Applying for Medicine in the UK

Medicine and UCAS: The toughest thing you’ll go through as an A-level student

I remember hearing from my family members and seniors about how tough it is to be a medical applicant to UK universities. In fact, getting a place at any university seemed close to impossible. And this is the point of this article: to debunk that myth. Do not be mistaken – medicine is by far one of the toughest courses to get a place for. However, if you know how to prepare, what to expect and assuming you give twice the maximum effort you could give, you can get a place.

Firstly, I will explain the medical application process (as everyone else does), type of medicine courses, tips (my experience going through interviews) and finally how I handled receiving bad news! (i.e. getting rejected)

Medicine Application Process

UCAS allows students to apply to 5 UK universities. However, for reasons I cannot comprehend nor know of, we can only apply to 4 universities for medicine. Bummer. Fret not, you only need ONE offer – still possible.

Prior to the application process, you will need to undertake an attachment programme, for whatever length of time, wherever, and in any field you want. I shadowed a medical officer in a private hospital. Not the most exciting of options but it got the job done. The point of this is to grant you a glimpse into the medical profession and everything that it involves. The length and the activities you choose do not determine anything – it is what you learn from it and how you reflect on experiences that determines whether it will be fruitful.

During the application process, you will be required to write a small essay about anything in the world, and this is called a personal statement. This is, some would say, the most important piece of writing where you must give them reasons why you should be allowed to study in their university: basically selling yourself. Most people find this essay to be the hardest thing they had ever done before, while some people write theirs in a week. I, myself, took more than 20 drafts to get it right and that took me just over 5 months. Long indeed. Now, you do not need to start that early – I only intensely worked on it for 1-2 months. I will include my own guide to writing a good medicine personal statement below – hopefully it will help.

Admissions Tests

Now, medical universities use entrance exams. They are really tough exams which absolutely test you and yes, you have to prepare for them. The entrance exams are called BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) and the UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test). The UKCAT can be taken before or during your application (or even after, though I would not recommend that). The BMAT can only be taken after submitting your application, usually in the first week of November.

UKCAT: 5 sections – one of which is the situational judgement test (SJT). Some universities do not take into account the SJT, but some do. Each section comes up to 900 marks. Total score is 2800 for the four sections and you are graded in bands (Band 1 to 4, I think) for the SJT. The total score (out of 2800) is averaged over the four subjects and that is your UKCAT result. Try to aim for 700 and above – some universities are very competitive, and 5 marks can make a huge difference. In addition, this test is taken on a computer at the test site: your results will be given to you immediately.

BMAT: 3 sections – Section A: Aptitude; Section B: Theory based on maths and science; Section C: English essay. A tough exam. Sections A and B are graded out of 9. Average is around 4. Section C is graded based on the quality of the essay (1 to 5) and your English (A to E). Work hard and start early – aim to get above 5 or 6 in Section 1 and above 7 or 8 in Section 2. A score of 4A and above in Section 3 will get you anywhere (even Oxbridge!).

After submitting your application, you will be put onto UCAS Track where you will begin the seemingly-endless days of checking Track in the middle of the night awaiting any updates. Tip: they always email you if there is an update so do not do what I did, please!

Once that is all done, and you have done your entrance exams, you begin the wait (AGAIN!) to see if you get shortlisted for the interview process. All universities have interviews (except Edinburgh – they have a criterion whereby they rank their candidates). Interviews will take a long time to master and prepare for – they are hard work indeed. Some universities have their interviews in Singapore/Malaysia, whereas others require you to fly over to the UK. Blimey. I would advise you not to get too worried about the prospect of having to go through the interviews. It is really a good experience, once you’re there it’s not at all daunting and really enjoyable. Interviews are an opportunity to have a friendly chat with top professors in the field! Generally here’s when you’d be notified:

Cambridge & Oxford: 2nd week of January

UCL: 3 days after final date of interview for international applicants – can take 2-4 weeks depending when you get the interview. [some people have said they have received it 3 days after the 1st interview date – so it can vary]

Queen Mary: 2 weeks after interview

Edinburgh: Late February/Early March

By March, you should have gotten your decisions. Do not fret over what the outcome could be (unless if its motivating you to work harder!). It is alright to get rejections. I myself got rejected by Cambridge, even after working mightily long and hard for it. Think of it as a learning curve – you are meant to grow and improve every step of the way.

