University of Oxford Medical Student Application Story - here Rhys Dore describes how he got into medicine at Oxford University 

I started my ‘medicine journey’ back in June with my first and only work experience in a hospital. I spent a week working in and around the Imperial College Hospitals in London; definitely an amazing experience! Work experience can be hard to get so you should start looking early and don’t be worried about aiming for the bigger hospitals. I actually live in the middle of Cornwall surrounded by fields and sheep but still managed to get work experience in London. Next was the dreaded UKCAT which I took in July. Although, even though I did my fair share of complaining about this, it really isn’t as bad as everyone makes out. With a few weeks of preparation I was ready. I took my test rather early and came out with a 718 average; you don’t really want to spend summer preparing so it’s best to get it out of the way. No doubt you’ll worry about time constraints, as I did, but trust me as long as you don’t freak out during the test timing will be fine – and make use of the ability to flag the questions you miss so you can come back to them at the end! Admittedly over summer I didn't do many constructive things – except in the last couple of weeks I made notes for my A-levels. However it would be best to get some volunteering work during or before this time for your PS. I personally have been working as a student representative on the board of management for our school’s integrated health centre for over 3 years! 

Then there was actually applying – I didn’t decide until 2 weeks before the deadline and ended up applying to Oxford, UCL, Kings and Manchester. Apply realistically and in favour of your strengths, but I see no problem with taking a risk! Be prepared to write a terrible personal statement. My first one was absolutely shocking and took over 6 redrafts before it was ready. I even know people who wrote 30 redrafts! Make use of any help you can get! Most universities also tell you what they’re looking for on their websites, so cater for what they want. Thanks to applying to 2 BMAT universities I then had this exam to take in October. The BMAT really does only test core science knowledge and critical thinking. It’s really the timing where people slip up so again, don’t panic! Somehow I managed to come out with a score of 6.6, 6.7, 2.5C. 

And then the interviews… Luckily in the end I managed to get an interview for all of my choices. Embarrassingly, when my first interview came through from Manchester I ended up crying to my mum because I didn’t have the required passport identification, so don’t jump to conclusions like me because a birth certificate/driving licence often suffices! Moving on… so I had my Oxford interview: 11th-12th December, my Manchester interview: 13th December, my Kings interview: 14th December, and my UCL interview was sometime in January. Meaning I practically had a mini interview tour around the UK. My main concern here was money, but luckily my school was able to provide me with £200 to pay for my travels and hotel. I never had any mock interviews but I would definitely recommend this, otherwise you’ll be left feeling nonplussed and a bit overwhelmed like I did, sometimes I literally felt like my brain had been thrown in the washing machine and put on fast spin.

 Again, know your universities, know exactly what they’ll be looking for and the format of your interviews. I had science-based interviews to group interviews to pre-prepared ethical situations. You can only do your best, and make sure you shine to your full potential. My first reply was a rejection from Kings. This obviously left me feeling terrible, but there’s no need to be, barely anyone gets multiple offers. Shockingly I then received an offer from my first choice, Oxford. Cue jumping and screaming! I also received an offer from UCL and withdrew from Manchester. Then after UCAS has finished and you’ve chosen your firm and insurance it’s all about finishing A-levels and getting the grades, as well as getting your medical records sent to your university and arranging student finance, but that’s the boring part. And now after all the arranging and interviews and revising I’m finally going to be a medical student!

Copyright 2012 Get Into Medicine