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Medicine - average UKCAT score

(63 Posts)
noddy33 Thu 19-Jul-12 21:43:04

Hi my daughter has just got 640 score which is just average. She has 6 A* and 4A in science subjects etc and doing Chem, Biol, Maths and Eng Lit AS. Doing work experience and vol work etc. All pretty good but I'm concerned the UKCAT score will disadvantage her in getting an interview.
I know she has to go through each university policy to see where she stands but has anyone any advice now? Although the university might state they accept a lower score, many applicants will be higher and I doubt she will make the grade. Thanks

peteneras Fri 20-Jul-12 00:32:58

I’m surprised she took the test at such an early stage. UKCAT goes right through to the first week of October and one gets one’s result(s) immediately after the test even before you leave the test centre. In short, your DD could have used the next two months revising for the test to hopefully achieve a higher score. The danger here is test centres may be fully booked at the later stages and one may have to travel long distances to another centre.

From my observation, successful candidates tend to average around the 700 mark but of course this is not set in stone. I know of candidates getting 740 and not getting an interview and a few cases of 630’ish getting offers! So, don’t give up yet.

But I would advise your DD do the following:

•Write a stellar Personal Statement

•Avoid ‘UKCAT hungry’ schools e.g. Sheffield

•Ace the BMAT (if she’s applying to BMAT schools)

•Alternatively, apply to ‘non-tests’ schools, e.g. Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol

Good luck!

Kez100 Fri 20-Jul-12 12:07:00

I know of two offers this year - both well over 700. One A level age and the other in his early 20's - has amazing GCSE and A Level results and then left before doinga degree and worked in radiography in the NHS.

noddy33 Fri 20-Jul-12 18:48:18

Thanks for your constructive comments. DD finished ASs middle of June and in NI kids don't go back to school until Sept so had a month to look over it (and on holiday most of Aug). To be honest, she doesn't think she could have done any better with more time.
I am encouraging her to take a year out but she isn't keen at this stage.
thanks again.

Myrtille Fri 20-Jul-12 21:13:39

Have you seen this?:

Although you have to take what the medical schools say publicly about admissions with a pinch of salt, it looks like an average of 640 will put you in the game at a number of schools.

I'd put Bristol on your list as a school that doesn't use Bmat or UKCAT. Avoid Birmingham as her GCSEs aren't good enough for their cut off. My daughter is at Nottingham and the rumour is they have a cut off in the 700s so best not apply there either.

Best of luck. It's tough but don't worry if you get some rejections, there's no logic behind some of the offers.

noddy33 Sat 21-Jul-12 12:54:49

thanks Myrtille, I hadn't thought of Bristol and will check it out. It is tough.
I have looked at the student room though I agree with you that the admissions policies are only a guide and that in reality the standard is much higher.
Is your daughter enjoying it? - I'm aware of a two first year students at other universities who are in with maturer students and with Problem Based Learning are finding it quite lonely.

Myrtille Sat 21-Jul-12 17:12:38

I think she is enjoying it. Notts is a halfway house between PBL and lectures which she likes.
The application process was a rollercoaster. Short summary - She had 11 A*s and a A*A*AA prediction, 725 UKCAT and a poor Bmat. She got a quick offer from Birm (based on GCSEs poss?), An interview and rej from Camb (poor Bmat), an offer from Notts (AAB) and then just before closing date Bristol rejected her without interview. However one of her friends got into Bristol very late on with worse grades and CV hence my comment about no logic to it all.

About 7 from her year got in to medicine. Nobody got 4 offers.
In retrospect, her advice is: Give Bmat a good go with lots of past papers before hand (unlike her!). Mix your choices up - 1 UKCAT, 1 BMAT, 1 that uses neither and 1 other. Go to interviews with an open mind. Nottingham was a filler for her but really impressed her and she's delighted to be there. Try and find out what the interviews might concentrate on - Cambridge was physics, Birm was NHS structure, Notts was duties of a doctor.

