Medical School Application Guide

 

University of Oxford

 

University of Liverpool

 

The University of Oxford is the oldest established university in the English-speaking world, and is renowned world-wide for its first-class academic reputation. Medicine at Oxford has a prestigious history and reputation. It was here that Roger Bacon pioneered the scientific method; that Robert Hooke discovered the cell; that Thomas Willis made discoveries in neuro-anatomy, -physiology and –pathology; and here that Dorothy Hodgkin, the first female British Nobel Prize winner, discovered the molecular structure of insulin. Oxford continues to be known for advances in medical and scientific research today. Oxford, like Cambridge, has a collegiate system, where each student, as well as belonging to the University of Oxford, also belongs to a smaller college within the university. This gives students the chance to be part of smaller communities within the university and mix with other students from a variety of degree disciplines. As well as attending lectures and seminars with your medical year group, you will also have weekly college tutorials in smaller groups, with sometimes as few as two students per tutor, so that tutors can help you focus on your individual learning needs. Many of the Oxford tutors will be world leaders in their specialist field. The undergraduate 6-year medical programme has 145 students, which is relatively small compared to other universities. It is divided into 3 pre-clinical years, with systems-based teaching of the essential clinical sciences and the chance to propose your own research study in order to gain a BA in Medical Science at the end of the 3 pre-clinical years before moving on to the 3 clinical years. Note that although there is some patient contact in the pre-clinical phase, this is not emphasised as much as at certain other universities. Oxford also has an accelerated 4-year graduate entry programme for Medicine, designed for graduates who are trained in applied or experimental sciences. This course has a strong emphasis on academic medicine in a clinical context and will appeal to students interested in combining clinical practice and medical research in their careers. There are only 30 places available for this course. The last two years of the graduate course and the undergraduate courses are combined and following the final examinations, the last 6 months of the course include an elective component (an opportunity for students to choose a specialty in which to gain more experience, either in the UK or abroad) and preparation for practice as a Foundation Year 1 doctor. Anatomy in Oxford is studied via prosected specimens and computer-assisted learning.

 

The Medical School Application Guide

At a Glance

Courses available

4 to 6-year programme

  Undergraduate Applicants Graduate Applicants
  6-year   4-year 5-year
No. of places 145   30 145 (inc. undergrads)
Degree N/A   2.1 or First 2.1 or First
GCSEs 8+A*s   N/A 8+A*s
A levels A*AA   Variable A*AA
Exam BMAT   BMAT BMAT
Interview Panel (x2)   Panel (x2) Panel (x2)
Work experience Desirable   Desirable* Desirable
*Demonstration of academic ability more important

 

 

PROGRAMMES

 

Graduates can apply to the A100 course, which is the 6-year programme to which undergraduate applicants apply. Graduates can complete the pre-clinical phase of this course in 2 years, rather than three (without gaining the BA in Medical Science that the undergraduates gain after their 3rd pre-clinical year). Hence from now on we will refer to this programme as the 5-year programme. The pre-clinical years are focused on the essential clinical sciences and have limited patient contact, but do have some exposure to GP surgeries and in-hospital clinical demonstrations. Students must then apply to complete their clinical years in either Oxford or London. The joint admissions process ensures that suitably qualified students will gain a place on the clinical course; the condition being that they must have successfully passed the First BM examination.

 

There is also a 4-year programme for graduates, aimed towards graduates trained in applied or experimental sciences. This course has very little didactic teaching, and students are expected to cover the basic clinical subject matter themselves and enhance this knowledge through attendance at tutorials and discussion groups. It is definitely a course for independent learners, and those who enjoy the academic side of Medicine. The first year focuses on science taught within a clinical context, along with a gentle introduction to clinical practice. The second focuses more strongly on clinical teaching. In the final two years of the course, the students from the 4-year programme will be integrated with those on the undergraduate medical course and will be based in hospital attached to various medical specialist teams, including a medical and surgical firm in the final year. Like students on the 5/6-year programme, the students on the 4-year programme will have an opportunity to do a clinical elective and preparation for Foundation Year 1 practice. Note that not all Oxford colleges can accommodate students who gain entry to the 4-year programme. For a list of those colleges that do, please visit this link: http://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/medicine/accelerated/colleges.

