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Admission tests for UK medical school entry

University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT)

The UCAT is the admissions test for medicine applicants for many UK medical schools. This is a 2 hour digital test that tests for the following skills:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Decision Making
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Situational Judgment

To take this test, you have to register at a test centre between July and September before you apply to your medical schools via UCAS. It is important that you get plenty of practise well in advance of your test date using UCAT books or online practise tests.

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BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)

The UCAT is the admissions test for medicine applicants for many UK medical schools. This is a 2 hour digital test that tests for the following skills:

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Scientific and Mathematical Knowledge
  • Written communication
  • Situational Judgment

If your school/college is a registered test centre for the BMAT you can take this test at your school or you will have to take it at another registered test centre.

It is important to check on the website of the BMAT medical schools which BMAT test sessions they accept since there are multiple sessions that take place in the year and some universities are particular about which session they accept.

Again, it is important that you get plenty of practise well in advance of the test session. This can be done by using preparation books, looking at online practise questions and practising writing BMAT essays under timed conditions so that you know what to expect.

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Other entry requirements for a successful UK medical school application.

It is important to research which admissions test the university you’re applying to requires as well as the average scores they look for of their applicants. This is something that you will be able to ask from our Mentors at the medical schools you are thinking of applying to.

This will give you an idea of what kind of score you might aim to achieve in your admissions tests or to help you decide which medical schools would be best to apply to with the score you obtain.

Work experience for medical school application

Many medical schools look for their applicants to have some work experience (or shadowing experience) in a healthcare environment. One of the reasons for this is that it shows to the medical schools Admissions that you’ve taken the time to see what a job in healthcare is like and what the role involves. It shows them that you have an understanding of the career path that you’re choosing to enter. The last thing that medical schools want is to accept a student into the course who will later realise that medicine isn’t quite what they expected and drop out of the degree as a result.

This experience will also benefit you and help you to decide whether becoming a doctor really is what you want to do. Not tv shows, nor documentaries, nor books, nor articles compare to spending some time in a healthcare environment to get a feeling of what your future as a clinician may be like and whether this is a setting that you can see yourself working in at the end of your degree.

However work experience may not always be easy to obtain, especially for a 16/17–year–old since GPs and hospitals may find it difficult to manage having students and exposing them to patients due to confidentiality reasons. However there are other forms of experience such as volunteering or you may be able to search online for opportunities designed for prospective medical applicants to gain this type of experience.

Ultimately, what you want to be able to show is that you actively made an effort to find any type of experience that you could because you are serious about becoming a healthcare professional and getting into medical school. One way to seek advice about obtaining work experience is by contacting one of our Mentors and, having gone through the process themselves, they will be able to guide you in the right direction.

Writing a personal statement for medical school admission

Writing a personal statement is one of the key parts of the application process for UK medical schools. This is the part of your application where you get to speak directly to medical schools about why they should accept you.

In your personal statement you need to explain why you are applying to study medicine, what your aspirations are, what work experience you have and what fascinates you in the medical field, etc. Here you should also write about what significant (and relevant) achievements you have, projects you’ve done and societies or volunteering you have been involved in.

It takes a lot of thought and time to write a good personal statement that is not only unique but one that also truly demonstrates who you are. There is a lot of guidance that can be found online and in books about how to write a personal statement – they provide advice about structure, length, tone, etc. But you want your statement to really capture the attention of the Admissions people. The best way to do this is to write a personal statement that describes the most important aspects of who you are (from your point of view) and why you are applying to study medicine. So write honestly and from the heart – no two applicants are the same, you are unique so highlight this in your personal statement.

However, this is much easier said than done. Writing a personal statement can’t be done quickly because you need to take your time to really think about what you want to include and sometimes you can end up feeling lost. But our Mentors are here to help you. If you get in touch with one of our Mentors, they can read through your first draft and offer you help and feedback on how to improve your personal statement so that the best of you shines through to the Admissions of the medical schools you are applying to.

