Help mentoring a dentistry applicant

(45 Posts)
Powergower Sun 04-Sep-16 18:58:02

I have been involved with mentoring a young student for a few years. He comes from a deprived background and has had a difficult childhood. He achieved good gcse grades (3a* 2 a 5 b). He obtained bbb at AS year 1. He is predicted AAA for next year although I'm not sure how this is worked out by his (failing) school.

He has his heart set on studying dentistry. He had found it very difficult to obtain any work experience but has completed a 5 day placement shadowing a gp, works on a sat doing admin for a research company, heads up a young community group and mentors other young people from his estate.

He has made some enquiries and informs he is eligible for a few access to medicine/dentistry schemes at unis including Leeds and Sheffield. My work with him has been to support him through revision, help with cv, provide emotional support and motivation and discuss higher education. He will be the very first in his family going on to uni.

He is sitting his ukcat exam next week. Again he has used his initiative and managed to obtain a bursary to cover the cost of this exam. I am looking for any parents of dentist students/ students to advise me/him about how best to apply for dentistry. He lacks confidence and worried about the way he speaks and presents himself. We have worked on confidence building but it is difficult. What kind of ukcat score will he need to be in with a shot at interview? Can he apply to more than one access scheme?

With his gcse's being what they are will he still have a shot at dentistry? Is there anyone who can advise about what to put on his PS and any other tips?

I am constantly amazed at his ability to break down barriers and aim high and don't want to discourage him as I know he is very bright and enterprising. But from initial research it seems almost impossible to get a place at uni to study dentistry.

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Kr1stina Sun 04-Sep-16 21:26:49

He needs work experience in dentistry to apply . He shoudl write a simple letter / CV and go in person to every dental practice in his local area . Many dental schools won't even consider his application without work exerience.

He needs to have this arranged if not done in the next month befroe he submits his application .

The next crucial thing is his UKCAT, he needs a good mark. Preferably at least 10% above the average . Has the used the online tests on the UKCAT site ?

Can he afford one of the books to revise or to join medify , which has sown online tests? Books about £15, medify similar cost I think for a week .

If his school is very poor m he can apply for a place at the summer school run by the Sutton trust . But that woudl be for next summer so no use if he's applying now.

I fear he might struggle with such low GCSE grades so he should contact all the universities he's interested in to see if they offer adjusted entry for pupils from certain schools or who live in certain postcodes.

Do you have any input into his school reference ?

Finally has he double checked that he's studying the right school subjects ?

Powergower Mon 05-Sep-16 12:54:53

Thank you for this advice. We have a better plan of action now.

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Needmoresleep Mon 05-Sep-16 13:08:48

For UKCAT timing is everything. Between now and the exam he needs to practice as much as he can. Ideally by finding the money and buying a subscription to an on-line programme, and by reading any tips provided on how to tackle the different types of questions.

Too late otherwwise I would have posted some of our, admittedly slightly, out of date books.

Then read the guidance from each medical school, plus anything on Student Room, on Personal Statements, and make sure you cover everything as best you can.

Powergower Mon 05-Sep-16 20:16:35

Arghhh ukcat score today was not good - 580. He mentioned something about losing time with the fiddly online calculator. Feel so sad for him as he seems to face barrier after barrier. He could not afford Any online subscriptions but did find a cheap ukcat book on ebay.

We are looking at widening participating schemes this which don't look at ukcat.

This whole thing is such a nightmare. It was much easier in my day. School are useless, he has zero parental support and is still determined to move forward now with bmat.

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titchy Mon 05-Sep-16 20:35:36

Is there anything the Sutton Trust can offer:

Is he London based? In which case Kings:

otherwise can he view this as a three rather than two year process, and not be too disillusioned if he doesn't get a place next year? The lack of work experience might be an issue currently.

Kr1stina Mon 05-Sep-16 20:47:19

Sorry to hear that, it's a very tough test .

Yes, the online calculator is fiddly, which is why it's best to use the practice tests on the [free] UKCAT website, to get practice using the keyboard and not the mouse and also to learn the keyboard shortcuts.

I know it's too late for your mentee but thought I'd mention it for anyone else reading .

Most of the widening participation schemes that use the UKCAT give a 10% uplift on the UKCAT score , which I suspect is unlikely to get this lad into the range for interview.

Of course it doesn't hurt to make some phone calls to check .

Unfortunately the dental schools that use the BMAT often require higher grades too, so you'd need to check that he meets their adjusted entry grades first .

Some have less weighting on GCSE grades, which might help him .

Would he consider doing a related science degree and going to dental school afterwards ?


Mrsmorton Mon 05-Sep-16 20:56:01

Lots of people do it as a second degree, I applied whilst in my first year of another course because of an issue with predicted A level grades (not sure my college believed I'd get anything near what I did but it meant I had the grades in hand). This was over 15 years ago now though and things have changed so much (not necessarily producing better graduates but that's by the by).

Does he have to apply this year? Have you been in touch with admissions tutors? Agree he must must must do work experience in a dental practice, if I worked in one I'd try to help but I don't really see patients any more.

Has he asked his own dentist? If he's genuinely serious and really can't find anywhere, pm me and I can ask around of anyone near by who would give him a week or two. Lots of dentists don't want to because of issues with insurance and paperwork and so on...

