Medicine at Oxbridge - to apply or not?

(153 Posts)
wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 12:40:04

Hi all,
DS wants to study medicine. He has 10 A*s, 4As at AS and is taking 4 A levels. His UKCAT was 700. His careers teacher is keen that he applies to Oxford or Cambridge. DS is very laid back and relaxed, but unsure whether to give it a go or not. He is worried that - as medicine is so hard to get into - it could waste a choice.
So, could anyone answer the following questions:
1. Would a degree in medicine from Oxbridge be advantageous to his career?
2. Would the course be 'all work and no play'?
3. Would studying for the BMAT be a lot of extra work or would it benefit him academically?
4. Does Oxbridge produce better doctors?
5. He attends a state school and we both work - however - I have read stories that tickets for balls are around £100 each. As he would have to take a loan to pay the fees, I am concerned that there would be a lot of 'extras' which he could not afford. Is this the case?

I attended a RG university and do not know anyone who has been to Oxbridge. I would be very grateful for opinions regarding the above.

Scatterplot Sat 01-Sep-12 12:53:18

I can answer some of these.

1. It's hard to get on to a medicine programme anywhere, so it's not clear that putting Oxford or Cambridge down would be wasting a choice. They are both good places to apply if you are academically able and can cope with hard work.

2. Science, maths and medicine at Cambridge (used to and I presume still do) have lectures six days a week, and the timetable at Oxford is also tough. However, I think the medicine programme at one or both is accelerated so that it's a theoretical programme first, then you can move somewhere else for the practical side after the three year BA. It's worth checking the details. The medics I knew managed to fit in a lot of other stuff as well as work, but it's not an easy ride.

3. I don't know, sorry.

4. I expect Oxbridge may produce slightly more doctors interested in theory and medical research, but I don't have statistics on this. Every medical programme in the UK will produce some excellent doctors and some weaker ones.

5. This should definitely not be a factor - there is a lot to do in Oxford or Cambridge which doesn't cost much, and there are bursaries to help those genuinely in need. With all the subsidies available and loads of societies, it can often work out cheaper to study, socialise and live there than in other cities or universities. (There are also cheaper balls at £30/£35 a ticket rather than the £100 ones.)

I think he should look into it as a serious option.

Margerykemp Sat 01-Sep-12 12:56:50

It isn't necessarily the best place to do medicine. I've heard that it is more for future medical researchers than hands on doctors.

JockSprockPooPongMcPlop Sat 01-Sep-12 13:01:39

I wouldn't recommend medicine as a career, but Oxford is a lovely city and my friends who studied there loved it.

rebelwithoutababy Sat 01-Sep-12 13:11:44

I studied medicine at Cambridge and had a brilliant time. I was at a state school and both my parents were teachers so we didn't have much money either but things like accommodation were really cheap as v subsidised and most activities and nights out were in college bars so v cheap. I definately don't think it cost any more in terms of living expenses than anywhere else. I'm afraid I don't know about the BMAT but he will need good grades, other interests outside school and just a good level of enthusiasm for the subject at interview. Some work experience in health services also good. I have to say that, rightly or wrongly, in medicine it certainly has helped me to have had an Oxbridge education, and by no means all of my friends have gone into the research side so it's not the case that the course focuses on that. Another good thing about the course is that your final year can be spent studying a different subject (which would be the BSc year in another university) eg I did French and Social and Political sciences. Medicine is a hard subject to study for at all universities but it is true that there are lectures on a sat am at Cambridge (don't know about Oxford, but probably) which is painful after a big saturday night! If he would consider going, def apply, I dont see why it would be a wasted application. Let me know if you have more questions, HTH

Trills Sat 01-Sep-12 13:16:17

If as a family you don't have a lot of money then going to Oxford or Cambridge can work out cheaper overall.

Many colleges (pick a rich one!) have generous bursary schemes, book grants, etc. (plus random cash prizes for getting a First in your first year)

Nearly all of the colleges will sort out your accommodation for the whole time you are there, meaning you only need to pay rent during term time and not for 11/12 months as you would if you were renting privately.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Sat 01-Sep-12 13:24:15

It was a while ago, but I was at Cambridge, and the medics worked very hard but also had a very good social life.

It used to be the case (and he should check if it still is) that you did the pre-clinical (undergrad) course in 2 years and then could study what you wanted in the third year (a lot of people did something medical but some people didnt- the slackers all did bio-anthropology I seem to remember. You then did the clinical part at a hospital of your choice- some people stayed at Cambridge and did it at Addenbrookes but others went to Oxford or the London hospitals. A couple of people quit after pre-clinical and just took their BA and went and did something else (which I again believe is unusual- i.e. you can quit half way through and still get an undergrad degree)

Agree that going to Cambridge does not necessarily imply expense. A lot of socialising takes place in college (bring a bottle parties run by the many societies) and accommodation is term time only. I came from a state school and a modest family and didnt find it a problem. The balls are once a year and there are "events" which are like balls but a lot cheaper.

I think the structure of the course and whether that appeals is more what he should be considering.

NoComet Sat 01-Sep-12 13:24:29

DH has a Cambridge science degree, he loved it.

Visit see if you like the feel of the place, small collages are quite different to my large RG campus and a world away from a city university.

Not as elitist as you'd think. DH went to state grammar. My very ordinary Welsh comp had some one go to Med. at Oxford.

BesideTheSeasideBesideTheSea Sat 01-Sep-12 13:32:14

Doing medicine doesn't matter where you went to university. Oxbridge only better if want a more research career. If considering medicine, he needs all his choices to do medicine to increase the chances.
Make sure he actually talks to a doctor as its harder with public opinion now

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 13:36:59

Thank you Scatterplot. It is reassuring to hear that the cost will not be a factor. I was genuinely concerned that Oxbridge 'would be out of our league'. He is very dilligent and hardworking. However on Oxford's website a medical student describes how they have to write essays for their tutorials. DS hated writing essays for his English coursework - he just didn't enjoy it. Would this be something unique to Oxbridge? Or do all medical schools use essay writing as part of the course?

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Sat 01-Sep-12 13:43:38

Wehave Cant comment on Oxford as limited knowledge, but certianly Cambridge is no more expensive than many other Universities (a lot cheaper than studying in London, for sure). It really is a wonderful experience.

Dont know about the essays at other places , but from what I remember from my exes (yeah, I was a serial medic dater grin) their essays were about 2 sides long and basically just a blurb on how the liver worked or something. I did history and used to take the piss out of my ex for even considering them essays. I think there's an ethics course as well, which was a bit more essayish but I imagine that gets done everywhere.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 13:49:29

Thank you all for your responses. Any ideas which colleges to apply to?

Trills - I love the idea of a bursary, which colleges would you recommend he look at?

He is only 17 and to be honest at this stage I don't know if he would like a research career. He is the sort of person who takes things one step at a time.

Good to hear from so many people with state school backgrounds as I was apprehensive that he wouldn't fit in.

Trills Sat 01-Sep-12 14:33:37

I only have experience of one college at one university, so can't exactly give you an overview - try a student forum or looking at the websites of the individual colleges? Trinity is the richest/largest college in Cambridge, generally old colleges and those that were founded by royalty have the most money to splash about.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 15:07:39

Trills - We will have a look at the individual colleges and the bursaries available. I thought that any bursary would come from the University itself and NOT the individual colleges. So thank you so much for the suggestion.

alreadytaken Sat 01-Sep-12 15:46:15

1. Future career choices are determined largely by how well you do in your medical school exams. It is debatable if teaching is better at Oxbridge. There has been some suggestion that students from one or two medical schools do not do as well in exams but you'd expect that the schools that take those with highest grades would do slightly better.

2. No

3. Shouldn't be as he probably did GSCE science ad is doing some science A levels. If do doing all science A levels he may want to revise his GSCE work.

4. Define a good doctor. There is very limited patient contact for the first few years, some people regard that as a disadvantage. It's probably an advantage if he wishes to do medical research.

5. It's no more expensive for low/middle income families because of the low accommodation costs and generous financial support. All colleges offer bursaries, the differences between colleges are not great but include book payments and help with trips abroad. There may be more rich students, he doesn't have to mix with them. However he may need to move to London for clinical training and that is expensive.

If his AS levels have marks of 95% and over he's guaranteed an interview at Cambridge. With a good BMAT, likely with those grades, and that sort of GSCE record he would probably be interviewed at Oxford. However his UKCAT and grades are likely to get him interview almost everywhere. If he has good work experience and a good personal statement he can chose.

He should consider the teaching style and if he is happy with a lack of patient contact. Also he may be required to move after 3 years as Oxford, and to a lesser extent Cambridge, don't have enough places for clinical training for all who do pre-clinical at Oxford. Exam style can also also different, with other medical schools placing less reliance on final exams.

