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Admissions to Medicine Guidance for Staff Mentors. Dr Kath Greaves. Associate Dean Admissions. Getting into Medicine. Exactly what are Selectors looking for? Management of Applications The Aberdeen Admissions Process Minimum Academic requirements UKCAT explained

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Admissions to Medicine

Guidance for Staff Mentors

Dr Kath Greaves

Associate Dean Admissions


Getting into Medicine

  • Exactly what are Selectors looking for?
  • Management of Applications
  • The Aberdeen Admissions Process
  • Minimum Academic requirements
  • UKCAT explained
  • Medical PS & Reference
  • Interviews
  • Changes to Admissions Process for 2013 entry onwards
  • Why are requirements for Medicine so high?

What are Selectors

looking for?

GMC Guidance is to…

“Choose those with greatest aptitude for medical training from those with high academic achievement & potential”

Put another way, we are looking to select…

High-achieving, highly motivated and compassionate multi-tasking individuals who are able to work in teams and who have a genuine interest in the welfare of others…(and more!)…


Management of Applications

All applicants’ UCAS forms screened for suitability of academic studies/requirements & UKCAT test (Oct)

Admissions staff allocate Academic & UKCAT scores (OctNov)

Bundles of 20 UCAS forms sent to Selectors for scoring of PS & Reference against criteria (OctJan)

Applicants’ scores collated and ranked to shortlist for interview

600 candidates interviewed by MMI method (NovMarch)

Interview score added to total score, these then ranked vs all others

OFFERS made to those above designated cut-off score (end March)

Feedback given to unsuccessful applicants (April onwards)


Admissions Process

Minimum academic requirements & UKCAT needed to ENTER the Selection Process

Three opportunities to achieve an interview…

  • 1. Academic Score
  • 25% of total score
  • 3.UCAS Form Score
  • 22% of total score
  • 2. UKCAT score
  • 8% of total score

High scores in all three areas shortlists for interview

  • 4. Interview Score
  • 45% of total score

Individual applicant’s scores collated then ranked against those of all others

OFFERS made to those above designated cut-off score


Minimum AcademicRequirements

i.e. grades normally required for application to be considered


Chemistry required plus 2 from Biology / Human Biology, Maths & Physics required plus 2 others


5 Highers in S5



Mentoring input

Other than encouraging pupils to choose the right subjects and then to achieve top grades…

PLEASE DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN GIVING ADVICE ABOUT ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS…this must be given by the school tutors and Medical Admissions



  • All applicants must take this (aptitude) test
  • Computer-based multiple choice assessment; questioning in 4 subtests that examine appropriate mental abilities
  • Total test lasts ~1½ hrs; each subtest is timed
  • Tutoring  no improvement, but practise improves ‘speededness’ and thus results
  • Total score used at Aberdeen & applicants’ results ranked into octiles (for 2012 entry)
  • All test results considered (i.e. no cut-off score required) thus  increase in UK-wide competition

Mentoring input

  • Encourage browsing of UKCAT website for key dates, methods of payment, test locations, needs-related bursaries, appropriate ID etc at:
  • Discount if book test early, also avoids ‘queues’ (can cancel later if need be)
  • One chance per year for test...wrong ID  no result
  • Good results count. Encourage repeated use of two free online practice tests

UCAS Form Score

  • Information from Personal Statement & Reference objectively assessed in 3 domains:
  • Commitment to medicine, knowledge of undergraduate training, medical career - its implications & postgraduate training
  • Core qualities of a good doctor, applicant’s personal qualities
  • Team work, outside interests, multitasking & time-management, interpersonal skills, understanding of professional issues

Career Research:

Work experience

  • Observing the doctor by shadowing:
    • Skills & responsibilities
    • Interactions with patients/relatives & colleagues
    • Other non-medical tasks
  • Enquiring about ‘hidden agenda’:
    • Doctors’ lifestyles ..good & bad aspects
    • Career prospects
    • Stress/limitations of the job
  • Learning about working within & outside the NHS

See also GP newsletter article & handout


Career Research:

