What Should I Do Now?
Three years from completing high school
Make a shortlist of universities at which you would like to study medicine. Note down their respective selection criteria and also any prerequisite subjects that they may require.
Your research on different university requirements should begin now! Make a shortlist of universities at which you would like to study medicine. Note down each university’s selection criteria and any pre-requisite subjects they may require. This will help you choose your subjects for your final year of high school. It will also encourage you to focus on your weaknesses if one of these subjects, such as English, is required by your preferred university.
Volunteer and work experience will set you apart from other medical school candidates
Begin looking for work experience and volunteer work in the medical field. This may include work at your local aged care facility, hospital, medical centre or other volunteer organisation. It is important that you begin this early, as you will be busy in the later years of high school. Having quality work experience or volunteer work on your university application and being able to talk about it in your medical interviews will set you apart from other medical school aspirants. Most universities will expect that prospective candidates will have done some work experience so they understand the role of a health professional. Volunteer work demonstrates to the university that you truly are a well-rounded individual who cares for the community and are pursuing a career in medicine or health science for the right reasons. Importantly, participating in this kind of work will you give a real taste of what is required to succeed and excel in the medical field but also whether or not this type of work is right for you.
Some students start preparing for the UCAT before their final years of schooling, and if you are motivated, go for it! The earlier you start preparing for a generic skills test such as the UCAT, the better. Most of the skills needed to succeed in the UCAT exam need to be developed over a period of time. Note that you will not be able to actually sit the UCAT exam until your final year of schooling.
Two years from completing high school
Because the UCAT is a skillbased exam, you cannot ‘cram’ information for the UCAT in a short period of time.
Make sure you are studying the required prerequisite subjects needed by your preferred medical course. Your remaining subjects should be subjects that you enjoy and excel in, but also those which will help you to obtain a high ATAR score. You can also obtain advice on choice of subjects during the MedEntry UCAT course.
MedEntry recommends that you begin your UCAT preparation at least a year prior to the UCAT exam, if possible. Because the UCAT is a skills based exam, you cannot ‘cram’ for it in a short period of time. You need to learn, practice and master the skills required to succeed in the UCAT over a period of time. Furthermore, the sooner you begin your UCAT preparation, the less stress you will be under next year, when you will be busy with your final exams.
Also ensure that you have done some work experience and/or volunteer work in the medical field (see information in section above).
Final year of high school
If you haven’t already done so, your UCAT preparation needs to begin now!
Unlike your school subjects, the UCAT is not a content-based exam. The UCAT aims to measure a student’s aptitude and suitability for studying a medicine or health science course, and therefore is a unique exam. Success in the UCAT exam will depend on your skills in answering specific UCAT style questions, rather than knowledge-based questions.
UCAT preparation should be treated like an extra school subject and you should allocate your time accordingly.
UCAT preparation should be treated like an extra school subject and you should allocate your time accordingly. The UCAT is in July so you will need to dedicate significant amounts of time in the early months of the year to prepare.
Consider which universities you would like to apply to, and if you have not already done so, research their entry requirements. Remember that some universities have specific prerequisite subjects that are required, some will require a written application, and some weight various sections of the UCAT differently. This will help you plan your year.
In general, MedEntry recommends applying to as many universities as possible (even interstate universities). This is because almost all universities require an interview to obtain entry, and interviews by definition are subjective. Therefore, you cannot be guaranteed entry into any one particular university, even if you perform excellently in UCAT and ATAR.
Please ensure that you have registered with your relevant state admissions authority eg. VTAC, UAC, QTAC. If you are applying interstate you will need to register separately for each one of these. Enrolling for one will not automatically enrol you for the others. Registration for all admissions authorities can be completed online.
You should also consider researching scholarships offered by different universities. Rural students should check their additional eligibility through universities’ rural entry schemes as these will often slightly lower ATAR and UCAT requirements. Non-ATAR based Scholarship applications often close well before ATAR results are released so if you are interested in scholarships, it is important to start investigating your options early in the year.
Once you have sat the UCAT and depending on how you went, you will need to start preparing for the medical interview or MMI required by your desired university. Check the interview dates for each university and make sure that you will not be away when interviews take place – for example sometimes dates can clash with ‘schoolies’ or family holidays. Most universities will not reschedule interview dates so you will need to facilitate them!