This student applied in the 2016/17 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 woman and went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send students to study medicine.
Course: Standard undergraduate entry
In person panel interview with group task
Admissions Tests: UCAT
Any final advice? I currently volunteer with in2medschool which is the kind of resource I which I’d have when I applied so would be a great thing to recommend to anyone applying to medicine!
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
Just before applications were due in
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
My GCSEs weren’t very strong so I filtered my university options by the ones that would accept my GCSEs. I then looked at trying to apply to a range of locations – one in London, one in a more rural area, one closer to home etc to give myself a range of options when the time came to choosing. I also chose to only apply to UKCAT schools so that narrowed the list down more as well.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, Care work (e.g. in residential care)
How much work experience did you do?
1 week in a respite centre, 1 week in hospital doing shadowing.
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through asking someone I knew to take me on
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?
Practicing the questions was the only way that I found helped. I used the book mainly as it gave explanations as to why things were wrong or right. I would write down these key themes and then try to use the rationale for future questions. I also found doing it under timed environments helped a lot as time in the test is very limited!
What resources did you use?
UKCAT top 100 questions book – very helpful.
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 read all available information about the style of interview in the letters from the university as well as in online forums. I asked around the people in the year above me about their interviews, types of questions they were asked and how they best prepared. I found that knowing the answers to key questions like ‘why you wanted to be a doctor’ were essential to perform well, as these types of question seemed routine to come up. I also wrote a list of questions I thought could come up (about goals, motivations, biggest failures etc) and prepared rough answers with the help of family.
What happened during your interview?
We were given a text to read independently and then were given time after to discuss it as a group. This was challenging as everyone is nervous but you are trying to use this as an opportunity to show your personality, ability to team work, as well as knowledge. Relaxing into it definitely helped it flow better.
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.
Books: Don’t worry if you’ve not been able to find this particular book or afford to pay for it. You might be able to find secondhand copies online which are usually much cheaper, or at your local library (sometimes, libraries will order in books that you’ve requested, so check out this as a possibility too!). Bear in mind that some books may become out of date, so make sure you check when they were published, and if any changes to the relevant admissions tests/interviews have been made since then.
Online forums: Online forums can be great spaces to find advice and first-hand knowledge, but remember that it may not always be the most trustworthy source of information. Take what you read with a pinch of salt.
Insiders: Don’t worry if you don’t know people like this. Most students don’t have friends who have already been through the process or healthcare professionals that they know who might be able to support them. You can meet current medical students to speak to at open days, or via free mentoring schemes, but it’s not a requirement for you to be successful.
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.