BesideTheSeasideBesideTheSea Sat 01-Sep-12 16:09:52

Um, shouldn't he your son be deciding if he wants to go to oxbridge and their small essay tutorial system or other medical schools lecture system. It is his degree and future.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 16:15:30

alreadytaken - I know he is also looking at unis which use an integrated approach such as: Dundee, Edinburgh, Leeds.

We have considered that Oxbridge students have limited patient contact in the first three years. He feels that earlier clinical contact would help him see the application of the theory. So that would be a negative.

As for the teaching style we know Oxbridge uses a traditional teaching style. I assume that means lectures.

The most important point you have made is that his future career choices will be determined by how he does in his med school exams and thanks for the info regarding the BMAT. He is taking all three main sciences and maths.

Another thing to consider is how he likes to learn. My DD1 is currently studying medicine and while she also had the grades for Oxbridge, she wasn't keen on the lecture based learning style which is prevalent at the colleges there. She opted for a University that focuses on PBL (problem based learning) ..there is a lot of self study for case units, but also lots of group work/tutorials and it's very much hands on (terrifyingly so IMO grin). This suits my daughter's learning style very well, but obviously if your son prefers lecture style learning, Oxbridge is ideal.

In all honesty there is no superior University for medicine due to the nature and demands of the course.. those who manage the five years are doctors and many fall alone the wayside as most Med schools 'cull' the lowest performing students each year even if they pass the exams.

I'd encourage your son to simply go and look at what is on offer at different places.. my DD1 was convinced she would like one best..then after visiting them all, changed her mind, falling in love with the one she is at now.

Wherever he applies he won't be wasting a choice.. Medicine is incredibly competitive and difficult to get into , but he has fantastic grades and if he can get a reasonable amount of work experience and can provide a personal statement that demonstrates what he has learned from his WE and show a real passion.. he will get interviews and offers! Incidentally WE doesn't have to be just shadowing doctors or suchlike.. pushing trolleys round old folks homes, leading boy scouts.. anything that shows people skills and a bit of sense, helps!

Oh and the balls and whatnot tend to be expensive wherever they go... but it IS possible to do a bit of p/t work..DD1 also works in the holidays.

Good luck to your sonsmile DD1 knew she wanted to be a doctor when she was 4 years old and I still can't believe she is really there, really doing it. She is just going into her 3rd and is extremely excited as she starts on Monday! Oh and she came from a bog standard one of her interviews she was the only state educated person in the group, but they really do look for ability not the name of the schoolsmile

deadlift Sat 01-Sep-12 16:21:00

I'm currently studying medicine at Oxford and it is definately not all work and no play. There's plenty of time for fun. However, work is very heavily based around essays, especially in the forst two years. Essays for tutorials are usually around 4 sides/2000 words and exams are usually essay based as well. Having said that I don't think that should put him off- they aren't really like English essays.

You should definately look around some colleges and see whether he likes the feel of them or not. I would second the advice to look at rich colleges, they do make life easier. St Johns, Christ Church, Magdalen might be a good start to look at. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Cambridge colleges. Some colleges do have their own bursaries as well, some of which are quite generous.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 01-Sep-12 16:21:02

If he wants it, it's worth a go. He gets four choices for medicine on his UCAS, and can choose either Oxford or Cambridge.

Does his school have an Oxbridge tutor to review his personal statement and coach him through the interview?

A crucial thing is to have work experience or volunteering in the community, such as volunteering in a care home. This is to show his caring side and also so that he is aware of positive and negative outcomes. Work shadowing is good too.

Trills Sat 01-Sep-12 16:21:11

The first three years at Cambridge (probably Oxford too) are treated as if you were studying science-with-a-medical-focus, then the next three are more what you might think of as "medicine".

Is he interested in science (biology/chemistry) in itself, or just as a means to doing "doctoring"?

mellen Sat 01-Sep-12 16:35:47

"Future career choices are determined largely by how well you do in your medical school exams."

Ca you explain this - I don't think that this is the case. It is true that you have to pass them, but beyond that when it comes to career choice there are much more important factors.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 01-Sep-12 16:42:57

I imagine that it will be pretty easy to walk into a house job from Oxford or Cambridge or anywhere else

mellen Sat 01-Sep-12 16:51:16

Getting a foundation job isnt usually an issue, it is getting onto the core/run through training that you want that is often more challenging, and I'm not aware of grades gained at medical school being a major factor in the application process for these posts.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 16:51:18

Beside the sea - yes, it is his decision. All I am doing is asking for opinions - at the heels of the hunt only he can decide.

Medusa - well done to your daughter. He has organised lots of WE himself. We live in NI and he travelled over to an English acute hospital and stayed for a week. He has also had a week here and some WE with allied health professionals. He has done lots of volunteering - although not in a care home. They wouldn't take him as he had to have insurance.

deadlift - he is slow at writing essays and that may hold him back. 2000 words is a lot. He would probably apply to Oxford rather than Cambridge. Thank you for the suggestions regarding colleges - we will have a look.

Knowsabit - yes his school has an Oxbridge tutor. I know that it is excellent PR for the school and that could be the reason she is encouraging him to apply. That is another reason why I wanted to canvass opinion as it must be his decision and not the school's.

Trills- He especially loves Biology and excels at it, as well as wanting to be a doctor.

Dinocroc Sat 01-Sep-12 17:03:25

I went to Cambridge and studied medicine and it was brilliant. Certainly more play than work on balance. I managed to row and sing and work my way through some unsuitable men. I came from a state school that hadn't sent anyone there before to study medicine and they let me in despite not hitting all the grades ( remember when people got Bs ?!)The day to day living was cheap, many colleges have book grants, rent is cheap, most things are subsidised and there were even bursaries for people on full grants like I was( again, remember that?) . There are only three eight week terms a year for the first three years and so lots of time for holiday work to fill the bank account. I went to clinical school in London and found that much more expensive. I also think that there is a teensy bit of kudos attached to having been there when it comes to interviews and later job applications. Even though it's not politically correct to admit it. As to whether it makes better doctors though... Most of my contemporaries from Cambridge are a bit more academic/ research based than those from London . Most importantly he has to really want it though as the interviews are designed to pick up individual personality and drive ( as well as self awareness and humor) . Best of luck to him!

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 17:11:20

Dinocroc - would he have to go to London for his clinical training? I understand that studying in London can be very expensive.

Three eight week terms - that would leave lots of time to get holiday work.

I take your point about him 'having to really want it'. He is very laid back in general - but determined when he puts his mind to something.

Dinocroc Sat 01-Sep-12 17:51:38

Nope you can stay there for clinical school, finishing six months earlier and starting house jobs six months ahead of those who go elsewhere. From memory there is space for about half the year to stay. I wanted to go elsewhere and friends of mine went to Oxford, Edinburgh, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester etc for clinical so there are lots of options other than London. My school told me I had no chance and that it was a waste of a place on the UCCA form, which was a good motivator for me wink

scottishmummy Sat 01-Sep-12 18:02:08

medicine is a good career if you have the academic and personal abilities
it's a job with people so need to be good at rapport
I don't necessarily think Oxbridge drs any better or worse,it's a demanding course but not all slog either. so do look at the different teaching style of the courses eg glasgow uni has problem based learning style. so maybe consider his learning style too

scottishmummy Sat 01-Sep-12 18:14:15

and of course. good luck to your son
do visits,Attend open days,look at prospectuses
hope he gets what he wants

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 18:29:04

Dinocroc -DS is the opposite - his school is pushing him to have a go. Good to know he would have lots of choice where to do his clinical learning.

scottishmummy - he has lots of empathy and is good with people. He volunteers with people with brain injuries and loves it. He is 100% determined that medicine is the career for him. He has to complete his UCAS form by the 15th October so he hasn't long to make up his mind. He has been to see some med schools but not Oxford or Cambridge. He is very laid-back. Although it is more difficult for us living in NI.

I'm biased here (because I love my job) but has he considered dentistry instead of medicine? Much better work/life balance, less stress but still a wonderful job.

Tressy Sat 01-Sep-12 18:39:01

Just lurking. OP I think he should put it as one of his choices. With those grades it seems that he will have a good chance of getting an offer as long as he is equally as happy to go to one of his other choices.

Dincroc, you make it sound great fun. Mine is starting medicine but not at Oxbridge. First one that's got into medicine from her school in a few years too. Can I be cheeky and ask what grades you got? I know it was a while ago but just curious.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 18:41:14

Yes AK he did briefly consider dentistry. He decided against it as he thought that medicine would offer him more career pathways. He also decided on medicine for altruistic reasons. However his own dentist explained that she considered medicine, but decided on dentistry for the reasons you outline!

