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

(35 Posts)
duchesse Sun 06-Jan-13 22:54:38 likely is it that the results will have improved in a year's time?

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

pipsqueak Mon 04-Feb-13 17:37:35

Interview at Leeds now - this is her favourite so will start some hard vote prep . It's mmi which I think may suit her but who knows ? ! Leeds was one which sent out an e mail about 2 weeks ago saying they had only read half the applications ! Bearing in mind there were 2000 or so applications that was a bit of a worry .. Anyway another hurdle out of the way smile

alreadytaken Sat 02-Feb-13 09:27:03

hopefully none of our children need the back up plans, pipsqueak. She may get asked what she'll do if she doesn't get a place this year, it's a common medical school interview question. It's important to look and sound confident at interview but they don't like like anything that may look like arrogance or lack of preparation.

Competition ratios from last year are here

and you'll see that Hull/York made 3 offers for 2 places last year. So your daughter has a good chance of an offer there, not quite as good at Liverpool and if she's offered an interview at Leeds about the same as Hull/York. Then the next hurdle is getting the grades.

The waiting is tough for everyone and unfortunately her combination of places doesn't include any giving early offers so you have a longer wait than most. It's a great relief when they get the first offer.

pipsqueak Sat 02-Feb-13 01:22:29

Sorry should have said thx for posting such a helpful post smile

pipsqueak Sat 02-Feb-13 01:21:30

Thanks I think it will be clearing plus grad entry if unsuccessful this time round , hay ho!

alreadytaken Fri 01-Feb-13 15:43:05

for places that pride themselves on their organisational skills the whole process is unnecessarily stressful. Perhaps they do it deliberately to see who can cope with stress! This year some medical schools have been really annoying candidates by sending out e-mails to say their application is still being considered.

Since 60% of candidates get no offers first time round there should always be a plan B. It doesn't need to be well developed until august. It can be I'll take a gap year and reapply or could be take a fifth choice and try for graduate medicine. Places in clearing are likely to be available for candidates getting the sort of grades medical applicants have and wanting to do biomedical science courses or some other courses. There are medical schools like Dublin, Malta and several other european schools keen to attract uk candidates but loans are not usually available in the same way. If the student takes a gap year they can try to get a relevant job through NHS jobs or in a nursing home but any job involving contact with the public can create things to talk about at interview. If it looks like this will be an option it's probably best to start looking before results day as the NHS application process can be long-winded.

Reapplicants often do very well as they are more mature and have shown the sort of commitment medical schools like. If they are doing something productive in their gap year they'll probably get interviews and many will get offers. They do need to be available for interviews so going travelling all year is not usually a good plan. Someone usually starts a student room thread for reapplicants and there are students on TSR who will offer help with personal statements.

A few medical schools will accept applications from people who have already started a university course so it is possible to take a fifth choice and still reapply.

pipsqueak Thu 31-Jan-13 22:10:03

not too sure about offer rate as not really too sure to find that out for this year has had interviews from Hull/york and liverpool and waiting to hear from leeds and brighton /sussex who seem only just have started dishing out interviews ....

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Thu 31-Jan-13 19:13:58

My DC didn't have a plan B either. My DD left her fifth UCAS choice blank.

I dare any parent not to get stressed about it. sad

pip. Are the Uni's where your DD has had interviews ones which have a decent interview to offer rate?

pipsqueak Thu 31-Jan-13 13:13:30

Ah thx for that , I can't believe I feel stressed about this . I think it's that she has no plan b!!

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Thu 31-Jan-13 09:42:05

650 is slightly above average, not a great score but not bad either. However, the fact that your DC has already had two interviews shows that she must have a very strong application in other respects. It also shows that she chose the right Uni's to apply to. Two interviews is great.
My eldest DD is in her 2nd year doing medicine and is absolutely loving it but I must say the application process is extremely stressful. Neither of us are stress'y people but the waiting is agonising. My second DC is not applying for medicine and it is a breeze in comparison.
Hope your DD gets the offers she wants.

pipsqueak Thu 31-Jan-13 07:35:42

Another one in the just waiting boat here -dd had 2 interviews before Xmas but no decision til march and not heard from two . It's a stress ! Does anyone know what an average ukcat score is? She got 650 ave but no idea if that is above or below?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

saw someone recently talking on TSR about a 105 increase in their UKCAT score and then came across these threads that are worth a look (quite old and some of the information at the start definitely out of date)

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

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

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

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

Student room thread with advice from mothero on reapplication to Oxbridge , not sure of subject

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask any doctor worth their salt about Edinburgh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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