After 5 applications to Medicine between us it’s safe to say we are veterans of the whole process. Applying for medical school is a total minefield so it’s not surprising if you’re confused, distressed or disheartened by failed attempts. There is loads of advice out there about what you should do for work experience or what you should put in your personal statement. Some of it is conflicting and often overwhelming.
To try and set the record straight here are our top tips for those considering medicine or applying to medicine in the near future.
Play The System
You need to know the requirements of each uni your thinking of applying to in detail. Not only that, but find out exactly how they go through the process of picking applicants. For example some might look at admissions tests first and eliminate anyone who achieves under a specific score. Some other universities look at the whole application and don’t reveal a specific order of priority. You need to find out if you meet their criteria at each level of assessment.
There were some universities that we didn’t apply to because they had exceptionally high grade requirements at GCSE level. Others were ruled out because exactly how many hours of specific work experience they wanted. We also looked at what average UKCAT/BMAT/GAMSAT scores were required.
‘It’s all on the website isn’t it??’ I hear you say. Well unfortunately it really isn’t. If there is anything you’re not clear about, ring them and don’t give up until you have the answers you were looking for. They might hate you for being so particular, but they won’t know it was you calling when they assess your application.
2. Spend your money on the right things.
There are loads of courses, books and online resources all claiming to be the best preparation for Med school and the associated entrance exams. Some are useful, some are a waste of time and loads of them are highly expensive. Don’t waste your money on thing’s you don’t need just because they tell you that it is going to get you in! There is no guarantee that any of these systems are better than going it alone. That said don’t rule out paying for things you think may be useful. It is a personal choice and all comes down to what you might need extra help with, how you learn best, and what you can afford.
Don’t forget it is a harsh reality that 1/3 of med students went to private school and are therefore more likely to have the financial opportunity to pay for additional tuition or resources. Don’t think you will be the only person who seeks additional help. It is an investment in your future and can be worthwhile if you use it wisely. Equally don’t see it as a barrier if you can’t afford any of these things, they are not 100% essential for a successful application.
3. Hater’s gunna hate…
There are always going to be people who question your motives, especially with all the negative press about the stresses of working for the NHS and the pressures of a medical career. It is true that there are lots of other amazing things you could do with your life if want. Only you can truly know if you have what it takes for medicine. Stand by your decision and have your reasons for pursuing your application. Knowing why you want to do Medicine is an important part of the personal statement and interview anyway. You must be able to express eloquently why you want to study medicine, and more importantly, why you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else. Use those haters to your advantage and practice your persuasive interview technique!
4. You only need one successful application.
Nobody else will remember the failed ones once you get in. Stay focussed. If you want it, own both the failures and the successes. If you didn’t get in this time figure out exactly which hurdles your passed, and which ones your didn’t. Then you can focus your efforts for the next application if you choose to try again.
5. It’s not easy.
You may want to give up but work hard, or there really is no point in putting yourself through the pain!