It can be a daunting prospect choosing just 4 medical schools from a choice of over 30. After months of research, open days and (too much) list-making, it’s vital that all your choices allow you to maximise your chances of securing medical school offers.
Here are a few ways you can approach the process so your application is as strong as possible….
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This is such an important aspect of your journey to medical school. I found the best way forward was elimination: create a list and start crossing them off!
The most obvious way to start is to consider location, entry requirements and other practicalities. Read through the medical schools’ websites and prospectuses carefully to make sure you meet all their requirements – you don’t want to waste a choice just because you don’t meet their criteria to begin with.
Next: start thinking about the things that matter to you. Do you like the teaching style? Do you want to do an elective? What’s the accommodation like? Open days or speaking to current students will allow you to get a feel for a medical school.
Although lots of people will have a favourite, it’s so important that you really like all medical schools you have applied to. A common question at interview is: “why this medical school?”. If you have thoughtful reasons for why you applied, this question is a gift!
Your personal statement is the one part of the application process you have complete control of. Although it might seem tedious, take the time to write a few drafts and ask other people to read them through.
Many medical schools look for different things in the personal statement. Try to look for any information medical schools provide on their website. Often, they give an idea of what they look for or have some tips on the writing process.
However, make sure that your personal statement is suitable for all your medical school choices – you don’t want to be writing an application tailored for just one medical school. Overall, the aim is to portray a well-rounded version of yourself, discussing and reflecting on all your relevant experiences.
Once you’ve decided which universities to apply to, the UCAT and BMAT may require some attention. Especially if you’re hoping to secure multiple medical school offers.
If you sit the BMAT after sending off your application, it might be worth considering whether you want to apply to all 4 medical schools requiring BMAT. I would recommend considering a mixture of UCAT and BMAT universities just in case one of the tests doesn’t go quite to plan. Of course, this is personal choice but perhaps something to bear in mind.
Some universities will publish cut-off thresholds or how they rank candidates. Therefore, if you know your BMAT/UCAT test score before applying, you can use this to strategically apply to your strengths.
The key to approaching both these tests is forward-planning. Book the tests to give you plenty of time to prepare so you’re going to give it your best shot. Equally, don’t leave them too late. Otherwise, you will find that you have to prepare for a test, write a personal statement and send an application in a short space of time.
Once you know when your tests are going to be, create a plan for tackling preparation. Start by familiarising yourself with the format of the tests. Then identify your weaknesses and keep working at it. They are difficult tests aimed to challenge candidates – don’t give up hope or be discouraged!
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Once you’re at this stage, you’re nearly there! This is a chance for you to show off all your passion for medicine and the university interviewing you.
The format of the interview and tips for preparation can often be found on the medical school’s admissions pages or their invitation to interview. It is so important to familiarise yourself with this, ensuring you’re well-prepared for what they could throw at you.
It’s crucial that you take the time to practise, whether by yourself or in a mock interview with someone else. From receiving my medical offers, I’ve learned that that coming across as enthusiastic, thoughtful and passionate about medicine will get you far!
The application is a slow and time-consuming process, but the reward at the end is definitely worth it. Don’t let failure set you back and try not to compare yourself to other students. Doing your best is what counts!
Words: Beatrice Lander
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