 

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS AND ELIGIBILITY

 

Note that, unlike applicants to undergraduate courses, graduates can apply to medical courses at both Oxford and Cambridge at the same time. However note that graduates can only apply to one of the 4-year or 5-year medical programmes offered in Oxford.

 

Degree and A levels

 

For the 5-year programme, graduates are expected to have a least a 2:1 degree or a First Class Honours. They will be in direct competition with school-leavers and a good degree will not be enough to make up for lower A level results. This means, that like undergraduate applicants, graduates applying to the A100 course will be expected to have A*AA at A level including Chemistry plus one of Biology/Physics/Mathematics. General Studies and Critical Thinking are not considered as part of the A level requirements.

 

The 5-year programme require at least a 2:1 degree in a science discipline and AAA at A level to include Biology, Chemistry and one other subject (not including General Studies or Critical Thinking).

 

The 4-year programme is somewhat less rigid with its academic requirements, in that it is recognised that many people are ‘late bloomers’ in education and may not have achieved as well at school as they subsequently did in their degrees/BMAT examination. What is required however, is demonstrable evidence that the candidate will be able to cope with the academic challenges of the 4-year programme. Most applicants will have at least a 2:1 degree from a scientific discipline (see list of acceptable degrees on university website: http://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/medicine/accelerated/prospectus/how-to-apply/qualifying-degrees-for-the-graduate-entry-medical-course and will have taken Chemistry plus another science to A level and will have good grades in these subjects (exceptions to this rule may be made if the candidate’s first degree has a large Chemistry and/or Biochemistry component). An especially good BMAT score may tip the scales in your favour if this is not the case, or demonstration of excellent aptitude in scientific research. As applicants are competing against a different cohort each year, it is difficult to say that certain standards of qualifications will lead to success.

 

GCSEs

 

As for undergraduates, graduates who apply to the 5-year programme have is no technical GCSE cut-off, but the average Oxford applicant has 8.5 A*s so it is worth bearing in mind that your GCSEs will need to be competitive. GCSEs are scored for graduates, as for undergraduates, to allow the highest scorers to progress to interview. It is possible to compensate lower scores at GCSE with a high performance in the BMAT examination.

 

Applicants to the 4-year programme may have lower grades at GCSE than those applying to the 5-year programme if their degree and A levels, and/or BMAT scores are deemed good enough to compensate for this. GCSE Biology or Dual Award Science is required if the candidate does not have Biology at A level and their degree does not have a large Bioscience component.

 

IB

 

Again to be comparable to the usual A level grades, applicants for both programmes should have at least 39 points (including core points), and 7,6,6 at Higher Level, to include Chemistry and at least one of Biology/Physics/Mathematics. Again, as for the A level requirements, it is possible for an applicant’s exceptional academic performance elsewhere to compensate for lower IB points in the 4-year programme.

 

Admissions Exam

 

For both the 5-year programme and the 6-year programme, the BMAT is required. It is valid for one year.

 

Access to Medicine courses

 

The University of Oxford does not recommend particular Access courses, but some may be accepted for the 5-year programme, if proven to offer the content of the subjects required at A level by the university and to an equivalent A level standard, particularly in Chemistry. The syllabus should be assessed by formal written examinations and candidates should have distinction level grades. The onus is on the candidate to demonstrate to the university that the course they have taken is equivalent to A level standard.

 

International Students

 

There are 14 spaces for international students on both the 4-year programme and the 5/6-year programme (irrespective of whether the applicants are undergraduates or graduates). This usually means that there are only one or two spaces for international students on the 4-year programme, but so far, this has not resulted in the rejection of any suitably qualified international students from this course.

Note that to study Medicine in the UK, applicants must be proficient in verbal and written English. Please see this web link for information regarding English Language requirements: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/international-students/english-language-requirements?wssl=1

 

If you are applying as an overseas student and have not taken the IB or A levels, please contact us by email (enquiries@themsag.com) if you would like more information on the minimum grades needed to be considered for a place in Oxford Medicine.

 

Policy on Re-applicants

 

Candidates can re-apply to both programmes.

 

Policy on Deferrals

 

For both programmes, candidates requesting deferral would be expected to be amongst the strongest applicants, particularly so for the 4-year programme, where there are fewer spaces available. The gap year would be expected to be used constructively. The university may advise applicants to re-apply the following year or offer them a non-deferred post.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

 

Application Deadlines

 

Applications via UCAS for 2017/18 entry are open from 1st September 2016 and close on 15th October 2016

 

Application Documents

 

•Completed UCAS application form .

• An additional application form (which includes the contact details for 3 referees), for the 4-year programme must be sent directly to the university (this should be received by the university by the same deadline as the UCAS form). More information can be found here: http://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/medicine/accelerated/application-procedure

 

SELECTION PROCESS AND INTERVIEW

 

Selection Process

 

For the 5-year programme, selection for interview is on the basis of GCSE grades and BMAT scores. The threshold for shortlisting changes every year, depending on the calibre of results from the cohort of applicants. GCSEs are scored in terms of number and percentage of A*s, so having more GCSEs that are not A* grade will not make up for a lack of A*s. For 2016 entry, the average applicant had 8.7 A*S at GCSE, and those who were offered places had an average of 10.4 A*s. The average BMAT score for all applicants was 51%, and 65% for those who were offered places. Sections 1 and 2 of the BMAT are given the highest weighting (40% each of total score) and Section 3 accounts for 20% of the total score. If a candidate has qualifications other than GCSEs, these will be reviewed to ensure an acceptable standard, but scoring for interview selection will be based on the BMAT result, which will be doubled to allow it to be comparable to applicants with a GCSE and a BMAT score. Note that applicants who are not shortlisted for interview on the basis of GCSE or BMAT results will have their applications carefully considered and may still be invited for interview if there are mitigating circumstances for why they did not meet the necessary academic grades for that year’s entry. Although the personal statement is not scored in the selection process, it is read thoroughly and your interviewers are more than likely to draw some of their questions from what you have written. The interviewers and admissions team will be looking for evidence of the following in your personal statement (and in your interview):

 

The personal statement is then scored based on the following:

 

• Empathy: ability and willingness to imagine the feelings of others and understand the reasons for the views of others

• Motivation: a reasonably well-informed and strong desire to practise medicine

• Communication: ability to make knowledge and ideas clear using language appropriate to the audience

• Honesty and integrity

• Ethical awareness

• Ability to work with others

• Capacity for sustained and intense work

• Alignment of individual values and behaviours with the values of the NHS Constitution:http://www.nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/NHSConstitution/Pages/Overview.aspx

• Problem-solving: critical thinking, analytical approach

• Intellectual curiosity: keenness to understand the reason for observations; depth; tendency to look for meaning; enthusiasm and curiosity in science

• Communication skills: willingness and ability to express clearly and effectively; ability to listen; compatibility with tutorial format

 

For the 4-year programme, two independent assessors will score applications based on the Oxford application form, supporting references and academic performance. Those two scores are used alongside the BMAT to rank applicants for interview. As this course is highly academic, personal suitability for Medicine will not make up for lower academic grades or a low BMAT score. Applicants whose BMAT scores are in the top 25% are highly likely to be invited for interview, as are those in the top 40% who have a strong academic background. Those who scores fall within the bottom 50% are generally not interviewed. Note that the UCAS form may be taken into account as well. Applicants can state their preferred college without having any effect on their chance of gaining admission. Academic ability and a clear commitment to Medicine are essential. Personal suitability for Medicine is also an important factor. Specific qualities that assessors will be looking for are as follows:

 

  • Scholastic excellence
  • Evidence of originality of thought or initiative
  • Good comprehension and verbal reasoning
  • An ability to present ideas clearly in writing
  • An ability to handle and interpret quantitative data
  • An ability to think analytically
  • Evidence of self-motivation and an ability to organize life and work
  • Ability to develop good relationships with other people
  • High level of communication skills, with an interest and ability to communicate with people from all backgrounds
  • Personal integrity
  • Stability of character
  • Leadership potential
  • Concern for the welfare of others
  • A clear commitment to medicine
  • A realistic attitude to the subject
  • Interest in & curiosity about the scientific basis of medicine

 

Interview

 

You will be invited for interview at 2 different colleges over a 2-day period in December. Each college may vary in their interview format, but you will usually be interviewed by at least two college academics and at least one practising clinician. The qualities they will want you to demonstrate are those listed above in the selection process. The interview will normally incorporate a sort of mini-tutorial where you will actively engage with the interviewers on relative topics of discussion and may be given one or two problem-solving questions. The university emphasises that it is not ‘getting the right answer’ that is important here, but the skills that you demonstrate in your approach to solving the problem. These two links will give you more information on preparing for interviews at Oxford, though they are not Medicine-specific:

 

 

 

https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/Guide_to_Oxford_interviews.pdf

 

COMPETITION RATIOS

 

1674 graduate and undergraduate candidates applied to the 5/6-year programme in 2015. Of these, the 1592 who had sat the BMAT had their applications considered. 425 of these applicants were invited to interview and 165 offers (including 2 deferred places) were made for 145 places.

 

In the 2014-2015 application cycle there were between 350 - 400 applicants for the 30 places available on the 4-year progamme. Approximately 3 candidates per place are shortlisted and called for interview.

 

RANKING

 

Medicine at the University of Oxford is ranked 2nd in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2016, and scores top points for student satisfaction.

 

It is ranked 19th in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2016.

 

The QS World University Rankings have ranked Oxford as the 2nd best university for Medicine in the world.

 

PROGRAMMES

 

Undergraduates can apply to the 6-year programme, which includes 3 pre-clinical years and 3 clinical years. The pre-clinical years are focused on the essential clinical sciences and have limited patient contact, but do have some exposure to GP surgeries and in-hospital clinical demonstrations. In the third year, all students will propose and carry out their own supervised research project, gaining a BA in Medical Science before moving on to the clinical component of their medical degree. The topics that they choose to research can be incredibly varied, but will fall into one of the following 5 areas:

 

  • Neuroscience
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cardiovascular, Renal and Respiratory Medicine
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Cellular Physiology and Pharmacology

Students must then apply to complete their clinical years in either Oxford or London. The joint admissions process ensures that suitably qualified students will gain a place on the clinical course; the conditions being that they must have successfully passed the First BM examination (including the Principles of Anatomy examination) and a Second Public Examination for the BA degree. It is possible for students to take time out to complete further research (e.g. a Master’s degree or PhD) before starting their clinical years, but they must ensure their theses are complete prior to commencing their clinical placements. Note that Cambridge pre-clinical students may also apply to the Oxford clinical school for their final three years of study.

 

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS AND ELIGIBILITY

 

Note that undergraduate applicants may apply to either Oxford or Cambridge, but not both universities via UCAS.

 

A/AS levels and GCSEs

 

Offers tend to be made to applicants on the condition of obtaining A*AA at A level, and their A level subjects should include Chemistry and at least one of Biology, Mathematics or Physics. Critical Thinking and General Studies are not accepted as part of the three A level subjects required. There is no GCSE cut-off, but the average Oxford applicant has 8.5 A*s so it is worth bearing in mind that your GCSEs will need to be competitive. It is possible to compensate lower scores at GCSE with a high performance in the BMAT examination. There are no specific GCSE subjects required, but if a candidate has not taken Biology, Physics or Mathematics to A level, it is helpful to have these, mainly for coping with the medical course content and the BMAT exam.

 

IB

 

Applicants should have at least 39 points (including core points), and 7,6,6 at Higher Level, to include Chemistry and at least one of Biology/Physics/Mathematics.

 

Admissions Exam

 

The BMAT is required and is valid for 1 year. Note that the deadline for registering for the BMAT is 1st October of the year that you are applying to medical school and late applications (incurring of an extra fee) are accepted up to 15th October.

 

Access to Medicine courses

 

The University of Oxford does not recommend particular Access courses, but some may be accepted, if proven to offer the content of the subjects required at A level by the university and to an equivalent A level standard, particularly in Chemistry. The syllabus should be assessed by formal written examinations and candidates should have distinction level grades. The onus is on the candidate to demonstrate to the university that the course they have taken is equivalent to A level standard.

 

International Students

 

There are 14 spaces open to international students. International applicants should be aware that if they are short-listed for interview, they would be expected to attend interview in two of the Oxofrd colleges on the specified interview dates in December of the year that they apply. Note that to study Medicine in the UK, applicants must be proficient in verbal and written English. Please see this web link for information regarding English Language requirements: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/international-students/english-language-requirements?wssl=1

 

If you are applying as an overseas student and have not taken the IB or A levels, please contact us by email (enquiries@themsag.com) if you would like more information on the minimum grades needed to be considered for a place in Oxford Medicine.

 

Policy on Re-applicants

 

Unsuccessful applicants may try again – the first application will have no bearing on the subsequent one.

 

Policy on Deferrals

 

Applicants can apply for deferred entry, providing that they can prove that they would use their gap year constructively. In reality, those who successfully gain a deferred place for Medicine will be amongst the strongest applicants in their cohort. It is possible that applicants who request deferral will be offered a non-deferred place.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

 

Application Deadlines

 

Applications via UCAS for 2017/18 entry are open from 1st September 2016 and close on 15th October 2016.

 

Application Documents

 

• Completed UCAS application form.

• Secondary school examination certificates may be requested.

 

SELECTION PROCESS AND INTERVIEW

 

Selection Process

 

425 candidates are shortlisted for interview each year. This is done on the basis of GCSE grades and BMAT scores. The threshold for shortlisting changes every year, depending on the calibre of results from the cohort of applicants. GCSEs are scored in terms of number and percentage of A*s, so having more GCSEs that are not A* grade will not make up for a lack of A*s. For 2016 entry, the average applicant had 8.7 A*S at GCSE, and those who were offered places had an average of 10.4 A*s. The average BMAT score for all applicants was 51%, and 65% for those who were offered places. Sections 1 and 2 of the BMAT are given the highest weighting (40% each of total score) and Section 3 accounts for 20% of the total score. If a candidate has qualifications other than GCSEs, these will be reviewed to ensure an acceptable standard, but scoring for interview selection will be based on the BMAT result, which will be doubled to allow it to be comparable to applicants with a GCSE and a BMAT score. Note that applicants who are not shortlisted for interview on the basis of GCSE or BMAT results will have their applications carefully considered and may still be invited for interview if there are mitigating circumstances for why they did not meet the necessary academic grades for that year’s entry. Although the personal statement is not scored in the selection process, it is read thoroughly and your interviewers are more than likely to draw some of their questions from what you have written. The interviewers and admissions team will be looking for evidence of the following in your personal statement (and in your interview):

 

The personal statement is then scored based on the following:

 

• Empathy: ability and willingness to imagine the feelings of others and understand the reasons for the views of others

