My Medical School Application Experience
In the midst of year 12, applying for medical school can be stressful and difficult. However, by planning beforehand and by getting your hands on useful resources, your application process can be made efficient and easy. Below I will be outlining my medical school application experience, and hoping to give you some insight into how the application process works in Australia.
Applying to universities
My journey began in early January before I commenced year 12. During the January holidays, I spent a lot of time researching the different universities to which I could apply for, and finalised a list of institutions which appealed to me. From here, I resumed my application process in late August when the online tertiary admissions centre for NSW (UAC), Victoria (VTAC), SA (SATAC) and Queensland (QTAC) opened. Though navigating the websites of these admissions centres was confusing, I found that consulting my school's careers advisor helped simplify the online application process immensely. For all aspiring medical students, I would highly recommend the use of your school’s careers advisor, as I believe that the information and support they provide during the application process is invaluable. Once I had lodged my forms online, the first phase of applying was complete and I was ready to move on to the second stage where I had to submit applications directly to specific universities.
I found the second stage to be far more challenging than the first, simply due to the fact that the second phase took far more time to complete. As I was a year 12 applicant, many universities had requested a predicted ATAR form to be completed by my school. These forms are often sent just before year 12 exams commence, and spending time filling out these forms can be stressful at the very least. Thankfully, I was able to get my parents involved in this stage and they were able to organise these forms for me. To all the students out there, don’t hesitate to get your parents involved in the application process. Having the support of your family can save you a lot of time in year 12 and every student knows that there is nothing more important than time in your final year of school.
The next part of the process was the written application form I had to submit to James Cook University (JCU), and the direct application I had to submit to the University of Tasmania (UTAS). As Tasmania lacks a tertiary admissions centre, students who wish to apply to UTAS have to apply directly to the university via their website. Luckily, this process is short and applying to UTAS was fairly simple and straightforward for me. From here, I progressed to creating my written application for JCU, which is the only university in Australia which requires an application from candidates. The written application for JCU can seem daunting at first but I found that being genuine was the best way to approach the application. When filling out this form, make sure you make it personal and highlight why it is that YOU want to be a doctor. Even though this form is due just before year 12 exams, make sure you do not rush it. JCU values the written application greatly, and having a stellar application can easily earn you a spot for an interview. Once I had sent my JCU application form at the post office, my application process had finally ended and I was ready to commence my year 12 exams and medical interviews that would follow.
Preparing for and taking the UCAT
Though the UCAT is not formally part of the application process, all universities asides from JCU require students to complete the UCAT in July. Being a year 12 student, I found it difficult to prepare for the UCAT when I had the 5 subjects to complete at school. However, by strictly managing my time and with the aid of useful preparation resources, I was able to conquer the test. When preparing for the UCAT, I would advise all students to be consistent. To ensure I spent an even amount of time preparing, I followed the 10% rule, where I spent 10% of my weekly study time preparing for the UCAT. I found that practicing consistently improved my speed in the UCAT, which in turn enabled me to score well in the test.
Getting ready for interviews
The interview is the last step of the journey. First of all, congratulate yourself on getting this far as it is surely not an easy achievement to receive a medical interview from a university. Once I had accepted my interview and confirmed my date, I moved on to read about the course at the university where I was going to interview. I found that reading up about the course enabled me to pick up the issues that the specific medical school valued, and found that this knowledge enabled me to predict potential interview questions. From here, I started to formulate answers to potential questions (and made sure not to memorise answers to prevent my responses from seeming ingenuine). For my MMI interview, I went one step further and revised medical ethics to prepare me for the scenarios that would come up in these interviews. Finally, on the day of my interview, I tried to remain calm and gave it my best shot. I found the interviewers to be very friendly and surprisingly found the interview process to be a lot more enjoyable than I expected.
Ultimately, although the medical school application process is long and time-consuming, my number one tip to any student would be to avoid rushing the process. Spend time completing your applications carefully and ask for help from both your school and family when necessary. By doing this, I’m sure that your application will be completed efficiently so you can spend more time preparing for your exams and medical school interviews that will follow.