Published on 26th June 2017 by lauram

Wondering how to pick a medical school?

This blog series looks at how current medical students chose their universities. In this post, Ruari talks about how he chose Barts and the London.

Picking the medical schools to apply to can be a pretty daunting decision – there are a lot to choose from and while they will all get you a degree in medicine, they all have different course structures, locations and entry requirements.

For me it was not all about picking medical schools I had the best chance of getting into, although that did come into it. I decided to separate it into three categories:

  1. One which I would like to go to but it seems unlikely
  2. Two which I had as good a chance as anyone and I like them
  3. One which I had a likely chance of an offer

Which factors did you consider?

To work out how I was going to pick those universities, I turned to a number of sources.

University open days are great as you can quickly get a feel for a place, what it is like and if you might fit in there. However, it isn’t always possible to go to lots of these, and most cities or even your own school will arrange a university fair where you can quiz lots of different universities on their course. The internet also is filled with information on forums, blogs and university websites themselves.

Once I decided on a list of universities I thought seemed good, and, more importantly, decided which ones I didn’t want to go to, I did some more in-depth research. Factors I considered were: entry requirements, how they scored your application and how their interviews worked.

Here is where I started to consider what strengths I had to boost my application – for example, I had a high UKCAT score so that wasn’t a barrier. I have always been strong at interviews so I wanted to make sure the majority of my choices interviewed. I also had a wide range of extracurriculars which I used to strengthen my personal statement and wanted to discuss at interview.

So eventually I chose the following four universities to fit my three categories:

  1. University of Edinburgh
  2. Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry and Newcastle University
  3. University of Dundee

Edinburgh don’t interview, so I didn’t fancy my chances there too highly but, like I say, don’t rule somewhere out just because you think it would be hard to get in – be optimistic!  I chose the next two because I had a high UKCAT for Newcastle, and multiple music grades and extra A-Levels for Barts also gave me a good chance at an interview – and I received offers from both. Dundee had fairly standard basic entry requirements for interview and I thought that if I could get to interview I’d be in with a good chance – and, again, I was interviewed.

Why Barts?

In the end, I got offers from Barts, Newcastle and Dundee and, while I didn’t get one from Edinburgh, I don’t regret applying to a safer option. I confirmed Barts because for me it ticked a lot of boxes; the course structure not being too PBL-heavy, getting early clinical exposure and living in London was a big draw.

Choosing your medical schools is a difficult decision and this is just how I did it, but all you need to do is take a bit of time, think about what you want and where your strengths are – and you’ll be able to find a match for you!

Words: Ruari McGowan


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