This student applied in the 2017/18 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 Pakistani man who went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send students to study medicine. They received free school meals.
Course: Gateway year entry (BM6)
In person panel interview with group task
Admissions Tests: UCAT
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
Probably Year 10 in secondary school so in 2014 I’d say
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
The first time I applied (in year 13) I applied to universities that had a good reputation. I also made sure to check that their application process was tailored to my strengths. I lived in London so that made it easy to pick 2 universities that would allow me to commute from home. I then applied to universities that would be best suited to my application, location didn’t matter as long as I got to study medicine.
The second time I applied (during my Gap year) I chose to apply to universities that would accept resit applicants or unis that had a widening participation course such as a lower threshold of grades or with a foundation year. My 5th choice both times was choosing a university that had a transitional process in place as my sole goal was to make it in to medicine. Therefore, I chose universities that offered biomed/medical sciences + opportunity to transfer to medicine at some time during the course.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, GP surgery
How much work experience did you do?
I did 1 week at my local GP surgery during the Year 12 summer. I also did 2 weeks in the winter of year 13 at a A&E
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through a formal scheme or work experience placement, 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?
Firstly, I was only aware of 1250 UKCAT (UCAT) questions book and tried to study with this. I found it too theoretical and wanted to practice with questions. This is when I found out about Medify and in my opinion it was very representative of the actual UKCAT I had. I used Medify to practice my timing, my strategies to answer questions and to get an overall feel of what it would be like on exam day.
What resources did you use?
Medify – just practised loads and loads.
1250 UKCAT book – read this and tried to implement strategies on practice questions
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 up on the module briefs on the University of Southampton Websites and got myself familiar with the arrangement of the course. I also looked in to the university societies that I would want to join if I was accepted and this actually helped me significantly in having a conversation about my interests that was free-flowing and not robotic. I tried to read up on the current hot healthcare related news topics so that I wouldn’t be caught off guard.
I also took some advice from peers who were already studying medicine and asked them how they prepared for interviews. This made me feel really settled and not nervous as they also described how they felt before their interviews and that its totally normal to feel a bit of stress(tag: stress). I read this book called “Medical School Interviews” by Olivier Picard and George Lee. This book gave a really good insight in to what your thought process should be while answering questions in the interview.
I also had my pastoral lead who was very supportive do mock interviews with me to prepare me. I also did this with some of my science teachers.
What happened during your interview?
I took part in a panel interview followed by a group task.
Panel: I was asked general questions related to medicine and the experience I had. I had 2 people interviewing me in the panel who took turns to ask me questions. I definitely was a bit nervous to start with but eased myself up to a point where it was more of a free-flowing conversation. I went in with a mindset where I would sell myself so that university would want me instead of trying to prove that I wanted to study medicine at this university. We spoke about what my interests are outside of medicine and previous research about the city/university had helped a lot as I got straight to the point.
Group task: We were given a source to read ad we discussed ethical dilemmas that came up from this. This task felt very natural as each individual had the chance to speak and possibly debate about what was ethically right or wrong in their opinion. There were definitely candidates with stronger personalities than me but I went in with a firm mindset to get my points across as well as being a very respectful and attentive listener.
*Note that the ethics discussion is now a problem-solving task.
Gateway year: A gateway year course has an additional year at the start of the course, meaning it will last 6 years. Gateway courses are designed for students who wouldn’t meet the standard requirements for entry to medicine, so they are aimed at widening participation into medicine. The best way to see if you are eligible is to check the individual university website to find out the requirements and criteria.
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.
Gap year: Some students choose to take a gap year and apply after receiving their A-level grades. They might work or travel in this gap year. Some re-apply to medicine during their gap year. You should do whatever feels right for you.
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.
Paid for resources: 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.
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.
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.
Mock interviews: Don’t worry if you didn’t have this opportunity. Interviews are designed to take into account that not everyone has the same level of preparation. See our guides and blogs on interviews to find out more about free online resources.
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.