How do I get into Medicine?
To get into medicine in most countries, you need to satisfy three criteria i.e., do well in:
The United Kingdom is no different. In the UK, the three criteria are: secondary school performance, UCAT and an interview.
Because medicine is the ONLY course where the government strictly controls the number of places, the demand is high which is one of the reasons why it is seen as an attractive profession.
The university admissions page provides details on entry requirements for various universities.
UCAT is one of three criteria used by universities in the UK to select students into high demand health related careers such as medicine and dentistry:
The UCAT is a two hour test. UCAT is administered from July until early October. MedEntry offers UCAT Courses, UCAT Tuition, UCAT advice, UCAT preparation and UCAT Coaching.
MedEntry UCAT Prep has become synonymous with aptitude test success and is trusted by more students than all other providers combined. Performing well in the UCAT is critical for students wishing to enter medicine or other health science courses.
You will find information on the specific requirements of each university here.
You will need to sit the UCAT if you are interested in studying medicine at any of the following universities:
Yes! Even high achieving students stumble in the UCAT.
Some students with perfect secondary school scores have missed out on a place in medicine and related courses due to their low UCAT scores. In some cases, your UCAT score is more important than your academic score in securing a place in the health sciences.
Research shows training can significantly improve UCAT score by familiarizing you with the types of questions that will be asked and developing strategies to tackle them.
An all-too-common fallacy about preparing for UCAT is that all you need to do is 'familiarise' yourself with the test by doing some practice questions. That's like saying the way to become a great basketball player is to familiarise yourself with a basketball court and practice taking a few shots.
Once upon a time, people were wrong. They thought that the automobile was an electric death-trap that would never replace the horse and carriage, computers were only for academic nerds, and people who used tuition were simply cheaters. Then, cars stopped exploding every time you started the engine, people realised that you could use computers for more than just calculating the digits of pi, and the 'cheaters' with the tuition... well, they started getting it. They got better grades, got into better Courses at Uni and just plain old got better. Times change, rules change.
Some people point not only to their own success, but also to the success of some others, as proof that UCAT Prep is unnecessary to get into medicine. Such arguments are spurious because they gloss over the obvious truth that certain people are more capable than others. Individuals succeeding without UCAT Prep simply don’t prove that everyone else can do the same, any more than Madonna’s success proves that everyone can become a star. Such individual achievements prove only that there are exceptional people who can overcome enormous obstacles and achieve their goals. The plain fact that many ordinary students have not achieved extraordinary results is pretty strong evidence that, for most of us, UCAT Prep can be a big help.
"Kids take prep courses to ace tests that are supposed to measure inborn aptitude," (page 100, Time Magazine, December 20, 2004).
There are three types of knowledge: Known Knowns; Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns. The people who don't prepare are in the last category. They don't know what they don't know!
People who are low on any scale, do not even know enough to recognize how much they are missing. People who are high on a scale, are deeply aware of how much they are missing, so they think they aren't really all that high. This can be about any skill, aptitude or talent. Many of us suffer from omission bias, ie., we prefer erring through inaction to erring through action, even though research shows errors of omission are costlier than errors of commission.
Consider this story about the French marshal Louis Lyautey: when the marshal announced that he wished to plant a tree, his gardener responded that the tree would not reach full growth for a hundred years. “In that case,” replied Lyautey, “we have no time to lose. We must start to plant this afternoon." Students thinking of preparing for improvement in performance in UCAT have no time to lose. They must get started now.
So start preparing now!
Please also read the FAQ: Does the MedEntry program really work?
If you have not been successful the first time you sit the UCAT, you can re-sit it without being penalised. In fact you can resit the test ANY number of times as long as it isn't in a single year. You can only sit in your final year of schooling or thereafter.
Please note that UCAT scores are valid for one year only.
Please also read the FAQ: When can I sit the UCAT?
