Categories
The Application

Where to Apply to This Year?

Last year, I applied to Nottingham, St George’s, Swansea and Warwick. All these programmes were the graduate entry, 4 year route (A101).

I’m starting to think about whether I would change my approach this year. It’s still early days and some medical schools have yet to finalise their 2022 entry requirements.

Nottingham A101:
2020 entry cut off: 55
2021 entry cut off: 58 (Rounded up the Notts scoring method)

St George’s A101:
2020 entry cut off: 58
2021 entry cut off: 60

Swansea A101:
2020 entry cut off: 60
2021 entry cut off: 62

Warwick A101:
2020 entry cut off: 2570
2021 entry cut off: 2720 (+/- depending on what you read and where…)

As you can see, there’s been some increases in admission exam cut offs. This is where the difference of an overall score point, makes all the difference and let’s not talk about Warwick’s huge, 150 point increase for their UCAT cut off this year.. I know a lot of people told me that an application will never be a waste but coming straight off the 2020 entry and into 2021 applications made me feel depressed. I knew there was a strong chance of increased cut offs and this is exactly what’s happened this year. I doubt that I would have been interviewed by any of these universities had I applied again for this year – hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Do I apply for the same places?

I’m still considering all 4 year, GEM programmes. As Warwick require the UCAT and the results are given on the day, if I score less than 2750/2800, then I risk being too low for Warwick, meaning it’s a wasted application. So.. Step up Ulster University! They’re in the process of interviewing for 2021, which is their first ever cohort for their graduate programme. Reading through threads and research, the GAMSAT cut off for 2021 was 55/56. A very obtainable score, similar to Nottingham, making them a really suitable place.

If I score high enough for Warwick, I will still consider exchanging Swansea (historically high GAMSAT cut offs) or St George’s (London living expenses), for Ulster. Ulster have become quite a favourite for me whilst researching the campus, the course and the location of Northern Ireland!

Why Ulster?

Ulster are a brand new medical school and 2021 will be their first cohort. A lot of people would see a new medical school as a bad thing however, it’s far from negative.

Their GAMSAT cut off has been amongst the lowest for graduate entry (similar to Nottingham).

The course is overseen and linked with St George’s in London. If on the rare occasion that Ulster do not get accreditation from the GMC, then you will receive a degree from St George’s University London instead. Essentially, the worst case scenario, is a degree from a university I would have applied for anyway. It’s the same course, qualification but without the London living costs.

Location-wise, Northern Ireland is a bit of a change but by no means impossible. Other than the initial moving fees, Derry/Londonderry is affordable and a beautiful place to live! If I have to relocate around the country anyway, why not Northern Ireland?

Will this change?

Probably! Let’s face it, UCAS opens next month, GAMSAT registration opens next month and UCAT registration opens in June. The deadline for UCAS is October (usually the 15th). That’s a long time off just yet!

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The Application

Undergraduate Medicine or Graduate Entry?

When talking about applications to Medicine as a graduate, it’s often referred to as ‘postgraduate medicine’. The reality is, a medicine degree is still an undergraduate (UG) degree, regardless of whether it’s completed as a graduate or direct school leaver at 18. As a graduate you are fortunate to be able to apply to both degree programmes.

A100 Medicine:

A100 Medicine is intended for direct school leavers. The course is 5 years long and funding is provided by Student Finance England if it is your first degree. Applicants to an A100 course usually need to meet GCSE, A-Level, work experience and admission test requirements to be considered for interviews and offers.

Applying to an A100 Medicine degree as a graduate:

Many A100 medicine degrees will accept those with degrees already completed to their programmes. It is important to remember that the course is 5 years long (a year longer than most GEM programmes) and you still need to meet the course degree requirements. A100 would count as a second degree, there is no funding through Student Finance England for the tuition fees. Students may qualify for the maintenance loan but would have to self-fund the £9,250 annual, tuition fees themselves. This is usually a big disadvantage to graduates and a reason why many do not apply to the A100 courses. The bonus of an A100 degree is that the admission test (UCAT) cut off is often a lot lower than those needed for the Graduate Entry courses.

Graduate Entry Medicine:

A101 Graduate Entry Medicine is an accelerated course specifically designed for graduates who have already achieved a degree or are in their last year of study. The course is 4 years long and whilst students have to pay £3,500 towards their first year tuition fees, the rest is covered by Student Finance England, NHS England and they are eligible for the maintenance loan and NHS bursary too. Graduates are expected to have met their degree, A-Level and sometimes GCSE requirements, as well as work experience and admission test cut offs.

Whilst GEM seems like a far better option for graduates, it’s a LOT more competitive than A100 Medicine and the cut offs for admissions exams (GAMSAT/UCAT) are a LOT higher.

How competitive is it?

