Advice for Potential Medical Students

Dear All, if you are interested in Medicine, please see the email below with advice from Alex Emery, a successful applicant from last year:

Dear Potential Medical Students,

At my time in Didcot Sixth form I received very good support for my University application, and I'm sure you will too. As part of this support I've offered to help those interested in applying to study medicine with advice on work experience, personal statements, interviews and any questions you may have. This email is my first element of help!

One of the key things to remember when applying for medicine is that it is incredibly competitive; over half of applicants don't get a place at their first attempt. This shouldn't put you off as it is certainly, in my opinion, the most interesting and rewarding course anyone could hope to study, and it sets you up for life in what I'm sure will be an amazing career. However it means that you must do everything you can to make your application as good as possible, and ensure you stand out from the crowd. The first way to do this is by getting the grades (which I'm sure you will), but you must also get a range of work experience to boost your personal statement and interview preparation. It will also make sure you're certain medicine is for you. With that in mind, I would advise all of you to get some form of work experience NOW, and try and get as wide a range as possible. Examples of this may include volunteering at a Hospital or a day centre, shadowing a Doctor or Nurse, or spending time in a GP's surgery.

Personally for my application I shadowed the school nurse, spent half term working in the GP's surgery in Abingdon, volunteered at Didcot hospital and spoke to my GP about medicine at university in general. I also read The Language of the Genes by Steve Jones; The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins; The man who mistook his wife for a hat by Oliver Sacks ; and a number of reviews that interested me. This gave me lots to talk about at interviews, and gave the people interviewing me a lot to ask. Not everyone does this much, and some people manage more, but it certainly seems important to give yourself as many things to boost your application you can, due to the competitiveness of the application to the course.

Another thing you must be ready for is the application process itself, so spend some time looking at university websites and seeing which ones you prefer. Some universities weight GCSE grades very highly, others look more closely at personal statements. Most universities also require you to take one of the two admissions tests (UKCAT or BMAT), and again how they use these varies between institutions. You need to find out where your strengths are, and tailor your application to those strengths.

 Medical courses also vary widely in many ways, such as how they teach the course (lectures, group study etc.), where most of their teaching takes place (lecture halls, hospitals, seminar rooms etc.), and the actual course content, and this should also be a factor in where you want to apply.

So in short, start preparing your application ASAP with research and work experience!

I'm sure I'll be in contact again soon, and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. My email address is

Alex Emery