Applying for Medicine Courses
Medicine is one of the most rewarding careers available but to be successful you will need to undergo a rigorous academic and training programme. You will need to undertake a 4, 5 or 6 year medicine degree, depending on which area you would like to work in, followed by a period of vocational training and postgraduate study, so you will need to be motivated and determined and show a commitment to the medical profession.
First Medical Degrees
The first degree in medicine can be 4 years long if you are a graduate who chooses the 4 year accelerated programme, 5 years is the standard length of degree, or there are 6 year options which include a conversion year for those with good A-levels but not in the required sciences. The conversion course is not the same as a foundation year or Year 0 that some courses now have for those who didn’t achieve the required grades.
The undergraduate medical degree will lead to a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, however you may come across various qualifications. These may include: MBBS, MBBS/BSc, MBChB, MBBCh, BMBS or MB. They are all recognised medical degrees.
Although the courses are basically the same at the medical schools, the way in which they are taught may vary greatly. You will be taught through lectures, tutorials, seminars, work placements, laboratory work, practicals including dissection, experiments, visual observation and computer aided learning. Some schools may place more emphasis on different areas to another. This is a good question to ask at your interview – how is the degree taught?
The first two years of the degree will be mostly based at the medical school/faculty where you will concentrate on the sciences, physiology and the human body. From the third year onwards the clinical period begins. This may start with you spending one day a week in a GP surgery or a ward in a hospital. The fourth and fifth years will see you spending most of your time in hospitals helping with examinations, dealing with patients and possibly assisting with operations.
You will be assessed continuously throughout the degree, your final result no longer just comes from your final exams. Expect to take exams at the end of each year and to be producing written assignments, seminar presentations, projects, clinical examinations, communication skills and the communication of data.
After this you are required to follow a foundation training programme which includes a year as a pre-registration house officer. You will also gain the Certificate of Experience and registration with the GMC which you have to have to practice as a doctor in the UK.
Graduate Accelerated Programme
These courses are for graduates who have a first or upper second class Honours degree in another discipline, some Schools will require certain subjects, but others may accept a degree in a subject other than science. If you have a very good science degree you may be able to enter the medicine degree in the second or third year. You will need to check the entry requirements with the institutions you wish to apply to. If you are a graduate you can also apply for the 5 year first medical degrees.
Some medical degrees allow time for study in another (usually related) subject, or study in another country. These degrees are known as intercalating degrees. You may have the opportunity to study an intensive course in a basic medical science. The course usually lasts a year and results in the awarding of a degree. This is optional in most cases but it is worth checking with the institutions to which you are applying.
Subjects may include virology, anatomy, genetics, computer science or psychology. It is useful to think about the kind of areas you may like to specialise in at a later stage when choosing you intercalating subject.
Medicine Degree Entry Requirements
The individual schools set their own entry requirements so you will need to check the institution prospectus website or department directly to check that you meet or will meet their entry requirements. As a general rule you will need three or four very good A-levels or equivalent including chemistry and possibly biology.
You will also need to be fit and healthy and required to fill in a medical questionnaire, and you may also need to undergo an occupational health screening check and CRB check.
Mature students will need to have good academic qualifications and you will need to be able to demonstrate your ability to undertake a high level degree. The Schools may take into account the length of the medical courses that are required and your length of service may be shorter – you need to remember that it takes around 10 years to completely qualify!
You need to apply for first medical degrees through UCAS. If your application is received after this date you will be considered as a late applicant. You do need to bear in mind that medicine and dentistry courses places fill up very quickly!
You can only apply for four courses per UCAS application.
There are many highly-qualified students that apply for medicine courses. As a result there are now a number of admissions tests that you may need to undertake as a part of the application process. These tests are used in the selection process by a consortium of medical and dental schools, to help them make fairer choices. The test that you need to complete depends on where you apply and what academic stage you are at.
The Admissions Tests are not substitutes for the admissions process through UCAS, they are an additional requirement. It is also worth noting that the test scores for all of the admissions test are only valid for one application year.
UKCAT – The UK Clinical Aptitude Test
Registration will begin in June to take the test for entry in September and deferred entry in September the following year. To register go to www.ukcat.ac.uk. You will need to pay by credit or debit card when you register. The test currently costs £65 for tests taken in the EU between 2 July and 31 August and £87 for tests taken in the EU between 1 September and 2 October. A bursary may be available for those in certain circumstances. UKCAT will be able to advise you on this.
