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Pupils wishing to apply for dentistry or veterinary science follow the same pattern and timings as for medicine, although the requirements differ and the advice and support are tailored appropriately.
Applications to study medicine at university are highly competitive, and therefore it is advised that those intending to become medical students should become part of the HACC group that is formed by the Oxbridge Co-ordinator (Mark Broughton). The same is true for those wishing to study veterinary science and dentistry.
Subject teachers will give guidance concerning studying medicine to pupils, but the main advice will come from the member of staff overseeing medicine at Uppingham: at present Peter Bodily. He has been involved with medical applications for many years, regularly interviewing at UCL, Imperial College, and occasionally at Sheffield, and is therefore familiar with the application and interview procedure.
Medical schools require a very good set of grades at GCSE from applicants. The offer grades can be ascertained by looking at individual university websites. Most websites state good passes at GCSE, but experience shows that candidates with anything less than five A* grades will not gain an offer. All candidates should achieve highly at both English Language and Maths, almost certainly at A grade or above. Dual Award Science is perfectly acceptable, but A grades or above in Science subjects would be beneficial. Similar criteria apply to veterinary science and dentistry.
Offers for 2014 are almost certainly to be of the nature of AAA, if not with an A* attached. Subjects required for study should again be gleaned from university websites. It is theoretically possible to find a way through the application process by taking Chemistry or Biology at AS level only, but experience shows that this is not the best way to progress with an application. To make a positive and highly competitive application the study of both Chemistry and Biology to A2 is advised, and exceptions to this should be discussed. The third and fourth subjects taken in the Sixth Form can be quite flexible: some universities like to see breadth and others a scientific emphasis, so advice must be taken. University websites should be consulted for acceptable subjects at A level. General Studies, Art and several other subjects are not accepted by some universities for medical applications. Maths is a particularly attractive subject choice, at least to AS level. Applicants must be careful that they sit their minimum of three A2s at the same time, not at different sittings. Similar criteria apply to veterinary science and dentistry.
Those applying for medicine at Oxbridge, UCL and Imperial College and veterinary science at RVC, London must sit BMAT in the November of the Upper Sixth year. This test includes science GCSE knowledge questions, questions on logic, and a 30-minute one-page essay chosen from three or four titles. Other medical schools require UKCAT testing, a similar but slightly less challenging exercise to BMAT, with no essay.
General reading on scientific topics is to be encouraged, particularly in relevant areas such as those on genetics e.g. ‘The Selfish Gene’.
It is important also to read about medical issues. These can be gathered online, from journals and quality newspapers, and books are available such as ‘How to become a Doctor’, ‘Medical Ethics’ etc. The equivalent reading should be done for dentistry and veterinary science.
Interviews at Oxbridge differ from one interview to another. Some other universities do not interview, although the majority will give a fifteen minute interview asking questions about why the candidate wants to be a doctor, what they gained from work experience, what their interests are, general reading, and what they know about the NHS. The categories for scoring at interview are usually motivation for medicine; awareness of medical issues; communication skills; attitude/empathy; intellectual ability and individual interests. University websites will indicate how each medical school scores personal statements and interviews. Increasingly universities are interviewing fewer candidates and many are adopting a multiple mini-interview procedure. This is similar in veterinary science and dentistry, where some universities use a questionnaire or other such preparation before the interview.
Should a pupil wish to apply for Oxbridge they should join the Oxbridge group led by Mark Broughton. Otherwise the university websites should be studied online and Open Days attended. The degrees are much the same, but there are different styles of teaching (clinically-based, problem solving, self- or group-taught, postgraduate-taught) and applicants should be aware of the particular styles. Some universities offer intercollated degrees at an intermediate stage, e.g. neuroscience, or electives abroad which might appeal.
The courses will be five years (six years for foundation courses), and must be somewhere the pupil will be happy living; applicants who prefer not to live in London, for instance, rule out several medical schools.
A different route is to take a degree in, say, chemistry and then convert to medicine. The advantage of this approach is an easier entrance tariff and time to consider if medicine is really what the pupil wants to do; the disadvantage is that it becomes a seven year course in total (three years for the degree and four for medicine), and the applicant might not get accepted on to a medical course later as it is increasingly competitive.
The principles are the same for veterinary science and dentistry.
The member of staff in charge of medical applications at present does the following:
Upper Fifth (and Lower Fifth) pupils even remotely interested in medicine, veterinary science or dentistry are invited to attend a meeting in the Michaelmas Term which points out the requirements (as above) and the pitfalls involved in applying for medicine, dentistry or veterinary science at university.
This enables them to make an informed choice about their AS level subject choices, encourages them to achieve highly at GCSE, and to try to get some work experience if possible during the summer holiday before the Sixth Form. The latter is particularly important for the veterinary science students who have to undertake an enormously wide range of work experience.
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