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Getting into Medical or Dental School

Securing a place at an UK medical school is tough as there are c10 applicants for each place and you therefore need to do more than simply obtain good A level grades.

Which 4 Medical Schools?

You are allowed to choose 4 medical schools on your UCAS form. When deciding, take a look at the ratio of applicants to offers for each as this varys widely. Consider including one or two that have a low ratio, to potentially increase your chances of an offer. 

  • Medical schools with a ratio of less than 4 applicants to 1 offer: Birmingham, St Andrews, Durham, Hull York, Glasgow
  • Medical schools with a ratio of between 4-6 applicants to 1 offer: East Anglia, Manchester, Leicester, Kings, Lancaster, St Georges, Plymouth, Nottingham, UCL, Cardiff, Imperial College
  • Medical Schools with a ratio between 6-8 applicants to 1 offer: Quen Mary, Aberdeen, Dundee, Keele, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield
  • Medical Schools with a ratio above 8 applicants to 1 offer: Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Southampton, Brighton & Sussex, Exeter

Also consider putting in a separate application to Queens, Belfast which has a ratio of only 2.65 applicants to 1 offer. 

Entrance Exams for Medicine & Dentistry

All Universities (with the exception of Bristol) require candidates to sit an entrance exam in addition to their normal A level or equivalent exams. These are the UKCAT, BMAT and the GAMSAT ( for graduates):

UKCAT (UK Aptitude Test): This is the most widely used test for both medical and dental degrees and is required by 25 of the 32 medical schools (listed below). Registration opens in May and testing commences in July. Registration deadline is 21st September.

Ensure you practice the UKCAT as much as possible before you sit the real one - it will greatly increase your mark. Practice UKCAT test papers HERE

Universities requiring the UKCAT

University of Aberdeen

 

University of Birmingham

 

Cardiff University

University of Dundee University of Durham University of East Anglia
University of Edinburgh University of Exeter University of Glasgow
Hull York Medical School Imperial College London (Graduate Entry) Keele University
King's College London University of Livrpool University of Leicester
University of Manchester University of Newcastle University of Nottingham
Plymouth University (Pennisula) Queen's University Belfast Queen Mary, University of London
University of Sheffield University of Southampton University of St Andrews
St George's, University of London University of Warwick   

What does the UKCAT consist of?

The test assesses a range of mental abilities. There is no curriculum content as the test examines innate skills.  Each subtest is in a multiple-choice format and is separately timed. The UKCAT consists of: 

  • Verbal reasoning (44 questions in 22 minutes)- assesses logical thinking and reasoning about written information.
  • Quantitative reasoning (36 questions in 23 minutes) - assesses ability to solve numerical problems.
  • Abstract reasoning (65 questions in 16 minutes)- assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information.
  • Decision analysis (26 questions in 32 minutes)- assesses the ability in complex, ambiguous situations, to deal with various forms of information, infer relationships, make informed judgements, and decide on an appropriate response.
  • Situational judgement test (c60 questions (13 scenarios) in 27 minutes)- assesses judgement regarding situations encountered in the workplace.

UKCAT provide 2 online practice tests (www.ukcat.ac.uk) and examples of the questions in each section. 

Practice more UKCAT test papers HERE 

BMAT (Biomedical admissions test): This is required by:

  • Oxford
  • Cambridge
  • Imperial College
  • UCL
  • Leeds
  • Lancaster 
  • Brighton & Sussex ( graduate entry)
  • The Royal Veterinary College
  • Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine ( Singapore)

Your school or college needs to register you. The exam is in November.

  • It is a two hour pen and paper test consisting of three sections.
  • Section 1: Aptitude and Skills (60 minutes - 35 multiple choice questions). This section tests generic skills in problem solving, understanding argument and data analysis and inference.
  • Section 2: Scientific Knowledge and Applications (30 minutes - 27 multiple choice questions). This section tests a candidate’s ability to apply scientific knowledge normally encountered in non-specialist school science and maths courses, up to and including National Curriculum Key Stage 4.
  • Section 3: Writing Task (30 minutes - 1 essay question from a choice of 4). This section tests ability to select, develop and organise ideas and communicate them in writing in a concise and effective way.

