Want to get into Medicine but feeling a bit confused about what it takes? We know the journey towards getting into Medicine can be quite difficult and stressful.
But we’re here to help! We’ve talked to James, a recent HSC graduate, who got into Medicine at Adelaide University. From studying for the UCAT and balancing HSC Trials to preparing for Interviews, James has shared some of his top tips on how to successfully navigate the journey.
Let’s jump right in!
James recently graduated high school and received an offer to study Medicine at Adelaide University!
But he told us that Medicine wasn’t always his dream degree. Even in Year 11, James wasn’t considering a career as a Doctor.
His mindset towards Medicine changed after his brother had an advanced surgery for a rare heart condition. James told us that the surgery “completely reversed his symptoms and he’s now living a healthy normal life.”
It was this process that really inspired James to think about what studying Medicine really entails.
He especially pointed out that Medicine opens up more career options than just a doctor, such as research, policy, or administration.
Preparing for the UCAT
So if you’re thinking of pursuing a Medicine degree, you’re most likely familiar with the UCAT.
The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a test used by universities in Australia and New Zealand to help select students for their medical degrees.
The two-hour long test assesses you on a range of relevant abilities including:
- Verbal Reasoning
- Decision Making
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Abstract Reasoning
- Situational Judgement
James told us that the best way to maximise your chances with the UCAT is to do as much practice as possible! He found practice tests, questions and resources on websites such as Kaplan and MedEntry, as well as some practice tests provided by UCAT itself.
How early should you start preparing?
The UCAT exam takes place towards the end of July, which often coincides with HSC Trials or other school-based assessments. Which is why it’s super important to plan your time effectively and start preparing early, or you might feel overwhelmed closer to July!
Take it from James, who only really started preparing for the UCAT towards the end of June, 3 weeks before the exam!
“Really intense prep is going to burn you out if you’re doing it right before the test,” said James.
So in hindsight, James suggests that the best time to start UCAT prep is probably around the summer holidays! He recommends using the holidays to do some diagnosis practice tests and lay a good foundation so that all you need to around Trials time is a final polish and review.
He also told us that it might be useful to think about the UCAT as a whole other HSC subject with fixed study blocks. “If you’re really good at rigidly structuring your study I think it’s a great idea… [to do] half an hour or an hour a day in the lead up to the test,” said James.
Of course, ultimately this will vary quite a bit depending on who you are, how you study best, and how well you manage your time. So don’t feel too worried or stressed out, and don’t compare yourself to other students who maybe start studying earlier or later than you!
You can check out some more tips to help prepare for the UCAT here.
Preparing for Interviews
After you complete your UCAT, you may receive an offer for an interview.
While you can’t walk into your interview with pre-prepared responses, there are some tips to help reduce the surprise element of it!
James said your informal preparation should be about “learning how to answer those sort of questions, not in a fake way… but more about just gaining confidence speaking about it”.
The best way to do this is to do mock interviews using questions that have come up in the past. You can find past questions on forums such as Med Students Online.
James found it particularly useful to get his mum to ask him questions, because she had heaps of experience interviewing people! So finding someone who is a firm interviewer and asks you tough questions and follow-ups can be really beneficial.
When preparing for your interview, make sure you’re not memorising your answers! The key is to practice giving responses and build your confidence.
This way you’ll be more relaxed during your interview and be able to have a good conversation without feeling too nervous.
The only questions James suggests doing some extra preparation for is, “Why do you want to do Medicine?” This is perhaps one of the most important questions, because you don’t want to appear unsure about it!
Studying Medicine is hard work, and knowing that you’re motivated and dedicated is really important for universities.
Along similar lines, James also told us that if you are unsure, remember that there are different pathways to Medicine. So you can take some time to think about what you want to do before choosing to study Medicine.
“If you don’t feel like you’re sure this year… there’s nothing wrong with doing a science degree or something completely unrelated and then doing postgraduate medicine,” said James.
As you navigate the journey towards studying Medicine, James says it’s super important to be realistic with your expectations.
He told us that around 12,000 people sit the UCAT while only 700 get accepted! With so many students applying, make sure you think realistically about the UCAT, getting an interview, and getting an offer to study Medicine.
Of course, keep a positive mindset and stay dedicated, but remember that maybe Medicine won’t work out, and that’s alright too!
And there you have it!
We’ve walked you through James’ journey towards studying Medicine at Adelaide University, from his motivations, to preparing for the UCAT and interviews. Take some of his top tips onboard and you’ll be successfully navigating the journey in no time!
You can also check out what it’s like studying Medicine at the universities below:
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Maitreyi Kulkarni is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is currently studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications (Public Relations and Social Media) at Macquarie University. She loves writing just about anything from articles to poetry, and has also had one of her articles published with the ABC. When she’s not writing up a storm, she can be found reading, bingeing sitcoms, or playing the guitar.