UKCAT and BMAT. If one does averagely at them...

(35 Posts)
duchesse Sun 06-Jan-13 22:54:38

...how likely is it that the results will have improved in a year's time?

I'm trying to work out how best to counsel DD who has received a hit by being turned down flat by Cambridge. She is now convinced that all the other universities will turn her down as well. I don't know whether to suggest that she switches her application to another subject on the strength of her average ukcat and bmat results. She is very able (and hard-working) but may not have the skill set required for medicine if these tests are to be believed. We just don't know how best to discuss it with her. She (I think) will want to reapply next year if she's turned down by all of her medical schools. Does anyone have any success stories re applying for the second time for medicine?

duchesse Sun 06-Jan-13 23:34:14

I should add that my DH who has a degree in maths from Cambridge, two Msc in physics and a phd in atmospheric physics tried some UKCAT practice questions and found them utterly impossible, so I guess it does test a particular skill set, not just outright intelligence. Maybe my DD just doesn't have the right kind of brain for medicine?

MariscallRoad Mon 07-Jan-13 02:53:00

There are many routes to medicine and one is doing first a science degree and then an accelerated graduate medicine degree (4 years) and it is fully funded as a second degree including loan unlike other degrees. She can try also work experience required by certain schools.

UKCAT requires different set of knowledge and different type of skills from Maths, physics and other sciences. A doctor may not succeed in a maths or physics test by the same analogy.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 09:01:22

Yes I've definitely come across success a second time around for Cambridge Medicine.

I've also come across a significant number of students who got offers from very, very good medical schools, not having been lucky with Cambridge/ Oxford including one in particular with a very flaky UKCAT score.

How many other BMAT schools has she applied to? Imperial looks at the scores very differently from Oxford and Cambridge and comes in with a batch of interview offers any time now. I know less about UCL. Did she only apply to BMAT/ UKCAT schools?

If she's dead set on it then she really shouldn't give up on the strength of these first time tests. Very hard during the exam season not to get down, but I'd be inclined to buoy her and tell her to re-apply if that's what she wants and to put down Bristol, Birmingham or Liverpool next time round, who look at GCSE A* and don't use the tests.

alreadytaken Mon 07-Jan-13 09:07:34

to answer your specific question very, reapplicants have done as much as 70 points better in the UKCAT. It's rarer to repeat a BMAT but I suspect the same would apply as long as they kept up their sciences after A level. The BMAT is an exam aimed at very able students and an average score on that still means a very able applicant likely to be snapped at by other schools. This years BMAT was considered unusually hard and if she makes comparisons they should be with this year's averages as they are lower than previous years. Both exams include an element of luck as most applicants guess some answers. Hopefully she had her strategy worked out and did at least guess every question.

If you check out the student room website you will find a thread from re-applicants with a number of success stories. Reapplicants often do very well as they have shown motivation, an ability to recognise faults and work on them, have known grades and more maturity. They are also more inclined to study school's requirements and apply to those that are most likely to take them.

If she wasn't planning to reapply next year then you might doubt if medicine was for her, as she is concentrate on how to get that commitment across to other schools and she may well get an offer this year. She needs your support now, not your doubts. Portraying confidence, but not arrogance, at interview is helpful. It's very rare for an applicant to get a full set of offers and they need to be able to cope with rejection.

I didn't think second degrees were funded, if they are there is no guarantee that will continue in 3 years time. Graduate medicine is even more competitive than undergraduate so reapplication is the better route but it's far too early to think about that. She could consider if she still has time to apply to Dublin if you can afford the living costs, fees are lower there than in England but loans are not available. I believe the exam they sit is in February.

Can I repeat - it's too early to be depressed. Other schools are keen to snap up the sort of applicant who has good enough results to interview at Cambridge. She needs to focus on her exams if she has any this January and then on the med schools she applied to this time.

alreadytaken Mon 07-Jan-13 09:08:40

snapped up not at, sorry smile

duchesse Mon 07-Jan-13 10:10:47

Yellow, thanks for your information. I must admit I'm not as up on the medicine application process as I ought to be. DD1 is so competent that I haven't had to help her at all. She has applied to Bristol and would be very happy to go there, so it's good to know that they don't set much store by the tests. She got 9 A* and 1 A at GCSE so should be acceptable to them.

duchesse Mon 07-Jan-13 10:19:16

already- you are right. Of course I am not voicing any of what I have said here out loud. Thank you very much for all your info. We just need to wait and see what the next few weeks will bring.

She is doing the IB at an FE college and is predicted mostly 7s (equivalent broadly to A/A* at A level depending on subject) and a couple of 6s (equivalent to high B/A) and is also doing an accelerated maths A level (in 4 terms- last exams coming up!) for which she has all but one A at previous modules (she dropped to a B for one module).

alreadytaken Mon 07-Jan-13 10:59:45

unfortunately it may not be just the next few weeks, duchesse. Two years ago there were clearing places in medicine at East Anglia and last year at least one medical school went back in August to people they had rejected but who had good grades and offered them interviews. A couple more went back to people rejected after interview and asked them if they were interested in a place after all. It's not over at some schools until August. Obviously that doesn't include Cambridge and I don't think Bristol offered places in August.

duchesse Mon 07-Jan-13 11:01:30

Yikes! Ah well, in for the long haul then.

MariscallRoad Mon 07-Jan-13 11:45:20

There replies yet to come, duchesse, so be hopeful. Funding arrangments for graduate accelleratd medicine are published by NHS here.

Yellowtip Mon 07-Jan-13 12:05:50

duchesse Bristol started offering interviews at exactly this time last year (I think almost to the day!). They don't select by UKCAT at all. Her GCSEs are obviously excellent so hopefully they'll ask her to interview. That would cheer her up for exams. If she'd take Bristol rather than re-applying then be sure to ask around for as much info as possible before she goes to interview - the approach at each place seem to vary a lot. Best to be savvy about what each wants. I would have thought from all you say that she'd be unlikely not to get a very good offer this time round.

gelo Mon 07-Jan-13 13:43:04

She is very much not alone, medicine is a bit like that - everyone is excellent and being rejected is usually the first time these dc have failed at anything in any significant way, so it is hard to take. I know someone who had an average UKCAT (but everything else, including work experience, excellent) and 4 rejections. They were very despondent, but kept working hard to get excellent A levels, then got themselves good work experience for gap year and worked hard at UKCAT practice and achieved an excellent score (way, way higher) second time around. Unsurprisingly, the reapplications were much more successful, so it definitely can be done.

You need to encourage your dd not to give up, but to keep working hard. IB is notoriously tricky and she needs to actually achieve those predictions to give herself the best chance next time - if she needs a next time. As others have said, it's not all over yet, but she needs good results either way.

I don't know much about BMAT other than that it's supposed to be difficult and only a very few very choosy universities use it, so I don't know how easy it is to improve on. I do know a number of reapplicants who have been offered places at Birmingham, which everyone who goes there seems to love and they don't use BMAT or UKCAT (but do like very strong academics) - worth a look if she does end up reapplying.

If it cheers her up at all, I know a girl who has quit Cambridge medicine after 2 years as she hated it. It's very theoretical and from the small sample of medics I know seems to be a less enjoyable course than many of the others. It is said for medicine that it doesn't really matter where you study it - all the junior doctors start out in the same jobs on the same pay from all the med schools.

creamteas Mon 07-Jan-13 17:47:01

Not at Cambridge, but all the DC I know that were rejected the first year who reapplied for medicine the following year got places. They all used the gap year to build up their work experience relevant to studying medicine, I suspect that the commitment this shows and the extra maturity in some cases made all the difference. This was mentioned specifically in an interview at Newcastle lat year.

alreadytaken Thu 10-Jan-13 14:08:16

have been thinking about this and how you might help to reassure her. She has excellent predictions, if she has some decent work experience she should get interviews. Most medical schools have barely started and they tend to offer interviews first to the reapplicants and sometimes internationals. They like known grades and they give internationals marginally more warning of interview, medicine interviews are often stupidly short notice. However if her friends have applied to those who interview early (like Birmingham) and she's applied to those who interview late (Leeds was notorious last year, they and Brighton and Sussex aren't really going yet) it may not seem like that. Have a good look at TSR and if her schools have started interviewing point out that they tend to start with certain groups.

Some schools do interview with some sort of order of preference, Imperial being one of them. However one of the last batch interviewed in March last year had an offer. Others interview at random and there is no advantage in having an early interview. Newcastle and Durham keep everyone waiting until March for a decision so if you have an early interview you just wait longer to hear the result.

Sheffield have rejected something like 1200 applicants already, it could be worse.

duchesse Thu 10-Jan-13 15:44:47

I've checked with DD and she's one of those 1200 rejected by Sheffield (it was Sheffield rather than Manchester) already grin. She said she's not bothered as she didn't want to go to Sheffield anyway.

My DD1 is currently a medical student, and was surprised when she started to find that by getting a place straight from school she was actually in the minority! Many of the students were older.. some having other degrees, some gap years and a fair few reapplicants! It is definitely not over if she doesn't get a place this time round as 60% of applicants are rejected from all 4 choices first time round.

A thought tho..has she applied strategically? So many want what they perceive to be the best (eg Oxford.Cambs) and forget that actually..ALL the medical schools turn out doctors with equal qualifications. However not all schools turn out students with the same level of actual doctoring experience. Cambridge and Oxford are actually NOT the best for that because they stay academic and theoretical long past the time when other med schools have their students on the wards. My DD1 is at a very good (if you want to go by league tables) med school, that is hands on.. she's 3rd, in clinical and doing stuff that makes me shudder grin.
Is she weaker at the BMAT or UKCAT or both? My DD chose not to go for BMAT because she wanted to hit the UKCAT well..the practise books were very useful for that too. If she doesn't get a place this year it might be worth her considering whether she needs/wants to do both.

If she really really wants to do medicine, and doesn't get in this year, having a gap year..working in a role that gives her experience (carer or similar) and really practising the UKCAT etc will give her a great chance next time.

Good luck to her. The stress of it all is horrible... :/

peteneras Fri 11-Jan-13 06:34:01

Besides Southampton yellow, the other medical school that doesn’t interview is one that I would gladly send my child to train as a doctor without much ado - if not for the great distance between it and London.

Ask any doctor worth their salt about Edinburgh.

Applying to medical schools is about very careful strategic planning and which school(s) suits the applicant’s personality. We started from the baseline that DS’s application year was a totally exceptional year in that it was the last year before the fee increases 3-fold. We knew there would be many more applicants e.g. we later discovered a school we looked at had a shade under 5000 applicants for less than 250 places. That’s a staggering ratio of 20:1! Then we looked at the entrance exams, the UKCAT and the BMAT which can make or break an application. Many more other things we looked at and yes, even ‘interview’ or ‘non-interview’ as the case might be.

As DS achieved a phenomenal UKCAT score many weeks before application closing date but before the BMAT (usually taken AFTER closing date) the temptation was to apply to all UKCAT schools. On the face of it, Sheffield (high UKCAT), Birmingham and Oxford (12 X I/GCSE A*s) would seem natural choices but when push came to shove and for personal reasons, none of the above was opted for. Instead, we decided to cover all grounds, i.e. 2 BMAT and 2 UKCAT schools and at least 1 non-interviewing thus Southampton as Edinburgh would be much too far.

andadietcoke Fri 11-Jan-13 06:45:23

Did she do much preparation for the UKCAT? I know they say that you can't/shouldn't, but practicing under exam conditions (to get the timing right) is never a bad idea. The exam is changing this year too, with the introduction of a new question type, so that could make a difference.

As PPs have said there are medical schools that pay no attention to UKCAT, just like there are med schools that pay no attention to GCSEs or A2s that haven't been achieved yet.

Friend's daughter did really badly at UKCAT and ended up going down the bio medical sciences route. She's going on to do grad medicine but will have to take the UKCAT again - not sure she considered this.

There are lots of books available and online testing resources that she could have a go at before she takes it again.

alreadytaken Fri 11-Jan-13 09:11:37

oops, foot in mouth emoticon. I'm sorry, duchesse, but two left so it's not over yet.

If her dream is Cambridge she needs to find out if they accept reapplicants as a few schools won't consider anyone they interviewed. Seems silly to me as they have extra maturity and usually more experience. As yellow says she knows a reapplicant success it seems at least one college will do so, but these things change so best to check.

I'd agree about the lack of clinical experience at Cambridge and Oxford being a drawback. Medicine is one of the careers where the name of your university doesn't make much difference. However with very good academics strategic decision making probably involves at least one BMAT university. Birmingham, Cardiff have high academic requirements and don't make any/much use of UKCAT . Not sure about Leicester's UKCAT use, Nottingham likes UKCAT as does Kings. Brighton and Sussex don't rate UKCAT. East Anglia has a bit of a reputation for liking reapplicants and don't require a high UKCAT. It's an exam with no obvious relevance to being a good doctor.

Graduate medicine can involve GAMSAT rather than UKCAT but I'm told that's worse. Newcastle biomed allows a small number of transfers to medicine after a year and there's still just time, if you're quick, to add it as a 5th choice if she hasn't made one and wanted to do so. She might also check for clearing places there if you don't want to mention it now. Newcastle is supposed to have great night life and is a well regarded medical school.

orangerex Fri 11-Jan-13 22:36:22

Agree with much posted already. I would add that the interview can be critical, so if your DC is invited check format (eg group, panel, series of short individual) and get them to practise: prepare answers to all likely/common questions and practise saying them repeatedly esp if DC not very confident. Also consider sending on interview prep course:
eg http://www.medical-interviews.co.uk/prod_name/medical-school-interview-course.aspx
Can be a long wait between interview and offer/rejection.
Second time applications common but most medical schools seem reluctant to consider resits so need to get high grades first time around. Agree that it is really tough for able hard working students who are not anticipating rejection. Just keep encouraging to aim high and get the grades if all reject first time around.
Don't want to say too much on open forum, but my DC got offer with first application with modest UKCAT score. PM me if you like. (no experience of BMAT or Oxbridge however).

alreadytaken Sat 12-Jan-13 08:20:26

saw someone recently talking on TSR about a 105 increase in their UKCAT score and then came across these threads that are worth a look www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1930546

www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=965152 (quite old and some of the information at the start definitely out of date)

The UKCAT is a silly exam - mine did well enough not to be constrained in where they applied but I'm only mentioning that because some readers will be going "sour grapes". For medical schools to base decisions on the UKCAT is to miss potentially good doctors.

Good point about the resits, the student room offers advice on medical schools that will consider resits after the normal 2 year period. Most medical schools aren't too bothered by resits of modules within the two years, although that is going to be more difficult with the abolition of January resits. Doesn't sound like your child will need it, duchesse, but these threads can looked at by more people than those who post.

Medical schools don't generally enter clearing and some operate waiting lists as balancing offers and acceptances isn't easy. Last year Leeds, Lancaster and at least one other I've forgotten made offers in August. If it comes to reapplication I'd be phoning med schools on results day to check if they have places and would consider my child, starting with those applied to this year, although I might not do that with Oxbridge.

Also observed someone claiming on TSR to be an Oxford medicine reapplicant who has a place this year.

Student room thread with advice from mothero on reapplication to Oxbridge , not sure of subject www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2213630&page=240&p=40982200&highlight=medicie%20reapplicants%20thread%202013#post40982200

DoodlesNoodles Sat 12-Jan-13 21:27:48

It must be nearly impossible for Medical schools to differentiate between all the thousands of amazing applications that they get. Practically all applicants will be excellent students, will have done loads of work experience etc etc I imagine the medical schools that use the UKCAT are just trying to find ways to reduce the size of their pool of applicants.

At least the UKCat test is a 'fair' test and it does test certain qualities that would be good to find in a Doctor. Analysing the facts contained in a short paragraph at break neck speed sounds like the type of skill that would be useful for a Doctor. I am not quite so sure about the parts of the test concerned with 'odd ones out' though. (but that's because I don't understand things like that! confused )

Having an exceptional UKCat score is one of the few things that can truely make you stand out if you are a medical applicant.

Southampton Uni has a good explanation of why the use it.

alreadytaken Sun 13-Jan-13 10:57:28

The UKCAT test taken varies from one student to another as questions are randomly drawn from a bank. Basic statistics would tell you that since the questions are not equally difficult some students will get an easier test than others. A lucky few will get mainly easy questions, an unfortunate few a much more difficult test, most a reasonable mix of questions. Hardly fair!

The theory behind the development of the test might be that it tests qualities important to a doctor, DoodlesNoodles, but in practise it fails - and most medical schools now realise that. Sheffield dropped its requirement for a high UKCAT this year. Southampton had a 2500 cut off for the UKCAT this year - so they expect an average score but beyond that they don't see it as useful. A test where applicants can improve their score by over 100 points, as in the student room thread I linked to, is a rubbish test. The new questions trialled this year may make it slightly better.

A doctor does quite often need to make quick decisions about patients but there are many other skills not tested in the UKCAT e.g. the need to remember to ask all of the right questions before you make a diagnosis. The UKCAT is partly testing if applicants are lucky when they guess, it shouldn't be how doctors are chosen.

DoodlesNoodles Sun 13-Jan-13 12:55:28

The UKCAT may have a small element of luck, it is multi choice after all, but I really dont think 26 med schools would use it if it wasn't useful. confused.

There are some interesting articles here I find it a fascinating test.

Applicants retaking the UKCAT can improve their scores; preparation, courses, maturity, familiarity and, yes a little bit of luck may all help. However, generally, UKCAT is the type of test that some students just have a natural aptitude for.

The problem with Uni's setting a high UKCAT score is that they put off otherwise excellent candidates and that those with high UKCAT'S might otherwise not be the best applicants.

I see a very high UKCAT as a means of standing out. As long as you tick all the other boxes if you have a great UKCAT you are very likely to get an interview. Medical schools give lots of thought to their medicine application procedures and I am sure the ones that use the UKCAT do so with good reason. What they dont do, and shouldn't do is over use it. It is just a part of a students profile.

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