Wanting to get into medicine but not quite sure what it takes?
Our amazing Art of Smart tutor Angela is here to save the day! Angela is currently studying a Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine at the University of Sydney and gives us insight into her journey into medicine.
Let’s get started!
- Angela graduated as Dux of Hornsby Girls’ High School in 2019
- She received an ATAR of 99.95
- Angela hopes to become a specialist doctor such as an ophthalmologist
- Her HSC subjects were Biology, Mathematics Advanced, Mathematics Extension 1, Music 2, Music Extension and English Advanced
- Angela decided to pursue medicine because it allows her to positively impact the community and enjoys the highly dynamic and innovative nature of the field!
What is the UCAT?
If you’re thinking about getting into medicine, you’ve probably heard of the UCAT.
UCAT stands for the University Clinical Aptitude Test and is used in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The UCAT is a skills-based test with 5 different sections.
- Verbal Reasoning
- Decision Making
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Situational Judgement.
It consists of 233 questions to be answered in 2 hours!
The test is completed on a computer in select locations which can be found on their website.
Not all universities require you to complete the UCAT but plenty do – take a look here to find the official list!
The universities not included have their own requirements and processes for entry into medicine, a summary can be found here!
If medicine is your goal, it becomes just as important as your HSC.
Doing well in the UCAT can actually take the pressure off HSC as your qualification does not become solely based on your ATAR!
Step 1: Plan ahead
The process for getting into medicine can be one that starts even before the HSC.
With medicine in mind, Angela made strategic choices coming up to Year 12.
In Year 10, she began Preliminary Geography eventually completing her HSC for it in Year 11.
In doing so, Angela gave herself a backup and more time which she found to be incredibly valuable for the challenges ahead.
She also was able to get familiar with the processes of the HSC!
If you have the opportunity to take an accelerated course, Angela highly recommends you take it!
Another important thing to note about the UCAT is that test scores are only valid for the year they were taken.
Angela took 10 units during Year 12 as a result and still had a backup!
This security helped relieve some stress and is something you could definitely consider!
Step 2: Start studying in the January holidays
Angela began prepping for the UCAT in the summer holidays before Term 2 of Year 12, 6 months before the test in July.
To prepare, she used an online portal with practice UCAT questions.
If you want to receive an interview into medicine, it’s super important you do well as it is the main factor considered!
These interviews should be kept in mind because at the end of the day they aren’t just looking for a smart person but someone who is well rounded in all aspects!
While studying for the UCAT, Angela says you should stay engaged.
Make sure you’re focussing on where you’re going wrong and consciously correcting yourself for the most benefit!
Remember quality over quantity!
Step 3: Register for the UCAT
Bookings for the UCAT test generally open in March and testing is from July to August.
So if you’re thinking about sitting the test – get in quick!
The test generally costs $305 if taken in Australia or New Zealand.
Be aware that for each round, you can only sit the test once!
Step 4: Treat the UCAT like another subject
We all know the HSC is already a massive challenge on its own so how on earth do you also study for the UCAT?!
Angela’s best advice would be to simply treat it like another subject.
UCAT will be a key part of your study for Terms 2 and 3 of Year 12.
So if you’re lucky enough to have free periods, use them wisely!
With only 10 units, Angela had free periods in her timetable and she chose to devote these to UCAT study.
This gave her a clear structure and a minimum amount of study time!
How Angela Typically Studied
Angela used to get home from school around 4pm and allowed herself to rest and exercise before getting back into any study.
Only after dinner would she restart her study.
To overcome any desire to procrastinate she would use the Pomodoro technique to keep on track and made to-do lists every day!
Keeping your study seeming achievable is a key way to maintain motivation.
By making your work seem less daunting, you’re able to accomplish a lot more!
The Pomodoro technique consists of 25 minutes of working and then a 5 minute break. Try it out here!
To decide what she would study each day, Angela simply assessed what needed to be done and would end up studying for 2-3 subjects a night.
Generally, she completed 1 hour of UCAT study a day!
As music was one of her subjects, Angela played the piano for an hour every night and would consider that her music study.
The effectiveness of Angela’s study all came down to consistency – while it might seem complicated if you follow a schedule and optimise it to your needs, success is just around the corner!
No special tips or tricks or crazy hours here!
Step 5: Take the test and wait
Once you’ve taken the UCAT, give yourself a pat on the back and relax as you wait for your results.
As the test is online, you actually receive your results within a 24-hour time frame of sitting it!
While this is soon, it won’t give you a clear indication of whether you will receive an offer because similar to ATAR, they are not based on scores but percentiles.
Interview offers will be made on the basis of your UCAT score or a combination of your UCAT and ATAR results.
These may come out from October all the way through to January and are mostly dependent on the university!
Typically those who received scores in the 90th percentile or above will receive interviews.
You’ll be able to see what percentile you’re in on this page in late August! Good luck!
And that’s how to get into medicine!
Looking for some extra help with your HSC studies?
We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC coaches and mentors like Angela!
We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!
To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!
Gabrielle Wong is currently the Digital Marketing Assistant at Art of Smart. She is a second year student at the University of Sydney studying a Bachelor of Arts/Advanced Studies majoring in Media and Communications and Marketing.