1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Rucira. I’m in Cardiff University. I did Cambridge A Levels in Taylor’s College Subang Jaya and my Malaysian exams in Convent Green Lane, Penang.
2. What was included in the application process to your university?
Firstly, you need to know what kind of universities you are targeting: overseas or local (public or private) universities in Malaysia. For me, since I did the A levels, there was no way of applying to local public universities as they charge you international student fees.
Secondly, make sure you have fulfilled all necessary entry requirements prior to your application. For example, the UKCAT, BMAT, ISAT, SATs, IELTS. Also, you need to write a sensible personal statement and know your forecasted grades on the upcoming A2 examinations. For me, I did fairly well on my UKCAT with a 720 average and a scoring 900 under Abstract Reasoning. My forecast was 3As and 1A*.
Thirdly, I went to useful and trustworthy websites like thestudentroom.co.uk to read up and do a little research on the universities that I will be able to maximize my chances of getting a place. You need to know your limits and capabilities! I did not apply to universities that concentrate a lot on academics as my forecast grades were not very high. I also avoided universities that pay a lot of attention on the UKCAT. In my place, I applied to the universities that pay more attention on gaining an all-rounded student as I was active in the clubs and societies in my college as well as in cultivating self-development skills.
Next, once you have submitted your application, wait for them to call you for an interview. That’s the exciting part. Most of us students already have a ‘bible’ to literally memorize answers that will most likely be asked by the interviewer. But don’t only rely on that as interviewers themselves own that book as well. I recommend that you read up on the very small and down-to-detail stuff about the university that you are attending the interview for. Read about their medical system, the NHS and also the latest BBC news.
After that, it’s all praying time.
3. What did you include in your personal statement/essay(s)?
Well, my personal statement portrayed more of what I did during my hospital attachment and how I felt about the whole experience.
4. Did you perform any attachment?
I did my attachment in Island Hospital. It’s the largest and fastest-growing private hospital in Penang.
5. What are some of the activities you participated in that you think helped your application?
I joined a handful of clubs in college and held positions in two of them. I was the President of an art club (Free Arts Movement) and an Activity Coordinator for a charity club (Welfare And Charity Keen Youth). Besides that, I also freely participated in any volunteer-based activity that was held by my college. For example, teaching at the Myanmar Education Center, visiting orphanages, helping out at an autism home. I also had the opportunity to participate in CAMPS International where we travelled all the way to Beng Mealea, Cambodia to help build classrooms for their local school, teach the school children English and also help out in their agricultural needs.
6. Did you have to take any tests?
I took the UKCAT. I only had 4 days to prepare for this. I bought the 600 UKCAT book, did the whole book, all the questions, and also practices online. The more questions you do, the better you get the hang of it. Most of the time, the questions are not hard, but they are time-consuming, and to answer a certain Reasoning, there’s a fixed amount of time. What I did was, I tried to answer as many questions as I can right in the beginning, and then when I have roughly 1 minute left, I just randomly choose the best-fit answer.
7. How was the interview session?
I was called for 6 different universities’ interviews. They were all different. Unfortunately, I can’t share the questions with you as I have signed a confidential release. But you should be prepared for anything they ask you.
If I were you, the smartest way is to go on to student blogs and read up on past student experiences. Some universities will tell you beforehand what to expect, so don’t worry. Nothing could be harder than preparing for SPM.
8. What do you think contributed to the success of your application?
I included most of my ECA, as the universities that I applied to concentrate a lot on gaining a student who is both academically good and active in extra-curriculars. I also included my self-development skills: for example, I’m a KUMON completer, and I took ABRSM piano up to Grade 8 for both theory and practical. I also took part in a lot of NGO competitions that are internationally-recognised, such as the Commonwealth competitions, the AMCHAM award, FedEx International Trade Challenge/Junior Achievement competition.
9. What advice would you give to future applicants? What are some of the useful resources you used?
I would say, know your limits and capabilities. Play to your strengths! I did a lot of reading on thestudentroom.co.uk, the NHS, BBC news and also the respective universities’ websites. And if you ever fail, I hope you have the courage to try again.
Rucira Xiu Xian Ooi is an all-rounder who will be pursuing her medical degree in Cardiff University under private funding. There’s never a dull moment when you’re with her and she is also a very good listener.