, Plymouth University, Barts and The London, Queen's University Belfast, University of Sheffield.
- 'Exam format'
The UCAT is an onscreen test consisting of five sub-tests: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, decision analysis and situational judgement test. Each of the sub-tests is in a multiple-choice format and separately timed.
- Exam duration
Approx. 2 hours. The standard times for each sub-test is:
- Verbal Reasoning: 21 minutes
- Quantitative Reasoning: 36 minutes
- Abstract Reasoning: 13 minutes
- Decision Making: 31 minutes
- Situational Judgement Test: 26 minutes
- Exam cost
Tests taken in the EU = £75
Outside of the EU = £120
- Have a think about the likely questions: ‘why do you want to study dentistry’, ‘why do you want to come to this university’ etc. and make sure you have answers - try not to over rehearse though.
- A lot of people find it useful to have at least one Mock Interview before the real thing - so try and fit one in. Your school may be able to help you with this.
- Read the prospectus; it will tell you the distinguishing course features, and what to expect at interview.
- Make sure you can talk about a couple of dentistry-related news issues that you've come accross. Issues you could be asked about include the controversy surrounding amalgam fillings, should water be fluoridated, the new dental contract etc.
During your Interview
- Be yourself – enthusiastic and passionate about dentistry!
- Try not to let nerves make you go silent! – Breathe!
- If you get stuck on a question think of your work experience, and a newspaper/magazine article you have read recently - use these to make up a sensible answer.
- Give your answers a structure and back up your answer with evidence.
- On ethical questions, show you have considered all the different sides of the story before giving your own opinion.
- Try not to fidget, but DO make eye contact.
- Enjoy it – it can be fun, honestly!
Sample Interview Questions
1) Why do you want to be a dentist?
2) What have you done to investigate dentistry?
3) What are the ideal qualities that a dentist should possess?
4) Can you tell us how you posess these qualities?
5) Give me an example of how you cope with stress?
6) Why did you apply to this dental school?
7) Did you come to our open day?
8) During your work experience, did anything surprise you?
9) During your work experience, did anything shock you?
10) Is your own dentist good at communicating with his patients?
11) Tell me about preventative dentistry?
12) What is orthodontics?
13) Why do dentists recommend the fluoridation of water supplies?
14) What are the arguments against fluoridation of water supplies?
15) What are amalgam fillings made of(advantages and disadvantages of amalgam)?
16) What are white fillings made of(advantages and disadvantages)?
17) There has been a good deal of negative publicity about mercury fillings. Do you think that they are dangerous?
18) If you had to organise a campaign to improve dental health, how would you go about it?
19) What is gingivitis?
20) How are NHS dentists funded? Is it the same for GP’s?
21) Should dental treatment be free on the NHS?
22) Have you read any articles about dentistry recently?
23) What have you done to demonstrate your commitment to the community?
24) What would you contribute to this dental school?
25) What are your best/worst qualities?
26) What do you do to relax?
27) What is your favourite subject at school?
28) What grades to you expect to gain?
29) Do dentists treat children differently to adults?
30) What precautions need to be taken with patients who are HIV positive?
31) Who are the members of the dental team?
32) How does teamwork apply to the role of a dentist?
33) What is the difference between tooth erosion and tooth decay?
34) How would you carry out a root treatment?
Course structure varies between universities. To see a particular universities couse structure have a look in their prospectus/online prospectus.
Life as a Dental Student
You can see A Week in the Life of a Dentistry Student here.
Current/Past Student Experiences
Universities Offering Dentistry in the UK
Aberdeen (graduate entry only)
The University of Aberdeen
Tel: +44 (0)1224 272090/91
Barts and the London, QMUL (+ graduate entry course)
Barts and the London School of Medicine & Dentistry,
Queen Mary, University of London
Tel: 020 7882 8478 Fax: 020 7882 2240
University of Birmingham,
St. Chad's Queensway,
Tel: 0121 237 2761 Fax: 0121 625 8815
Admissions Tutor: Mr D. Spence
Bristol (and Widening Participation Gateway course)
University of Bristol,
Lower Maudlin Street,
Tel: 0117 928 8150
Cardiff (+ foundation course)
TelL: 029 2074 5867/2468
Dundee (+ pre-dental course)
University of Dundee,
Tel: 01382 660111
Fax: 01382 225163
Admissions Tutor: Dr J R Drummond
University of Glasgow,
Glasgow Dental Hospital & School,
378 Sauchiehall Street,
Tel: 0141 211 9600 Fax: 0141 331 2798
Admissions Tutor: Mrs Linda McGinness
Kings College London (+ grad entry)
King's College London
London SE1 1UL
Tel: 020 7848 6512
Leeds Dental Institute,
University of Leeds,
Tel: 0113 343 6199
Admissions Tutor: Mrs Lesley Aitken
School of Dental Surgery,
University of Liverpool,
Tel: 0151 706 5298
Fax: 0151 706 5652
Manchester (+ pre-dental course)
University of Manchester,
School of Dentistry,
Higher Cambridge Street,
Tel: 0161 306 0220 (general enquiries)
Tel: 0161 306 0231 (undergraduate)
School of Dental Sciences,
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 222 8347
Fax: 0191 222 6137
Peninsula Dental School (graduate entry only)
Peninsula Dental School,
John Bull Building,
Tamar Science Park,
Tel: (01752) 437333
Fax: 01752 517842
Queen's University Belfast
The Queen's University of Belfast,
School of Dentistry,
Tel: 028 9097 2757 (admissions)
School of Clinical Dentistry,
University of Sheffield,
Tel: 0114 271 7801/7807/7808 (general enquiries)
Tel: 0114 271 7808 (admissions enquiries)
Fax: 0114 279 7050
University of Central Lancashire (graduate entry only)
Faculty of Health,
University of Central Lancashire,
Tel: 01772 892400 (course enquiries)
Email: [email protected]
Applications through University of Liverpool