Personal Statement (PS)

This is a 4000-character essay where you are given the seemingly impossible task of selling yourself to convince them to take you on as a student. Hard. But doable. Though, you are not going to sell yourself through describing what you have achieved and done: what they prize most above everything else is a good thought process. Explain how you think and reflect in each sentence. Ask yourself why, why and why all the time and then you will find yourself inferring and thinking critically.

In your PS, you should ideally explain your motivations behind this career choice, show a deep understanding of what the profession is all about (including the negative bits of it all), show what you have learnt from extra-curricular activities (no more than one paragraph) and finally, show what you have learnt from your attachment and how that has cemented your career choice. Good personal statements will be more academic and reflective than descriptive (and about your achievements). Talk to them about something sciencey. If you are planning on applying to BMAT universities, and especially Oxbridge universities, you should include at least one paragraph talking about one scientific topic which interests you, which also contains your reflections. For example, talk about cancer/infectious diseases etc.

I would recommend you to only put in 1 paragraph for your extra-curriculars – they can go into your reference (which is done by your teacher/someone in Sixth Form). Try to get them to write something good for you and if possible, let them know what you’d like to see in your reference (as in, what extracurriculars you think are necessary to include in the personal statement)!

Avoid jargon, waffling (unnecessary sentences) and overly emotive descriptions – they do not really care. They care more about what you learnt from your experiences and your thoughts on everything. Reflect, reflect and reflect should be your mantra for personal statements.

Here’s how I wrote my PS: one paragraph of introduction explaining why you chose medicine (only briefly! ‘Why medicine’ has to be evident throughout the PS and they must be able to see that, so you should be capable of expressing that passion very well). Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 should contain one theme each [related if possible but varying at the same time]. This will show that you are a wholesome person – always thinking of varying perspectives. Your PS should, in overall, carry one overarching theme/point. Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 should reflect that if possible. Paragraph 5 should be about extra-curricular stuff and more importantly, what you have learnt from it or how you have grown because of it.


Every medical school requires an interview bar one – University of Edinburgh. A friend once told me: medical interviews are basically a platform where you try to teach them something whilst learning something from them. You are teaching them about your mindset – your perspective of things and maybe they’ll actually learn something! In addition, listening to whatever they say, you are inadvertently learning. It is also an intellectual conversation – simple. Talk to them like how you’d speak to your headmaster/head of sixth form or even any teacher. They want to pick your brains, nothing else: not your physical prowess or other, but to assess whether you can be a good student, doctor and ultimately contribute to society (or the university) down the road.

Some interviews are long, some are short – it matters, but arguably it should simply be an incentive to give it your best shot if you’ve been shortlisted for it. Just 15 minutes with the professor/doctors of your dreams. You can handle it 😊

Interviews come in mostly these forms:

  1. Panel (2/3/4 on one) – most universities
  2. One-on-one – Cambridge (if you opt for an interview in Malaysia)
  3. MMI – multiple stations where you move around, completing a task/answering a few questions at each station, each of which is manned by different interviewers.

Every interview will be different and there is not one method which will help you go through each brilliantly. The following is what I know about interviews. My knowledge regarding MMI is not very good – I did not apply to MMI interviews nor did I get any interviews that were MMI-based.

Types of interviews/format:

  1. Science – mostly Oxbridge
  2. General/about anything – UCL [they think interesting people make good doctors]
  3. Traditional – the usual type of interview where you get ‘why medicine’ etcetera.