Once you send off you application via UCAS, you will patiently await to hear back from medical schools whether you’ve passed through to the interview stage. Different medical schools have different formats for their interviews. The three main types of interviews are as follows:

Traditional: Traditional interviews are panel interviews lasting 20-40 minutes in which you will meet with one or more interviewers and be asked questions that allow them to assess how suited you are to studying the medical course offered at that university. You will be asked questions about why you wish to study medicine, what your interests and aims in life are. You may be asked questions that will require you to demonstrate your ability to think critically, scientifically or mathematically or that test your understanding of medical ethics. It is important when preparing for such interviews that you have some knowledge about what’s currently happening in the medical field which you can learn about by reading medical news online.

MMI: Multiple Mini-Interviews consist of a number of interview stations that each last around 10 minutes. At a station you may be faced with an interviewer who may ask you a question about you (similar to those outlined in the traditional interview section above). Or an interviewer may present you with a dilemma/problem that you will need to find a solution to or answer a question about. Or lastly you may be faced with an actor with a specific scenario and you will have to demonstrate how you would approach and deal with that scenario. These types of interviews may be very different to traditional interviews so having the chance to practice interviews with this format would be highly beneficial. You can do this by connecting with one of our Mentors who will be able to offer you a mock interview of MMI-style.

Oxbridge Oxbridge Interviews are panel interviews but they are different from traditional interviews in terms of the type of questions they ask. These interviews heavily focus on assessing how you think and approach problems that are beyond your current scientific knowledge/capabilities. You will often be asked a question that tests your mathematical skills and also potentially a question relating to medical ethics issues. During these interviews they tend to ask you questions which at face value may seem like ones you don’t know how to answer. But what the interviewer will want to see is you trying to approach the problem/question based on the A-level knowledge you possess and ultimately they want you to discuss how you’re thinking about it. Again, as with other interview formats, the best way to prepare is to ensure you read around current topics within the medical field and, more importantly to practice an Oxbridge-style interview. You can do this by connecting with one of our Mentors at Oxbridge to arrange a mock interview.

The interview stage is one of the most challenging parts of the application process. Ultimately the best people to seek advice from about interviews are the people who have gone through the process themselves.

Visiting our Mentors page will allow you to connect with a current student at the medical schools you’ve applied to. Once you find a mentor, you can ask them for advice and any questions you have about interviews at their university and many of our mentors will also be able to offer you ‘Mock Interviews’ that mimic the style of interview at their medical school.

What if I don’t get into medical school?

Clearing: If you were not able to secure a place prior to taking your exams, you may be able to reapply during the UCAS Clearing period after exams. Clearing is how medical schools will fill in remaining spaces left on their course to interested students who have obtained excellent grades.

Fifth Option / Different Course: With UCAS, you can apply for a maximum of four medical schools and you also get given a fifth option in which you apply for a non-medicine course. So before sending off your application, select an appropriate fifth course that you may want to study if you don’t secure a place on a medical course. This could be something like a biomedical sciences course, a pre-med course, physiology, human biology, anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry. If you choose to study one of these courses, it will prepare you well for applying for a postgraduate medicine course afterwards. Some courses may also allow you to transfer to a medical course after your first year on a different course – check on medical school websites for which universities allow this:-

For Example:- 1. Studying Medicine At The University of Buckingham

Gap Year: You may choose to take a gap year during which time you could get some work experience in an area related to medicine or care in general. Or you may even choose to do some (medical) volunteering either in the UK or abroad – such opportunities can be found online. This will help you to obtain some valuable experience that will make you a highly competitive applicant if you re-Apply for Medicine the following year.

Resitting Exams: If you are thinking of reapplying to medical school in the following year, you may also consider resitting certain A-level or IB exams to boost your grade to help make you an even more competitive applicant. But do note that some universities do not accept students applying with grades from exams they have re-sat.

You can visit our Mentors page and perhaps get in touch with an existing medical student who took a gap year or a postgraduate medical student and seek advice from them about how they approached a similar situation that you may be facing.

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