Each year, roughly 10,000 applicants apply for GEM. The number of places available changes each year but is roughly 900. Some of the GEM courses also can’t be applied to unless you meet specific requirements e.g. Cardiff is part of a feeder-scheme that is only available to students from select Welsh universities and completing certain degrees. This restricts the number of places available even further.

Recent statistics show that there can be up to 35 people applying for each place on a single GEM programme (QMU, Barts).

For every place, there can be up to 11 people interviewing for the single offer ( Cambridge University).

Where to apply?

It’s always sensible to apply to universities that cherry-pick your strengths. If you scored exceptionally well in the UCAT, Newcastle A101 is a good choice. Their UCAT cut off this year was higher than 3020 which is stupidly high – keep in mind that the UCAT is scored out of 900 in each section, so 3600 is the maximum score attainable. A score of 3020 would put you in the 96th percentile, meaning that you scored higher than 96% of candidates. Meaning that Newcastle A101 targets the top 4% of UCAT candidates.

If you scored particularly well in the GAMSAT you could apply to Exeter A100 as their cut off is 66. Whereas, for a GEM course, you could apply to Swansea with a score of 62. Likewise, if you scored on the lower side of the GAMSAT, you would apply for places such as Nottingham A101 who have their cut off at around 58/59.

It’s important to remember that this year has shown a significant increase in both the number of applicants and the admission exam cut offs.

Is getting an interview good?

Yes! Of course it is! Medicine is still the most competitive degree programme that you can apply for. An interview can be the last hoop that you have to jump through to be offered that much desired place (if a graduate)!

There are 10,000 applicants each year and the majority of those are not invited to interview due to missing their grades/ degree classification, do not meet the admissions test cut off or do not have the relevant work experience. Getting to an interview is a huge achievement. The University of Nottingham claim that they cut the applicant numbers down by 80% simply by rejecting those that do not meet their GAMSAT cut off for the year. They then invite the top 20% of applicants to fill in a work experience questionnaire before shortlisting to interviews.

Can I apply to both A100 and A101 courses?

Yes and you should. If you meet the requirements for an A100 course and feel comfortable with working whilst you are learning, then an A100 course shouldn’t be hardship. Apply to a mix of A100 and A101 courses that suit your strengths and give you the best possible chance at interview.

Categories
The Application

Application Timeline for 2022 Entry

Explaining the timeline for Graduate Entry Medicine can sometimes be confusing – a lot of work happens the year/s before!

As of now (March 2021) this will be my (rough based on last year) timeline:

May 2021 – GAMSAT registration opens for September 2021 testing.

June 2021 – UCAT registration opens for 2021 testing (July – October).

July 2021 – UCAT testing begins.

September 2021 – GAMSAT testing.

October 2021 – UCAS deadline for Medicine & Dentistry applicants. UCAT testing ends.

November 2021 – UCAT results sent to universities. GAMSAT results released to September candidates.

December 2021 – Communication from Universities – Interview invites, pre-interview rejections and work experience evidence.

January 2022 – Interviews begin. GAMSAT registration for March 2022 opens.

February 2022 – Student Finance applications open for new students. Deadline is roughly the end of May 2022.

March 2022 – Offers and waiting lists begin being allocated. GAMSAT testing.

July 2022 – Most offers/ rejections sent out. Waiting lists still operate.

September 2022 – Waiting lists close and courses start for 2022.

Exceptions or other time constraints – work experience must be completed by the October 2021 UCAS application deadline to be counted towards your application total (e.g. Warwick University).

Some universities send correspondence throughout the application cycle, others operate under radio silence.

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gamsat The Application UCAT Uncategorized Work Experience

Becoming Dr Bex..

Thanks for stumbling upon my blog!

I’m documenting my journey through the application process of Graduate Entry Medicine, the admissions exams, the responses and outcomes of the application.

About me:
I currently work fulltime as a Mental Health HCA.
I volunteer as a Community First Responder, Adult Hospice Ward Volunteer, Rainbows/ Girguiding volunteer.
2019/2020 application and entry was my first attempt at GEM applications. I was interviewed and reached number 1 on the Nottingham waiting list. Sadly, I did not get a place.
I started a blog to log everything down, hopefully to help and as a good place to vent!

Back for 2022 entry – GAMSAT September 2021, UCAT summer 2021.

Follow my journey on social media: linktr.ee/BecomingDrBex

(Not always this moody, I promise!)
Categories
The Application

“Someone has to be number 1 when the waiting list closes!”

Yeah.. that’s me.

My application cycle has finally come to an end. If one more person had dropped out/ been unable to attend or had their circumstances change, I’d have been a medical student at Nottingham.