Iburntthecakes Sat 01-Sep-12 19:07:41

I'm also a Cambridge trained medic. The traditional teaching also includes the college supervision system which is a massive advantage in my opinion. It's several hours a week of small group teaching in addition to the lectures and speaking with graduates from other medical schools was more direct teaching than many other schools got. You have to like a lecture based system which I do despite sleeping through a lot of biochemistry due to rowing. I've also taught students from both Cambridge and other med schools who use PBL. PBL does seem to result in some gaps in my opinion although you often get Cambridge students focusing in on obscure detail that isn'tso important. That is a generalisation though and you can get good and bad doctors from all medical schools.
I do think it has been an advantage in my career however and taking a year out to do something other than medicine has also influenced and helped my career. If he is interested in research then it can be a big advantage due to networking opportunities and the fact he can do
his third year in a medical/science subject and get a BA. The only other thing is that the cambridge clinical course has also been extended to 3 years in line with other medical schools so it is an extra year of study in total.
The only other thing was I was directly asked in my interview at another medical school if I'd been offered a place at Cambridge. They didn't offer me a place but sent a letter suggesting i contact them if i didnt recieve any other offers. I think is because other medical schools may assume that Oxbridge is your first choice. Having said that I did also get an offer from somewhere else.
I'm also a state school student and had no problems fitting in. I'd agree with what others have commented on about costs.

Greatresult Sat 01-Sep-12 19:23:33

If you are in NI why not consider Queens Belfast? My DS seriously considered it and the campus is lovely. Really good reputation.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 19:32:02

Thank you Iburntthecakes for your valuable insight. I agree that spending an additional year getting a BA is a bonus. I know this happens at other med schools - but I don't think it is compulsory. It is great to hear that you value the college supervision system and another plus.

We have had a look at the financial support available and it is really impressive! I come from a working class home where we were encouraged to work hard. However, Oxbridge would have been considered 'out of our league'. Perhaps I still harbour some of those insecurities - it is really encouraging to hear that you had no problems fitting in. Thank you!

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 19:35:17

Greatresult -he will put Queens down as a choice. I went to QUB and enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't know if league tables are important , but they are quite low and Oxbridge are at the top.

panicnotanymore Sat 01-Sep-12 19:45:53

He should decide for himself based on what HE thinks of the place. Mums need to know when to step back...

Best way for him to decide whether he will fit in (and fitting in is by far the most important thing) is for him to go to an open day, meet people, read the prospectus, and look round accommodation etc. Not everyone likes Oxbridge - I had straight As too, but didn't apply as Oxford was too near home, and everyone I met at Cambridge was freaky weird (apologies to those who went there....).

Dinocroc Sat 01-Sep-12 19:57:35

Hello Tressy I got AAB which gave me major worries when I found out everyone else's grades at freshers week smile . That said I always had no problem keeping up with good 2:1 s and even a sneaky first in my ethics dissertation at the end. You have to consider the push and education private schools provide in comparison to schools like mine .The playing field levels out massively when all that is removed. The people I met there were really friendly and inclusive, regardless of their background , some really inteesting and quirky and it makes me sad when I speak to some friends who never applied because of their presumption that it is snobbish. TBH I found London medical school much more cliquey public school hockey club but then that's just my experience

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 01-Sep-12 19:58:17

I think the challenge is writing a personal statement that speaks to all four places he applies to.

scottishmummy Sat 01-Sep-12 20:06:30

queens is great uni, have you considered the Scottish unis
good luck

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 20:33:25

Knowsabit - writing his personal statement will be a challenge , but even more so for students who are unsure which course to do. At least he is sure he wants to do medicine.

Yes scottishmummy he is considering Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. His careers teacher advised him that their selection process is an unknown entity. I know they don't hold interviews. Edinburgh also has good bursaries so financially it would work out well.

Greatresult Sat 01-Sep-12 21:17:24

Aberdeen and Dundee most definitely interview. Edinburgh does not (unless it's changed for coming year).

mellen Sat 01-Sep-12 21:20:55

There are forums that describe the admission process to different medical schools in detail - the student room and new media medicine for example.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sat 01-Sep-12 21:37:35

Have heard of the student room but not new media medicine - willl get DS to have a look.

Thanks to all for giving their perspectives - DS has learnt a lot from reading the responses - especially regarding bursaries! He should have went along to Oxbridge open days but left it too late to get a place. But he has received lots of insider's info from this thread.

Sincere thanks.

Tressy Sat 01-Sep-12 21:37:45

Thanks Dino, I've heard, even in this day and age they do allow a grade drop here and there for those from lower achieving schools.

BesideTheSeasideBesideTheSea Sat 01-Sep-12 23:09:53

Med schools aren't allowed to ask any more if you've applied to other universities, it also gets blanked out when your application gets sent out to read. It's on the list of banned topics, although you can talk about it if the interviewee brings it up. Unless its changed in the 4 years since I was last on the interview panel, but I doubt it as it was getting more strict

Yellowtip Sat 01-Sep-12 23:12:27

DS1 is about to start at Oxford in October. His sisters - who are also there - know plenty of medics. The all work no play thing depends entirely on the individual. The medics do have to work hard, clearly, but not to the exclusion of all else. In fact at interview the tutors are very keen to establish that the student has extra curriculars that he intends to pursue precisely to provide relaxation and change.

Your DS's 10A*s will put him in a strong position at Oxford to get an interview, unless he fluffs the BMAT. The GCSEs are adjusted for school, and the A*s are totted up as a percentage of the total number of GCSEs taken. The score is then fed into a computer and mashed up with the BMAT score. That decides who gets an interview and each candidate gets an interview at his first choice college plus a second interview at a randomly selected second choice college.

As far as finances go, Oxford must be one of the cheapest universities to attend, balls or no balls. (even a high priced ball - £175 - amortized over the year amounts to peanuts tbh). The Oxford Opportunity Bursary scheme is extremely generous and there has just been a huge, eye-watering donation been made to support less well off students, above and beyond the OOB scheme. In the light of these, college choice matters little, financially.

Your DS needs to get his skates on really, unless he intends a gap year. Take care with the PS. It isn't a factor in dtermining an Oxford interview but it will count in the selection process and be a basis for discussion at interview. But it will count in the initial selection process elsewhere. in other words it needs to be aimed at both audiences, which can take some skill.

BesideTheSeasideBesideTheSea Sat 01-Sep-12 23:12:36

Oh, and med schools don't 'cull' the bottom of the year even if you pass exams. If you pass you continue on to the next year. If you fail, depending on how many and how badly and which medical school, they will offer an exam resit, resit the year or say after much discussion your not suitable, but that tends to happen if you repeatedly fail exams and miss lectures etc

Yellowtip Sat 01-Sep-12 23:19:37

But the fact that an applicant has taken the BMAT is a bit of a giveaway.

sashh Sun 02-Sep-12 04:17:47

I would say don't go, go to London, Manchester or another big multicultural city.

I have no doubt the education is fantastic and I only have experience of working with doctors trained at Oxford. They generally live in another rather closseted world.

They have no idea how to deal with someone who doesn't speak English for instance. They also struggle in their first year with not being the 'elite', but with being the bottom of the ladder.

And does it really matter what you wear to take an exam? At Oxford the medical students have to attend the hospital for exams in a black bow tie and white shirt.

That's my experience, it is also a few years out of date. But IMHO if you are going to be a doctor you are better off learning that not everyone is white, educated and English speaking, and how to deal with people from diverse backgrounds.

Yellowtip Sun 02-Sep-12 07:57:12

I glad that sashh concedes that her experience is out of date. It doesn't even happen to coincide with my experience of doctors trained there several decades ago either. Generalising just from my own GP surgery, two of the doctors are Cambridge educated and one Oxford educated and all of those three are particularly well regarded as excellent communicators across the community and age range. What sashh says is merely a grotesque stereotype.

And it's hardly a reflection on the ability or competence or social skills of young doctors that Oxford University statutes dictate a particular code of dress for exams. One needs to look beyond superficial detail like that.

Trills Sun 02-Sep-12 10:11:07

Oxbridge would have been considered 'out of our league'

My advice to that is always to apply and then let them decide what "league" you are in.

alreadytaken Sun 02-Sep-12 10:38:03

I'm reliably informed applicants do not have to record on the UCAS form that they taken the BMAT. As the BMAT results are only sent to members of the BMAT consortium other medical schools may guess you have taken it but it is only a guess and they do not know your results.

The medical recruitment process has changed and is still changing. Anyone giving advice solely based on their own experience may be out-of-date. There is useful information about the Foundation Programme here To get your choice of deanery and rotation you will need to score well in your medical school exams as allocations are (or were this year) largely based on exam results. Thereafter it will depend on how flexible you are in taking training posts and how well you do in them. How well you do is generally related to how much you absorbed at medical school.