Challenge of interviews:

  1. They go through thousands of candidates – the pressure of trying to stand out.
  2. Nerves! Some of you may not have gone through any interviews before or even anything as important as this. Trust me: it is completely fine to be nervous. I would be worried if you weren’t!
  3. Body language – trust me when I say 25-40% of the decision process goes into demonstrating yourself as someone sociable, open, trustworthy, passionate and simply good company. Basically, whatever a good doctor should be.
  4. Insightful opinions – it may be hard to think of the best answer when you are put on the spot. Sometimes, you finish the interview thinking you could’ve done better, or said something smarter. I have had those thoughts after every interview I’ve gone through. What I now realise is that if you went through that, everyone else probably has too.
  5. How do I remember everything? If I forget, and what if I stutter (etc.)? → It is completely fine. It is expected of you!
  6. 15 MINUTES? HOW?? What if I mess up?

If you notice, most of these challenges take place within your own mind. How can you then solve them? → Do what trains the mind, which is practice! Build confidence, train your mind to generate better and more wholesome ideas and Bob’s your uncle!

My experience in interviews:

  1. Cambridge:

I sat for my interview during my AS exam in KL, before my BMAT because I opted to do it here. Crickey.

This interview is not really an interview but more of a private tuition class (i.e. supervisions). They are not interviewing you to see your capability of being the best doctor out there, but the ability to cope/thrive under the supervision system, which is small-group tutoring.

The pro of doing it here – cheap, no jet lag!

The cons of doing it here:

  1. During AS/A2. [which may be good because it forces you to remember your academics, but in my case, it was a con – Maths was long and gone and I had lost my understanding about some topics which hence resulted in my being unable to answer one question]
  2. 30 minutes to convince them where you’d have twice/thrice as long in Cambridge itself. If you mess up one question – chances are, you may not get in.
  3. Conducted by someone who may not necessarily be your college admissions tutor/academic professor. Thus, your college is acting on the recommendations of someone, so although they have been doing it for a long time, it is not the same!
  4. Unlucky – some people get similar, easier questions whereas others get more complex problems. It really depends on your luck!

Now, what do I mean by answer questions correctly/mess it up?

Answering it correctly means to explain them your thinking process, refer to the basics to solve the complex problem and then get to your answer. You may stumble and be inaccurate/wrong but that does not matter. You just need to think out loud, express your rational opinions (think of every question as a KBAT/HOTS question or Moral essay question – just ‘goreng’ your answer).

For more advice/thoughts, email me! Preferably if it aids in deciding your uni choices/if you have gotten the interview!

  1. UCL

This is more of an interview than the above but it felt more like a conversation. We chatted about some weird things which were sometimes unrelated, but at the same time it was really engaging. They were trying to dig into your brain/thinking process like Oxbridge does but instead of using science/maths to do it, they wanted your general thinking process.

The format of this interview is unique – they somehow manage to obtain a copy of your BMAT essay, which is used as a topic of discussion in the interview. The interview is thus split into two ‘parts’, each conducted by another interviewer within a panel of three. The third interviewer is more of an observer – not to ask questions at all. The first part is usually regarding your personal statement, and any general questions. The second part is about the BMAT essay that you have written.

During the first part, they did not ask me about anything even remotely related to medicine, yet still stemming from my PS. Point is, they don’t care if you’re the most academically gifted. They think interesting people make good doctors, so try to be as interesting as you can be, i.e. in your opinions/thoughts.

  1. Queen Mary London/Barts

Queen Mary is another special one – they base half their interview on an article that they would have sent to you two weeks prior to the interview. Besides the interview, the questions that they asked me were very generic. In addition, they used the same questions for everyone – to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed!

Receiving bad news – how?

I received my Cambridge result in the toilet of UCL’s Rockefeller Building – where they interview you at UCL. Not the best of times to have gotten it but again, my word of advice is to always just get it over and done with. Bad news means it just is not meant for you. I had many uneasy nights/sleeps thinking about all the ‘what ifs’, but the end result will not change. I would suggest you to learn from the experience and work on it – you may end up getting a better learning experience in some other university.