Kr1stina Mon 05-Sep-16 23:01:37

Another route to work experience in a general practice is to try to do some shadowing in a dental lab first . For some reason they can be easier to get into .

If he does a day or two there, hopefully the staff will be suitable impressed with him and might help him get into one of the practices they work with .

He can also apply to his local health authority for work shadowing in the community dental service ( or whatever it's called in your area) .

All this is IN ADDITION to work shadowing in a practice , not instead of . I'm afraid that time is against him now, with the deadline only a month away . As another poster said, he may need to see this as a longer term project .

Kr1stina Mon 05-Sep-16 23:02:33

Newcastle University access scheme here

AverysillyoldHector Mon 05-Sep-16 23:26:39

Would he consider doing dental hygiene and therapy instead? DD's best friend had her heart set on Dentistry but wasnt going to get the grades needed. She has now completed her degree and loves her job. She has been able to work abroad for a year, and is now back in England working. Might be worth looking at as a fall back?

Powergower Tue 06-Sep-16 22:01:40

He has contacted a local uni who have said that he will be eligible for the widening access scheme they offer. They are a uni which place emphasis on personal statement and have reassured him that his lack of experience shadowing a deviation won't be held against him if he goes through the access scheme route. He feels very reassured although I think he may have to do the bmat.

Does anyone have any resources or tips for the bmat? Also in his statement he has to explain why dentistry. When I spoke to him he stated that having his braces applied was the game changer for him and he was attracted to the dexterity and precision required abd he also liked the client contact element. I'm not sure if saying having braces on made you choose a career in dentistry is the best thing to have on a cv! Haha.

The admissions tutor he spoke up was lovely. Very reassuring with some suggested reading. He is on track to get 3 A at a level so he now has to work on his PS (I said I would check the first draft) and focus on bmat.

Dentistry applications need to be in mid October which is very early so time is really of the essence for him. Any further tips would be great especially in relation to writing his PS. He volunteers with a community group and works pt. He also runs a homework club for young people in his area and has recently been nominated for a local award for his community work. All this will go in his statement but it's hard to be precise and I've told him to relate his experience to the skills he has learnt.

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Powergower Tue 06-Sep-16 22:03:10

That should say ps not cv.

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Kr1stina Tue 06-Sep-16 22:21:23

I'm glad Leeds have been helpful. He needs to register for BMAT and start revising now, it's on 2 November.

It's fine to mention orthodontic treatment in his PS.

He needs to link his EC activities to dentistry, this will be harder as he has no WE to talk about .

Will the widening access scheme not help him with his PS?

Kr1stina Tue 06-Sep-16 22:24:35

Ah, Ive just checked and they don't. It's about adjusted grades, study skills and financial support .

Looks like a good scheme, I hope it helps him .

Powergower Tue 06-Sep-16 22:28:19

Thank you I hope it does. He's terrified of the bmat after his experience with ukcat but is pretty determined. He can't afford it so is speaking to school tmrw about applying for a bursary to fund the bmat.

The scheme offers a lot of support but most of it is after his PS and ucas are due in!

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Chuckie88 Tue 06-Sep-16 22:41:19

BMAT is tough but doable with practice. My DD did it for Leeds medicine entry using the practice books to get used to things. Most difficult elements were doing physics again after more than a year of doing her best to forget it and the essay writing. Practice was everything to make sure you present structured arguements. Lastly use students room posts for tips but ignore much of what is written re what people should do re revision and practice. Lots of trolls and boasters there.

Powergower Tue 06-Sep-16 22:42:43

Chuckie any practice books you'd recommend for bmat?

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Kr1stina Tue 06-Sep-16 22:47:16

He can get the standard BMAT fee reimbursed if he's on a low income

He needs to apply now so he doesn't end up payinh the higher fee, which isn't reimbursed.

He can use the school bursary to buy a couple of practice books

Kr1stina Tue 06-Sep-16 22:49:23

Just ad the reviews here

Kr1stina Tue 06-Sep-16 22:49:52

Sorry, just read

Powergower Tue 06-Sep-16 23:03:30

Thank you ever so much for this info.

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RedHelenB Wed 07-Sep-16 10:18:18

Getting work experience is tough , no NHS dentists would take my dd, I csn see why so many dentists come from well off backgrounds with access to work experience. Eventually a lovely private dentist accepted her aftet trudging round with het CV. Her UKCAT wasn't overly high but gcses and as levels will demonstrate that her predicted grades arent pie in the sky! I m doubtful she will get interviews so suggesting reapplying next year with aachieved grades if necessary. She felt Leeds was most like her and they seemed to acknowledge the difficulty in getting work experience.

Powergower Wed 07-Sep-16 11:18:31

Yes he has been phoning and visiting deviates for a fortnight now with no luck. Most say they won't offer WE due to insurance and time issues!

If anyone on here knows any west Yorkshire based dentists who might be able to offer even a day please do pm me.

Leeds have hinted that they won't mind too much if there is no experience but have advised him to keep trying.

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Powergower Wed 07-Sep-16 11:19:07

Red is your dd applying this year ?

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