A Student’s Journey to Study Medicine
Medical school heads say this is the hardest year “in living memory” for A-level students to get a place to study medicine, with several thousand high-achieving applicants left without a place. UCAS, says fewer than 16% of applications to study medicine and dentistry resulted in an offer this year – down from 20.4% in 2021 (The Guardian, 2022). Therefore, it more important than ever to effectively prepare for each and every aspect of the University Application Process. See our advice on how to boost your chances of receiving an offer to study medicine.
What is the UCAT?
The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a two hour admissions test, used by a consortium of UK Universities and non-UK associate member universities to help select applicants for their medical and dental degree programmes. It is a computer-based test delivered in Pearson VUE test centres throughout the UK and worldwide (UCAT, 2022).
The UCAT helps medical schools assess a student’s aptitude for medicine. Results can be used to:
- Decide whether to invite a student to interview
- Inform whether an offer should be made
- Decide between two equally ranked applicants
The test is made up of 5 subsets of which include 225 questions in total. There is no negative marking, the raw mark that is awarded is scaled and then ranked.
In 2018, 27,466 candidates registered to complete the exam, whereas there were 37,230 in 2021. This is a sharp increase of 35% in just three years, meaning that competition is higher and ranking in a high percentile is more difficult.
Generally speaking, placing in the 70th-80th percentile is sufficient for entry into medicine, however, do not panic if you have a lower score. Universities view the UCAT differently, with some universities weighting UCAT scores alongside other elements of your application, such as academic record, meaning that you may still be invited to an interview. As you will receive your UCAT score prior to submitting your UCAS application, make sure that you are making the correct choices by researching how each University makes admission decisions and understanding their selection process. This can be found by visiting their website, or contacting them directly. This is essential to ensure that your choices don’t go to waste.
How to Book
|24 May (9.30am BST)||Registration and Bursary/Access Arrangement applications open|
|20 June (6am BST)||Booking opens|
|11 July||Testing starts|
|20 September (12 noon BST)||Access Arrangement application deadline|
|22 September (12 noon BST)||Booking deadline|
|29 September||Last test day|
|30 September (4pm BST)||Bursary Scheme application deadline|
|15 October||UCAS deadline|
|Early November||Results delivered to universities|
Visit the UCAT website to book your exam. Exams will be held between 11 July and 29 September 2022.
It is your responsibility to ensure your booking is made successfully in advance of the booking deadline of 22 September 2022 (12 noon BST).
How to Prepare
Firstly, understand the exam, what it entails and timings. The test is made up of several multiple choice subtests including verbal reasoning, decision-making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and situational judgement that must be completed within 2 hours. See UCAT’s advice surrounding subtest timings below:
Assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form.
Assesses your ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information.
Assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form.
Assesses your use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information.
Measures your capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
To best prepare for exam, complete past exam questions from each section of the test under exam conditions. Statistics indicate that successful candidates spend around 21 to 30 hours preparing for the test.
If you would like to gain more support, learn proven test strategies, learn how to approach exam questions, and complete mock questions, book to attend our UCAT Preparation Course!
What is a Personal Statement?
UCAS defines a Personal Statement as a document that supports your application to study at a university or college. It’s a chance for you to articulate why you’d like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experience you possess that show your passion for your chosen field (UCAS, 2022).
Why is it important?
Personal Statements are extremely important, especially for clinical professions such as Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Nursing and Midwifery. There are vital in the aim to distinguish yourself from the crowd and establish your application as a suitable candidate for your chosen course. It is your chance to show your genuine interest for the profession, backed by proof that you would be a suitable applicant, and can be the difference between being offered an interview or not. See the Medical School’s Council Infosheet for more information.
Attend our Personal Statement Workshop to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence required to write a strong and relevant personal statement and focus on identifying strengths and achievements and using an appropriate structure.
Your University Interview
UK Medical Schools use interviews as a way to assess applicants suitability to Medicine as a profession. This involves the analysis of the following personal attributes, skills and background:
- Genuine Interest
Traditionally, interviews are conducted in a Multi Mini Interview (MMI) or Panel format on university grounds. However, from the Covid-19 pandemic, interviews have been moved online, although they entail the same format and assessment in order to decipher candidate aptitude.
Interviews can be intimidating, but remember, you have been selected (which is a huge achievement in itself) and you deserve the opportunity – so be confident and shine! It is often difficult to get into the swing of talking about yourself, your personality, your experience and why you are suitable for a career in medicine. We recommend that you start early with your preparation, taking time to practice answering questions in front of a family member, friend, your phone, or even a mirror!
Brush up on you personal statement, recent medical news and articles, and the School’s medical course, including what it will involve, the practical and theoretical learning. This will equip you for any questions that may be asked in the interview.
As it is your opportunity, grab it with both hands, take time to answer questions to the best of your ability, show your enthusiasm for studying medicine, and do not to be shy about your achievements.
If you would like help structuring your answers, delivering strong responses with technique, showcasing your skills and experience, displaying the correct body language, using interview strategies for lateral thinking questions, and gaining awareness of the latest news, the NHS and ethics, then come to our Interview Skills Preparation Course.
This unique opportunity allows students to gain the knowledge, experience and confidence needed to excel in your University interview. Attendees will first listen to several talks about each aspect of the interview before having the chance to answer MMI questions with expert faculty, who will provide them with immediate feedback on how to improve their answers.
For more practice, we also offer 1:1 mock interviews in which an expert in the field will conduct a full interview with you, and will provide constructive feedback throughout the session in order to improve your answers, technique, confidence and delivery. If this is something that interests you, please contact us.
Boost your chances of receiving an offer with our Application and Interview Skills Preparation Package!
Save £60 by purchasing our Application and Interview Skills Preparation Package and attend all three of our preparation courses for Students applying to Medicine – UCAT Preparation Course, Personal Statement Workshop, and Interview Skills Preparation.