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New Mum-of-Medicine 2016 Applicant Thread

(123 Posts)
Needmoresleep Tue 08-Sep-15 14:26:25

It looks as if it will be a long year. I would welcome company, and as importantly, advice from those who have been through it before.

Northernlurker Tue 08-Sep-15 16:43:29

I'm in!

Dd (my pfb) has done well in AS, we're pleased with her UKCAT though she is less chuffed but agrees it's 'fine', has volunteering under her belt and some excellent shadowing. Next hurdles are deciding where to apply and getting the PS sorted. First draft done.
Dh is taking her to Liverpool open day at the end of the month and she's already seen Newcastle, Dundee and Sheffield. I think Dundee and Sheffield are definate for her application. Less sure about Newcastle. I think she's dubious about it because it's not clear what UKCAT score is 'enough' to make it through to interview and so you could totally waste a choice without knowing it........

Decorhate Tue 08-Sep-15 17:08:00

Good luck to all your dc's - from someone who went through this last year. (I have forbids my younger two to even think about medicine!)

A couple of thoughts...

Apart from exam results & assessment tests, I think the key to getting interviews is to be extremely strategic about where they apply. Your dc will probably have some preferences for city/campus & teaching methods but after that you need to research how each medical school chooses candidates for interview and apply to the ones where your dc has a good chance. This may only be divulged on open day or be buried in their website!
My dd was lucky enough to get 4 interviews & 3 offers. She had good but not stellar grades, average UKCAT, good BMAT.
Apologies if I am telling you what you already know but each year very good candidates don't get offers...

Northernlurker Tue 08-Sep-15 17:12:02

Decorhate - I've seen your posts when I've been lurking on this year's threads grin How did the remark for your dd go?
Good advice for picking where to apply. Sheffield gave a definite cut off at the open day and she's over that so should be ok unless they change their minds hmm. Dundee is a bit harder to work out but they give weighting to personal statement etc too. Dd hasn't been attracted to any BMAT places as yet so hoping to just get away with doing the UKCAT. She doesn't want London or Oxbridge and Leeds is too close to home wink so hopefully we can avoid that hurdle.

Decorhate Tue 08-Sep-15 17:27:08

northern Her remark didn't change the grade so she is going to her insurance. If any of your dc are worried about missing grades some places are more accommodating than others!
Last year Birmingham didn't use UKCAT or BMAT but it may have changed? I think BMAT is becoming more popular. Brighton have also changed over. Dd actually found it a lot easier than UKCAT. Obv downside is not knowing the result before you apply

Northernlurker Tue 08-Sep-15 19:11:40

UKCAT is awful!
Sorry the remark didn't work out for your dd but I'm sure she'll be happy where she is and at least she has a place. A girl in the year above dd missed her offer and is doing biomed instead. Obviously she can do graduate entry if she still wants to do it but it's pretty gutting.

Decorhate Tue 08-Sep-15 19:35:00

Yes going for graduate entry is even harder I think. And obv the whole issue of funding a second degree

Needmoresleep Tue 08-Sep-15 21:10:01

The day DD did UKCAT there was a tube strike so a nightmare to get there. Then the aircon was not working so they all became hot and flustered in a test that is very time pressured. Still score was OK, though not as high as she hoped. After all the work, volunteering and more it's amazing so much seems to hang on this one test.

Birmingham is using UKCAT this year. Though as part of a weighting using GCSE grades. It's still hard to work out. Last year's scores were so much lower than the year before. I wonder where this year's will be.

Mindgone Tue 08-Sep-15 21:17:00

Best of luck to you all and your DCs as you embark on the rollercoaster! wink

Last year Sheffield were all about the PS, once you'd passed their academic quotas. It was the only one that rejected DS without interview. Developing a thick skin and a waterproof back (like a duck!) helps a lot! Also last year the ukcat scores were generally much lower than previous years, and this had a big impact on places like Newcastle/Durham, because people with average scores didn't bother applying, so their cut off was surprisingly low! There is a certain amount of gambling in the process! It's a good idea to look at the ukcat website occasionally, as they make comments on average scores as the process goes, can be helpful.