The newmedia website is here

alreadytaken Sun 02-Sep-12 14:18:28

I forgot to mention earler that an intercalated degree (where you do 6th year and acquire a BSc/BA) is only available to a top percentage in some medical schools. It may vary between schools - the top 15% at one. At some medical schools, including Oxbridge, all students do the extra year. OP you should plan on your son wanting to do 6 years of study.

Waht sashh says is not merely a gross stereotype. Oxbridge students do not, on starting F1, always have the same inter-personal skills as a student who has practised on patients from the first year at medical school. They may acquire those skills later.

Yellowtip Sun 02-Sep-12 15:06:48

Of course it's a gross stereotype: as if all, or even most, or even any young Oxford and Cambridge medics need to 'learn' that Britain isn't an exclusively white middle class world. How offensive can you get?

It's as well that the tutors making the selection decisions are more intelligent than people making ridiculously narrow comments like that. There does seem to be a lot of anti Oxbridge bias on these threads at the moment. I wonder why?

Betelguese Sun 02-Sep-12 15:41:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Sun 02-Sep-12 16:28:43

lol ^We do not judge or select students on their accent (whether it be Geordie, Glaswegian or Cockney^)
thank christ for that
funny when thinking of accents weegie got a mention

scottishmummy Sun 02-Sep-12 16:47:10

thats actually a v good link Betelguese

Betelguese Sun 02-Sep-12 16:48:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Sun 02-Sep-12 17:44:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sun 02-Sep-12 17:45:03

Thank you all for your opinions. DS spent last night pouring over prospectuses and checking out funding. There are definitely lots of bursaries and grants available. His school have never discussed this with them - perhaps if more state schools made their pupils aware of the funding - more pupils from the state sector might apply to Oxbridge. So the money is no longer an issue.

He likes the idea of small tutorials; Oxford's prospectus states that medical students are tutored in groups of as little as two.

He is however concerned that there is little patient contact in the first three years. He loves helping at the stroke club where he volunteers and relishes spending time with the clients. That side of medicine is extremely important to him.

Alreadytaken -he was worried that the other universities may be disinterested in him if they saw BMAT on the UCAS. It is good to hear this is not the case - although you would assume that it wouldn't matter to them if he was applying to Oxbridge or not. Thanks also for the info regarding the intercalated degree, although at this stage it is not a deciding factor.

He has had a look at the BMAT and is going to sit a paper to see how he performs. He is not keen on the essay writing section, but it is only worth 20%.

Yellowtip Sun 02-Sep-12 18:47:32

Yes, good link Betelguese (as usual!).

wehaveonlyjustbegun I'd have thought that if a student isn't up to looking on the Oxford and Cambridge websites himself to get an idea of what those places have to offer, he made need to spark up a little if he's hoping for a place. The Oxford website is all that a prospective student needs; its message about wanting to attract all types of student and doing everything it can to facilitate access is loud and clear. These schemes are also often discussed in the press.

If he's thinking of Imperial too, it might be useful to know that the BMAT score is used differently there to Oxford. Cambridge is slightly different again.

alreadytaken Sun 02-Sep-12 19:14:08

Yellowtip you write like a child. It is not anti-Oxbridge but an attempt to present to wehaveonlyjustbegun a balanced view to help their son make a choice. The figures Betelgeuse links to are, I'm afraid, less interesting than you think. Universities admit different proportions of foreign students and that distorts the figures. The data on household areas is not a true indication of widening access. Of course none of that relates only to medicine.

wehaveonlyjustbegun it's a pity that your son wasn't able to visit but there is usually an Oxford open day in September and at least some Cambridge colleges have open days in September. It may not be too late, although he would have to reach a decision very promptly afterwards. It is very likely that he would be invited to interview at either and they both provide free accommodation so if he does apply he would have a few days to form an impression of the place. Interviews normally require more than one day. He can make an open application if he doesn't feel he can chose a college.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sun 02-Sep-12 20:13:16

alreadytaken - He is thinking of applying and having a look around if he gets an interview. I think in Oxford's case - if you apply to two named colleges - he would have his interviews over two separate days. That should give him enough time to get a feel for the place.

His main priority is to get a place at medical school. We know lots of kids who have ended up with no offers.

joanofarchitrave Sun 02-Sep-12 20:39:46

wehave, I'd suggest that he does a bit of problem-solving about the patient contact issue, then brings it up at the interview. E.g. he might think about joining a specialist student volunteer organisation in whatever city he ends up in (such as this one) as this would allow him to maintain his volunteering while working for an organisation that understands student timetables.

What has his volunteering taught him so far about the issues that might affect medical management of stroke?

All the student medics I knew at Cambridge (long time ago) personified the old saying that if you want something done, ask a busy person. They had big academic timetables but also did sport, wrote shows and acted in them, were activists, volunteered, socialised, the works. They tended to look a bit pale at exam time as a result but they weren't alone in that! Most of the ones I spent most time with had gone to state schools I think, as had I, not that this was a major topic of conversation tbh.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Sun 02-Sep-12 21:38:10

Joan- when you suggest he brings it up at interview, do you mean to let them know that patient contact is very important to him?

Thanks for the link and your perspective.

Yellowtip Sun 02-Sep-12 22:18:06

alreadytaken whatever age you think I am (child not teenager?!), it's hard at the moment on these medical threads to get any 'balance'. The reason for this is the bias which hides behind the mantra that clinical exposure in the first three years is essential if a student is to blossom into a decent doctor (I use that word deliberately). But when this bias moves into denigrating the social skills and conscience of Oxford and Cambridge medical students then it's probably time to call a halt. To my certain knowledge some of this is sour grapes. Not very laudable at all.

London has excellent medical schools. The rest of the UK has excellent medical schools. Oxford and Cambridge are excellent medical schools. These various medical schools just happen to differ a lot.

This ridiculous bias happens with schools too. Why do some posters insist that wherever their child happens to go is the best? Why does it matter? But it does wear thin after a while - so blinkered and narrow.

Yellowtip Sun 02-Sep-12 22:21:11

Incidentally I was referring to the link Betelguese provided to the Durham thread, not the state school stats.

Yellowtip Sun 02-Sep-12 22:29:16

wehaveonly as far as Oxford goes, he would apply to one college and be allocated to a second, randomly by computer. His interviews would extend over two days yes. All a bit hurried however. He might do well to go to Oxford between now and the application deadline to see what he thinks. Why didn't his school encourage him to go to the dedicated Open Days in the summer? Did he not even know they were on?

sashh Mon 03-Sep-12 06:59:23

Can you pay for some legal advice?

It's not about students not comming from state schools, or students not being aware that \britain is multicultural. It is about only encountering white, native English speakers inn the hospitals they train in.

Manchester and London have diverse communities, Oxford does not.

* Generalising just from my own GP surgery, two of the doctors are Cambridge educated and one Oxford educated and all of those three are particularly well regarded as excellent communicators across the community and age range. What sashh says is merely a grotesque stereotype.*

That's really quite offensive. A GP has had a minimum of 10 years training post graduation. I'm interested that you have canvassed your entire community, that must have been quite difficult.

A quote from one of the doctors I worked with when a patient arrived for clinic in the school holidays with four children in tow, "But why hasn't she left them with the nanny?"

I really hope that is out of date, but you cannot get away from the fact you are unlikly to encounter the same range of people in Oxford you will do in most British cities.

Yellowtip Mon 03-Sep-12 09:48:57

sashh it might be worth your re-reading your original post. It's actually not ok to slate the whole Oxford medical community by claiming that you know that 'they have no idea how to deal with someone who doesn't speak English'. The JR gets a great deal of traffic therough its doors and by no means all that traffic is 'white, educated and English speaking'. There's a good number of people living outside North Oxford who don't fit that desciption at all. Attempting to do all Oxford medics down by complaining about university dress code and by quoting a silly nanny comment by an isolated individual doesn't hold much more water.

Incidentally, I don't have any need at all to 'canvass' my whole community to know which doctors are held in particularly high regard. It's very well known, especially when you've lived an area for as long as I have.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Mon 03-Sep-12 09:49:37

Betelguese - he has looked at the Scottish schools and was really impressed. He would be delighted to attain a place at Aberdeen, Dundee or Edinburgh.

Yellowtip- I see from Oxford's website that he could attend drop-in sessions at their open day on the 14th September. I will get him to have a look at flights when he comes home from school.

sashh - At one of the open days he attended, a lecturer basically repeated what you have said above. He stated that as a student you want to see as diverse a range of conditions as possible.

Yellowtip Mon 03-Sep-12 10:02:57

OP of course you want to see as diverse a range of conditions as possible and some of those conditions are inevitable related to ethnicity. But in terms of ethnicity it's arguable that the JR sees a greater variation of ethnicities than Birmingham say. I can't imagine for a moment that a lecturer at another university open said that Oxford and Cambridge medics were homogenous, insular and lacking in empathy.

