It's all in the numbers... A few things to think about with application statistics

Bonjour everyone!

Please excuse the French; I have just come back from a week-long trip from Canada for a short family holiday, and the last time I actually had any knowledge of the language was back in my GCSE days (how quickly the last five years have flown...)

I wanted to quickly say a big congratulations to those of you that received the A/AS level results you wanted this Thursday - I know how hard it is to get good grades in these exams! And to those of you that didn't get the grades you wanted, just remember that when one door closes, another one opens - you may not end up following your plan A, but if you keep working at it, you will end up loving it in the place that you do eventually end up. The important thing is to not let this stop you from working towards achieving your goals!

Anyway, now on to the main part of my post... statistics - the one word which I think is they key to maximising your chances of getting into medical school. Trust me when I say that looking at the numbers can really help you in applying smartly to universities that value you and your individual strengths. I am not for one suggesting that numbers alone will get you in, but from my experiences, I have seen so many brilliant applicants not get a single offer. The most commonly used phrase is 'I was just unlucky', but I think that if they applied smartly by looking at the numbers, then just maybe they could have gained that coveted spot in medical school (the only reason I am saying that it is coveted is because exams are over; if you had asked me 3 months ago, I would have whined and complained about how I can feel the medical school sucking the life out of my body).

Last year, I posted some admissions statistics for medical school entry on this blog, and I should be posting some updated ones soon, and I strongly urge you to look at these. Don't panic if there is just too many numbers to handle - this handy (hopefully) guide will tell you everything you need to know in terms of decoding what those numbers actually mean! 

Applications:Interview and Interview:Offer 
I am terrible at interviews. Full stop. And for the ones I did have, I had to do an immense amount of preparation just to reach a semi-adequate level. So how did I even manage to get an offer for medical school?

Excellent question, because part of the answer - you guessed it - lies in the numbers! I applied to three places that give around 2/3rds of their interviews offers, and it turned out that these are the places I got my offers from. The one place I did not get into (Newcastle) had a much lower proportion of successful interviewees, and after getting my feedback, my interview score wasn't even close to getting an offer! I knew that I had quite a strong paper application due to my grades and test scores, and so I applied to places that would value my application (OK I am lying slightly - I didn't actually consider it in that much detail when I was applying, but it is nice when things work out).

If you feel that you would really shine at an interview but your paper application is not that strong compared to those ridiculous people that have A*A*A*A*A*, a 850 UKCAT, 7s in the BMAT, etc, then think about applying to somewhere that interviews a lot of people and gives you a more equal playing field.

Remember to be careful when using numbers, as some of them can be deceptive. For example, some of the higher ranked universities have low application numbers, but the calibre of the applicants (on average) will be higher - this does not mean that the university is less competitive!
I have an old blog post with some numbers; The Student Room has a great summary table with numbers, and if you want up-to-date information about a particular university, see if somebody has made a request for information on Whatdotheyknow (search the university name and 'A100 statistics' or something similar to that). 

Average UKCAT/BMAT/GCSEs 
You will need to check the exact wording of the university admissions policy. If they want a minimum requirement and that's it, then it is a simple equation - you get through if you meet it. However, many universities value a higher score in either the UKCAT/BMAT/GCSEs, and so you should be looking at which ones value what when it comes to these. 

Number/percentage of people getting A*s 
If you are one of the lucky few that are predicted multiple A* grades at A level, why not use this to your advantage and apply to somewhere that values these? You would need to check the university admissions policies to see if they say 'it does/doesn't advantage you to have higher grades than the requirement'. 
I advise checking Freedom of Information requests (go to Unireq, or search Whatdotheyknow), and some of the universities there have checklists. If the form says 'predicted grades' as one of their criteria, then higher grades will help your application become a stronger one! For example, both UCL and Imperial have a box on their shortlisting forms that mark your predicted grades, so if yo are predicted A*A*A*, then they will look at this favourably! It is misconception that every medical school will value this - many explicitly say that they don't care if you have higher predictions.

A couple of other considerations that are (probably) less important 

  • MMI/Panel Interview - many universities are moving towards the MMI format, and this has its pros and cons. The benefit is that if you mess up one station, you can recover in the next ones. However, the con is that it is harder to build up that rapport with the interviewer. I personally prefer a panel interview - it takes me a bit of time to get into the swing of things, and allows me to form a good rapport with the people interviewing me. But in reality, is there really a huge difference? Probably not a massive deal, but I guess every little helps! 
  • Competitive interviews: at the majority of medical schools, everyone does their interview and then the university ranks everybody and gives the highest few an offer. However, at UCL, Imperial and King's, they tell you your outcome within two weeks - so you aren't outright 'competing' with the other interviewees. You essentially do the interview, and if they like you, you will get in. I quite liked this, because it meant that I could be really friendly with everybody else and get to know my future classmates in the interview room (well, some were more friendly than others, but I won't name any names...). 
I encourage you to take a look at one of my old blog posts that has some information on some of the medical schools (click here). The information on here is intended to complement the numbers I have put on that post. Hopefully this gives you a few things to think about (it's not like the medicine application is already stressful enough...).

I know that this post may be a little overwhelming. The chances are that there are things on here that you may or may not have considered before, and to be honest, I didn't think about all of these back when I was applying all those years ago. But with the competition increasing each year, it never hurts to be a bit more meticulous in your UCAS applications, right?

Comments

  1. Hello. I find your blogspot very informative and useful =)
    I wish to apply for Barts, Sheffield and Manchester .I have 10 A* in GCSE, predicted 4A* in A level and 2720 for UKCAT. Do you think I am competitive? Any advice you may give me😊 Thank you very much !!! (I am international applicant)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there
      Your UKCAT should be enough for Manchester and Sheffield this year. Remember that with these two unis, you just need to meet the cutoff and then you progress to the next stage of the application.
      Barts & the London use a 50/50 combination of your UCAS tariff score and your UKCAT. Your 4 A* predictions mean that, in my opinion, you should get an interview there.
      Note that this information should be true assuming that international applicants and home applicants are judged in the same way.
      You have a strong academic profile, and your UKCAT score is a decent one, so you should be ok for most places. It will just depend on your personal statement and your interview, and your BMAT should you choose to take it!

      Delete
    2. Ya, I am going to take BMAT =)
      Thank you for your opinion =)

      Delete

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