Final comment...Think hard before going to London. My D is paying £55-60 rent and living 10 mins from the hospital. Her friends at Imperial and UCL are very envious.

peteneras Sat 21-Jul-12 17:51:02

OP, don’t know whether you’ve read it or not but last month I posted a message on another Medicine thread in the Further Education section of MN. See here in the middle of Page 2.

Yellowtip Sat 21-Jul-12 22:32:03

Myrtille the one student I do know of out of DS1's friends who got 4/4 this year was utterly perfect in every respect.

Bristol does seem to be quirky. DS1 has 12 A* all taken in one sitting a year early but was rejected before interview very early. He wasn't bothered (had an offer from his first choice in hand) but it did seem odd, to not even interview, since he looks very good in other respects too, on paper.

Is it a good idea to guess the focus of interviews? Not sure. I'd say our experience is: be prepared!

Myrtille Sat 21-Jul-12 23:39:21

Re Bristol, I have two theories based on DD's & others' experience.

1. They seem disorganized in that they overrun deadlines, don't acknowledge applications for ages, keep applicants hanging to the end and then reject people without interview just before closing date. No other school seemed to do this.

2. They suffer from being many Oxbridge applicant's 2nd choice. So they have to have a strategy to filter out the obvious Oxbridge people who are going to accept them as an insurance offer and leave them with a hole come August when they get their grades. DD's friend had 4 rejections including Bristol and got phoned up by them after results came out and offered a place - combination of delight/relief/disbelief!

I'd be inclined to put Bristol on you're list if your grades aren't absolutely top notch especially if you are coming from a more challenged background that would improve their intake stats. They seem to be trying harder than most to take account of the opportunities applicants have had.

Re interviews. I was recommending research not guessing - Trawl the Student Room and you know what comes up at various places. Try one that DD got:
A) How many hours does a Junior Doctor work?, B) do you think that's going to be hard?

A) is easy, B) is a minefield.

Mmmmnmnmnmnmmm Sun 22-Jul-12 00:00:52

Read every word of each of the medical schools admission policy. Applying wisely is the most important thing in the whole Stressful procedure. Also look at the entry stats on UCAS and look at info onThe Student Room. Bare in mind that some information on the student room is a little off the mark but even so it is useful.
Bristol has previously had extremely high numbers of applicants per place and are also notorious for taking ages and ages to process applications.
You need to play to your strengths. My DC1 had a high UKCAT and got two offers from UKCAT hungry Uni's. He withdrew his application from Bristol as he couldn't be arsed waiting for them to make decision.
Good luck.

unitarian Sun 22-Jul-12 01:04:27

She could consider Leeds.
Leeds scores candidates based on academic results, PS, work experience and extra curriculars then works down the list calling them for interview. The UKCAT score is used as a tie-breaker where two candidates are otherwise evenly matched.

Consider BMAT too. It might open up other doors but the problem with it is that candidates sit the exam after they have submitted their UCAS forms so your DD should try some past papers before deciding whether it is worth the risk.

Myrtille's right about not applying to Birmingham, and Bristol seems to be utterly unpredictable!

Good luck.

Yellowtip Sun 22-Jul-12 09:50:24

Myrtille it was easy from looking at TSR for DS to see when Bristol started processing applications and communicating their decisions to applicants. He was rejected in about the first five minutes! (sometime in early Jan).

By contrast Birmingham interviewed him in October and kept him waiting until April to make an offer. A high one too, which may well have been to avoid him insuring with them (in fact when he declined the offer they wrote to him asking whether or not he had an Oxbridge offer).