Please remember that it is not a requirement for all medical schools, only the Schools and courses listed below.
The test is computer-based and lasts for 90 minutes and is not science based or centered on the medical degree curriculum and therefore it cannot really be revised for. The test explores cognitive processes, mental ability, behavioral attributes and reasoning skills. The test is divided into four parts: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, decision analysis.
You will be presented with a passage of information which is then followed by four statements. You need to read each passage and then decide which of the statements follows on logically from the information in the passage and whether it is true, false or if you cannot tell.
Try not to base your answers on any personal knowledge only on what is presented to you.
For this part of the test you are required to solve numerical problems by extracting relevant information from tables, graphs or other charts. Some numerical ability is expected and the test assumes you have a good pass in GCSE mathematics.
You will be presented with 10 tables or graphs etc, these are followed by five test items. You are required to choose which of the five test items is the best option. An online calculator is available.
This part of the test involves the identification of patterns amongst abstract shapes.
You will be presented with two sets of shapes, Set A and Set B. The shapes within each set are similar in some way but the two sets are not related. For each pair of sets you will be given a test shape and you have to decide which set the shape belongs to.
This part of the test you will be asked to decipher and make sense of coded information. This section is designed to emulate real life situations where all the information is rarely in one place so as to make a decision.
You will be presented with a scenario and a significant amount of information together with test items that progressively become more complex and ambiguous. The scenario may contain text, tables, charts and other information. You are also given 26 items related to that information and you are required to identify all the correct options.
Non Cognitive Analysis
The final part of the test is designed to identify robustness, empathy and integrity. These are tested through a series of questions over 30 minutes. Some questions will describe a situation and you will be asked to decide what to do. The other questions cover a range of attitudes, behaviors and experiences and you will have to decide how strongly you agree with the statements.
• Do some practice papers, these are available at www.ukcat.ac.uk.
• Pace yourself. You are given a good amount of time to finish each section.
• Remember that there are no trick questions.
There is no pass mark for the UKCAT as such and your result is only a part of the selection process, not all.
BMAT – THE BioMedical Admissions Test
The BMAT is used in much the same way as the UKCAT but only the institutions below require you to undertake the BMAT as part of the admissions cycle.
|Institution||Course and UCAS Code|
|University of Cambridge||MB, A100, A101|
|University of Oxford||BMBCh, A100|
|Imperial College, London||MBBS/BSc, A100|
|University College London||MBBS, A100|
The BMAT is a two hour test which looks to test your aptitude, skills, scientific knowledge and applications and your written skills.
You need to register with the assessment centre and not BMAT directly, but go to www.bmat.org.uk and you can find your nearest assessment centre.
The test is made up of three sections: aptitude and skills, problem solving and understanding argument. The test is paper-based.
Aptitude and Skills
For this part of the test you will be presented with data, either in the form of text, tables or charts/graphs etc followed by four possible multiple choice answers. You should spend 60 minutes on this part of the test.
Speed and accuracy are required here and only correct answers are marked. Incorrect answers are not awarded a mark and no marks are deducted for incorrect answers.
Scientific Knowledge and Applications
This part of the test is to test your scientific knowledge and application capacity.
Some questions may show a graph or chart and you are required to answer the question below. There are also mathematical problems to solve and diagrams to understand.
There are 27 questions in all and you should spend 30 minutes on this part of the test.
You will be presented with a short proposition and may be required to discuss the implications, suggest a counter proposition or argument or suggest a method for resolution. You only do one of these things. You should spend 30 minutes on this part of the test.
Be clear, concise and accurate and try to work as quickly as possible.
You will be required to pay tuition fees for all years of a medical degree, but from year 5 onwards you should be entitled to a Department of Health bursary to cover your fees, maintenance and living costs and placement or traveling costs. You will need to contact the NHS Student Services who will be able to give you the very latest information.
For the first four years you can apply for a student loan and may be eligible for a means-tested LA grant.
If you live in England and wish to study in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you need to contact the NHS Student Services for details on funding.
|British Medical Association (BMA)||www.bma.org.uk|
|The General Medical Council (GMC)||www.gmc-uk.org|
|NHS Student Services||www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/student-services|