Article by the creator of www.examvault.net
If you’re reading this blog on the MST website or Twitter page, then the chances are you may be interested in applying to the most competitive course in the UK. With 10 applicants for every medical school place you’re going to need all the help you can get and I hope that this blog will be of use to you. I will be as transparent as possible in order to hopefully help you out as much as possible.
I applied to medical school for 2015 entry. My GCSE and AS level grades are as follows:
Chemistry A*, Biology A*, Application of Maths A*, Methods in Maths A*, History A*, Chemistry A*, Resistant Materials A*, Arabic A*, Geography A*, Religion and Philosophy A*, English Lit A, English Lang A, Physical Education A, German B (i.e. 10 A*, 3 A, 1 B)
Chemistry A (283/300), Biology A (261/300), Maths A (294 A), Physics A (263/300), Arabic A (80/100)
Now let’s put the grades aside for the meantime. I chose medicine because I have a deep interest in the human body and there are few careers that are as good respectable and secure as medicine. But one quick point. Don’t do medicine for the money. Being surrounded by doctors has taught me that if there is one thing that doesn’t come along with medicine (at least in the UK) is money.
But this isn’t of much use to you. I’m sure you know the reasons for why you want to do medicine. So cue the application process…
All students in the UK apply through UCAS. You choose between 4 medical schools and a 5th course that’s not medicine (which can be to a university you applied to for medicine). I applied to: Cambridge, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham. Here is a breakdown of each university:
My UMS average is about 93%. This is the average for a Cambridge applicant but well below average for a medical applicant. Medicine applicant average at Cambridge is around the 98% mark I believe. I applied to Churchill college. With a strong personal statement and pretty decent grades I managed to secure an interview. I had 2 interviews on the same day. I went the night before as I did not want to run the risk of being late. Both interviews were fine and the interviewers weren’t as mean as some people claim (obviously this varies between colleges). They asked me questions about topics I mentioned on my personal statement and general medical questions. Some of their questions were centred around their area of expertise so do your research on your interviewers before the interview. After my interview I felt pretty good about it but I do think I could have been more enthusiastic about medicine. Instead of getting an offer/being rejected I got pooled. This meant I was placed into the “not suitable for this college but probably still good enough for Cambridge” group. Around 1 in 5 applicants are pooled. Unfortunately no other college wanted me (probably because of my below average UMS score and my mediocre BMAT score). All Churchill seemed to care about were grades. If you didn’t have a very high UMS score it was very unlikely that they’d pick you so if given the opportunity again I would definitely apply to a different Cambridge college. I would say to stand a good chance of getting into Cambridge, you’d need at least a UMS average of 96% in your top 3 subjects and a BMAT score of at least 6. You could however get in with lower than this if you really impress at your interview, but it’s not very common. Cambridge (like most medical schools) are spoilt for choice. It’s pretty easy to secure an interview at Cambridge if your UMS average is about 90% and you do reasonably well on your BMAT. Everything beyond that is not straightforward.
General tips for Cambridge
– If your interview is early in the morning, go the night before
– Do your research about your interviewers (usually you’re emailed their names before the interview)
– Go in on the open days, get to meet the course tutors
– Be very enthusiastic at your interview
– Do a lot of research about the colleges and choose one that you think you have the best chance of getting into. Apply with your brain and not with your heart if you’re keen on getting in.
Bristol have a weird system where they score your personal statement on various factors. The majority of the points come from your personal statement and a small amount from your grades. You can find more details on their site about this. I missed the threshold for interview by 0.13%. Yep. The issue I had is that because I was so set on Cambridge, I made my personal statement very academic. This meant missing out on some of the extracurricular stuff I’ve done which really put my score down for Bristol. Find the scoring system on their site/the student room and tailor your personal statement around it if you want a good chance at securing an interview.
General tips for Bristol
– Tailor your personal statement around the marking criteria on their site
– If you did very well on your UKCAT apply you a UKCAT medical school, not Bristol. Utilise your good UKCAT score
Birmingham: Did not get an interview as I did not have an A* in English language or English literature. Regardless of how many A*s you have, don’t apply to Birmingham unless you have an A* in English lit or lang. I know a girl that had half as many A* as me but because one of hers was in English language she got an interview and then an offer. When I applied I didn’t think the A in English language would matter but it definitely did!
General tips for Birmingham
– Decent number of A*s at GCSE and an A* IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE OR LIT
Had my interview at Cardiff during January. Got my offer a few months later (AAA) and accepted this. Ended up scoring A*A*A (Chemistry, Biology and Maths) with A* in EPQ in my A-Levels. In Cardiff the majority of the questions they ask you are on your personal statement, so make sure you know it very well! The interviewers were very nice and did not “grill me”.
Work experience is incredibly important. It’s really a must have for medicine applicants. Start looking for work experience as soon as possible. Hospitals are busy and get full up quickly. Try a range of work experiences if possible. One at a GP and one in a hospital is a good mix. 99% of medical applicants have done some sort of work experience. Look online, ask your school, ask family friends, anything that can help you secure some sort of work experience. Quite a large chunk of your personal statement should be about your placement. Interviewers also often ask about the placement during the interview,
Your medical school application will be crazy. Best thing to do is apply early so you can get any interviews done early and then focus on your studies. You need to apply carefully, choosing your universities wisely. I know several people who had grades that are far above the average applicant that didn’t get in due to not picking the “right” universities. Do plenty of research beforehand. The student room has some great resources. I made 2 revision websites throughout year 13, examvault.net and alevelbiology.co.uk. They may be of use to you so give them a shot if you like.