GiddyGiddyGoat Tue 08-Sep-15 21:30:31

Good luck to everyone embarking on this rollercoaster!
I'd second all the sensible advice above - especially re strategic applications - but do balance that with them really needing to want to spend 5 / 6 years somewhere... Also bear in mind some places do MMI (8 x 8 minute mini i/views) and some 'traditional' interviews - which are very different experiences and one may suit more than the other.
Important too to redraft and redraft their ps until they're satisfied with it - this takes a surprising amount of time and effort!
Ds found reading Student BMJ and New Scientist helpful - particularly when thinking about interview prep.

GiddyGiddyGoat Tue 08-Sep-15 21:31:02

Didn't realise I'd copied you Mindgone!

Northernlurker Tue 08-Sep-15 23:04:04

The UKCAT twitter feed has said that they won't be issuing interim scores. Only the final thing on 9th October. Grrh!
They do say the expect it to be broadly the same as last year at the moment but apparently only 7000 people have taken the test so far and they expect 18000!
I guess that means our kids could have the UCAS forms ready to go and the realise their score is either better than they thought or totally off with only a few days left to change their minds before the application deadline. Super!

Mindgone Wed 09-Sep-15 01:10:26

Northern, I'd have a couple of lists ready.
Giddy, we've obv both been there! smile

alreadytaken Wed 09-Sep-15 07:40:45

I imagine it is too late to try and put them off but at least talk to them about alternatives. Try to get them to think about the government plans for more gps and where they are going to come from. If they are going into this they need to know that the majority of young doctors will become gps. Too many still only think about surgery when deciding to become a doctor.

What is their back-up plan? You don't want a last minute scrabble through clearing. What will they do if they fail a year? Some courses allow a repeat year, others may not. What if they have to leave medicine? Have you asked medical schools about their pass rates?

Do you/they understand the financial implications of a 5 or 6 years course when they would find it very difficult to work in the last 3 years of the course? My child isn't allowed to work during term time but if they were I wouldn't want them to do so. Some take internships that mean they won't be earning in the summer, others will have resits limiting what they can earn in the summer. Dont think anyone can live on NHS funding when they eventually get it.

Apply strategically and dont be afraid of BMAT. It's a bit less random than the UKCAT. Prepare for rejection as 4 offers are rare, even for the very able academically. Prepare for the time when your child has an offer and their friend doesnt. What will they say when the doctor they shadow has a child who failed to get a place?

Those students I know who did/are doing well at medical school are generally those who thoroughly researched the entrance process themselves. The Student Room website is not infallible but can be more reliable than mumsnet.

I second the comment about considering what type of interview would suit them, although MMIs are becoming harder to avoid. Some practice at interviews will give them more confidence. It will benefit them at interview if they can appear confident even if they dont feel it. However arrogance should be avoided, any suggestion that you might think yourself entitled to a place will lead to rejection. Also agree about student BMJ and New Scientist.

Lay in supplies of wine, you'll need it.

Northernlurker Wed 09-Sep-15 19:38:05


Dd was back today and got the hard sell from the head of sixth form about dropping her fourth subject (a humanity). She is carrying on with maths, biology and chemistry. He tried very hard to talk her in to doing 4 to A2, telling her candidates with 4 A levels were more likely to get offers! From everything I've read that is not the case but candidates taking 4 to A2 are more likely to drop a grade and miss out altogether. Really a bit pissed off with him. She will be doing General Studies AND EPQ and has 4 excellent A-S levels. Fortunately she knows her own mind and had done her research so was able to politely disagree with him.

fairywoods Wed 09-Sep-15 22:15:04

Northern lurker Well my DD did exact same 3 A2, but no EPQ, no gen Studies. She got 3 offers plus wait list offer from Edinburgh. It's all down to applying to your strengths and getting relevant experience and knowing it's their vocation. It really has to be their vocation, it's a hard road and getting an offer is just the beginning. If you scrutinise med school websites the entry requirements are clearly spelt out and most require 3 strong A2s plus good PS and some work experience.