Other activities

  • Talking to doctors and medical students about their lives and aspirations
  • Attending medical career conferences, workshops, uni outreach activities
  • Undertaking web-searches for understanding of the NHS, hospital Boards/Trusts, GMC, Scottish Doctors etc
  • Exploring & involvement in additional medical-related activities e.g. uni-based research, medical science public lectures

How to demonstrate qualities

of a good doctor

  • Demonstrate caring:
  • Care-related paid or voluntary work: e.g. with family members/friends, the elderly or disabled / Auxiliary Nurse / ‘voluntary’ work in the community & overseas
  • School: Helping other students e.g. mentoring, teaching, anti-bullying etc
  • Demonstrate interest in medicine-related science:
  • Research involvement, lectures & workshops

Shadowing PLUS voluntary work scored separately so both activities must be undertaken for good PS scores


How to demonstrate teamwork capabilities

  • Duke of Edinburgh schemes
  • Young Enterprise
  • Youth groups
  • Part time employment
  • Being part of sports teams, musical bands, drama groups or performing in other ways
  • Involvement in rural/community issues/ meetings/social life
  • Activities that particularly involve leadership skills & decision-making
  • Ability to multi-task ie do well academically & lead a full life

Mentoring input

  • Applicants must satisfy admissions criteria from all FOUR proposed Universities particularly as admissions criteria may change thus:
    • Research MedSchool websites & Admissions depts
    • Undertake visits to unis & Open Days
    • Encourage personal up-to-date research
  • PS scores only allocated if activities completed. Future planned work not accredited. Thus shadowing, volunteering etc MUST BE DONE PRIOR TO 15 OCT.
  • Points given for quantity of research & understanding gained. Vague generalisations cannot be scored
  • All PS claims must be truthful; verification of activities may be undertaken. No plagiarism!!
  • Encourage the keeping of work experience/activities diaries

Interviews for 2012

  • By panel of 2 Selectors
  • For 17-20 minutes
  • Personal Statement limited in information  further explored
  • Considered & scored within previous 3 domains: commitment, core qualities, teamwork/activities etc
  • Assessment of verbal communication skills (scored separately):
    • Ability to express thoughts
    • Sensitivity & listening skills
    • Comprehension
    • Manner & demeanour
  • Assessment of attitudes, motivation, decision-making & ability to reflect on own research/experience to inform answers
  • Performance….without assistance!
  • Tour of Medical School

Interviews for 2013


  • Interview format to change from 2-man panel in 3 domains to Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format:
    • Candidates rotate round several (possibly 5/6) stations
    • Each station will last ~7 minutes with one Selector scoring performance against criteria
    • Individual stations will cover one domain or assessment of communication skills or problem-solving ability
    • Areas covered will still include information given in previous slides
  • Website updates after April/May 2012

Mentoring input

  • Appearance should be smart, clean & professional
  • Pupil should be encouraged to consider own behaviour:
    • shake hands on introduction (worth practising!)
    • make good eye-contact with interviewer
    • show enthusiasm
  • Rehearse interviews to polish skills & increase confidence:
    • using broad range of questions & different ‘interviewers’
    • give feedback on pupil performance:
      • Communication: clear & audible or quiet & indistinct
      • Communication : in 4 categories
      • Attitude: alert & attentive or disinterested & bored
      • Answers: thoughtful & confident or unprepared & uncertain
      • Appearance: calm or tense, anxious or agitated
  • Encourage pupils to be honest & be themselves & not produce answers they think will please

Why are requirements

so high?

  • Academic:
    • Ability to cope with high university work load
    • Ability to study essential topics of less personal interest
    • - Ability to do well under stress
  • Non-academic:
    • Demonstrate understanding & Implications of career
    • Core qualities for suitability to career
    • - Multitasking & interpersonal skills

Competition intense – for 2012…

Total Home applicants = 2003

Of these 1676 considered

Of these 589 interviewed

Of these 306 offers made

…to achieve 152 Home Entrants


Further Information

  • Prospective Students Website:
  • Contacts:
  • Dr Kath Greaves*, Associate Dean Admissions:
  • email:
  • Emma Dunlop, Admissions Administrator, email:
  • Jennifer McKernan, Admissions Assistant, email:
  • *Retirement 17 May 2012