That's good about the Open Day on the 14th. Ideal for him to go and talk to as many people as possible and see what the reality is for himself. Hopefully he'll come back home positive and will then still have three weeks to make a college choice, which is plenty.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Mon 03-Sep-12 10:14:31

Yellowtip - sorry crossed wires! No, the lecturer was not referring to Oxford or Cambridge students. He was merely stating that in a multicultural city a medical student would get to see a range of conditions that he may not see in Belfast for example.

I am looking at Oxford's website and he would not have to book for the departmental talks. All he has to do now is work out the best way to get there!

Libra Mon 03-Sep-12 10:21:17

Re Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow - they definitely all interview.

We took DS1 down to Dundee on Saturday to start his medicine course. He finally decided on Dundee (was offered Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen) based on the interview there. Much preferred it to the other two, so I know that they interview!!

Dundee's interviews are very different from the other two because it was a series of ten 'stations' that he had to move around. At some stations he had to 'role play', for example dealing with a patient with no English. At others he had short interviews focusing on a particular subject, ie what he did in his spare time; at others he had to present an argument about something. Each station lasted seven minutes.

Dundee uses this approach in its exams as well. DS1 was so impressed by the way the interview was conducted he immediately decided that Dundee was the place for him - previously he had been leaning towards Glasgow.

So the interviews are very important in terms of the applicant assessing the university as well as the other way round.

I know that Dundee is very popular with NI students - there are two NI medical students in DS's flat with him. Good luck to your son wherever he goes and good luck to you too - having lived through the application process last year I know that it is a nerve-racking and exhausting procedure!

wehaveonlyjustbegun Mon 03-Sep-12 10:36:44

Libra - Yes, I think Edinburgh is the only Scottish school that does not interview. It is brilliant to hear that attending interview helped your son to decide where to go. TBH I hadn't thought of the interviews in that way. He did so well getting three offers - hats off to him! I suppose I should be grateful that DS at least knows he wants to do medicine. Some of his friends don't even know which subject they want to study!

Oxbridge have generous bursaries which is an incentive. But as I said before he would be delighted to get into any of the Scottish universities.

Thank you so much for your good wishes.

Yellowtip Mon 03-Sep-12 10:36:48

No I got that OP smile

Since your DS is coming some distance he really should stay overnight. He just won't get the benefit of the Open Day otherwise. There's a chance that if he phones up, some colleges may still have accomodation. They don't charge and spending a night in college with current students on hand is very useful in itself. If all else fails there are reasonable(ish) B&Bs scattered around. Best to stay at the college he has a hunch he might apply to, if at all possible.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Mon 03-Sep-12 10:43:52

Yellowtip - Thanks for the tip regarding accommodation - I will get him to give them a ring.

Libra Mon 03-Sep-12 10:52:57

DS was very impressed by Aberdeen as well, but did not want to go there because we live too close to it. Not so impressed by Glasgow - they seemed very disorganised this year. For example, inviting everyone to an open day for those holding offers but not managing to get the offers out until after that day. They also seem to have changed the course an awful lot over the last five years (which in my experience as a programme leader at another university might imply some problems. Change things gradually, yes. Change is always necessary for improvement. But constantly revamp the course year after year? Much related to a reduction in PBL I believe) So I was relieved when DS decided against it - but the decision was entirely his own!

DS also decided on Dundee because they integrate medical experience and patient experience right from the start and because they are one of the only universities that still offer dissection - again from very early on. He set off with his fees for his dissection gown and googles because they start anatomy from the beginning (yuck).

I really recommend the Student Room for support for this year. DS made quite a few friends on there who he then met up with at the various interviews and has arrived in Dundee knowing (it seems to me) at least half of the students from the course from the Student Room and then Facebook.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Mon 03-Sep-12 11:02:43

Libra - I think that using the Student Room for support is a great idea. I will pass on your advice. Thank you.

Yellowtip Mon 03-Sep-12 11:07:22

You asked about pointers for colleges? Since at Oxford he'll get a second college selected by the computer, I'd have said take at least an element of control in selecting the first (as opposed to doing an open application). The former womens' colleges tend to take more medics on than the older colleges (exact numbers per college are on the website). As far as the older ones go, since you say he's relaxed, he may like Teddy Hall. Corpus Christi has a large medical endowment which has some advantages (there are far more fellows there than anywhere else). Magdalen is especially comfortable for open days (soaps/ towels) if he can get accomodation. I'm sure others will point him in other directions as well.

Betelguese Mon 03-Sep-12 16:48:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yellowtip Mon 03-Sep-12 17:57:43

Quite. And some of these blinkered white, educated, English speaking students do venture quite a way past Magdalen Bridge to do voluntary work tutoring young non (or barely) English speaking immigrants and asylum seekers. DD2 is one such student.

Betelguese Mon 03-Sep-12 20:19:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BesideTheSeasideBesideTheSea Mon 03-Sep-12 20:46:01

Now I know no-one ever reads my posts, bye thread! Good luck to all those applying, most interviewers are friendly smile

Yellowtip Mon 03-Sep-12 22:31:46

Betelguese Oxford has one of the largest homeless populations of all cities in the UK. It's very visible as you say. Perhaps the homeless never get sufficiently ill to go to the JR for treatment. Mind you, they are mostly white and English speaking - and some will be educated no doubt.

Betelguese Tue 04-Sep-12 10:20:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LittleFrieda Tue 04-Sep-12 10:56:27

Oxford and Cambridge don't use the UKCAT, their admissions test is the BMAT (UCL and Imperial also use BMAT). Unfortunately you don't get the results of the BMAT prior to applying. Applicants must apply for medicine by 15th October, register for the BMAT by September (from memory) and then they sit the BMAT (from memory) in early November and get the results a couple of weeks later.

Oxford places lots of emphasis on the BMAT, especially s.2. Some colleges score their applicants by alloting a percentage score of GCSEs at A* for half the mark and a score for their BMAT result for the remainder score. This is how they decide whom to invite to interview.

Lots of med schools operate UKCAT cut offs. At Sheffield for example, the cut off score for the previous two years for UKCAT has been 720, they don't invite people for interview under that score, no matter how good the rest of their application.

What are his A level subjects? The vast majority of Oxford medics study A levels Chemistry, Biology, Maths and something else on the Trinity list (preferably Physics). Were his AS results at A grade, well into th 90% plus scores?

Some med schools use neither the BMAT nor UKCAT. Birmingham med school for example relies heavily on applicants' GCSE profiles. I think the minimum for Birmingham last year was 8 A* grades at GCSE, though most successful applicants had many more than 8 A*.

If I were him I would research very carefully, as success in getting into medicine is as much about applying to the med schools that match your application strengths as it is about being excellent across the board.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Tue 04-Sep-12 12:50:01

LittleFrieda- thank you for your comprehensive analysis of the different admission criteria. It is interesting that Sheffield on their website, state that they will look at all applications with a UKCAT above average. Nevertheless, as you have stated, there is information on the web that suggests they didn't interview below 720 last year. So that would rule him out.

DS has explained that the BMAT is sat after the UCAS form is finished. IMO it would be easier if they could sit the BMAT first and then make their choice.

Thank you for the advice - I will pass it on to DS.

LittleFrieda Tue 04-Sep-12 13:31:33

My son is in his second year reading medicine. If you need to PM me, please do. Best of luck to your son.

Yellowtip Tue 04-Sep-12 15:30:17

LittleFriedathe criteria that Oxford uses isn't quite as you've described. The formula used for working out the overall BMAT result is:

((Section 1 Score/9)*0.4)+((Section 2 Score/9)*0.4)+((Section 3 Content Score/5)*0.2*2/3)+((Section 3 Quality Score/5)*0.2*1/3) and multiply by 100 to get a percentage. S2 therefore isn't prioritized, at Oxford at least. This is then looked at together with the percentage of A*s achieved as a proportion of the total number of GCSEs taken, as moderated for school (is your DS at a grammar in N.I. OP? If so, his GCSEs may well be moderated down, slightly). Appplications at either extreme then either get rejected or go forward and those in the middle are examined more closely, with additional factors taken into account.

But all applications are dealt with by the Pre-Clinical Admissions Office, not by college and all interviews are conducted 'college blind'.

FWIW my own DS didn't do maths, he did History as his fourth A2. That helped him at interview I think.

kensingtonkat Tue 04-Sep-12 15:43:13

Sasshh You're talking out of your backside. Have you never heard of Blackbird Leys or the Bangladeshi community in Cowley? The residents of these areas make up much of the Oxford hospitals' clientele.

Wehave If there's one thing I could say about Oxbridge (I was at Oxford and DH is a tab) there are no better universities to be poor at. You can live in college accommodation, food is subsidised, there are hardship grants, there are huge numbers of travel grants and discretionary grants.

As for shelling out £300 for a Magdalen or New College Ball ticket, if you work at college balls or are part of the organising committee, you can go for free!

LittleFrieda Tue 04-Sep-12 17:06:57

"Around 425 applicants are invited to Oxford for interview each year. A centralised short-listing process takes place which relies heavily on BMAT and GCSE performance (we look at the proportion of A* grades across all subjects taken, not including short courses)."

from here

Yellowtip Tue 04-Sep-12 17:50:36

Little Frieda the link I supplied has all the relevant detail, including how the BMAT is weighted, in case of doubt. I thought it might be useful to correct the idea that Section 2 is given more weight than Section 1. It's perhaps also useful to applicants to know that the selection process for interview has nothing whatsoever to do with the individual college.

Cambridge, I think, is different. More as you describe.

BesideTheSeasideBesideTheSea Tue 04-Sep-12 22:33:16

Still invisible, maybe no-one saw my post. -Was willing to answer some questions

Yellowtip Tue 04-Sep-12 22:49:05

BesideTheSeasidewhy not simply add your comments, rather than waiting to be asked? Where have you interviewed? Yes I'm sure that most members of interview panels are friendly - on the whole. But that probably has almost no bearing on how likely a candidate is to succeed, so adds little.

Yellowtip Tue 04-Sep-12 22:50:53

To clarify, my question is: where did you interview? I was interested in the different interview styles last year at the various place DS had interviews at.

LittleFrieda Wed 05-Sep-12 10:31:18

Yellowtip - The selection process for shortlisting is centralised, but the individual colleges do have the final say over whom they select as medical students. When the candidates are interviewed by their selected college and randomly selected college, many colleges places heavy emphasis on s.2 as it is the score which most closely mirrors success in the course, before making the offer. Although the interview is BMAT blind, they do see all information on the applicants before making or not making an offer.

My sons' headmaster says he can predict who will be successful medicine applicant to Oxford as soon as he sees the BMAT results and it's all about s.2.

Cambridge is entirely different and I don't know much about it. I know they aren't overly interested in GCSEs, it's all about AS scores and I have no idea how they use the BMAT results.

My son went to seven med school interviews and he was successful in all of them. I've been round the block with med school applications. grin

BesideTheSeasideBesideTheSea Wed 05-Sep-12 11:12:56

I did post earlier that I have been on many interview pannels for prospective students earlier in the thread, and was suprised that no one followed it up. Think it was in the middle of an oxbridge culture argument.
This time of year I'm normally willingly answering questions from friends children/brothers etc, and was willing to do so here

Yellowtip Wed 05-Sep-12 12:37:12

LittleFrieda the point was (if you re-read your post) that you said this was how some colleges select for interview. Which isn't correct. That's all. As a point of interest DS scored significantly higher in S1 than S2 but both his first and second choice colleges wanted him. His first is pretty competitive for Medicine as well. So clearly neither S2 nor History at A2 was a particular problem. Mind you, he was a pretty strong applicant (biased smile).

Out of curiosity, how did your DS apply to seven? Were some outside the UK?

LittleFrieda Wed 05-Sep-12 13:30:02

Yellowtip - It's perfectly possible to be high in s.2 and even higher in s.1.

He applied over 2 cycles, all in the UK. He got all four offers the first time (four interviews) and had three offers the second time (three interviews). One of the four choices in the second cycle he was rejected without interview. He didn't meet his chosen offer first time round which is why he had to reapply.

LittleFrieda Wed 05-Sep-12 13:31:59

Yellowtip - what was his s.2 score as a matter of interest?

LittleFrieda Wed 05-Sep-12 19:19:09

OP, I would separate the fact that it's Oxford and Cambridge. I woud get him to set out his application and then strike out the med schools for which he would not qualify for whatever reason. Then reasearch the type of courses the remainder offer and eliminate any med schools that use styles of learning he doesn't like. Then he will see what his choices are. A lot of Oxford medics end up doing their clinical years outside of the Oxford deanery. For example 55 students each year transfer into UCL MBBS programme in Yr 3 from Oxbridge.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Wed 05-Sep-12 19:37:13

LittleFrieda - He knows that he doesn't want to go to a university that uses PBL. He would prefer to go to one that uses an integrated approach. So that rules out quite a few. He is also keen on the Scottish universities - except Glasgow which uses PBL. He is getting there - he has learnt a lot from this thread - as have I!

LittleFrieda Wed 05-Sep-12 20:54:30

Integrated and PBL are not disjoint sets.

Integrated means that clinical study is integrated into the learning of the medical science bit. To the student this means that he will have patient contact or certainly learn about the effects on patients in the pre-clinical years. I think most integrated courses use at least a bit of PBL, certainly UCL do some PBL. Oxford and Cambridge are not integrated courses, they are traditional courses.

If he likes lecure-based learning on an integrated course, I would say look at Newcastle, Edinburgh, UCL, Bristol, Sheffield,

Is it worth him looking at this to understand the various course structures:

wehaveonlyjustbegun Wed 05-Sep-12 21:36:47

Thanks LF, DS thought integrated referred to courses that use a mix of teaching styles. If I have the right end of the stick, they do use a range of teaching styles but they are known as integrated because they use clinical teaching also.

I don't think he would consider Sheffield as his UKCAT score would in all probability not be good enough. I also haven't heard Newcastle mentioned - he is going to have a look at their website. Lots of cheap flights into Newcastle - definitely worth a look. Traditionally lots of NI children choose universities in Scotland because of its cultural links and close proximity.

He likes the tutorial system of Oxbridge, but wonders if he may be slightly bored in the lectures. However, their website states that there are also clinical demonstrations and visits to GP tutors.

Thank you very much for the link- DS is looking it up as we speak.

Yellowtip Wed 05-Sep-12 21:50:21

The single rejection without interview wasn't from Bristol by any chance Little Frieda?! DS is out tonight and I can't remember his S2 with accuracy, only S1 and S3 for some reason. I'll ask him tomorrow.

wehaveonlyjustbegun why does he think lectures might bore him?

And Little Frieda - again out of curiosity - did your DS re-apply to any universities in the second cycle which he'd applied to in the first? I can see very difficult decisions to be made in his circumstances. Clearly the outcome was fine, but did he feel he had to compromise his choices the second time round? I'm just wondering what advice I'd give and how bold I'd be. It must have been grim on results day. Poor him.

Yellowtip Wed 05-Sep-12 21:54:35

LF but there aren't enough places for all undergrads to do the clinical years in Oxford are there? So it's not necessarily by choice that some go to London? Not sure of the numbers.

LittleFrieda Wed 05-Sep-12 22:41:53

Yellowtip He applied to only one med school in the second cycle which he'd applied to in the first, after first checking they would welcome an application from him, he wrote to them explaining what had happened. They said they'd give proper consideration to a repeat application. But it was a risk as DS1 had previously declined their offer. We did wonder if they would reject him. But they didn't. It's all worked very well. Has your son's firm offer got an A* in it? <<breathes>>

Yes I know there are insufficient places to do the clincial years in Oxford, but some poeple don't realise that they may end up at UCL, it sort of helps the decision making if you know that. UCL offer might be AAAa, and Oxford offer for St John's might be A*A*Aa

Yellowtip Thu 06-Sep-12 07:49:23

Yes that situation of re-applying to one you like but have previously rejected is a real problem. Good for them re-offering.

No, his offer was AAA, including Chemistry. They didn't mind which the other two As were in - any two out of Biology, Physics or History.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Thu 06-Sep-12 10:22:30

LF - The ISC Medical website gives a really comprehensive breakdown and analysis of medical school courses. I also take your point, that he needs to consider if he was accepted to Oxford, he may have to move somewhere else to do his clinical training.

Yellowtip - The problem is that he doesn't know if a course based on a lecture system is right for him.

habbibu Thu 06-Sep-12 10:35:13

Just to add another to the mix - has he considered [[ St Andrews?]] You only do your pre-clinical years there, and then transfer, but it looks like they do a lot of patient-centred stuff. Not really my area, though, so do ignore if this has already been discounted.

Yellowtip Thu 06-Sep-12 11:04:24

Another factor to consider (which may give Oxford the edge) is that the clinical years can only be done in Oxford if you have done your pre-clinical at Oxford or Cambridge. You can transfer out to London, but not in from there.

Lolwhut Thu 06-Sep-12 11:27:01

I am not sure if the following has been said before but we found it useful to look at each Uni's actual admissions statistics as well as their entry requirements. Also, some Uni's have a separate admissions policy document which can give more detailed information than that given in the admission criteria given in the prospectuses. (IYSWIM)

The Oxford Uni Admissions Stats Page suggests that your son would be in a good position with his excellent GCSE results. Although! it shows that two thirds of those with 100% A* GCSE still don't get offered places. confused

I could not find the statistics for Cambridge, they are much more cagey with their information.

My DS is studying medicine at Sheffield and is enjoying it tremendously. He wanted somewhere with early clinical experience and wasn't keen on the shorter terms at Oxford and Cambridge. He got two offers after interview, one rejection after interview and he withdrew his application from Bristol as he already had his first .choice and they were taking too long. He had a high UKCAT which compensated for him having absolutely no GCSE's (or anything similar) as we had previously lived overseas.

I am sure the teaching at Oxbridge would be amazing but, personally, wouldn't be concerned about which Uni produced the best DR's. They are all good. smile. He needs to work out where he would be happiest, where would suit his learning style and where he has the best chance of getting in.

One thing we did,that we thought worked out well, was for my DS to go to the open days on his own. (or with friends) He thinks it helped him make up his own mind about where he wanted to go. Obviously he wanted our opinions on where would be a nice place to study but he wasn't overly influenced by what we thought. I realise your DS will have already attending any open days but I thought I would mention it in case other potential Medic Application DM's were reading?

I don't know about Cambrigde but I love Oxford and think it would be a great place to go to Uni. It's got a lovely studenty feel to the town and everything is nice and central. My son did a Week work experience at The John Radcliffe and was very, very impressed.

I have said it before, but I think there should be a degree course in How To Apply To Medical School. It's so complicated, everything changes year on year and not all the information you get is correct.

Good luck to your DS.

LittleFrieda Thu 06-Sep-12 12:33:15

But that's only because Oxford and Cambridge have too few clinical placements for their students, not because they are special. St Andrews is the same. Innit

I think they work them very very hard in the pre-clinical years at Oxford and I think that is something to bear in mind. And when you apply for your FY1 post, you get a score for your educational performance to date- a certain number of points depending on which decile you fall in, in your med school, and the other half of the points come from a situational judgement test, which I imagine those on an integrated course will have the edge on patient-focussed problem solving, because they've been doing it longer. Perhaps. And don't you apply for your job med-school blind?

Lolwhut Thu 06-Sep-12 12:42:54

Yup, you apply for your post med school job totally blind. So best to choose the med school where you would have the best time and suit the learning style Rather than worry about reputation?? (I think? )

Yellowtip Thu 06-Sep-12 14:15:33

We tend not to get too hung up on long term game plans and every last possible consequence here. DS knew Oxford, knew he'd like to be an undergrad there, saw it was in the realms of the possible to apply and applied. I suppose we'd both tend to think there was quite a long way to go before he needs to fret about jobs. Anyhow surely Oxford medical graduates aren't at a serious disadvantage when it comes to jobs? I thought they did pretty well.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Thu 06-Sep-12 15:18:03

LF and Lolwhut - sorry, but can you explain what you mean when you say ,"you apply for your job med-school blind."? Does it mean that they don't take into account where you did your degree?

Lolwhut - I am glad that your son is happy - that is the most important thing.

"He needs to work out where he would be happiest, where would suit his learning style and where he has the best chance of getting in." - I think that sums up the key to the whole business very concisely and is excellent advice - thank you!

LittleFrieda Thu 06-Sep-12 17:01:18

Yellowtip - well given he's yet to start at med school that's understandable. grin I would think the vast majority of medics would be in the realms of possible to apply to Oxford, no?

The standard offer at Oxford is the same as the standard offer at most med schools and A level subject requirements are the same. Birmingham's GCSE A* re but they don't apply for Oxbridge because they feel medicine is tough to get into, and medicine at Oxford is really tough to get into. They especially don't apply to Oxbridge if they get a good UKCAT (they capitalize on that by applying to med schools which operate high UKCAT cut offs) and if they get poor UKCAT scores, they panic and decide against sitting the BMAT and concentrate on Bristol and Birmingham and med schools who do not demand high UKCAT scores. Or they decide they want to do Classics at Bailliol after all. smile Oxford and Cambridge have fewer applicants per place than most med schools. And there it's quite common for Edinburgh and Bristol to reject a candidate who is accepted at Oxford. I think Queen's Belfast has the fewest applicants per place of all the med schools.

My son was brave in that he got a very very high UKCAT scoer but still sat the BMAT - which he scored very well in too.

There are excellent candidates at all med schools, and there are some also rans who get in at all med schools, including Oxford.

Piffle Thu 06-Sep-12 17:09:27

A boy at my sons state grammar school with 14 A* GCSE's and FSMQ in Maths with full marks and 4 A* A levels in Maths Further Maths, Chem and Physics failed to get into Cambridge this year.
No one really knows why, he did not ever get an interview.

LittleFrieda Thu 06-Sep-12 17:12:03

Gah I pressed post before I'd finished amending. Imeant to say B'ham's GCSE A* requirement is more rigourous than Oxford's and the offer is the same: AAA with the same compulsory subjects.

LittleFrieda Thu 06-Sep-12 17:12:51

Is it because he hasn't studies biology?

LittleFrieda Thu 06-Sep-12 17:23:45

Piffle - what was his BMAT? Perhaps it was that. Or perhaps he didn't fill out the Supplementary information thing? Can't he get feedback?

LittleFrieda Thu 06-Sep-12 17:34:51

Piffle - Or perhaps, CRB or some other fitness to practice concern?

Applying for medicine really isn't all about the grades, but you need the grades to be an applicant.

Thedoctrineofennis Thu 06-Sep-12 17:45:51

Waves to beyondthesea.

OP what does your DS perceive as the main positives of Oxford?

wehaveonlyjustbegun Thu 06-Sep-12 18:47:58

Thedoc- Before I started this thread, DS had studied the league tables. In Oxford's prospectus they state that they have overtaken Harvard as 'the best in the world for medicine'. In the Guardian league table for medical schools the student satisfaction rating is 99-% for Oxford. His career teacher has also encouraged him to consider Oxbridge.

However, he knew that there would be no patient contact in the first three years and this has always concerned him.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Thu 06-Sep-12 18:52:23

Thedoc- sorry posted too soon. Since I started this thread he now considers the positives to be the generous bursaries and small tutorial groups.

Betelguese Thu 06-Sep-12 19:14:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 06-Sep-12 19:17:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Thu 06-Sep-12 19:27:05

Betelguese- I think other med schools do offer bursaries - Edinburgh has a generous system in place. From your analysis league tables are not easy to comprehend. He just read the caption 'Oxford best in the world for medicine' and took it at face value.

LittleFrieda Thu 06-Sep-12 19:39:35

Those are very impressive stats, wehaveonly. Just make sure the med schools he chooses are HIS choices, and not something he is being pushed into for the benefit of the school, for example.

Do look at the dropout rates too: I think Oxford's are v v low, which perhaps proves their admissions process works very well. Some med schools apear to shed their students at an alarming rate.

twentyten Thu 06-Sep-12 19:45:38

Haven't read all of the thread but just wondered if your ds had/is doing related volunteering/work experience?
A friends DS(very well qualified) failed to get into med school one year and took a year out to get experience volunteering in old peoples homes,worked in a pharmacy and got work experience in hospital.He got through the next year(into Cardiff which he loves).
Really worth looking at.

alreadytaken Thu 06-Sep-12 21:41:11

Sheffield changed their UKCAT requirement this year, their website is up-to-date and therefore differs from comments you will see elsewhere. Birmingham have changed their GCSE requirement so that applicants can have fewer A* GCSEs but they must have them in science subjects and English. American universities do not do undergraduate medicine and are very unlikely to take uk students as graduates. Oxford have slightly changed their selection procedure so that selection for interview is more centralised.

Since medical schools started to interview drop-out rates have fallen and are probably low everywhere. Drop out rates tend to be low in any subject for students with high grades. A more interesting set of figures - but one that would take great time and effort to obtain - would be how many students have to repeat a year or more of medical school.

PBL is now part of most medical school training. Some schools use it more than others. Oxbridge would be a good choice for a student who dislikes the idea. There are also differences between schools in interview style (Edinburgh and Southampton do not interview), in the weight placed on personal statements and references and prosection/dissection.

Has he settled on Oxford now? Cambridge allows more of their students to stay, rather than sending them elsewhere, for clinical training. Bursaries at Oxford and Cambridge are similar for middle income families, Oxford has the edge for poorer students. Teaching styles are similar. Oxford places more emphasis on GCSE in selection for interview, Cambridge on AS grades. Cambridge interview more applicants but the pooling system is harsher on candidates. Both place a lot of weight on BMAT scores. Cambridge is the larger school. Although the number of applicants per place at Oxbridge are low they are all likely to be highly qualified, that is not always true of applicants to other medical schools. Some miss the A2 requirement but are taken anyway.

Besidetheseaside I think your advice would be in much demand later, when interviews are being arranged.

wehaveonlyjustbegun Fri 07-Sep-12 06:30:47

Twentyten- he really enjoys his voluntary work and would do it anyway, even if he wasn't hoping to read medicine. Although, I agree that it may help his application.

Alreadytaken- I think he knows that PBL will be part of the integrated courses. He is more than happy with that- he just isn't keen on courses that are completely based on it. He is currently looking at the ISC medical website which gives an excellent resume of all the courses. Any ideas why Sheffield would change their UKCAT boundary? The whole process is an absolute minefield!

Yellowtip Fri 07-Sep-12 08:21:26

OP there's a perceptible shift in the tenor of the entry requirement pages for certain courses this year - not just in Medicine. It's about access. I've no doubt that the reality is that those at selective schools (both state and independent) will be regarded exectly as before, so for those students, the 'lowering' of standards should be treated with caution.

alreadytaken numbers are irrelevant. it's the quality of competition which matters, not the quantity.

Lolwhut Fri 07-Sep-12 09:11:12

Sheffield was an AAB Uni for 2011 entry so it has raised its A level requirements but are being more flexible with their UKCAT. I think, perhaps, that they wanted to move away from such a rigid UKCAT score as it was probably putting off some otherwise extremely capable students. They also increased their IB points requirements considerably. So I don't think it is a matter of lowering standards.

I am sure that Birmingham lowering of GCSE requirements was done in the same light. People were nervous to apply unless they massively exceeded the academic requirements, meaning that otherwise excellent students would not apply. I imagine such a high GCSE requirement would very much favour privately schooled students and I would think (hope!) fair access was a consideration.

As I mentioned earlier, my DS did not have any GCSE's or any other achieved qualifications when he applied so we ended up experts in GCSE requirements of medical schools by the end of the process. Some Uni's, although I forget which ones, really did just want to confirm that the applicant met the minimum academic requirements for GCSE's and then gave it no more weighting whatsoever. So a student with a string of A*s would have absolutely no advantage over a student with more modest GCSE's. (or in my DS's case NO GCSE'S shock)

All I can say, is that it was all a bit stressful and I am glad DS2 and DD don't seem interested in medicine. smile

Yellowtip Fri 07-Sep-12 09:29:44

The shift is at GCSE level - as with Birmingham for Medicine - not at A2. The trend for A Level grades is up. It isn't a lowering in the true sense (hence the inverted commas), it's about access. UKCAT and BMAT (and a number of other admissions tests) fall into the same bracket on that front as GCSEs.

LittleFrieda Fri 07-Sep-12 09:43:59

lolwhut - In 2011 the Sheffield UKCAT cut off was 727.5 (iirc) which is probably too high. In 2012 it was still over 700, so the A level grades raise appears not to have made much difference.

In 2010 there were several med schools with AAB offers, I'm not sure there are any now are there? And a few years before that there were many that were ABB.

Lolwhut Fri 07-Sep-12 12:12:28

There are now no AAB Med Schools according to The StudentRoom Wiki It will be interesting is too see how many more start adding those pesky A* A level requirements.

I know you should be wary of trusting any entry requirements info other than that in the actual Med Schools Prospectuses but, I think the Student Room Med School Wiki's is fairly reliable. As my DS's situation was a little unusual he contacted each Uni directly and got them to confirm their response in writing. On several occasions he got conflicting information from the same Uni. (hmm)
A few Uni's were spectacularly unhelpful and wouldn't give any clarification as to whether my DS would meet their academic requirements. Obviously, he didn't apply to any of those.

Piffle Sun 09-Sep-12 17:08:31

The lad at my sons school did his Biology A Level early. Also A*
Both his parents are surgeons, he is doing some voluntary work within his fathers research business and will reapply next year.
He flew the BMAT, failed at interview, he's a quiet respectful, boy

Lolwhut Sun 09-Sep-12 18:23:10

Depending on the Uni the interviews can be difficult and unpredictable. They interview hundreds of amazing on paper DC's and, I presume, they are good at working out who will succeed.

I think a lot of uni's interviews take place and are scored without the interviewers being aware of the students academic achievements.

Betelguese Mon 10-Sep-12 00:06:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

unitarian Sat 15-Sep-12 01:51:54

DD goes back to London tomorrow embarking on 3rd year clinical.
She applied to Oxford but (I know this sounds ludicrous/incomprehensible) it wasn't her first choice. She had her heart set on a particular London school which is where she is now and she had two other offers.

She liked the 'feel' of Oxford but the course structure didn't appeal to her. She wanted earlier clinical experience but came under some pressure to try for Oxford so she ended up applying to 2 BMAT schools in order to get the one she wanted.
Now she says that, although she wouldn't exchange where she is, she would have applied to Cambridge rather than Oxford. I asked why and she says it's because of Cambridge's reputation for science. (Don't shoot the messenger! I'm merely passing on her opinion.) smile

unitarian Sat 15-Sep-12 11:48:10

LittleFrieda 2010 was DD's year of entry. That year the BMAT schools were mostly offering AAA though Cambridge was already asking for A*AA as a typical offer. Oxford said it wouldn't ask for *s that year and didn't.
DD had two other offers. One was for AAB and the other was AB (it allowed for the Maths A she had from the previous year). For 2011 entry both those med schools raised their typical offer to AAA.

We found TSR pretty reliable for info but I would advise any candidate to check individual prospectuses very carefully. New Media medicine seems more popular with overseas students.

SCOTCHandWRY Sat 15-Sep-12 19:22:47

And there it's quite common for Edinburgh and Bristol to reject a candidate who is accepted at Oxford.

Certainly that was the case for my SD (now a medic at Oxford), but Edinburgh is looking for something different in the Personal Statement than Oxford, who have a very strong research bias (just like my DS!), and DS statement was written with Oxford in mind. A very strong UKCAT and BMAT, a lot of academic extracurriculars, with all the usual social, w/e and volunteering boxes ticked... resulted in one offer and one space on a waiting-list.

Anyone applying to Medicine these days need to be aware that it is really, really hard to get an offer at any uk medical school, and they need to apply to the universities whose entrance requirements match their strengths/weaknesses... yes, almost perfect academics are required by all Med Schools but there are a lot of subtle differences (an example would be, don't reapply to Edinburgh unless you have very carefully read and understood how they score the academics of re-applicants, as you could be wasting one of your 4 choices.)

Fewer than 40% of applicants will get ANY offer from any of their 4 choices in the first cycle of application (places in medical schools are strictly regulated and numbers have been cut at the same time that there has been an increase in the number of applicants) - it is becoming more common to have to apply over 2 (or more) UCAS cycles to get a place, which is still a better option than graduate entry to Medicine (even tougher to get in that way).

As to cost - it's cheaper for DS1 to live at Oxford (in college), than his sibling in Edinburgh - however, DS1 is not allowed to work in term time (had to sign a document to that effect), and Oxford term ends a month later in the summer than all the Unis close to us, which means a dearth of summer jobs for DS to apply to...

Quiteoldmother Sat 15-Sep-12 20:29:17

It's difficult to answer your specific questions, but if DS meets Oxbridge medicine requirements then I suggest it is worth applying. My DS applied for medicine in Oct last year (not Oxbridge). He carefully researched medical schools (including open day visits to 3 of these) made 4 sensible applications (taking account of website info eg re: UKCAT and grades etc), and got one offer that he exceeded. From his and others' experiences there seems to be a huge element of luck. My DS is state school and sixth form college educated but there seems to be huge competition from the independent sector. My DS did a one day Mediquest course in Salford and one day medical interview course in London (cost about £150 each plus travel). He also had plenty of very relevant work experience (but was not particularly strong on extracurricular). It seems to be the case that once a candidate gets to interview it is interview performance that counts as far as getting an offer is concerned. I wish my DS had tried for Oxbridge.......but no doubt my opinion would be different if he had not got an offer at all.....

mum141 Fri 21-Jun-13 18:18:16

Slightly off topic but with regards to Oxbridge Medicine applications - any experiences of the BlackStone Tutors Med prep courses?


2rebecca Fri 21-Jun-13 21:06:52

If you want to be a GP then which medical school you went to matters very little. Getting known locally in the area is far more important. For hospital medicine many hospitals favour their own graduates.
I think medicine is one of the areas where Oxbridge counts for little unless you are more interested in academic research medicine.

lljkk Fri 21-Jun-13 21:10:08


PiratePanda Mon 24-Jun-13 18:48:30

At the risk of outing myself someone very close to me is a professor who teaches the medics at cambridge. It's complete nonsense that it's better suited to those interested in research or that it only turns out research-minded doctors who are impractical. In fact that's complete crap.

It's a great place to study medicine and with cheaper accommodation and bursaries galore much cheaper than a lot of other places. And plenty of state-educated students too. It's a no-brainer - he should apply.

aloinlee Sun 06-Jul-14 13:55:13

mum141....I just arranged for Blackstone tutors to come to my DS school to give a UKCAT course, and my DS was most impressed.

Fingers crossed the exam goes well......but overall I think they gave lots of good tips and resources to take away

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