Yellowtip Sun 22-Jul-12 09:54:32

Myrtille yes I realise that you meant informed guesswork but my point is that, as with exams, don't rely on anything in particular coming up or you could fall flat on your face. And if it does come up, it's possible to sound pre-rehearsed (which by definition you are!). As you say, a minefield.

noddy33 Sun 22-Jul-12 13:49:33

This thread is so interesting for me (and others I suspect). Thanks for all contributions.
I think there should be a degree in medicine admissions!
Another prob is that not universities have decided what their criteria is yet and it may be late Aug before final updates are made to websites - this is what Brighton and Sussex said in email last week (and of course UKCAT average score isn't know until Nov).
I'm defo thinking Leeds could be one to try, Liverpool (although my neice is 4 year and doesn't like the full PBL.), possibly Cardiff and maybe Queen Belfast but do the multi mini interview thing and seem to prefer mature applicants.
Still a long time before Oct but as others have said, I think its better to write the ps to suit the universities - if pos.
Trying to get her to consider 'productive' year out as I think she will come over young for her age at interview.
Wish she would come up with plan b too!

Mmmmnmnmnmnmmm Sun 22-Jul-12 20:15:11

It's important to look at the Uni's actual Medical Admission Policy not just their Medical Applicant entrance requirements that you find on their website or prospectus. If you see what I mean confused
Leeds had 16 applicants to every place. Eeek!

unitarian Mon 23-Jul-12 09:43:41

DD is at a London med school, now approaching year 3 of 6. There has been some PBL and she hated it with a passion so she is very relieved that she turned down an offer from Manchester.
She is a late July baby and I was in favour of a year out. She wouldn't consider it. Her argument against a gap year was that she'll be turning 24 by the time she finishes her course, 26 by the time she's finished foundation, so why hang about for a year.
She had an offer from Leeds also and the competition was every bit as fierce that year ( her letter inviting her for interview - 2010- says they had 4800 applicants) but if you let the statistics put you off then you'll never get in.

Think of it this way. Everyone has applied to 4 med schools so that skews the stats, therefore divide by 4. Also there are no-hopers to weed out. And they will make offers to more than the number of available places because they know that some will use that offer as insurance and not ultimately take up the place.

The first goal is to get an interview and I'm convinced that this hangs on the personal statement, assuming the academic record is good enough, and assuming that she has chosen wisely in the first place.

But cross each bridge as you come to it.

First, decide where to apply based on where her particular strengths will help her avoid elimination without a second look. This is the most important part of the process.

Then write a brilliant PS.

Then be prepared to sweat for several months......

unitarian Mon 23-Jul-12 10:39:12

I have a habit of adding another post when I've made a coffee and thought about it a bit more. Sorry.

Worry about interview questions/ what to wear etc. when you get to that stage but it is worth considering as part of the process of deciding where to apply.
For example, will she interview reasonably well? Some med schools don't interview or don't interview very many. Some interview lots and lots and use the interview very much as part of the selection process.
In DD's case, the three which interviewed her only interview candidates who have satisfied all the other criteria so 75% of interviewees get offers. This was a bit of a confidence-booster.

The first of these was a multi-mini scenario where 17 yr olds were up against post-grads and mature students. She survived that and got an offer from it and the next two interviews were relatively easy in comparison.

In the next 2 months your DD has to decide whether to take BMAT so she should look at some past papers and assess her chances. If she feels she will do reasonably well then she could apply to at least one BMAT school - Oxbridge, UCL, Imperial. In which case her somewhat weak UKCAT score becomes irrelevant.

My DD drew up a chart for herself based on:
a)where she would like to spend 5-6 years (and looking at where the clinical work is likely to be).
b) could she pursue her other interest happily there.
c) entry criteria. (Like your DD she had 6 GCSE *s so she didn't apply to Birmingham. As a rough rule of thumb, if they don't use UKCAT or BMAT then med schools use the number of GCSE *s as decider.)
d) ease of travel to and fro
e) she should have considered how the course is taught but didn't. She would now avoid PBL courses but it seems to suit plenty of students and, frankly, would you turn it down if that's the only offer?

This is old but useful as a starting point

Don't be out off by the cost of London. The fees are the same, the travel to and fro is straightforward, the student finance increases and there are bursaries.

With a weakish UKCAT score and 6*s it isn't going to be easy but plenty of candidates with 'perfect' profiles don't succeed. My DD was never the one considered most likely to succeed in her sixth form but she was the only one who got three offers and ended up at her first choice med school.

