For students wishing to gain direct entry to a medical school, preparing for admissions in the final year of high school can be overwhelming. Here, we provide advice for Year 10 and 11 students on having a well-planned preparation strategy for admission to direct entry medical programs.
Students dream of becoming a doctor for various reasons, but do you actually know what you are getting yourself into? Before committing yourself to prepare for medical school interviews and the UCAT, do some research about what medical education and training involves, and what life as a medical doctor is like. Reading these articles is a great place to start - Becoming a doctor, What’s it like being a doctor? - and there are many other sources on the web for you to explore.
You should also find out about different medical schools and what is required for entry. This will give you a feel for what areas you should be focusing on and which subjects you should be studying. It would be a good idea to think about Plan Bs and alternative career options too.
University Clinical Aptitude Test is a test used by direct entry medical programmes to assess their applicants for interview and/or final selection. It involves answering 233 multiple choice questions across five sections (Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement), over ~2 hours.
While the UCAT is an ‘aptitude’ test, you can maximise your chances for success with the right preparation. Starting your preparation early means you will have more time to improve your UCAT score. Furthermore, with some preparation already done under your belt, you will be less stressed in Year 12, and have more time to focus on your study to attain as great GCSEs and A-Levels as possible.
You should check out the official practice questions from the UCAT to get a feel for what they are like. You will find that the main challenge lies in the limited time available, rather than the difficulty of the questions. It is advised to familiarise yourself with the test, learn how to solve different types of questions and practice as much as possible, using a trusted course such as Medify’s UCAT online course.
However, you should not burn out yourself preparing for the UCAT. Aim to spend a couple of hours a week preparing for the UCAT and focus on your school studies and achieving an optimal study-life balance.
The vast majority of direct entry medical schools require interviews. Many Year 10 & 11 students won’t have much experience or ideas about an interview and some may think that preparing for a medical school interview involves rote learning answers to some common interview questions or scenarios.
It is true that medical school interview usually revolves around a number of common topics (e.g. ethical dilemmas, recent issues in health and medicine, your motivation to study medicine), but often these questions will be reworded or addressed in scenario settings, so simply memorizing some model answers won’t be enough. Some may think that they are a people charmer and can simply “wing it” by sounding intelligent/mature and being friendly during an interview, but this won’t cut it either.
To effectively prepare for medical school interviews, you need to develop a set of skills and traits, as well as understanding some key concepts. These include:
These can be developed in a number of ways, for example through work experience, reading books and articles and talking to medical students and/or doctors. We particularly recommend reading the Good Medical Practice guide by the General Medical Council which provides guidance on the duties and code of conduct for medical professionals. Since you have two years or more, try all of the options above, and look for your own ways to prepare for the medical school interviews too.
While all three points of advice given above are important, you should remember that school study should be given your utmost priority. This is for two reasons.
Firstly, your internal and external grades from Year 11 and 12 will be converted to final GCSE and A-Level grades, which is one of the core criteria for medical school entry. Even if you have extensive knowledge about the medical career and different medical schools, consistently score highly in mock UCAT exams and feel ready to ace your interview, poor grades below a threshold will make you ineligible to be considered by a medical school.
Secondly, the foundational knowledge you build and the study habits and routines you form during high school are fundamental for surviving and succeeding in medical school. For these reasons, we strongly recommend that you don’t let yourself be distracted too much from your school work. You should aim to make use of weekends and holidays to work on the major portion of your preparation for medical school admissions.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious? Please don’t worry, head over to our UCAT 2020 Online Course and we’ll get you signed up to guide you through this whole process.
We have a bank of over 10,000 questions, a decision-making section, and 8 full mock exams and 18 mini-mock exams; we even give you performance feedback too.
We’ve been lending a successful helping hand since 2009. Medify’s here to support you, just reach out to us.