Obviously, I’m heartbroken to have gotten the closest you can possibly get and still miss out. It’s not that I’m incapable of being a doctor or that they don’t think I would make it, it’s that they do and there’s simply not enough capacity to accommodate me. It’s gutting. It feels like going through the motions all over again.

I have rebooked my UCAT exam. I’ve started to reapply through UCAS and just have the personal statement to tweak and my referee to ask.

As I’m so late to the game, I was unable to book the GAMSAT for September. I’m hoping my score from last year will be good enough for Nottingham again but of course, there’s no guarantee. Hopefully an increase in my UCAT score will mean Warwick is back in the game and fingers crossed for an interview.

I’m not going to lie, I just want to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself at this stage. I have plans over the weekend and I don’t want to do them. Feeling incredibly low and fragile. A lot of my family and friends don’t understand and I don’t expect them to. GEM isn’t the same as any other course/ journey you can go through and I don’t think you’ll understand until you’re going through it or have been through it.

It feels awful that my only hope is that someone is unable to start the course, has a change in circumstances or doesn’t attend. I can’t understand what or when this could happen to someone and really can’t see it happening at all.

I don’t want anything to do with GEM but at the same time, it’s all I want to be focusing on! Such a double edged sword at the moment.

There’s not much more I can say at the moment. A torturous 9 days being number 1 on the waiting list and a horrific few days to come whilst I process everything.

Categories
The Application

When do you give up?

So, we’re very nearly at the end of August and two weeks today marks the 7th of September and the proposed start of term for Nottingham GEM.

I found out last Thursday (confirmed on Friday) that I am now second on the GEM waiting list. The list has had sone very strong movement and it’s been really quite consistent. That was until last week. Last week saw only one place movement.

I have 2 weeks to move 2 places. Seems easy enough right? So why am I panicking? Someone has to be number one when they stop the intake from the waiting list. Is that going to be me? Should I be booking the GAMSAT and UCAT (that I cancelled) and be preparing for another application cycle?

“One place a week and you’re in” – very true words of advice from a friend. “There’s always people who drop out last minute/ when the course starts!” – again, very true.

Let’s face it. It’s been a struggle the whole way and I never thought I would get this far or this close. It seems too close for it not to work in my favour but then again, this is GEM. It’s anything but predictable.

When is it okay to give up hope? I’ve been trying to keep optimistic and have been posting on TSR with positive, moral-boosting posts but really, I’m worried. I don’t have the hope or confidence that everyone else has for me. I also don’t want to admit defeat but I’m worried that I’ll be faced with reapplying and I’ll dismiss it. It’ll be my last chance for Nottingham and I don’t want to have to do it all again.

I think it’s really important to show the negative sides to a Medicine application. It’s not easy. It’s been a whole year of hope, progress and rejection. You can’t always feel on top of the world, confident and certain. Whilst having a GEM community on Instagram and TSR is largely a positive thing, it’s important to remember that we often only see the ‘highlights’, the good bits, the successes and the ‘worthy’ posts.

Obviously not all GEM/ Medicine ‘influencers’ are like that and I really enjoy seeing the human sides with all the emotions. The sadness, the anxiety, the pain and the struggle.

I’m finding that the waiting list and movement is constantly plaguing my life. I’m currently on a block of night shifts and I find myself waking up during the day to refresh my emails and check TSR. I know that there’s nothing I can do but a little message or a notification is the only hope I have at the moment.

As usual I’ll email to see if there’s movement at the end of the week. I dread the response. Especially if it comes back and there’s been nothing. I’m wholeheartedly praying for movement, even one place throughout this week. It’s the last of my energy clinging to the hope of a place in this years intake. Why couldn’t I have been 100th on the list?! That was I’d have known from the onset that it wasn’t looking hopeful?!

I finish my shift on Saturday morning and then I’m away for a few day’s, which also marks the start of my 2 weeks of annual leave. Hopefully it’ll take my mind off of it and I’ll be in a better mindset by being distracted! Wish me luck!

Categories
The Application

How to keep cool and plan your life when you’re on a GEM waiting list

So, it’s no secret that I was placed on the Nottingham waiting list for 2020 Graduate Entry Medicine. I was originally 25th.

At first I was a bit disheartened but welcomed the fact that I wasn’t closer to the 100’s as Nottingham can operate with high numbers on their waiting lists each year. I found it comforting to know that Sarb reassured me that I could email her when I wanted and as much as I liked to find out if it had moved.

Initially, I didn’t really feel like I had a chance and got on with life as normal. Occasionally there would be news on TSR to say that someone had an offer and that they are number X originally. I was able to predict where I would be/ how many places I’d loved. Almost weekly, I would email Sarb for an update, who by the way, I have found to be lovely and extremely efficient! I dread to think how many emails she gets daily from waiting list-ers asking where they are!

