How to Apply to Medicine at Australian Universities
2 days ago by Rob
Congratulations on your decision to pursue Medicine as a career! Medicine is a challenging field that will constantly test your ability to stay disciplined. But it is not all work; you will also find that Medicine is one of the most rewarding careers available. You will learn about many fields of study such as anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, and be able to directly apply them to a clinical environment.
The deadline to apply for medicine in Australia closes at the end of September. This blog is designed to assist students with the application process.
Entry Criteria into medicine
Universities differ in their admission requirements for medicine and dentistry. However, in general, entry into undergraduate medicine is based on three key criteria:
- Your academic grades: this can be in the form of an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank), IB, or university results such as GPA or WAM
- Your score in the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test)
- Your score in a medical interview or oral assessment (some universities also require a written application)
Universities have a set quota for medical school candidates each year (set by the Federal Government). Generally, once you have submitted an application for Medicine and have had your academic grades and UCAT scores reviewed, universities will invite you for an interview if you have achieved sufficient scores. Interviews are either in the form of an MMI (Multi Mini Interview) or a panel setting. During the interview stage, universities will test your interpersonal skills and assign a score. Following this, most universities will consider some or all of the three criteria and determine whether to send you an offer of admission.
The process varies between universities. For example, after you’ve received your interview offer at the University of Newcastle (Joint Medical Program), they then wipe the slate clean and only consider your interview performance when deciding if they will send you an offer. Further information about the entry requirements can be found in our free medical university admissions guide.
Some universities will use additional criteria – for example, Curtin University uses the CASPER situational judgement test and the University of Newcastle (Joint Medical Program) uses the Personal Qualities Assessment (PQA).
Maximising your chances of obtaining an interview offer
To give yourself the best chance of getting into Medicine, it is recommended that you apply to all medical undergraduate programs across Australia.
Since every university differs slightly in how they assess students, you are much more likely to receive an offer for medical school if you allow a wider range of universities to view your UCAT and academic results. Furthermore, because medical interviews introduce an element of subjectivity, there is no guarantee of an offer into medicine at any one university. Therefore, it is best to apply to multiple universities to increase your chances of securing a place.
Think of it like casting a net to catch fish: you are more likely to catch more fish if you use a bigger net, so why not expand your horizons and increase your chances of pursuing a career in Medicine?
This luxury of being able to be interviewed at multiple universities is not available through the Graduate Entry (GAMSAT) route, or for New Zealand or UK students. So why not avail of it when you can?
How do I apply to Medicine?
Universities have a streamlined application process that simplifies the work needed to apply to medicine and dentistry. Each state has an admissions centre to which students can apply. The table below displays the academic authorities for each state:
New South Wales
- Applying to one state’s admission centre does not automatically register you with other states. You will need to apply to each admission centre individually.
- In general, medicine and dentistry applications do not qualify for late or very late applications which means you will need to meet the early/timely cut-off dates (generally towards the end of September each year)
Most admissions centres will require you to pay an application fee. These must be paid by the application deadline or your application may not be considered. The fees vary depending on which tertiary admission centre you are applying to; whether you are a Year 12 student or 'other applicant'. They are usually in the range of $60 to $90 (no fees to apply to UTAS, since you apply directly via the university website).
Information required from Tertiary Admissions Centres
You will be asked for your contact details, including your name, address, phone number and email address. The application will also ask some miscellaneous questions such as if you speak a second language at home and if you are Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander.
You will be asked which high school/university you have attended; this will allow some institutions to have access to your academic grades. Further some universities may lower the threshold for students from schools in low socio-economic status areas or where a school is under-represented. There will also be a space where you provide your UCAT ANZ number, so that universities may also access your UCAT results.
Universities requiring direct application
Some universities also require you to file an additional application directly to the university. We suggest you checking with each university, but these include:
- University of New South Wales: you must apply through UNSW (including written application) and submit a UAC application. Applications to UNSW close end of September
- James Cook University: you need to apply via QTAC and additionally submit an online application form directly to JCU (by end of September)
- University of Newcastle/JMP/New England: applicants will need to submit a form online and indicate their preferred university of enrolment, and whether you would be willing to attend the alternate university if you do not gain selection in to your primary choice. Preferences can be changed online until 29th September 2023
- La Trobe (pathway program): you need to first complete a VTAC or UAC application and then submit a rurality form. In addition to this, current year 12 applicants must submit a School Endorsement form.
- University of Tasmania: there is no tertiary admission centre for Tasmania since there is only one university in Tasmania.
- Curtin University: Special admission applications must be submitted directly. i.e. Rural Entry Pathway (Domestic applicants) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Entry Pathway (Domestic applicants)
- University of Auckland (New Zealand)
- University of Otago (New Zealand)
- James Cook University: you need to apply via QTAC and additionally submit an online application form (including written application) directly to JCU
- University of Otago (New Zealand)
The information above applies to “standard” applicants. If you are a ‘non-standard’ applicant, the application process may be different and you may be required to submit further information. Non-standard applicants include:
- Those not in their final year of high school or on gap year in Australia/NZ
- Those not in their first year of university in NZ
As the admission process can be complex for non-standard applicants, it is best to contact the admissions officer of the university(s) to which you are applying, to find out what the requirements are.
