Farah Aga, a third year medical student at Bart's and the London talks to Get Into Medicine about the medicine application process and what it's like being a medical student in London

Getting into medical school may seem like an impossible task – akin to climbing a very high treacherous mountain in order to enter the pearly gates at the top – but you’ll quickly realise if you have the right tools for the job, it’s actually pretty straightforward.

Competition for medical school places is higher than ever. Which means you need to make sure that you stand a fighting chance. Once you have decided to pursue Medicine, focus your energy on achieving this goal. It’s not all about academic achievement – although this is important! What you have to remember is that everyone applying is likely to be predicted A*’s at A Level – so think about what you can bring to the table that will make you stand out!

I am currently a third year Medical Student at Bart’s and the London. My route into medical school was slightly untraditional as I am already a dental school graduate. Graduate entry to medical school is extremely competitive. Similarly to the A level students applying, graduates applying will be motivated and have already gleaned academic achievement. 

Medical schools want to know what you can offer them. How will you fair as a medical student? Will you cope with the intensive study demands? Do you possess good social skills? Will you actively contribute to all aspects of university life, such as clubs, societies and sports teams? Ultimately, do you have the credo to make a good doctor? 

The application……

A personal statement is the best way to show all that you have achieved and have to offer. A killer opening line is important – think of how many applications they read! You need to hook them and reel them in at the first line! Essentially, these are the boxes you must tick in order to get a chance of being shortlisted for an interview:

Excellent predicted A Level grades in relevant subjects (traditionally Chemistry, Biology plus one other subject gives you the best chance).

If you are a graduate, a minimum of a 2:1 in a science-related degree is usually essential. You will also need to have the relevant A Levels.

A good UKCAT score.

Work experience in a relevant area (e.g. One week at a hospital, one week at a GP practice. Often the school will help you organise this).

Charity

Volunteering in a relevant area (e.g. At a care home)

Extracurricular achievements: e.g. sporting, drama, speech, Duke of Edinburgh, etc.


When you write your personal statement, you need to make sure you emphasise how you feel your achievements will make you an ideal medical student: qualities such as leadership, teamwork, and empathy are highly valued. It often helps to get a teacher or a professor to read over your personal statement before you submit it.

The interview…..

Turn up on time and dress smartly. This is just common sense! Sit still, don’t fidget and look the interviewer in the eye. Smile and give confident answers. 

Preparation is vital. Once you have been offered an interview, make sure you do some research about the medical school. They will ask you why you want to study at this particular university. If you can, talk to existing students at the medical school. Some universities have open days prior to interview, which are well worth attending. 

Know your personal statement by heart. They will ask you about things that you have done. They will ask you why you want to study medicine. Have a prepared answer for this question!

You should have two questions prepared that you would like to ask them. Don’t ask questions like: “how much are pints at the union”!! Ask questions about the programme – for example, do they do cadaveric dissection? Are there opportunities to get involved in charity? Or perhaps a question about the area in which you will be studying.

Some medical schools get you to read a scenario and discuss it during the interview. Commonly, this is a current topic in the news, for example legalising euthanasia. They want to see how you cope under pressure, how you think, and how much you read about Medicine. It is worth checking out the ‘Health’ section of the BBC website, or even better if you can get hold of some recent BMJ’s!

Good Luck!

Farah Aga








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