You can reschedule your test through your Pearson VUE account before the deadline (24 hours before your test booking) as long as the web portal is open. After the web portal closes you will need to contact Pearson VUE Customer Services to have your booking changed. Rescheduling is dependent on availability and in some instances you may need to travel to another location.
UCAT preparation at any time is better than no preparation at all.
When to start your preparation depends on several factors such as your level of motivation, the UCAT score you hope to achieve, the medical school you aim to get into, your current level of generic skills etc.
About 61% of our students start their UCAT preparation about six months before the test; 19% begin well before that; and 20% commence their preparation about three months before the test.
What is important is not when you start, but how intensely and consistently you prepare, as well as the quality of the resources you use for UCAT preparation.
The following blog explores this issue in more detail:
The graduate medicine entry route requires that you complete a degree first before applying for Medicine. This means studying hard for an additional 3 or 4 years (and paying the fees), to maintain high grades with no guarantee of getting into Medicine. So you will have exams for at least 7 years: three years of first degree and 4 years of condensed medical degree. Undergraduate medicine is far less stressful because in the first year they ease you in, and in final year you are working as an unpaid intern (so no exams).
You also need to sit a test called the GAMSAT, which is a six hour test (compare this with UCAT which is a two hour test) as well as doing well in the interview. The preparation courses for GAMSAT are also far more expensive, in the range of $1500 plus.
The GAMSAT has been described by most people as ‘the most horrible thing I've ever had to do in my life’. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do a Biomedicine or Biosciences degree, you will automatically be offered a place in Medicine, as some universities misleadingly make you believe. If you miss out on a place in Medicine, you may end up with a degree that is not useful for your future, and a waste of several years of your life.
The median age of students entering graduate medical programs in Australia is 25.4 years. By that age, you would have completed your medical degree and probably working as a Registrar in your chosen specialty if you choose the school leaver entry (UCAT) route. Imagine entering medical school at 25 via graduate entry, then trying to study for the specialist training exams in your early thirties with a family to care for!
Some people think universities are education oriented organisations, but in reality they are massive businesses with annual income of each university around two billion dollars - they earn about $30,000 per year of study at university for each student they enrol (about $10,000 from you, and the rest from the government). This means that the longer you study at university, the better it is for them. This is the reason why some universities are moving towards graduate-entry medical programs. It is to increase universities' income, not because it is good for you! Furthermore, universities are prohibited from charging full fee for undergraduate medicine, but they can charge full fee for graduate medicine!
With the higher debts of graduate entry and the uncertainty of whether you will get into medicine, universities will be laughing all the way to the Bank, but you will end up in the classic wheel of borrowing to pay for a degree to get a job to pay off what you borrowed (if you don't get into medicine).
Some people feel that they want to go to so-called "prestigious" universities which offer only graduate medicine. However, unlike other disciplines such as law, in medicine it does not matter which university you graduate from.
Perhaps 15 years ago, when GAMSAT was new, it was easier than UCAT but now most medical students who sat both tests claim GAMSAT is harder. GAMSAT is getting much harder for several reasons (eg many professionals wanting to change careers, the 'late bloomers', many school leavers putting off the hard work and difficult decision).
Another important reason: It has been well documented that there is a general decline in psychometric test performance as a person advances in age. For eg, see "Socio-economic predictors of performance in the UCAT": Puddey and Mercer, BMC Medical education, 2013, 13:155. This shows that performance of candidates sitting UCAT between 16 years and 45 years consistently drops with age. So you are far better off sitting the test as early as possible (in year 12).
When you purchase the MedEntry UCAT package, you will get numerous resources for you to use. You will also get additional recommended reading in the UCAT Courses. This is definitely much more than you need, if you use it properly. How to efficiently and effectively use these resources is also discussed in the UCAT Courses.
We also recommend that you use the UCAT Consortium's practice exams (plus the additional 400 questions) that is provided for free on their website.
Apart from these, we do not recommend any other courses or programs.