So you want to be a doctor? Here’s our step-by-step guide to making a great application to medical school:
Step 1 – Decide!
Training as a doctor is a long and difficult process – and once you reach the end, it only gets harder! This is not a decision to take lightly. It might seem exciting on TV, but in reality doctors work under pressure for long hours. Before committing to this you need to know what it’s really like, so start gathering information. Arrange relevant work experience, read around the subject, check out medical publications, books and blogs and try to meet and talk with people who have done it themselves.
Step 2 – Strengthen
If you’ve decided medicine is for you, it’s time to build a strong application. Admissions tutors expect work experience, as this demonstrates your commitment and shows you’re more likely to have a realistic expectation of what the career is like. Whilst work experience with doctors can give a useful insight, you can also gain valuable experience by helping in another caring environment such as with children, vulnerable adults or the elderly. In addition, a range of extra-curricular activities can show you’re a balanced person and that getting good grades at A-level isn’t taking all your time, so keep doing all the things that interest you.
Step 3 – Personal Statement
Make certain to start writing your personal statement early. A good target is to aim to get some preliminary ideas on paper for the beginning of your summer holiday, then to have a full draft ready by the time you’re back at school in September. Whilst different approaches can give great results, you should spend at least two-thirds talking about your interest in medicine and how you’ve pursued it, including reflections on your work experience and discussion of wider reading. Only a minority should be talking about your other interests. And remember, extra-curriculars are about demonstrating your skills and that balance – there’s no need to be national level at sport to have something valuable to say. One final thing – remember that you’re likely to get an interview sometime, so make sure you’re happy to talk about everything you include!
Step 4 – Admissions Tests
For medicine, you are likely to need to sit the UKCAT and may need to sit the BMAT too. Check the entrance requirements of where you’re applying in good time, as you don’t want any nasty surprises! UKCAT testing takes place over the summer, so enrol in good time! Admissions tests can be tough as questions are of a different style to what you may be familiar with, and time pressure can be intense. Make sure to prepare in good time, making use of all the resources available to you, as better prepared candidates score more highly. Also with UKCAT, you have your results before making your choices, so choose wisely depending on your score to maximise your chances.
Step 5 – Interview
If all goes well, hopefully you’ll get an interview! Make sure you’re well prepared – that you’re up to date with medical related news and you have a clear story why you’ve made your choice. Get practice interviews to work on your interview technique, making sure you can perform under pressure and structure your answers clearly. We’ll be blogging more about interviews nearer the time, so stay tuned for more top interview tips.
Step 6 – Grades
This may be the last step, but is certainly not the least! Just imagine how it must feel to have succeeded in getting a prized medical offer, only to fall at the final hurdle. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself for your A-levels, just think of the huge reward for getting those grades. Don’t leave it to chance!