This student applied in the 2021/22 application cycle and therefore the selection process at Sheffield may have changed since then. You should read all the information a University sends you about the selection process to get the most up to date details!
Remember to check out the glossary at the bottom of the page for our explanations of all the jargon we medical students like to use!
More about this student
Ethnicity: Sri Lankan
I went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send students to medical school.
Course: Standard Undergraduate
Online MMI interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT
Sheffield SOAMS – now known as Discover Medicine (find out more here)
Before I made my application…
When did you decide you wanted to apply for medical school?
When I was in 6th form after I did work experience.
How did you choose what medical schools to apply to?
1. Distance from home
2. Based on my UCAT score
3. Teaching style e.g. full body dissections vs prosections 4. Support available for students
What types of work experience did you do?
I was a “prevention of delirium” volunteer
How much work experience did you do?
A week but I think this is too much (this is just one student’s opinion. There is no guarantee that this will reflect your own experience).
Amount does not matter, prioritise what you want to take away from the experience e.g. asking plenty of questions, observing consultations and teamwork.
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through a formal scheme or work experience placement.
During the application process…
What admissions test did you sit?
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT): https://www.ucat.ac.uk/
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
I gave myself 3 months to prepare for my test by starting off with little bits of practice. Then I gradually increased it the closer I got to the exam date I booked. Medify was useful as it has a calendar where you put in your exam date and it marks it for you, and shows you how much practice you’ve done daily and which days you missed. I found this motivating to get at least a little bit of practice done daily.
The key was to not do loads of practice right at the beginning to avoid burning out. It was a gradual increase in practice, reviewing my mistakes, figuring out which areas I was weaker in and brushing up on these skills.
What was most helpful for me was noting the different types of patterns in exam questions and sorting them into categories for abstract reasoning, and reviewing this pattern list before doing a mock exam or mock test.
Also, always try to understand why you got the answers wrong, and make a note of it and review it.
Other things I did was:
-Improve speed reading and scanning texts for keywords to help with verbal reasoning. I did this by making sure to read more during the time I prepared, such as news articles, short stories and websites that are specifically made to help you speed read (where there’s an option to increase the rate words are displayed).
-Since I was slightly weaker in maths, I made sure to brush up on the basic skills and learned the shortest and fastest methods to solve the questions for quantitative reasoning. Also I familiarised myself with the onscreen calculator as much as possible and became used to the shortcuts.
– during the actual test, it is important to stay calm, and I cannot emphasise this enough. Some of the people I knew doing the UCAT ended up panicking over one section that they messed up, and let it affect the rest of their sections. Flag and move on! Do not get hung up on a question that you’re not sure about .
What resources did you use?
Medify- incredibly useful as it breaks down each section and gives you a lot of practice and loads of mock papers. It also targets your progress and you can see which areas you need to improve in.
YouTube videos- I used these mainly to figure out how to structure my preparation e.g. Karma medic
SOAMS (now Discover Medicine)- Sheffield University outreach programme helped to provide one session where we went through UCAT questions and what to expect in the exam.
What type of interview did you do?
MMI: Multiple Mini Interview. This type of interview usually includes several short interviews or ‘stations’ which may involve different types of questions and scenarios. This is different compared to a panel interview, which may cover the same scenarios/types of questions but be a more ‘traditional’ sit-down interview.
How did you prepare for your interview?
I used the Medic Portal as it has a good breakdown of common interview topics. I also watched YouTube videos on how to prepare for interviews such as Ali Abdaal’s.
Some areas I made sure to familiarise myself with were the 4 pillars of medical ethics and learned how to apply them to different situations on a very basic level.
The main thing that helped me in my preparation was to note down what you want to mention in an interview in simple bullet points, and not rehearse your answers, to help get an idea of what you want to say and to ensure you’re not missing out any important bits that you really want to mention for example about your work experience.
Looking up commonly asked questions and staying up to date with medical news also helped.
What happened in your interview?
The last station involved a game to test my ability to narrow things down and arrive at a conclusion in a structured and rationalised manner. The focus of the station here was how good our strategy is.
It felt daunting at the time, but staying calm and making use of all the information provided was what helped me get through it.
Dissection: Some universities use full-body dissection as a teaching method. This is when you personally get to dissect and be involved in the removal and looking at certain aspects of the body. Some students like the idea of this, while others don’t. This might inform where you choose to apply to medical school, so check out the universities you’re considering to see whether this is part of their teaching style.
Prosection: Prosection is different to dissection as a teaching method, because the students don’t personally perform the dissection (it is usually done by a clinician). This means while you can still take a look inside, you won’t personally be completing the ‘digging’ (for want of a better phrase!)
Paid-for resources and courses: Some students choose to pay for courses either online or in person to help them prepare for admissions tests and interviews. There is no evidence that they give you an advantage. There are good, free alternatives for preparation for admissions tests and interviews, and some offer bursaries and discounts to students who come from low income families. Check out our guides and uni websites for more details.
Medify: Medify is a popular website which provides resources for helping you prepare your medicine application. Medify has some free resources online but some are paid-for. There are good, free alternatives for preparation available online, so check out our subject guides and the university websites for details.
Medic Portal: Medic Portal is a popular website that provides resources to help you prepare your medicine application. Medic Portal has some free resources online but some are paid-for. There are good, free alternatives for preparation available online, so check out our guides and the university websites for details.
YouTube videos: There are many current and recent medical students who create videos on YouTube about their experience and advice about applying. Remember that their experience is personal and individual, and may not reflect yours. They might provide some useful advice but remember that they might be advertising paid for services. Take their advice as part of a more holistic approach alongside moderated advice such as ours, and official advice from universities and test providers.
4 pillars of medical ethics: These four pillars guide ideas about medical ethics. Knowing and understanding them can help you prepare for your interview and how you answer questions.