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How to stand out as an applicant…

The classic, classic question.

Everyone’s thought about this at some point during their application journey. In fact, it’s probably the most frequently asked question in the history of Medology!

If you were to go to your town centre, and ask the general public about what sort of people get into Medicine/Dentistry, they’d probably say ‘Oh, it’s those head boy/girl, all A* grade type people right?’

And that’s probably what some of you might be thinking too.

But this image is totally wrong, and a myth. You do not need to be an outstanding individual in any facet of your life, school or otherwise, to get into Medicine/Dentistry comfortably.

Obviously, getting into Medicine/Dentistry is difficult, because so many bright students like yourself are aiming to get in every year. But, let’s understand the nature of the applications process.

Rather than thinking of it like a sort of process where the admissions staff pick the fruit they like from a field, think of it more as a bus journey where some people are forced to get off at an earlier stop due to their misfortune.

That might not sound very reassuring! But what we mean is that… as long as you’re not forced to get off at an earlier stop on the journey, you WILL get into Medicine/Dentistry by the end. Because you don’t need to be outstanding or amazing at anything, you just need to do the basics well, and you will with our support.

Which things might force you to get off earlier? Let’s think about them

  • Not having the necessary predicted grades
  • Not having a competitive enough admissions test score (UCAT/BMAT)
  • Not being able to convince your interviewers of your passion for Medicine/Dentistry
  • Not achieving your A Level grades at the end

So really, getting into Medicine/Dentistry is a case of safely jumping through these hoops, rather than having flashy experiences, or knowledge to show off to the world.

Yes, you need the work experience, volunteering, extracurriculars etc. But, verily, they’re not the important things you need to be focusing so much on. If you have 1 work experience, 1 volunteering and 1 extracurricular, you are set, as long as they’re reflected upon and done properly. It doesn’t matter how cool or prestigious they sound, or what exactly they are. They’re all you need, trust us! We’ll touch upon how you can make the most of these opportunities in other guides. But at the end of the day, the golden rule with most things in life applies – quality over quantity.

Remember one thing – there is no activity that the admissions team haven’t seen before. There is no work experience case that they’ve never heard of before, or extracurricular. And, there’s always going to be someone that has experiences that sound more ‘fancy’ than yours. Just rememeber – it’s not deep. It genuinely doesn’t make a difference.

(note: we’re not saying don’t do more – but we are asking you to be smart and only take up opportunities that you genuinely feel like you will benefit from. never take something up purely because you think it will help you stand out, because it won’t)

Your focus throughout this process should be on trying to stay on top of your A Levels (if you’re a school-leaver), getting a good score in your admissions tests, and preparing well for your interviews. If you get too caught up in trying to do weeks and weeks of work experience, read 100s of books and take up loads of extracurriculars, you’re likely to crash and burn…

But you must be thinking… ‘wait, if 1 work experience, 1 volunteering and 1 extracurricular activity is all I need, then how do universities differentiate between us applicants then?’

To be honest, the main thing is those admissions tests. They’re the main way that you’ll get an interview, and once you get the interview, the odds are in your favour. At a lot of universities, the post-interview acceptance rate is over 50%, so you’re automatically more likely to get in than not. Just prepare well for your interviews, and nothing’s stopping you!