Northernlurker Wed 09-Sep-15 23:10:38

Thank you Fairywoods - yes that's EXACTLY what I had seen too. Thankfully she has some other teachers who are more on the ball re what's needed.

Needmoresleep Thu 10-Sep-15 09:19:01

Thank you everyone for some brilliant advice. DD is quite dyslexic but the flip side is that she has a great memory. She is also quick at picking up science concepts and is a natural mathematician. She also, somehow, managed to get good grades in English GCSE, so Birmingham etc are still in play.

That said she is more than capable of mis-reading questions and does not do as well in exams as she does in class. So she will keep up four A levels, to provide a bit of insurance. The other reason is to keep Ireland open as a Plan B. Their selection is based on the grades for four A levels. She also suspects she will do less well in the more essay based BMAT than she did in UKCAT, so will skip it and spend the time on other things.

The big problem was that she was ill in August and so our plan of doing some quick self-guided tours the week before school started was abandoned.

I would welcome thoughts. Our assumption is that a girl who is good at listening during lectures and retaining, and who is practical (she is one of those who will have no problem filling her PS with good volunteering, school leadership, teamwork etc) but less good at gaining information from books, will do better avoiding PBL. Her grades so far, though not Oxbridge level, are fine. Similarly her UKCAT, though not as good as she would have wanted, should get her over the bar almost everywhere. My instinct is that she would prefer somewhere where medics mix with other students, and indeed would expect to continue with sport. (The only places she has seen so far are Barts/Royal London and St Georges, neither of which appealed.) She does not mind London. She thinks at the moment she would like to be a hospital doctor, perhaps emergency medicine, but then really enjoyed her time shadowing a GP.

So where? The dyslexia is the big one.

Decorhate Thu 10-Sep-15 18:34:13

In most halls, students are taking a mixture of courses. But I would guess that medics often live with other medics after the first year, for practical reasons & because the intensity of the course may mean they have less free time so may not socialise as much with other students so don't get to know them as well so not inclined to organise flat shares etc?
If your dd would like to be living with a mix of people beyond year 1, then probably a uni where they stay in halls beyond year one would be a good bet. But don't know of any outside Oxbridge colleges?

Decorhate Thu 10-Sep-15 18:36:13

Oh and it seems to be getting harder & harder to avoid PBL! Off the top of my head, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham maybe?

Northernlurker Thu 10-Sep-15 19:14:38

Has she thought about Keele? The course seems fairly mixed in methods. There's an open day on the 19th I see.

GiddyGiddyGoat Thu 10-Sep-15 20:25:58

I think the Birmingham course is very pure science based in the early years - not PBL.
OP my ds had one of these books (sorry, but can't nb exactly which one and he's passed it onto someone else now) which was v helpful, with tables summarising the different courses etc. here

Needmoresleep Fri 11-Sep-15 01:19:19

Thank you all so much. A big parcel is on its way from Amazon.

It's a real pity she chose not to go to open days at the end of last term, but she is absolutely loving sixth form and was reluctant to miss anything. There is a school event on 19th which she probably needs to attend, so probably can't get to Keele.

I completely get the need for strategy. But though she initially took the line that she did not mind where she went as long as she became a doctor, her reaction to SGUL suggests she would prefer something more University like. Trouble is that she then faces more competition. Birmingham sounds good, and also sporty. Perhaps Nottingham. And maybe one of the Scottish ones. St Andrews looked appealing as you can do your clinical in London. Any views? Does anyone know why KCL has such low rankings? Its hospitals are very good with strong research. Belfast? Though we wondered whether this might be difficult as most will be from Northern Ireland.

I will be relieved when this year is over. And I thought London 11+ was bad.

Thank you again.

peteneras Fri 11-Sep-15 03:12:12

"Does anyone know why KCL has such low rankings?"

"Low rankings" in where? Which league table?

As it turned out, KCL Medicine is consistently in the world's top two dozen medical schools - the best UKCAT school in the UK, if you like.

Decorhate Fri 11-Sep-15 06:47:42

KCL doesn't appear in the top 20 medical schools table that our school uses (which is based on the Guardian one I think)

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