Over the weeks my position slipped down to 17th, then to 11th, then to 9th and as of last week, I was 8th. Yesterday, I was informed that someone had enquired about movement and that the list had moved by 20 places. Making me 5th.

The course is due to start on the 7th September and the list will be used until then. With quite a steady movement and at times a rapid drop, it began to seem realistic that the list will move 5 places in 26 days. I also learned that SGUL hadn’t made their offers unconditional yet, meaning that there could still be Nottingham insurance offers being held by their students.

“Shit! How can you cope with the stress and uncertainty of it all?” – text from my mum, yesterday.

I think GEM applications have always been filled with stress and uncertainty from day 1. You work so hard for something and when you’re placed on a waiting list, it’s easy to think it’ll never happen and then life throws you some optimism as a reminder that actually, you COULD make it.

So what am I doing to prepare for a possible place at Nottingham?

I’ve spoken to my landlord to let him know of my circumstances. He’s very chill and happy to be kept in the loop. I’d love to stay where I am but who knows if I can juggle a commute/ few days in Derby and keep my life where I am too.

I’m speaking to my manager/ work. Again, she’s very good to me and I’d love to give a decent amount of notice but of course we don’t know that yet. In the ideal world, I would be able to keep my job. My manager is also a reference. So providing Nottingham check them all (academic and work experience references) then my manager may already know before me about my offer.

I’m going to the bank on Friday to talk about them taking on my car finance (bank loans/ consolidation loans from your bank are at a much, much lower interest rate). This will ensure I can keep my car as I only have 2 years left to pay it off and the cost will be cheaper to manage on my student wage. I’m fortunate to have already applied for Student Finance.

I’ve looked at my options for parking and found it to be reasonably priced. I’ve also considered the options for accommodation/ hotels/ air bnb/ b&b. If I’m only in a few days which are consecutive, I’ll commute and stay over. I don’t want to be paying for accommodation/ rent for a property that I won’t use in my first semester/ term.

Now you wait?

Yep! Now I wait. A lot of things I’ve done are just to let people know/ keep them informed of my situation. I can’t really make any firm, life changing plans just yet. However, I hope I’ll be as ready as I’ll ever be, should I get an offer.

Do you really think you’ll get an offer?

I’m being cautiously optimistic but yes. I do think I will get an offer. I’ll believe it when I see it but I do think my chances are very good. I never thought it would come to the low, single digits of the waiting list and I dread to be that person who is at number 1 and never gets a place. Medicine is tough, especially GEM. I think I’ve done bloody well for a ‘practice’ application!

Categories
The Application

Finishing the 2019/2020 Application Cycle – My First

My first application cycle for medicine truly came to a close on Friday, when Nottingham released their waiting list rankings.

I opened the email and expect the words “you are 156th on the waiting list”. Scrolling through to the very bottom, I was instead met with the words “you are 25 on the waiting list”.

At first I felt relief. It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Then the self-doubt set in and I accepted that although it was better than I’d expected, it would never be good enough to meet an offer.

I did my usual routine of informing those nearest and dearest and viewed The Student Room. My placement on the waiting list seemed relatively average. There were other people who were pretty much guaranteed an offer and those who were resigned to not getting one due to the sheer size of the list. Everyone was very supportive and open about their rankings.

It was only then that someone mentioned that last year there were 96 people on the Notts waiting list and people in the last 20’s – early 30’s were given offers. I also always remember the story of someone getting an offer in September!

This application had started out as being a practice run. I then ended up scoring well on the GAMSAT. I then got selected to complete the Nottingham work experience questionnaire. I then got my interview invite and I finally got told that I would be waiting listed. Absolutely not bad for a first time, ‘practice’ application!

I’m now in limbo and I’m having to decide if I pay/ register for the UCAT and GAMSAT. I am thinking that I’ll register the sit both and cancel if I need to. The UCAT is fully refundable yet the GAMSAT is a bit particular so will have to try and be strategic with that, although I may not sit it again at all. I don’t want to do it at home and my score can be used from last year.

Throughout I’m remaining optimistic and hopeful. The journey this far has been tough and has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. The waiting list has moved since Friday and a few offers have been given out, meaning I should have moved up a few places. Time to keep my fingers crossed and prepare for the worst but hope for the best!

Categories
The Application

The Journey Begins

I’m one of many UK Graduates who are looking high and aiming for Medicine.

I work full-time in the NHS, volunteer as a Community First Responder for the North West Ambulance Service and balance studying in between!

Currently, I’m focused on taking the GAMSAT and UKCAT in 2019 for September 2019 application to Med Schools.

My choices:
Nottingham
Swansea
Warwick
St George’s London

Trying to keep motivated with study and hoping blogging alongside will help!

Follow my updates on Instagram: @graduate_medic 🙂