  1. Start early – starting earlier means you have a longer time to develop your PS, the way you think and to develop your character.
  2. Read books – non-fiction books – for this is the best way to learn new concepts/ideas and to develop your character.
  3. Do not ask for too many people’s opinions for your PS. Stick to two persons – but you must ensure they give you good feedback!
  4. Work as hard as you can to improve and get to where you want to get to. It takes smarts and hard work to get into any medical university. Work hard.

Hareneshkaran Kirubakaran, a Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Emas Scholar, is currently a first year at University College London pursuing a degree in Medicine. He is of a calm and composed nature and one can often find him in the kitchen, attempting futilely to cook curry. Sadly, that is just the tip of the iceberg for Harenesh’s sorrow as he will be single on Valentines for the 20th time this year. If you intend to contact the author, feel free to contact the CollegeLAH Team at

Medicine Personal Statement

This personal statement was part of this student’s successful application to UCL, University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary University London for Medicine. 

As a St. John Ambulance first aider, I treated a schoolmate who fractured his forearm and dislocated his elbow. I immediately assigned my fellow first aiders their roles before speaking calmly to my schoolmate. Yet, held back by the limitations of being a first aider, we could only stabilise him before transferring him to the hospital for treatment. My perceived limitations sparked my consideration of pursuing medicine as a career choice as it exposed me to the extensive possibilities of being a doctor.

Intrigued by the decision-making process in medicine, I shadowed a doctor in the emergency ward of a local hospital. He diagnosed patients not just by using a fixed algorithm, but by using a blend of his clinical acumen, the results of lab tests and imaging modalities, considering every aspect of the illness. Through this, I realised that he maintained a healthy dose of scepticism to avoid red herrings, which could have caused misdiagnoses. Wielding the wisdom to choose his diagnostic tools at the correct moments, he avoided the unnecessary usage of resources, which were then made available for patients in the Intensive Care Unit. By doing so, I recognised that doctors constantly problem-solve, highlighting the investigative nature of a doctor’s role, consequently strengthening my resolve to study medicine.

I also understood the importance of compassion in medicine after witnessing the gravity of the psychological impact of illnesses on patients, especially those with heart disease. To tackle this, the doctor reassured and motivated them to change their sedentary lifestyles, a tough but gratifying task. From this, I learnt that doctors play a pivotal, yet unspoken role in solving some modifiable risk factors in such illnesses, consequently improving public health. He also adopted a scientific approach to most cases by not only addressing the symptoms but also the pathophysiology. Through this, I realised that science and benevolence are symbiotic in this field, exposing me to the holistic aspect of medicine.

Reading about the vastly unexplored area of neuroscience exposed me to the danger of brain tumours, such as glioblastomas. The heterogenous nature of these cells renders chemotherapy ineffective, leaving neurosurgeons with only the crude option of surgery to remove these tenacious tumours. Even then, the dilemma of deciding whether to operate or not plagues doctors ‘minds. I am optimistic that further research can solve this issue by paving the path to the finding of non-invasive diagnostic techniques, such as monoclonal antibodies. This can potentially lead to the discoveries of effective chemotherapeutic agents and oncolytic viruses that can specifically target these cells, such as the Zika virus which can kill glioblastomas. Research is an integral and exciting aspect of medicine, which ultimately aims to improve patient care. I believe that it is vital to apply research in the clinical setting. Volunteering at a hospice enabled me to empathise with the elderly. One particular lady left me feeling helpless as she was bedridden and blind, binding her to a challenging life. I realised that my company brought her joy, exposing me to the importance of applying medical humanities in the clinical setting.

