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Application Process Summary
Graduate Entry Medicine is highly competitive and applications include many elements to try and snap a holistic view of each applicant. For most programs the application consist of:
Note that three medical school do not take into account the personal statement or the reference letter unless your application receives exactly the same score at interviews than another applicant. These are:
Graduate Entry Medicine links
Also a fair number of medical programs do not require any admissions exam. For next year's application cycle, these are:
Regarding interviews, The University of Southampton normally does not interview E.U applicants to their 4 year program, but do interview international applicants.
The University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) is the centralized university application system through which all medical school applications are submitted (with the exception of the University of Liverpool 6 year program application). The form includes personal details, a selection of up to 5 programs (only four of the five can be medicine), education, employment hisotory, a personal statement and reference letter. The reference letter should come from a lecturer, employer or another professional who knows the applicant well and can write about their suitability for the course. Note that if you apply to Oxford or Cambridge, you will need to complete an additional application which includes another personal statement and more reference letters.
The UCAS application must be filled in online at www.ucas.co.uk before October 15th of the year before the applicant wants to start medicine. This means your application needs to be submitted about 11 months before you will start your medical course. The cost of application in the 2012-2013 application cycle is ₤11 to apply to only one program and ₤21 to apply to 2-5 programs.
UCAS Personal Statement
The personal statement is your opportunity to explain why you want to study medicine and to talk about work experience and the qualities that will make you a good doctor. Although the same personal statement goes to all programs, it is important to note that many medical schools give guidelines on what they would like you to include in your personal statement. For example, at the University of St Andrews, applicants are asked to discuss why they are choosing medicine, what work experience they have in a caring role, their interests/hobies, and anything else the they want to tell the admissions committee about themselves. The university uses a standard measuring sheet to score the UCAS form out of 50 points on 7 measures: academic ability, motivation for medicine, a realistic understanding of medicine (including hands-on experience of caring and observing healthcare in hospital and community settings), self-motivation and responsibility, communication skills, ability to work with others and other unusual qualities or life-experience.
To illustrate some of the qualities that medical schools look for in personal statements, an example extract from a successful medical school applicantion is provided below:
Extract of a personal statement - hospital volunteering and research
In secondary school I became a regular volunteer on the palliative care ward. I regard this time as being formative for the solidification of my drive to go into medicine. I started by doing simple tasks – bringing artwork, showing movies – and over time grew close to many of the patients. A very peculiar air pervades the palliative care ward – this is the last stop on many of the patients’ paths. I was surprised to find the flourishing of hope even there and even more so to discover its’ necessity. I recall wholeheartedly wishing to give support to my patients. It was not long before I started working in a cancer research lab. As a researcher I was determined, meticulous and vigilant. I knew that I needed this ‘technical’ ability to help people, my good will and support would only go so far. Great physicians empower people by weaving science and compassion, and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead in practicing this noble art.
The extract is certainly not perfect and can be much improved, however, it is here to illustrate some key points First, instead of discussing the amount of hours spent or different positions held in different hospitals, the author discusses a lesson he learned from his work: “I was surprised to find the flourishing of hope even there and even more so to discover its’ necessity." This reflection conveys that the applicant was actively learning and engaging on the job, is able to reflect on his experiences and is better prepared for a career in medicine as a result. This helps make the essay personal.
Perhaps one of the most powerful elements in this extract is the way the applicant shows maturity and reasoning in his choices “I knew that I needed this ‘technical’ ability to help people, my good will and support would only go so far’. A lot of applicant only describe their experiences, which may be appropriate. In this extract, explaining why the applicant made certain choices (in this case to start doing research) tells the admissions committee a lot about his active search for the right career, maturity and sense of initiative.
Finally, the author’s reasons for wanting to become a physician are less likely to beg the question “why not become a physiotherapist, or a researcher, or something else”. Few other careers “weave science and compassion” the way medicine does.
The qualities that make a good personal statement include an effective opening line, good elaboration on meaningful experiences, not sounding arrogant, highliting diversity, ensuring that the essay does not beg the question "why not become a physiotherapist or a nurse", making the personal statement 'personal', and explaining weakness in the application when relevant. These elements are discussed with examples from successful applicants and detailed commentary in the MSAG Graduate Entry Medicine 2012-2013 guidebook.
Five medical courses open to graduate applicants require the GAMSAT, 34 require the UKCAT, 4 require the BMAT and 10 do not require any examination. More details on entrance examinations are available in the graduate admissions requirements section.
Medical School Interview
The interview is the final step toward gaining admission to medical school. Just like the other steps, thorough preparation is required. Unsuccessful applicants frequently gain admission the following year by preparing better for their interviews.
Here is what Cambridge University says about their interview: "We want to know whether you have a genuine intellectual curiosity for medical science, imagination and a breadth and flexibility of outlook, have the personal characteristics likely to make you a good doctor, and have a realistic attitude to medicine as a career.”
The two main interview structures are panel interviews and Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). The panel interview is done in the presence of either one, two ore more interviewers, and can be formal with a table between the interviewers and interviewee and the questions predetermined, or informal with the chairs arranged in a circle and the interviewers more free to ask the questions they prefer. In both cases, the interviewers are not there to intimidate you or ask you trick questions. Many of the interviews are actually quite friendly in nature and feel like a conversation. The MMI consists of a series of short, timed mini-interviews attempting to draw multiple samples of an applicant’s ability to think on their feet, critically appraise information and communicate their ideas. Here is an example MMI scenario from Queen's University Belfast:
“Your mother rings you and asks you to come round and help with a major family decision. Her 70 year old father has been diagnosed with a condition that will kill him sometime in the next five years. He can have a procedure that will correct the disease and not leave him with any long term problems, but the procedure has a 10% mortality rate. He wants to have the procedure but your mother is not in favour of it. How would you help mediate this issue?”
For entry in 2012, 10 medical courses are using an MMI style interview, or a variant of the MMI format.
Questions generally fall into 3 categories: (1) questions asking for you or examples from your experiences, such as "describe a situation where you played an important role in a team" or "why do you want to be a doctor", (2) "dealing with" or "coping with questions, such as "how do you handle stress?", and (3) expressing an opinioin, point of view, or analyzing an ethical question such as "What would you do if you go to work and one of your colleagues smells like alcohol?"
We have met We have met unsuccessful applicants who said that they did not prepare for these types of questions because they wanted to “be themselves”. Being unprepared does not help you be more yourself. We believe that it is essential to show who you are in the interview, and that the best way to do this is to spend time beforehand thinking about yourself, what experiences you have, and doing mock interviews to make sure you communicate your messages clearly. You can find more information on the medical school interview, how to prepare, as well as several example answers from successful applicants in the MSAG Graduate Entry Medicine 2012-2013 guidebook.
A Slight Advantage
Note that applying in 2012 offers a small advantage for students compared to previous years. Normally, a fraction of places are already filled by students deferring entry from the previous year, however, the jump in fees this year has reduced the number of students from 2011 who deferred entry, leaving more spaces open in many programs for 2012.
You may browse our website or click on the links below to find out more about Graduate Entry Medicine in the UK:
Find out more about our guidebooks:
You can also find information on medical school application at home and abroad: