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Nottingham Med School. Do you really need at least 8 A*s at GCSE before they'll even look at you?!

(30 Posts)
LaineyW Tue 18-Oct-11 18:49:48

My DD is 16, studying AS levels (Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Philosophy). Can anyone confirm that the entry requirements at Nottingham are actually much tougher than their website states?

I know she's only in her AS year but has had her heart set on Nottingham for a while now and was pretty shocked to be told this by a member of staff at her sixth form college...

kritur Tue 18-Oct-11 20:09:09

I have no idea about the specifics of Nottingham but medicine is insanely competitive. If she has what the website says, including appropriate experience then I would say she stands a good chance of gaining and interview at least. If she was educated in the state sector for GCSE then she may get a contextual data flag for her GCSEs where they will be treated more sympathetically than someone who went to a top state grammar or independent school. With medicine being so competitive I think she can't get too hung up on one medical school and she needs to think carefully about her options if she doesn't get into medical school. It's horrid seeing children who have no other plan if things go right on results day or they fail to get offers when so many of them would do really well in any scientific career. Being clever and good at science shouldn't automatically mean medicine!

LaineyW Tue 18-Oct-11 20:47:52

I agree kritur. She got 2 A*s, 9As and 2 Bs at GCSE at a state secondary (admittedly it is an 'outstanding' one in all Ofsted areas) and is currently at one of the best sixth forms in the country apparently (top state sixth form for numbers getting into Oxbridge) so we're very lucky to live where we do, and hopefully she's fairly well placed, having come from a non-independent background. She's got DoE bronze, has had a part-time job for almost a year now, and is about to start volunteering for a local group which will involve quite a commitment until a big event in February next year so hopefully we're doing just about all the right things. Her sixth form are very good at supporting med school applicants, so I'm told, and have links with our local major hospital to organise work placements etc. She's also in the sixth form medical social and has just booked a place on one of those two-day "So you think you want a career in medicine?" type courses.

But as you say, a career in medicine is just so competitive and she'd hate to waste one of her choices if she wasn't even going to get past the first hurdle...I'm so glad I'm not going through this process myself. It's bad enough as a mum!

Then we've got to get through the whole PS, UKCAT, online questionnaire, God it's mind blowing.

leosdad Tue 18-Oct-11 22:08:58

Birmingham is definitely 8A*'s and possibly above. They rank applicants in order of number of A* at GCSE and interview top 1000 and give out 800 offers for 400 places - assuming many of those offered places will also get offers at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and UCL.

ellisbell Wed 19-Oct-11 14:21:57

work experience, including voluntary work, is very important for medicine. She certainly needs to look at medical schools other than Nottingham but the best thing she can do now is look at the Student room website. The site is reasonably reliable but information should always be checked with admissions officers. The Student Room have a medicine wiki and the thread about GSCE requirements is here

If her volunteering is not obviously related to medicine she needs to consider how she would make it sound relevant. She needs to be doing things now as they like a long term show of commitment and she'll have applied by this time next year.

The student room is a great resource for info (tho sometimes it gets a bit much..there isa lot of Uni snobbery on there)

Your daughters GCSEs sound excellent! I know B'ham rank by GCSE and so does Cardiff, Nottingham like at least 6 As which puts your DD in a good position.

PLEASE make sure she looks at all the medical schools though..if she gets hung up on one choice only she may be very disappointed.. it's pretty rare to get offers for everywhere, given the insane level of competition..and the style of teaching is much more important that the prettiness of the campus!
Some are more traditional lecture style, others are problem based learning (PBL) or a mixture..and unis vary considerably on how fast they expose the students to real patients etc!

My DD1 is in her second year at Peninsula.. she visited Exeter and fell in love so it was her first choice also because she knew she wanted PBL style teaching. She absolutely refused to consider London in any way shape or form, ditto Oxford (we live there!) and we spent a lot of weekends visiting before making her UCAS choices.. then the terrifying wait for interviews! I'm pleased that it is a good ranking med school, but in the end it's rather less relevant than for non vocational degrees I feel!

My DD did voluntary work in the local community hospital and also at a camp for disabled children for quite a few years (we have a disabled child so that was easy to get into). The Personal Statement needs to be fantastic, but the interviewers were all more interested in what she learned from her experiences rather than how many she racked up, if that makes sense.

For the UKCAT get a practice book from amazon... REALLY worth it nearer the time!!

Good luck to your DDsmile Mine is LOVING doing medicine and it was worth all the stress of the journey to get there:D

(ps my DD2 has just applied via UCAS and her first choice is Nottingham too.. !)

LaineyW Wed 19-Oct-11 22:55:09

leosdad, that's very helpful, thank you.
ellisbell, thanks for the link - thestudentroom is amazing, I also read the Nottingham thread with all the students who have applied for next year, which was really interesting. Bless them, might be DD2 this time next year...
medusa, Peninsula sounds good. My nephew is at Exeter and loves the town etc. too. You're right about visiting all of them too. We left it far too late with DD1, but she was unsure whether she actually wanted to go to uni. Fortunately she got her first choice and is now happily settling in.

Many thanks to all. As they say on the X Factor, it's a journey!

Yellowstone Thu 20-Oct-11 08:30:04

leosdad thanks for that. Do you know how many apply to Birmingham each cycle before they select for interview?

I know that Oxford has about twice as many applicants per place for Medicine as Cambridge but don't know anything about raw figures for anywhere else.

ellisbell Thu 20-Oct-11 10:01:56

somewhere I read a reference to 60% of applicants to medical school not getting any offers. Now although I suspect that percentage is considerably lower for applicants who get a lot of A/A* grades at GSCE it does show how competitive applying to medical school is and how important it is that you study what each medical school looks for before deciding whether to apply. Birmingham, for example, is a wasted choice unless you have a lot of A* grades but a good choice if you do. No-one knows how well they will do on BMAT until after they apply but UKCAT results can be obtained before you apply - you leave out Newcastle and Sheffield if you have poor UKCAT figures. Some medical schools place more emphasis on interview than others.

Applicant to places ratios can be found easily - e.g. However they don't tell you much. Interview to place ratios are a bit more interesting as they give more idea how many people at least met minimum requirements.

The volume/type of work experience is less important than what you learn from it but long term volunteering in something like a hospice or even better a nursing home shows commitment and that you have seen some of the less exciting aspects of medicine and are still interested. Medical schools don't want people who will drop out when they discover the boring parts. It is also important for young people to see the boring parts to decide if medicine is really for them, there are many other science careers that may appeal to them.

Yellowstone Thu 20-Oct-11 11:04:06

Probably a good idea to see the gruesome parts as well as the boring parts. A few students on DS's Access to Medicine programme fainted during a gory demonstration and that was only on a screen.

Interview to place ratios are interesting but some universities adopt a policy of culling applicants more harshly than others, so I'm not sure whether numbers reflect a threshold or are just that, numerical.

I was wondering about the discrepancy between the Oxford and Cambridge figures in particular, since it's likely most applicants to both universities are pretty strong. I would have expected the ratio to be much more even between the two. Perhaps it's as simple as applicants not taking in the fact that there are far fewer places at Oxford since there's not much in it socially, architecturally or prospect-wise.

mumof3teens Thu 20-Oct-11 17:25:27

When DS1 applied for medicine his mate wasn't interviewed for Notts med school. He contacted then and they told him he needed 6 A* at gcse (at least) fir interview and he had 5 ( he was accepted at the other 3 though....Didn't say anywhere in the prospectus that he needed A*s. State school too....That was in 2005 though.

lostmymind Thu 20-Oct-11 20:48:45

Exclude Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, and I think Leeds as these have either a scoring system that includes # of A* attained at GCSE, or have a minumum requirement (B'ham).

My advice would be to go through every medschools requirements and note only those who's criteria she meets - and look carefully as some specify not the number but rather the subject in which the A* is attained. Sadly there WILL be applicants with a gazillion A* - TSR is rife with them - so it's crucial your DD gains as much volunteer/work experience as possible to make her shine out; be involved and a leader within school, set up training and support groups (running a first-aid course is a winner), have external interests as well ie music/drama etc. There's a fab book called the pushy mothers guide - Basic advice is sound, I loved it.

Someone ^ makes mention of the UKCAT, another scoring element to medschools; some set a high score marker (Sheffield is known for this) so a good ukcat score would balance her gcse's, and the good bit is that the UKCAT is sat and results gained before medschool application is made.

Try looking at these; Kings College London, Aberdeen, Brighton, Dundee, Glasgow, Hull York, Keele, Leicester, Newcastle (this includes Durham), Peninsula, Royal London and Barts (Queen Mary University of London), Southampton, University College London, Sheffield

kritur Thu 20-Oct-11 21:29:01

If the school she had for GCSE is was that good and her 6th form is also one of the top ones then she won't get a contextual data flag for that. What is her back up if medicine doesn't happen? Pharmacy, optometry, chemistry (got to be chemistry, it's the best subject in the world!)...?

leosdad Thu 20-Oct-11 21:38:51

Birmingham seem the most honest about their entrance requirements 8A*'s and above will usually get the interview so numbers applying will only be those with lots of A*. Others can be a bit odd about UKCAT and do not always state whether they use average or minimum in selecting candidates for interview and some (Peninsula, St Georges's Manchester) have different entrance requirements for locals and those who are at lower achieving schools. BMAT is a much more straightforward exam apart from the essay question so lots of practice essay writing especially for those doing only science A levels.

There is also a great variation in time between interview and offer/rejection/hold. Some tell you within two to three days others wait till everyone has been interviewed then decide.

Work experience also isn't just about collecting loads of different places - you have to say what you gained from it (I think the buzzword now is reflect)

The people I know who got offers this year are from such differing backgrounds (one boy straight from school with zillions of A*, another dropped out of sixth form to do all sorts of jobs then did access course, another with okay grades but very caring and confident etc) it does amaze me how the universities decide who will make good doctors.

lostmymind Thu 20-Oct-11 22:16:04

Some medschools has started to introduce further assessment criteria; Nottingham sends out a questionnaire, and Leicester have started asking those attending for interview to undertake a written paper on day of interview (think last year was the first time for this?).

Once your DD has narrowed the selection field then do your utmost to get to the open days, and talk to a med admission tutor as well as attend the admissions talk - we certainly picked up a few little bits of info that were not to be found elsewehere. Scour the medschools websites, their UCAS sites as well.

then there's the ukcat/bmat, writing the dreaded personal statement (and dont under-estimate the importance of that particular gem), getting interview's a mountain for them to climb.

ellisbell Fri 21-Oct-11 09:08:00

TSR is a bit overloaded with insecure young people who have to boast about themselves grin. The UKCAT scores posted, for example, are mainly by those who get good/brilliant results - or need to claim they do. The average UKCAT score is 600 (information taken from the website of those who run the test). However the average UKCAT score required by some medical schools is much higher, you can get a reasonable view on that from TSR. There are some very helpful current students on there too.

Don't let your child be put off by the site but use it to show what they need to compete against and for its helpful sections on, for example, how people get work experience.

If she gets no offers first time around a gap year spent in a hospital and a reapplication may be more successful as that shows serious commitment.

peteneras Fri 21-Oct-11 12:09:57

“Can anyone confirm that the entry requirements at Nottingham are actually much tougher than their website states?” - *See Fact 2 below.

LaineyW, look at it this way – if you read the prospectuses and websites of all the 30+ medical schools in the UK, other than Cambridge†, none of the medical schools entry requirements for medicine is higher than 3 A’s in appropriate subjects at A-level plus possibly a forth subject at AS-level.

There’s no mention of A*s in GCSE. In fact, even ‘C’ grades GCSE English and Maths meet the minimum GCSE requirements of some schools.

But please remember this as I’ve always advised interested parties: the prospective medical student is not competing against the medical school. (In theory, half or nearly half the nation’s teenagers meet these basic entry requirements.) S/he is competing against tens of thousands of similarly aspired medical students for extremely limited places, many of them come with truckloads of GCSE A*s and straight runs A’s and A*’s at A-level.

Interpret the following facts in the last cycle however you want:

Fact 1 - Southampton alone had 4800 applications for just 246 places. Candidates with between 10 and 12 GCSE A*s had been unsuccessful.

Fact 2Nottingham*, the school your DD has her heart set on, rejected at least one student with ‘straight A*s at GCSE, a really high UK clinical aptitude test (UKCAT) and four A*s at A-level’.

This is not scare mongering but it's better you know some facts before you walk into this blindly. On the other hand, I would also like to add there are a few candidates who got into medical schools with much less qualifications than the above including one I know who entered Trinity College, Cambridge with virtually no work experience at all.

So much for work experience and medical school entry. Sincere best wishes to your DD!

†Cambridge require 1 A* plus 2 A’s at A-level.

ellisbell Sun 23-Oct-11 10:34:23

Nottingham require 3 As at A level and half of all students do not get 3 As. I believe it was about 13% this year and a few of those may not have the GSCE grades needed. Nottingham has one of the lower applicant/place ratios but is still 7:1. The best people to advise you on GSCE requirements are the admission staff and your daughter should visit the medical school and ask - although admission staff are often hard to pin down.

