Many students sit the UCAT for the first time thinking that they must to do well in UCAT because it is the only way for them to be accepted into their dream uni degree, medicine. This is untrue! This thinking places an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure on students. The reality is there are numerous ways to be accepted into medicine, although they are not necessarily the ideal pathways. Sitting UCAT, getting a good ATAR and smashing an interview may be the easiest and quickest way to get into medicine, but it is not the only one.
Other options to be accepted into medicine can include:
• Taking a gap year, re-sitting UCAT and trying again
If your ATAR was awesome, but you may not have done as well in UCAT as you wanted, you can take the year following Year 12 off, and focus on your UCAT prep so that you can smash it! The advantage of this is your UCAT prep will be more focussed, as you won’t have the distraction of Year 12. It is also a great chance to gain some invaluable life experiences before medicine absorbs and dominates your life (for example, go travelling, volunteer, work full-time, obtain work experience etc.).
• Tertiary transfer from another degree
This one is a bit tricky as each university has its own set of rules regarding tertiary transfer into medicine. I recommend emailing or arranging a meeting with someone at the university to get as much information as possible, as internet searches probably won’t give you correct information. For example, at Adelaide Uni, you can literally transfer from any degree into medicine (a friend of mine just transferred into med after doing 2 years of law/commerce). You still have to re-sit UCAT and maintain a good GPA, but sitting UCAT during university is similar to sitting it when you take a year off, as you will have ample time to study and focus on it. You also gain the benefit of trying something else, such as law or another degree, or, if you do a health/biomedical science degree, gaining valuable knowledge before you get into med, putting you ahead of your classmates.
• Finish an undergrad degree, sit UCAT and/or GAMSAT and do postgraduate medicine
To get into postgraduate medicine, you have to sit the GAMSAT, which is a 6 hour exam and is more expansive than UCAT. Some people are better suited to GAMSAT over UCAT because it tests your science knowledge and writing skills, rather than your ability to recognise patterns and problem solve. You will also have to complete a full undergrad degree and maintain a high GPA. The benefit of this is that you will gain experiences of chilled out uni life, rather than the hectic uni life of a med student, and also have another degree as a fallback. You do not need to do a health/biomedical science degree, as entrance into postgrad med does not depend on which bachelor degree you have at most unis. The disadvantage of this route is that it is more expensive and more time consuming than the undergraduate one.
Some Unis require you to sit UCAT (not GAMSAT) even after a degree: for eg WSU, Newcastle/UNE, Auckland and Otago.
Work hard, study for the UCAT and do the best you can, but do not be discouraged if you do not get accepted into medicine straight out of high school. There are many different pathways into med school.