• Motivation: a reasonably well-informed and strong desire to practise medicine

• Communication: ability to make knowledge and ideas clear using language appropriate to the audience

• Honesty and integrity

• Ethical awareness

• Ability to work with others

• Capacity for sustained and intense work

• Alignment of individual values and behaviours with the values of the NHS Constitution: http://www.nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/NHSConstitution/Pages/Overview.aspx

• Problem-solving: critical thinking, analytical approach

• Intellectual curiosity: keenness to understand the reason for observations; depth; tendency to look for meaning; enthusiasm and curiosity in science

• Communication skills: willingness and ability to express clearly and effectively; ability to listen; compatibility with tutorial format

 

Interview

 

You will be invited for interview at 2 different colleges over a 2-day period in December. Each college may vary in their interview format, but you will usually be interviewed by at least two college academics and at least one practising clinician. The qualities they will want you to demonstrate are those listed above in the selection process. The interview will normally incorporate a sort of mini-tutorial where you will actively engage with the interviewers on relative topics of discussion and may be given one or two problem-solving questions. The university emphasises that it is not ‘getting the right answer’ that is important here, but the skills that you demonstrate in your approach to solving the problem. These two links will give you more information on preparing for interviews at Oxford, though they are not Medicine-specific: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/interviews?wssl=1 https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/Guide_to_Oxford_interviews.pdf

 

COMPETITION RATIOS

 

1674 candidates applied to the 6-year programme in 2015. Of these, the 1592 who had sat the BMAT had their applications considered. 425 of these applicants were invited to interview and 165 offers (including 2 deferred places) were made for 145 places.

 

RANKING

 

Medicine at the University of Oxford is ranked 2nd in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2016, and scores top points for student satisfaction.

 

It is ranked 1st in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2016.

 

The QS World University Rankings have ranked Oxford as the 2nd best university for Medicine in the world.

 

Anonymous student - 2016

1. what are the good things about studying Medicine at this university?

 

"If you enjoy basic science, especially biology, then the first 3 years are perfect because they are so science based, as opposed to a lot of other universities where much more emphasis is placed on the clinical medicine stuff in the first few years. This is true for lectures, practicals and especially tutorials where you have the chance to discuss in depth with world experts, often people who work full time as science academics. Also the year group is quite small (150 people) so you get to know most people quite well, and Oxford is a good place to live (it's also really easy to get from Oxford to London at weekends/holidays etc.)"

 

2. what is not so good about studying Medicine there?

 

"You will often have 2-3 essays to complete for tutorials per week, and the exams are largely essay based, so if you don't like writing essays that can be difficult. Also if you want to spend a lot of time from the start of your course learning in hospitals Oxford isn't the best place to be - the only clinical part of the course in the first 3 years involves a few short visits to the GP to talk to patients about their conditions. Other universities are much better for hands-on hospital experience in the first few years."

 

3. what advice do you have for someone thinking of studying Medicine there?

 

"Think very carefully about if you want your degree to be more science based (like at Oxford) or more clinical medicine based (like at a lot of other universities, including a few in London) before you apply. Also it's good to come to open days, especially if you can book to see individual colleges (I think you can do that on the Oxford Med School website). If you do apply and get in, try to make the most out of tutorials by properly preparing for them so that you can ask about things beyond the course syllabus. Also make the most of all the extra talks/lectures that are put on by the university that aren't part of the course."

 

4. do you have any tips on how to get in?

 

"If you get to the interview stage (I don't know how it works for students outside the UK but to get there we had to submit a personal statement and do the BMAT to get there) your chances are usually pretty good of getting in. From my experience of interviews, they either asked questions related to stuff I'd learned at school, questions about my personal statement or questions which I didn't know the answer too and had to think through for a bit; these are probably the hardest questions to answer but it really is ok to think for a minute (I found having a bottle of water to sip on helped here), and if you're really stuck say that to the interviewer and they'll usually push you in the right direction."

 

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