To further improve my interpersonal skills, I tutored underprivileged children from a rural area in English through my college’s Rotaract Club. This allowed me to understand the importance of communicating well in a multiracial society, another key aspect of a doctor’s job scope. This experience further inspired me to champion public health as the kids were living in poor conditions. Currently, I am self-learning to code and play the guitar, whilst regularly playing badminton to ensure that I am constantly learning new skills whilst leading a balanced lifestyle. Together, these experiences gave me the valuable insights needed to practice in this field that is an imperfect science but nonetheless a gratifying art.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Life@Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

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I’m currently in my third year studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. The application process is quite straightforward compared to UCAS. There is an application form where you have to rank the universities. Your application will be send to your first choice and if you’re rejected, you’ll then move on to your second choice and so on. You will have to send in a simple CV as well. If you’re successful, you’ll be invited for an interview around April. The interview was fairly laid back and you’ll get the usual questions with faculty member from the Irish universities. Following the outcome of your interview, you’ll either get an offer letter or be placed on the waiting list.

After accepting an unconditional offer from TCD, the next issue was accommodation. TCD has an off-campus student hall, known as Trinity hall. On-campus accommodations are generally for students with disabilities and scholars (I’ll briefly touch on the subject of scholarship later). Trinity hall basically has 2 types of accommodation, Cunningham house and the modern apartments. Cunningham house is shared while you’ll get en suite rooms in the modern rooms. There are also some twin rooms in the modern apartments.

In terms of academics, TCD is similar to the system we’re used to. There will be lots of memorising and exams. But then which medical curriculum does not? To help relieving the stress from studying, TCD has many clubs and societies, ranging from sports and arts to food and drinks. There is also an on-campus gym.

Socially, the Irish are the best people I’ve ever meet. Most of them are so friendly, they go out of their way to help you. But they do love their alcohol such that TCD has its own on-campus bar, called The Pav. The city of Dublin is compact and there are many affordable restaurants as well as Michelin-starred ones. The shopping scene is little less developed compared to other major European cities, like London or Paris. But it is sufficient enough to get everything you need and for the occasional splurge. Dublin also has many gardens within the city limits. There is a certain tranquility mixed in the bustling city and also a bit of ancientness mixed into the contemporary.

Dublin celebrates much of the same holidays as other western countries. But one particular holiday that stands out is St. Patrick’s Day, which happens on the 17th of March every year. It is a national holiday for the Irish. On that day, the main streets in the city close and parade marches throughout the city. It is a tradition for people to wear green and paint their face in the Irish colours on that day. After the parade, the crowd disperse and gather in the many pubs of the city.

In terms of weather, the stereotypical expectation is actually true for once. There isn’t much sun, especially during winter. It also rains a lot here but it isn’t like the kind of downpour that we get in Malaysia but more of an annoying, depressing kind of drizzle that comes and goes every 5 minutes. Most of the time, the rain will be accompanied by strong wind especially around November-December and I’ve never seen any umbrellas that can withstand that kind of force. Therefore, I would recommend wearing a waterproof or at least, a showerproof coat.

I wish everyone all the best in their application. Hope to see you in Dublin soon!



Wennweoi is an aspiring surgeon who is in her third medical year at Trinity College Dublin. She enjoys studying about anything medical but detests the exams. Also, pastries make her very happy.

Life at Monash University as a First Year Medical Student


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Before writing this article, I checked my student e-mail for the thousandth time (my paranoid self does not think this is an exaggeration) for an e-mail about supplementary exams. Unless I’m hopelessly blind, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t receive any, which allows me to introduce myself correctly – Hi! I have just completed my first year of MBBS in Monash University, Australia.

I did my A-level at Taylor’s College, Subang Jaya so if you’re reading this and grumbling about A-Level, trust me, you’re not alone and yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. During the university application period, I applied for Pharmacy and Medicine in universities in Malaysia, UK and Australia. I was fine with studying anywhere as long as I had a university to go to. However, I did hope to get into an Australian university or International Medical University (IMU) because I wanted to start studying in early February. To cut the long story short, I never thought I could do it but thankfully, Monash saw a potential doctor in me.

