What I wish I'd known when applying to Medical School (advice from MPW Alumni)

I wish I'd known

Medical School applications are incredibly competitive and require a lot of effort (and a bit of luck) to be successful. One of the first things you should do if you are considering an application is seek advice from your school. In addition to that, it can also be useful to hear from students who were once in your position and have won their dream places at Medical School. In this article, some of MPW’s alumni share their tips with you, as well as the things they wish they had known when they were making their applications. We have divided their advice into three sections, to cover the key requirements of an application:

The UCAS form

The first step in applying to Medical School is to complete your UCAS form. In so doing, you need to write a winning personal statement and then decide where to send it. Our alumni share their top tips on how to do that:

Your personal statement is the first thing that gets seen by the university. It's not the be all and end all but it is important to set the tone for your application. It could be a good idea to discuss a few specific things within medicine that interest you and how your A Levels could be applied to understanding those topics. I spoke about gamma knife, a method of treating brain tumours.
Conor, second year, Imperial College London

 

Work experience is really important. If you know anyone that can get you some, take advantage of that. If not, apply online as there are lots of student schemes. It's really important to get as much under your belt as you can as it makes you look dedicated and also helps at interview to give you something to talk about.
Conor, second year, Imperial College London

 

My top tip for anyone feeling discouraged or doubtful about submitting an application for Medicine because of missed grades would be don’t give up! I emailed nearly every medical school in the UK (I think I contacted 35 in total) to ask whether they could consider an application from me. Five said this would be possible and I actually feel like my retake made my application stand out. It was a way to demonstrate my determination to succeed despite complications and set-backs.
Lily, second year, University of Exeter

 

I wish I had talked long and hard with medical students at the universities I was applying to, to get a real understanding of what the first year entails and what may suit you. I love how at BSMS each Tuesday is dedicated to rotations and learning clinical skills, for example taking a patient history, rather than solid science for the first two years. 
Ellie, first year, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

The Tests

If you are applying to Medical School, you will need to take admissions tests as well as having your GCSE and A level grades on your UCAS form. MPW alumni share their tips on doing well in the UKCAT and BMAT:

UKCAT and BMAT are important. They require practice and patience to master. Get a good practice book and dedicate time to improving. It's the only way you can get better at them, UKCAT especially.
Conor, second year, Imperial College London

 

I wish I had worked harder for my UKCAT and BMAT the first time round. Although I was told that you cannot revise for them, when I was reapplying I practised a lot more and my BMAT score went up 2 or 3 points. You do have time to work hard for these as they do not clash with A levels at the end of the year. 
Ellie, first year, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

The Interview

If your UCAS application is strong and your UKCAT/BMAT test scores are high, you may be invited to interview at a university. This is your final hurdle and here our alumni share their tips on how to succeed at interview:

My number one tip would be to go to open days and be proactive because when it comes to interview and they ask why you picked their medical school, they will know the difference between someone who has just learnt the prospectus and someone who has asked and shown an interest in finding out the current student's perspectives. 
Ellie, first year, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

 

I guess my number one tip (once you get an interview) is to be yourself! The person/people interviewing you are likely to be involved in the medical profession themselves so are generally very good at reading people. A candidate will come across a lot better and be more authentic if they are themselves as opposed to who they think they should be. 
Freddy, first year, University of Liverpool

 

I would encourage prospective medics to keep an eye on any current health or scientific issues in the media. In my interview for Exeter I was asked to identify a few of the biggest problems faced by the NHS at present and it was helpful having a grasp on various issues such as the NHS reforms and funding cuts that had just been established. A good way to stay afloat of these sorts of issues would be to check the BBC health news website every now and again or subscribe to the student BMJ.
Lily, second year, University of Exeter

 

At interview, ethical scenarios are always presented and you have to discuss it and walk it though with your interviewers. They aren't expecting you to give a yes or no answer as the issues are normally complex, but show that you can work though logically and according to the ethics of the case. Take time before your interview to fully understand the different rules and guidelines set out by the GMC.
Conor, second year, Imperial College London

 

Do as much interview practice as possible. Even if it’s just with friends or family, the more you are used to speaking and thinking under pressure the better! 
Freddy, first year, University of Liverpool

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