Applying mid-way through your degree
3 years ago by Rob
So you find yourself starting the first year of your degree. Your wounds from not getting accepted straight out of high school are still fresh but you know that medicine is the career for you. Graduation from your current degree is still years away so what can you do to try get in till then? Don’t worry, there’s still hope for you.
With most Bachelor’s degrees being three years, you will be sitting the UCAT in either your first or second year of university. Let’s be honest, you are not particularly wanted by medical schools. At this point you are the black liquorice, the normal fries in a packet of curly fries; there simply isn’t a high demand for you. But that doesn’t mean there’s no chance at all. Australian medical schools primarily want one of two types of candidates. Firstly someone fresh out of high school and ready to enter their undergraduate medical programme, or a seasoned graduate ready to build upon their Bachelor’s education by starting on the path of medicine. Students wanting to apply mid-way through their degree simply don’t fit into either of these parameters. You are not quite qualified yet to apply as a graduate and are too qualified to be a school leaver.
If you are after a place in Auckland or Otago medical schools, you can only apply either after one year of university or after you graduate but not at any other time.
Out of the available undergraduate medical schools throughout Australia, the majority will not consider you as a candidate after one or two years of uni. However, there are some that do such as the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Newcastle/New England University, James Cook University (JCU), and Western Sydney University. Curtin University and the University of Tasmania may also accept transfers. These universities consider non-school leavers for their medical programmes, and each have different requirements. So with a good UCAT and GPA, you still have a chance.
UNSW equally weights interview score, UCAT score, and GPA/ATAR. The latter two have certain thresholds that you have to meet in order to even gain an interview. Your degree GPA and high school ATAR are weighted 50/50 to make up the “academic” part of your assessment. The Joint medical programme at University of Newcastle and New England have roughly 170 seats available (as of 2018), 110 to Newcastle and 60 to New England. UCAT there is used as a threshold to gain an interview. GPA is also used as a hurdle. Once you get an interview, it is performance only in their Multiple Skills Assessment (MSA is similar to MMI) and Personal Qualities Assessment (PQA essentially a type of personality quiz done on a computer) that determines your place. JCU doesn’t consider UCAT scores for an interview, and only uses GPA and a panel interview (similar to UNSW) to determine places.
So if you find yourself in the first or second year of your undergraduate degree with a UCAT score of anything above 85th percentile and you don’t want to wait/risk possible graduate entrance, make sure to give these universities consideration when it comes to application time (which usually begins in August).
Remember also that you need to sit UCAT even after completing your degree at some unis such as WSU, Newcastle, Auckland and Otago. While many use GAMSAT, some use UCAT even after a degree!