If you have completed your UCAT exam, congratulations on getting through the marathon that it is! While you can relax a little, now is not the time to be sitting back and relaxing (sadly). Instead, you should start planning for applications and interviews!
Here are five tips to make the most of your post-UCAT, pre-interview time:
1. Pump up your ATAR
Before UCAT, chances are your other school or university study slipped a little (that’s okay, you were busy!). However, now you need to pick it back up and work hard! Academic results are also important when applying for medicine.
The higher your ATAR, the greater your chances of securing a place at your preferred medical school. If you didn’t do so well in UCAT, you can still get into medicine if you achieve a very high ATAR (via provisional entry pathways).
So focus on pumping up your grades – you’re in the home stretch after all!
2. Decide where you will apply
You should take some time to think about where you will apply to study medicine. MedEntry recommends applying to as many universities as possible (including interstate) as there is no guarantee of entry into any particular course, particularly when interviews are involved (as they are subjective).
Consider your preferences too – which courses will you place as your top preference? There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a medical school. For advice and help making your decision, check out our blog.
Once you have decided on your preferred universities, research them. For example, James Cook University has a focus on rural and Indigenous health, while others may have a focus on research. Have a look at the university’s website and make some notes. This will help you answer the inevitable question “Why do you want to study here?”. It will also help you seek out relevant opportunities to make you appealing in the interview stage. For example if your number one choice medical school has a rural health focus, why not volunteer at an organisation working with people living in rural areas?
3. Plan your applications
When applying to medical school, you will need to apply to the relevant Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC) in that particular state. You will need to apply to each admission centre (VTAC, UAC, QTAC, SATAC, TISC and UTas) individually.
Some universities also require you to make applications directly to the university, and for some universities (such as UNSW and JCU) you will need to submit a written application as well. MedEntry provides a written application guide and review service to help.
The closing date for applications is normally the end of September. For more information and tips on how to apply, check out our blog.
4. Seek out relevant experiences
There are certain experiences that universities look upon favourably in interviews and applications: volunteer work with disadvantaged groups, work experience in a health-related field, and extra-curricular activities (such as sport and music) that demonstrate you are a well-rounded individual. Consider your own experiences, and in what areas you may need to improve.
For example, volunteering is important. At some point in an interview you are going to a variation of “I want to help people” and if you’re not able to back that up with some real action the claim might seem a little empty. So if you’re not already volunteering, now is the time to start! There are lots of fantastic organisations out there – what’s available will depend on your area. Some places you can look include Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), aged care facilities, community centres, refugee organisations, and Aboriginal Medical Services. If you are not able to volunteer in person due to COVID, seek out virtual opportunities.
5. Work out your plan B
No one likes to consider the possibility of not getting into medicine, but it is important. The truth is most applicants don’t get into medicine and even if you’re an amazing applicant you do not have total control over what happens on interview day any more than you have total control over what happened on UCAT test day.
So work out your plan B and make it a plan B you can really look forward to! Having a plan B that you actually like will remove just a little of the pressure and you may even be asked about it in interviews.
For school leavers, plan B could look like a gap year where you work and travel or begin another degree, and then reapply for medicine.