Medical school admissions tests.
It’s that time of year again.
The time most people applying to medical school dread.
While the journey to medical school is no easy slog, it is safe to say that the part which is the least favoured is the aptitude tests which are required by nearly all schools as a way to ensure they are selecting the best candidates for the future of medicine.
Within the UK, the two main tests are very different from each other and hence require skills which cannot be easily transferred. This is the reason most people decide to only sit one.
Medicine is about many things, but one important aspect is being able to prioritise – something which I decided to take on board when first applying. I cannot speak on behalf of all applicants, but for me making sure I could ‘smash’ one test rather than do ‘OK’ at both was critical. The amount of applicants applying each year for a small number of places in mind-blowing. It’s key that you do well in everything to give yourself the best chance at success – the aptitude tests included. For me, sitting only the UKCAT allowed me to focus intensely on one thing for the whole of the summer with no confusion relating to mixing up revision techniques for another test. It worked for me. But it may not work for you – find your mindset and go with it.
For some, booking on and paying the fee for the test is all they do. Many a person are adamant that there is no way to revise for such aptitude tests – they say you either have the skills or you don’t. Simple. HECK NO – skills, like anything can be learnt and mastered. I sat the UKCAT every year for 4 years and I very much doubt that my scores going up each time was a coincidence. Instead, I give credit to the tons on days I gave up having fun in the sun so that I could revise. Yes, there were times when all I wanted to do was sleep or go out with friends, but keeping my mind focused on my goals allowed me to push through and work hard for the place at medical school I knew I deserved.
Getting a place at medical school is not easy. Why should it be? You one day will be the individual standing between someone’s life and their death. You will need to make decisions that cause you to question yourself and your beliefs. And there is no easy way to say it – it will be hard. So, of course, the steps we must take to get there are going to be hard. But the steps we must take to get there are not impossible. With a little work each day, it is easy to have your goals in sight. And with determination, resilience and passion that you must have to be considering a career in medicine, it is very much achievable.
While I didn’t get a perfect score on my final UKCAT, I can confidently say that I was 10 points away from being within the 9th decile of the country and so something I did worked. For that reason, I decided I wanted to share some of my tips to hopefully help as many of you out there as possible.
- A little revision everyday really does go a long way.
- Focus on the section(s) which you find the most difficult under the time constraints.
- Always practice under timed conditions.
- Complete as many full practice tests as possible.
- If it is feasible, look into booking on to revision courses for your chosen test.
While everything I have said on this post is personal preference, it might be worth trying. I am not the perfect applicant – no one is – but the tips I have to offer helped me achieve my dream so hopefully can help you achieve yours.
All the best for this aptitude test season.