COVID-19 - Tackling Your Med Admissions Challenges

COVID-19 - Tackling Your Med Admissions Challenges

May 11, 2020 - Rohhan Jain

COVID-19 has undoubtedly had a huge impact on education this year. With classes shifting online, students have understandably felt anxious and stressed. However, many changes have been implemented to aid students during the crisis. Below, we outline the changes that will impact your medical school application process, with the aim of helping you navigate through these tough times. Not only will we have a look at the changes to the UCAT, but also to Year 12 exams and universities, so your medical school application process can be efficient and easy.

UCAT 2020

Many rumours have been going around stating that the UCAT has been delayed this year, but we can confirm that this is not true. As of now, the UCAT is still scheduled to take place in the month of July - however, Pearson Vue has announced that this could change depending on the circumstances of the next few months.Our advice to all test takers is to continue preparing as they normally would whilst keeping an eye on the UCAT consortium website. Lately, many schools have reopened, enforcing strict social distancing rules and this is likely to be the case with UCAT testing centres. Whilst this may seem daunting at first, keep in mind that most candidates will also feel the same way. Additionally, your UCAT score is a percentile, ranking you against other candidates, and the circumstances of this year are sure to impact all students equally, disadvantaging you in no way.

ATAR and Study Scores in 2020

As the Year 12 curriculum differs in different states across Australia, each state will implement its own set of rules for Year 12 students this year. In Victoria, the study design for many subjects have been shortened and exams have been rescheduled to a later date. Furthermore, school assessed coursework for multiple subjects have been reduced and their contribution to an individual’s study score has increased, meaning a student’s exam performance won’t contribute to their overall score as much as it did in the past few years. Ultimately, whilst these changes can be seen as favourable or harsh, once again keep in mind that your study scores and ATAR are ranks outlining how well you performed compared to other year 12 students in your state and nationwide respectively.

Mock Exams and Workshops

With tuition companies closing their centres and simulated exams being cancelled for the UCAT, many students have been concerned about how they’ll prepare for their upcoming examinations. By now, most companies have shifted their teaching online and though this is not the desired outcome, it can still help you with your studies immensely. Luckily, as the UCAT is a computer-based exam, mock exams can be simulated at home by taking the exam under test conditions. Essentially, whilst all of this can seem intimidating at first, remember that you and all your fellow peers are in the same boat. On the bright side, one advantage that you have over past test-takers is that you don’t have to travel for your studies each day, meaning you can spend more time preparing (and relaxing!) every day.

University Cut-offs and Open Days

The prerequisite ATAR for many courses have been the subject of debate, with many students expressing the need for these cut-offs to be lowered this year. Whilst this concern is understandable, it must be noted that the distribution of ATARs amongst Year 12 students will not change this year. In short, this means that the number of students getting a 90+ ATAR this year will remain the same as the number of students who received a 90+ ATAR last year, given there was the same number of Year 12 students in 2019 as there are in 2020. This occurs as the ATAR is a rank, unaffected by a cohort’s exam performance, and ultimately this means that universities will not need to change their ATAR prerequisites.

On the contrary, one thing that universities are working to change is their open days. Many universities will be hosting virtual open days and information sessions through online applications this year, and some universities even have a 3D tour of their campus. To find out what is happening at the university you’re interested in, make sure you frequently visit the university’s website for updates on such events.

Essentially, it is normal to feel tense and anxious about the changes made this year. However, remember that your scores are measured relative to other students and keep in mind that all students have been affected by COVID-19 as much as you have been. Make sure to look after yourself when in isolation and continue your studies as you normally would. Before long, the repercussions of COVID-19 will be over and you will be on your way to medical school soon.