Medical schools look for more than academic skills. For that reason the whole process can seem, to quote a current medical student, a bit of a lottery. Your child will need to demonstrate commitment to medicine, a real understanding of what is involved and the sort of skills listed on university websites/ in statements by professional bodies about what is required of a doctor. The easiest way to demonstrate most of that is by work experience. She also needs something that allows her to relax after being stressed and it doesn't hurt to have something that shows stamina - quite a few will offer gold DofE, some sporting achievements. It is extremely competitive.

If there are university open days left this year do encourage her to consider now what other careers are available, she has one choice that cannot be medicine. She may get into medical school but everyone should have a back-up plan. Medicine open days are booked up almost as soon as booking opens and you need to keep an eye on when booking opens.

Yellowstone Sun 23-Oct-11 13:11:05

peterenas I think some of the med schools for entry 2012 are asking for A*AA as their standard offer, a slight movement from last year.

I'm sure the UKCAT will be the same sort of indicator as the LNAT is for Law where 'average' is simply not good enough for one of the top handful of universities. Last year the average LNAT score was 17/42 (that was the official number given out). In reality 17 was a very low score for the competitive places; UCL cut off all applicants immediately if they achieved lower than 20 and the average for successful candidates at places like that was far, far higher.

peteneras Sun 23-Oct-11 19:08:03

Yellowstone, there is talk that medical and dental schools are thinking of raising the bar in their standard GCSE/A-level offers. But in reality they are already doing so; have done so for quite a number of years now. But officially (other than Cambridge) their prospectuses and websites still say the standard 3 A-levels including ‘at least ‘C’ grades GCSE English and Maths’ will suffice, which is grossly misleading.

"I think some of the med schools for entry 2012 are asking for A*AA as their standard offer, a slight movement from last year."

They can, of course, ask for this but only after having interviewed the candidate. One Cambridge admissions tutor said they will even ask for A*A*A if they are not entirely convinced about a particular candidate’s credentials but in his next breath he said in reality all his students are of this standard even before the days of the A* A-level. I’ve read from TSR an overseas student was moaning about having to achieve this on top of having to pay the enormous overseas student’s fees in his/her offer.

But increasingly top universities use the entrance exams such as UKCAT/BMAT (Medicine); LNAT (Law) and a host of others to ‘sort out the men from the boys’ so to speak, in their respective courses. Again, an ‘average’ score in any of these tests is nowhere good enough for any of these highly competitive courses. For example, I note from TSR this year that prospective medical students who scored 665 out of 900 (average: 600) are losing sleep their score is not good enough. Sheffield had a cut-off score of 685 last year.

As you can see, it is insanely competitive to get into medical/dental school these days. A relative of mine (nephew) got into arguably the world's most prestigious dental school here in London in 1999 with only an A B C grade for A-level. Today he is a high-flying dentist in partnership with a few others in a practice in north London.

Yellowstone Sun 23-Oct-11 22:50:33

I'm only too conscious of the truth of what you say about competitiveness peterenas, I was just pointing out that the prospectus information has actually changed in some cases and that it is now no longer just Cambridge stating A*AA as the standard offer. Birmingham does for the first time, for example.

funnyperson Mon 24-Oct-11 08:20:10

Dear yellowstone you are wondering whether your DS might get an A*AA offer? Has he had an interview invite yet? Good luck and fingers crossed for him. Is he applying to Oxford too?

funnyperson Mon 24-Oct-11 08:30:00

The newly qualified doctors are funny: they are broadly speaking two types: bright and confident and good communicators, and bright and anxious but also good communicators. The third arrogant type is thankfully in a minority, especially a month into the job!

Anyway, just to reiterate: the interview panels are looking for those who will make good, safe, ethical, intelligent future doctors who can communicate with the rest of the team and with patients. And who will know their limitations.

All this concentration on grades in TSR etc misses the point. It is also surprisingly easy at interview to tell who the good communicators are- and it isn't anything to do with training/being members of the debating team oddly enough. Which is why it is perfectly possible to get 3 A* types rejected.

funnyperson Mon 24-Oct-11 08:35:47

Getting into medical school isn't particularly more or less competitive than it has ever been.

This is quite a nice site for interviews

Yellowstone Mon 24-Oct-11 10:28:38

funny he had his interview on Friday. If he does get an offer, it will almost certainly be A*AA because of his school and predictions, both of which are good. We're both very grateful to you on the suit front - he was kitted out correctly at least which he wouldn't have been otherwise, but he wasn't fluent, not at all (some quite off the wall questions).....At least he won't fall into category three!

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