Applying To Medical School

The Application Cycle

So I thought I’d write a post on the whole med school application process/cycle, or as I’ve dubbed it: The Hunger Games: Medical School.

It starts off with you taking one of the three entrance exams: BMAT, GAMSAT & UKCAT. After surviving one of these tortuous exams, you then subject yourself to the hell that is writing the personal statement. 30 drafts later, if you’re lucky, you’ve completed it and are now ready to submit your application to your chosen 4 medical schools by the October 15 deadline through UCAS. I feel it’s appropriate to say here that 25000 students sit the UKCAT every year. No pressure.

Farewell. May you bring me good news on the morrow.


Alas, you have some relief from thinking about the application process right? Well no. Not really. You refresh your inbox every 5 minutes and jump at every email alert. It also doesn’t help that you’re probably subscribed to a forum such as the student doctor network or the student room. You spend all day on these forums waiting for the first sign of an interview offer or rejection. So many thoughts race through your head but there is one that appears more often than any other.

Several weeks to months later…

Someone posts online informing everyone they have been rejected pre-interview from one of your chosen universities. Then another. And another. Now everyone seems to be getting rejected pre-interview and you wonder when yours will come through.

The cycle before this one was rough. I remember one of my chosen medical schools had 3000 applications for 177 places. So they sent out a million (excuse the exaggeration) pre-interview rejections before sending out interview invitations. And these were done in batches. We eventually figured out that the day’s rejections were sent out at 3pm. This came to be known as “The 3pm Cull.” Eventually it became less about receiving an interview offer and more about surviving past 3pm.

It didn’t help that they switched things up and started rejecting people in batches at 3pm & 5pm.

If you’re lucky, you do survive. The cycle before this one I received 4 awesome pre-interview rejections. This cycle, I received 4 awesome interview invites.

So you go to your interviews and hope beyond hope that you are able to somehow convince the interviewers that they should offer you a place at their medical school instead of someone else.

I’m pretty sure I heard someone say “May the odds be NEVER in your favour.”

Weeks pass after the interview and still no word as to your fate. The forums show that people are becoming desperate and agitated so they call the admissions departments to find out when you can all expect to hear back. Of course, they are treated to the generic “we hope to send out decisions as soon as possible” answer. What did they really expect?

This is how I imagine admissions officers when people call


A few more weeks pass. Then, a word. A whisper. Someone on the forum has been offered a place. Now another. And another. Now the panic kicks in. Not all medical schools have 177 places. There aren’t that many places on this particular course. This particular course has 24 places for which they interviewed 160 people. Seriously. Why haven’t they sent your acceptance letter yet?

Then, when you’ve all but given up hope, you receive an offer! Throughout the application cycle, you experience a range of emotions and by the time it’s over, you’re emotionally drained.

And that’s it. The cycle is over and you’re now thinking about the upcoming challenge that is medical school. You even become a little nostalgic. You will never go through this particular experience again. You’re sad to see it behind you and you almost miss the entrance exams. Almost.

Cue Hunger Games theme…

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