Content of the Written Application Forms
Written application forms (used by the University of New South Wales and James Cook University dentistry) ask multiple questions that will then be used by universities either for selection to interview, or as a basis to ask questions during the interview. As such, students should take great care in formulating their responses and ensuring the language used is free from error. A good tip is to try reading your response aloud to yourself as this will help you determine if any parts sound disjointed or illogical.
For example, the following questions are asked by UNSW in their entry application form:
- Tell us who you are (30 words)
- Describe the most important thing you have done in the past two years. Why was it so important? (50 words)
- Outline some experiences that you would like to have in the next 10 years (50 words)
- Apart from your parents or guardians, identify the person who contributed the most to your success in life to date. In what way did they contribute (40 words)
- What makes you an outstanding candidate for our Medicine Program? (30 words)
- Concluding statement (optional) (20 words)
It is important to ‘sell yourself’ as much as you can in your application, keep sentences succinct and try to include as many of your experiences, qualifications and skills as possible. Remember that universities will go through hundreds of these applications, so it is up to you to outshine other applicants and separate yourself from the pack.
If you prepared with MedEntry for this year's UCAT, you have access to a Written Applications Guide that covers how to create an outstanding written application, available on the online learning platform. MedEntry also offers an application review service in which an expert reviewer will review your application to provide feedback and suggestions.
Universities offering Undergraduate Medicine
There are a number of universities which offer undergraduate Medicine in Australia. These are listed below:
New South Wales:
- Western Sydney University/JMP/Charles Sturt University - Doctor of Medicine
- University of Newcastle/JMP/University of New England - Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine^
- University of New South Wales - Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine^
- University of Sydney - Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine*
- University of Sydney - Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine*
- Monash University – Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine
- University of Melbourne – Doctor of Medicine*
- University of Queensland – Doctor of Medicine*
- Central Queensland University (Pathway to Doctor of Medicine at UQ)* - Bachelor of Medical Science*
- James Cook University – Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)^
- Griffith University – Bachelor of Medical Science / Doctor of Medicine*
- Bond University – Bachelor of Medical Studies, Doctor of Medicine*
- University of Adelaide – Bachelor of Medical Studies and Doctor of Medicine*
- Flinders University – Bachelor of Clinical Sciences, Doctor of Medicine*
- University of Western Australia – Doctor of Medicine*
- Curtin University – Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)
- University of Tasmania – Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine
- Charles Darwin University – (Pathway to Medicine at Flinders University NT)
*: These are provisional entry courses. This means that students are required to complete a prerequisite undergraduate course before entering medical school. It is worth noting that because provisional entry courses only offer a handful of places and they may not use UCAT, some of them have exceptionally high ATAR requirements. For example, the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne require candidates to achieve an ATAR of 99.95 and 99.90+ respectively to be considered for admission.
^: These courses require an additional application form that must be supplied to the university by the application deadline (usually the 28th of September).
Remember that the selection process is unique for every university. For example, James Cook University does not consider UCAT score but favors rural applicants and requires a well targeted written application.
To apply for a course, submit an application through the relevant Tertiary Admissions Centre (for example, use UAC to submit an application for WSU medicine). A number of universities (see above) require you to apply direct to the university as well (please see university websites for their admission deadline dates).
The application deadline is the 28th of September for most Tertiary Admission Centres. Some Tertiary Admissions Centres have late application dates available for a higher fee.
Preparing for Interviews
Once you have finished applying to universities, it is time to begin preparing for your interviews. Your interview is where you must demonstrate to universities that you are more than just book smart and can communicate and work effectively in a clinical environment.
To prepare for the interview stage, it is recommended that applicants have quality work experience and/or volunteer work that they can speak about in their interviews, as this this will set you apart from other applicants. This will also demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual who cares about the community and can excel in a career as a healthcare professional. For tips on how to secure work experience after the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, please see our dedicated blog.
Interviews are a vitally important, yet often underestimated part of the entry process into medicine. If you would like to learn more about the strategies needed to excel in interviews, MedEntry offers a Medical Interview bundle. It includes a day long session with Dr Ray (Consultant Gastroenterologist with over 20 years of experience in medical interview training), as well as a university-specific mock interview where you can practice your interview skills and receive performance feedback.
If you have come this far in pursuing a career in Medicine, there are some important hurdles still ahead but there isn’t long to go!
Key points to take away:
- Most universities consider an applicant’s academic grades, UCAT score and interview performance when determining admission offers
- Apply to as many universities as possible to increase your chances of receiving an interview offer
- Applications to most Tertiary Admissions Centres close toward the end of September each year (for exact dates, check with each tertiary admissions centre directly)
- Obtain volunteer / work experience opportunities and undergo interview training to maximise your chances of securing a place in medical school
For advice on how to preference universities and courses, please check out our preferencing blog.
For advice on what medical school to choose, check out our blog.
We wish you the best of luck in your medicine applications!