Leanderbaer Mon 23-Jul-12 13:37:07

My DS is Mr Cool and as laid back as can be. He and I started the Medicine Application Process thinking he would do everything for himself but we slowly realised he did need support and found it unexpectantly stressful. He went to all the open days on his own but I went with him to his interviews. It's agonising waiting and waiting to hear back from the Uni's. He was fairly confident he would get in as he had a very high UKCAT and thought his work experience and PS was good (although most are I would presume). He prepared really well for all his interviews and knew the courses and Uni's inside out. He was still asked lts of odd questions.
He did not have a plan B and did not apply for a fifth University. I thought that was a bad idea but it was his decision. It was a huge relief when he got his first offer. He has just finished his first year and is loving it.
Hope everything goes well.

unitarians advice to Cross each bridge as you come to it is excellent

Yellowtip Mon 23-Jul-12 14:49:58

unitarian gave lots of very helpful advice last year; take it!

Someone mentioned writing an appropriate PS. This can be tricky for Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial applicants. As a tactical ploy, at least for Oxford applicants (where interviews are decided solely on a mathematical formula based on the BMAT + GCSEs, it may be wise (for the benefit of the other universities such as Birmingham/ Bristol) to go a bit light on the academic tenor of the PS.

noddy33 Mon 23-Jul-12 15:01:54

Sound advice from unitarian and leanderbaer, many thanks
I agree that some v bright achievers don't get in - perhaps they tend to just list their achievements rather than explain what they have learned from them.
I do think my DDs ps, though not outstanding by any means, should read ok.
Leanderbaer, sometimes I wonder if it me or my DD that's applying!
Back to work, will chat later

Kez100 Mon 23-Jul-12 16:18:12

I'm no expert on medicine but I do know that some excellent academics wouldn't have the social skills which make a great medic.

I was delighted that my friends son got a place because he is exactly who you would imagine would make a great doctor. Not only does he work hard and attain consistently excellent grades academically, he can also hold an appropriate conversation with anyone and everyone, from tiny children to old people.

Tressy Mon 23-Jul-12 16:36:38

Some great advice here. It's all about researching the different universities and what they are hot on.

unitarian Mon 23-Jul-12 17:37:01

Thanks for the kind words, yellow.
I'm so glad you 'survived' the process and got the right outcome.

unitarian Mon 23-Jul-12 18:24:54

On the PS - you get one shot at it, it will be read by 4 different med schools and it has to be much more than OK.

(Forgive me if I'm saying things I've said on other threads.)

Above all, the PS has to convince admissions tutors that she has it in her to be a doctor and survive the training.
They will all say that they've always wanted to be a doctor, save lives and have spent hours and hours slaving away in care homes.
The trick is to say all that and still stand out from the crowd without resorting to flippancy.

She should begin with why she wants to be a doctor and perhaps mention a particular aspect that holds a special interest, maybe citing some research that has been read.

Work experience shouldn't be presented as a list of things done. The PS should show that the student has assimilated things from the experience.

Don't be afraid to push the extra-curricular stuff. This gives tutors an idea of what sort of person you are and they like someone who has a release mechanism/ other absorbing interest. It shows a rounded person and an ability to withstand pressure.

Spend a few hours digging out all those school certs and awards to remind yourself what you have achieved over the past few years. You will probably not mention most of it but it might reveal a pattern or a personality trait that is worth highlighting.

Things that worked in DD's favour were work done with children; eg, as a classroom helper in science lessons working with statemented children. Also a months work as an au pair and some teaching in a foreign school whilst on a language exchange.
The interviewers were far more interested in these things than they were about the obligatory spell in a care home and shadowing a GP.
I was puzzled about this but now I know that students and doctors spend a lot of time teaching other students so she had ticked an important one of their boxes without realising it.

She made much of her musical experiences and one tutor commented that she obviously sets herself high standards. It could work equally well with sport or dance etc.

You will be asked about things on your PS at interview so keep a copy, read it before each interview and be sure that you can justify every word of it even if things go right up to the wire next April.

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