The BMAT is run by Admissions Tests and practice tests and past papers can be found HERE

Graduate entry (4 year programme) to medical school often requires a different exam which is the GAMSAT

Interviews for Medical & Dental Students

Panel Interviews

Most medical & dental schools will also interview candidates. The questions usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Background & motivation
  • Knowledge of the medical school and its teaching methods
  • Depth & breadth of your interest
  • Empathy
  • Teamwork
  • Personal Insight
  • Understanding of the role of medicine in society today
  • Work experience
  • Tolerance of ambiguity & ethics
  • Creativity, imagination & innovation

The MMI Format

The MMI process consists of 8 different tasks (split between 7 stations), each lasting 5 minutes - so a total of 40 minutes. The format of the stations varies but most consist either of a simple discussion, a presentation, or a role play. Each station is designed to test a different skill (they won't tell you which station tests which skill) amongst the following:

  • Academic ability and intellect
  • Empathy
  • Initiative and resilience
  • Communication skills and problem solving
  • Team work
  • Insight and integrity
  • Effective learning style

European Medicine and Veterinary Programmes

There are 40 programmes in medicine, over 20 in dentistry and 8 in veterinary science, all taught in English at European universities.

For more information click HERE

Please click the following following link for: Work Experience for Medical & Dental Students

Here is a selection of interview questions:

  • Why do you want to be a doctor? What do you want to achieve in medicine?
  • What do you think being a doctor entails, apart from treating patients?
  • What aspect of healthcare attracts you to medicine?
  • When you read the [Medical School] prospectus, what appealed to you or interested you in the course here?
  • Can you tell me about a significant recent advance in medicine or science? Why has this interested you?
  • What do you consider to be important advances in medicine over the last 50 / 100 years?
  • What are the arguments against fluoridation of water supplies?
  • What’s going to happen to dentistry over the next 10 years?
  • If a benefactor offered you a huge amount of money to set up a Medical Research Institute and invited you to become its director, what research area would you choose to look at, and why?
  • What does the word empathy mean to you. How do you differentiate empathy from sympathy?
  • What is your understanding of the demands of a dentistry practice?
  • What do you guess an overweight person might feel and think after being told their arthritis is due to their weight?
  • Tell us about a group activity you have organised. What went well and what went badly? What did you learn from it?
  • What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of nurses replacing doctors as the first contact person in primary care?
  • What is the difference between tooth erosion and tooth decay?
  • How would you carry out a root treatment?
  • What ways of working and studying have you developed that you think will assist you through medical school? What will you need to improve?
  • Tell us two personal qualities you have which would make you a good doctor, and two personal shortcomings, which you think you, would like to overcome as you become doctor?
  • What makes a good working relationship?
  • Tell me about preventative dentistry?
  • What is gingivitis?
  • What problems are there in the NHS other than the lack if funding?
  • Should dental treatment be free on the NHS?
  • How do politics influence health care provision? Is it inevitable?
  • What does the term ‘inequalities in health’ mean to you?
  • What issues should be considered in deciding to terminate or not continue a patient’s life-sustaining treatment?
  • What experiences have given you insight into the world of medicine? What have you learnt from these?
  • Tell me about a project, or work experience, that you have organised, and what you learned from it?
  • During your work experience, did anything surprise you?
  • Is it better to give health care or aid to impoverished countries?
  • You have one liver available for transplant, but two patients with equal medical need. One is an ex-alcoholic mother with two young children, the other a 13 year old with an inborn liver abnormality. How would you decide to whom it should be given?
  • A man refuses treatment for a potentially life-threatening condition. What are the ethical issues involved?
  • Imagine a world in 200 years' time where doctors no longer exist. In what ways do you think they could be replaced?
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