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
UCAT

UCAT 2019 Final Scores

On the 7th October, the UCAT Consortium released the final statistics and results for 2019 testing. As the interim results had shown, 2019 took a slight decrease from the average and the 2018 scores.

The 2019 scores are as follows:
Verbal Reasoning: 565
Decision Making: 618
Quantitative Reasoning: 662
Abstract Reasoning: 638
Total Mean Score:: 2483

My Scores:
VR: 580
DM: 640
QR: 670
AR: 660
Total: 2550

Compared to the mean:
VR: +15
DM: +22
QR: +8
AR: +22
Total: +67

My percentile was calculated at 62%, meaning that I scored higher than 62% of the 29,375 candidates who stat the UCAT this year – a total of 18,213 people.

That’s great right?!

Yes, it’s great. For a first time UCAT taker and Grad Med applicant, that is a good score. My only Uni choice that will take the UCAT is Warwick and whilst I was close to their lowest cut off last year, there is still a chance that I won’t make it for this year. The positives that I have are that I am above the average for VR. I will then be scored on being in the 62nd percentile and given extra points for holding a masters qualification. Hopefully, this will give me an advantage over those with a slightly higher UCAT score and only an undergraduate degree.

 

What’s Next?

My reference came back earlier this week and I only need to perfect my personal statement and then submit my application to UCAS. After that, it’s a waiting game! I’m confident with my work experience and I have met the required minimum hours that Warwick are looking for, this will need to be submitted before selection takes place. Warwick have confirmed that selection dates for interview between the 17th-19th December. Of course, Warwick and the UCAT are only one of my options. I still have 3 GAMSAT universities in play although I do NOT feel confident about my GAMSAT score! I fully expect 3 outright rejections and should the case be that I am also rejected from Warwick (which is highly likely) I’ll be more than happy to admit defeat for 2020 entry. I will however, be back in the running for another application cycle for 2021!

Keep positive, realistic and work hard!

Categories
UCAT

UCAT Score and Tips

Today I sat my UCAT exam and scored incredibly average – and I’m okay with that.

I was one of the first two people to sit it at the test centre as everyone else had the sense to book it for later on in the year. I was terrified, sat waiting to go in. I must admit, all the ladies in the test centre were absolutely lovely and supportive. They were asking questions about where I was applying and whether it was Medicine or Dentistry that I was interested in.

VR:
I ran out of time in the first section and didn’t get a chance to go back and review any questions, there were even some questions that I missed entirely. I was adamant that a good UCAT score was out the window now. It shook my confidence enough for me to wonder why I was even attempting this.

DM:
I found DM to be not too awful. I had time to go through and answer the questions, flag those that I wasn’t too sure of and come back and review them. I didn’t feel as pressured for time as I had done in VR.

QR:
My most dreaded section. I know the maths is not ‘challenging’ but I hate maths. Always have, always will. Again, I didn’t feel as pressured for time but definitely was conscious of how much time I spent on these questions and working things out. I felt relieved when I’d worked out calculations and the answer I had gotten was actually in the list of possible answers!

AR:
At first, I was really thrown by these. I couldn’t grasp the pattern between the sets and knew that if I couldn’t find it, that the next 4/5 questions would need to be educated guesses. Once I had gotten into the swing of the questions, I was able to identify patterns quite quickly and blitz through the questions. I then went back and ensured the ones I had guessed had a second look over.

SJ:
Situational Judgement was structured a little bit differently as to how I had practiced. I wasn’t too concerned with the section at all and managed to get through with time to spare.

Overall score:
VR: 580
DM: 640
QR: 670
AR: 660
TOTAL SCORE: 2550
SJ: Band 2

At first I was a little disheartened with my score. It wasn’t close to 3000 like you dream of. Then I was relieved. I had worried that I was going to do a lot worse and had originally said to myself that if I scored over 2500, I would be pleased. Warwick’s cut off for last year was 2570, which means I would need a decrease in cut off score to be in with a chance of an invite to interview. I then released how pleased I was with the score. The difference between an invite to interview and my score last year was 20 points. If I had scored 600 in VR, I would have 2570. My initial and practice scores on Medify were terrible. I had contemplated not taking the exam today and very nearly cancelled it to reschedule.

I know where my faults are – I should have revised sooner, I should have utilized timed practices, I should have booked the exam later and most importantly, I should have been more confident in myself!

At this moment in time, I was capable of an average score, that’s just below last year’s cut offs. If the worst case scenario happens and I don’t get offered an interview at Warwick, my GAMSAT prep is not sufficient enough and I don’t get interviewed at my other 3 choices, then I will be taking the UCAT next year and I KNOW that if I retake it again, I will be aiming for that 3000!

Tips:
Whilst you’re probably thinking what can I possibly learn from someone who scored terribly?

UCAT and Medicine applications each year are down to luck. A score of 2570 would have gotten you an interview last year whereas a few years ago, the cut off was closer to 2700.

Self-confidence is really important! Exams are scary. Especially when they’re the obstacle that’s in the way between you and your dream of studying Medicine. However, you want this and chances are, you’ve spent the time revising, you’ve learnt the test format and you have a brain in that head. Give yourself credit for attempting and embarking on this journey. You’re probably capable of more than you give yourself credit for.

Buy Medify for practice. My scores improved HUGELY with Medify. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it. If I have to take the exam next year, it’s the first purchase I’m making. Medify mimics the format and layout of the exam. There are minor differences but overall is the closest you’re going to get to the real thing. It’s also computer based so you can practice completing the test electronically instead of making the transfer from a book/ paper to a computer.

Flags are your friend – unlike American Football where a flag on a play is a bad thing, flags in UCAT are your friend. Time is definitely against you in some sections and instead of spending precious seconds struggling though for an answer on one question, flag it and return later. Don’t fall into the same trap that I did and run out of time – think of the precious points!!

It is recommended that you practice under test conditions – no noise etc. however, I found that I performed better with noise. A TV or another person sat in the room made a big difference. It also meant that when I sat the exam today, I wasn’t bothered by people getting up and leaving/ entering the room. It can be infuriating when you’re concentrating and the guy next to you is doing nothing but sighing because he’s hating his Driving Theory test..

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the score you were hoping for – I know I didn’t get that perfect number! Medicine is a challenge and its been made that way on purpose. There will be many people who will only dream of taking the exam. There will be some who take it and never do anything with it. There will be some who score exactly as you have and are proud to have achieved that! Remember it’s about the luck of the draw. If you don’t take the test and apply, you’ll never get that possibility of being offered a place. Getting a score that you’re disappointed with is not failure, it’s a stepping stone for your next attempt.

Categories
gamsat UCAT

Revision Sunday’s..

I was up early this morning and finished my first ever run through of Friends from start to finish. I’m both heartbroken and thrilled; heartbroken it ended and thrilled to watch it all again! 🙂

My housemate, Lauren finished her MSc a few months ago and gave me her flip chart paper for revision, which was really kind!

I’ve started using a random quote generator and began to ‘brainstorm’ my ideas around it. Pros and cons, what the quote means, what the quote is telling you, whether I agree or disagree.

Hoping to get into the habit of analysing quotes and it almost becoming second nature. I used to love English at school and did really well at GCSE. Throughout my degrees, essays have been a big part of my learning so I do feel quite confident with the structure and building of an essay.

I’m hoping to also crack on with some science revision too. I’m thinking Physics as I truly detested it at school so will definitely need to begin from scratch!

A positive day for revision! 🙂