A guide to getting into medicine — ATAR prerequisites and support

A guide to getting into medicine — ATAR prerequisites and support

March 20, 2020 - Cluey Learning

We invited online tutoring experts Cluey Learning to share their advice on how to get into medicine in Australia & New Zealand.

Congratulations on deciding to become a doctor — what a noble career choice! There are medicine courses at a range of Australian universities, and no doubt you’re aware that it’s going to take a lot of hard work before you’re even eligible to apply to one of them.

Let’s take a look at what’s required — the prerequisites, minimum ATAR scores, interviews and the extra curricular activities which will set you apart from other applicants.


Entry requirements for medical school at a glance

Anyone looking to fulfil their medical school dreams should be looking at an ATAR of 95-98 (or higher if you’re set on a top university). English, mid-level Maths and Chemistry are prerequisites for most courses and, although these are generally the only subject requirements, you should aim to do the highest level in each (i.e. Advanced English and Extension Maths) and explore other science subjects to maximise your ATAR.

Due to the extremely high ATAR requirement for virtually all universities (The University of Sydney’s direct entry program was 99.95 last year), most students begin tutoring in one or more of their core subjects as early as Year 10 and well before they begin their final year.


Sitting the UCAT

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a standardised admissions test used by the UCAT consortium of universities in Australia and New Zealand for their medical, dental and clinical science degree programs. It takes the form of a two-hour computerised test and is used in conjunction with other entry requirements, such as interviews and other academic qualifications.

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a standardised admissions test used by the UCAT consortium of universities in Australia and New Zealand for their medical, dental and clinical science degree programs. It takes the form of a two-hour computerised test and is used in conjunction with other entry requirements, such as interviews and other academic qualifications.

The UCAT consists of five sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Decision Making
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Situational Judgement

In fact, the UCAT is designed to test your logic, resilience and critical thinking skills much more than your academic knowledge (although basic maths will be assessed in Quantitative Reasoning). You’ll also be assessed on your ability to identify and understand pattern structures and anticipate changes, as well as how effectively you can apply ethical and moral principles to given situations.

Students who are currently in, or have completed, their final year of schooling are eligible to sit the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT).

Can you study for the UCAT? Absolutely! To maximise your performance, you should complete as many practice tests as you can get your hands on while also improving your reading speed and comprehension skills. Develop time management strategies that work for you and be prepared to triage (prioritising easier questions) to get by. Find out more about the UCAT here.


Other requirements

Even if you’ve exceeded the entry requirement in terms of your ATAR score, you’re not guaranteed a ticket just yet.

Most universities will require you to take part in an interview with key admissions stakeholders before offering you a place. This is your chance to discuss why you want to pursue a career in medicine, demonstrate your knowledge of the university and course content, and make a case for why you might be an excellent candidate. After all, there might be multiple applicants with the same ATAR score and prerequisites as you. This is your chance to set yourself apart.

Some universities might format this interview stage as a panel discussion, while others prefer a more informal one-to-one chat.

In addition to your interview, you might also be required to sit a psychometric or skills test, which usually takes place online. Like any interview process, it’s hard to determine how much bearing these additional tests have on the final decision.


University requirements for Australian and New Zealand Universities medicine courses

This list seeks to define the requirements for the main undergraduate medicine courses in Australia.

University ATAR (or equivalent) 2019 UCAT Other requirements
University of Adelaide ATAR 90.00
IB 33
Y Application
Interview
Curtin University 95.00 Y Application
Interview
Flinders University 95.00 Y Application
Interview
Monash University 90.00 Y Application
Interview
The University of Newcastle/ University of New England 94.30
91.40 (rural applicants)
Y Application Interview
Skills assessment
The University of New South Wales 96.00 Y Application
Interview
The University of Queensland 99.05 OP1 Y Application
University of Tasmania 95.00 Y Application
The University of Western Australia 99.00 Y Application
Interview
University of Western Sydney ATAR 95.50 or IB 36
ATAR 93.50 or IB 37 (GWS or rural applicants)
Y Application
Interview
University of Auckland N/A Y Application
Interview
University of Otago N/A Y Application
Interview
University of Sydney 99.95 N Application
Written assessment
Panel discussion
University of Sydney 99.95 N Application
Written assessment
Panel discussion
University of Melbourne 99.90 N Application
Interview
Bond University 99.90 N Application
Interview
Bond University ATAR 97.00 OP1-2
IB 39
N Application
Interview
Psychometric test
Griffith University ATAR 99.00 OP1 N Application
James Cook Medical School N/A N Application
Interview

Getting the right help

Getting into a medicine program at one of Australia’s top universities is a mammoth undertaking which requires a herculean effort, but it’s not one which needs to be done alone. Most students seek help well before their senior years, usually around Year 10 or the beginning of Year 11. This maximises your time to prepare and minimises the interruption that UCAT study and other university prep requirements will have on your busy school periods.

Preparing early can also help to boost confidence and maximise results.

A mix of practice questions and papers (one hour per week), specialised tutoring (one hour per fortnight) and revision of tutoring work (one hour per week) beginning in Year 11 will ensure that you’ve covered the right material and feel prepared leading up to your final exams. If you wait until Year 12, expect to double up on those frequencies.


Ways a tutor can support your medical school dreams

A top ATAR, exemplary UCAT score and several other requirements won’t come easy, and falling short in even one of these areas could dash your medical school dreams. A tutor can:

  • Identify weaknesses and prioritise learning, so you can study more effectively
  • Explain tough/complex concepts in new ways, especially when it comes to advanced Maths and Chemistry
  • Work through practice questions, telling you what you’re doing right and wrong so you’re confident in your answers
  • Hold you to account and make sure you’re ready for your exams, taking no chances and leaving nothing to luck

Cluey offers expert tutoring in English, Maths and Chemistry, with a special focus on senior studies and exam readiness.