Application to University of Southampton in 2020/21

This student applied in the 2020/21 application cycle and therefore the selection process at Southampton 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

Sometimes students share information with us about their demographics, which may help put their application experience into a bit more perspective.

This student identifies as a White British woman, and they attended a comprehensive school in the UK that doesn’t regularly send pupils to study medicine. They received free school meals.

Our Summary
Course: Standard undergraduate

In-person panel interview with group task

Admissions Tests: UCAT

Top tips:

– The UCATs are very similar to online IQ tests, especially the abstract reasoning questions, and so they can be a decent place to find some extra practice questions.

– I would also check out widening access to medicine socieities run by local universities because they will often have free events that help prepare for interviews/entrance exams. I didn’t know about them until after I got into uni!

Before I made my application…

Choosing to study medicine

When did you decide to apply to medical school? I was interested in medicine for a while from prior to sitting my GCSEs

How did you choose which universities to apply to?
I chose universities first based on what entrance exam they used because I only wanted to sit one entrance exam and more unis used the UCAT so I decided to look only at UCAT universities. Then I looked at which A-levels they wanted (I excluded the unis that wanted maths for example). From what was left I looked for any extra entry requirements to further cut down on universities that I have a worse shot with before looking at what courses each uni left offered as well as the location to pick the 4 I wanted to apply to.

Completing work experience

What types of work experience did you do?
Customer service role (voluntary)

How much work experience did you do?
I did 9 months as a volunteer which I signed up for through the NHS website at a local hospital. I did 2hours 1pm-3pm every Saturday.

How did you find your work experience opportunities?
I signed up as a volunteer via the NHS website over the summer before 1st year of sixth form.

During the application process…

Admissions tests

What admissions test did you sit?
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT):

How did you prepare for your admissions test?
My main preparation came from doing practice questions. To begin with I just went through as many questions as possible to get used to answering them. I went on a prep course which walked me through how to approach questions efficiently and continued to practice at home. When I felt fairly confident, I started trying timed practice tests and continued there to get my speed up.

What resources did you use?
I tried one of the admissions test prep courses which was useful because they talked you through it and it meant you were able to ask questions however the best thing I found was just doing as many practice questions as I could. I did all the questions I was given in the book the prep course gave me as well as the free practice questions I found online and on the UCAT site.


What type of interview did you do?
Panel: This type of interview is a ‘traditional’ sit down interview where you’ll be interviewed by a group of people, usually academic tutors and doctors. This differs from an MMI interview, which is based around ‘stations’ which have themes or scenarios attached to them.

Group task: At Southampton, most interviews have a group task, where multiple candidates are interviewed together. 

How did you prepare for your interview?
I spent a lot of time going over the GMC outcomes for graduates to find the terminology and vocabulary which I incorporated into my personal statement and wanted to add in during the panel interview. I watched a lot of YouTube videos on interview technique for medical schools in the UK as well. I also went online to figure out the kind of things I should be expecting, I checked the news for big health stories and also did a bit of background reading to figure out what would make me a good medical student and what would make me a good doctor.

What happened in your interview?
In my panel interview, they looked over my personal statement and asked me questions about what I wrote about and I had to reflect further on the things I wrote about and why it would make me a good doctor. I also had a group task where we discussed an ethical dilemma related to global health (this has since changed to a problem-solving task!). It was important to work with the other candidates including making sure you said enough to be recognised by the markers and also gave others an opportunity to speak and contribute.


Clinical work experience: Not every student will complete clinical work experience before they apply to medical school. Don’t worry, this is not required to be able to apply. You can use non-clinical work experience (e.g. a caring role, like in a care home) or even reflect on paid work you’ve done (e.g. in customer service) in a productive way.

Paid-for 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. 

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. 

Support networks: While not every student will have a support network to help them prepare, there are plenty of other ways to prepare for your admissions tests and interviews, such as through free online resources, like on our website. 

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