I remember being so fascinated by the cultural diversity in Australia when I first arrived. I’ve met Russians, Greek, Europeans, Canadians, Hong Kongers, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Singaporeans and of course, Malaysians. I find the curriculum in Monash appealing because it’s a 5-year undergraduate programme. Some universities only offer post-graduate or 6-year programmes. We also get site visits to clinics and hospitals pretty early on, which is good to remind you that you’re treating real patients and not just textbook diseases. There’s also dissection of real cadavers in the second semester when we start Anatomy and that’s one of the advantages of studying overseas – you don’t get that in Malaysian medical schools.

I did experience a difference in the academic culture as studying in university is centred around self-learning rather than the spoonfeeding we’ve been used to. The lecture slides are never enough and I always find myself worrying about the depth I need to cover. So this is where VESPAs come in and it’s one of the huge reasons that I love studying in Monash University. I have never known what VESPA stood for (expect an update if I do find out) but it’s basically a study group where seniors from a year above guide juniors a year below them. Juniors get their questions answered and seniors present revision PowerPoint slides with the main takeaways from lecture slides that sometimes tell way too much or too little.

I’m just going to take this paragraph to shameless gush about MAMSA (Malaysian Medical Student Association). MAMSA, to me, is the reason why studying Medicine in a foreign land isn’t as daunting as I thought it would be. We’re made up of medical students from Monash and Melbourne University. We have our own VESPAs every week and two to three revision lectures per semester. We also have many social events! It’s different when you meet people who speak Manglish abroad; they became my safety net.

Truth be told, I’ve still got a lot of Melbourne left to explore as the workload is never-ending and the city is a 40-minute train ride away. However, for the little that I’ve seen, Melbourne is a lovely place. Thanks to its cultural diversity, the food in Melbourne is A++. Heads up for the massive meal portions which can feed two and free food everywhere! There are also various festivals going on all the time. I honestly think that Australia houses some of the friendliest people on the planet – any random person you meet on the street would go out of their way to direct you to your destination or give you suggestions about the events there are to enjoy. Strangely enough, I feel both abroad and at home in Melbourne. There’s just that perfect balance – or maybe it’s because there are just way too many Asians.

Come find me if you do come to Melbourne! I always seem over-excited at first but I really just love meeting new people. I’ll definitely try my best to answer your queries if you ever need help. Random note: be prepared to learn to cook if you’re looking to save $$!

Good luck! Or as the Aussies say – Chookas!

The writer, who chose to be anonymous, is now a second year Medical student at Monash University, Australia.

Michaelmas Term as a First Year Medic

The Medical Library at University of Cambridge

The Medical Library at University of Cambridge

This post might be a bit late, but better late than never right? :p Anyways, as of the time of writing, I’ve finished my first term at Cambridge, so that leaves me with 17 more terms to go before I graduate! It’s been one heck of a roller coaster ride, but I must say that I’ve enjoyed it tremendously (even though I would probably do some things a bit differently if I had the chance to go back in time). There were good days (thanks friends) and there were bad days too (boo essays), but at the end of the day, everything that happened taught me something, and that’s all that matters.

Things didn’t always go the way I wanted them to; for example I told myself that I would organise my time really well and have time to play badminton every week and go to the gym 3 times a week, but that obviously did not happen. I told myself I would be a social butterfly, but perhaps such a drastic change from being an introvert is impossible. Also, I think that there is a culture gap that has complicated things. As someone who is more accustomed to the relatively conservative Malaysian culture, I’m not really the kind of person who likes to go clubbing, but 90% of the people here do (that’s a rough estimate based on the people I know).

Let me tell you right now that the stories you hear about workload at Cambridge are not exaggerations. I have had at least 3 essays every week (with some exceptions when they were replaced with MCQs etc.), and coupled with all the practicals, I’ve been really busy. It didn’t help that I suck at managing my time and focusing on work, so that made things a lot more difficult than they should have been. Hopefully things improve in the coming terms.

If I have any advice to give, it’s this: time management is EXTREMELY important. If you can focus on your work when you have to, you can then enjoy guiltlessly when you want to. As always, I can be contacted in various ways, namely Facebook (Victor Teh), Twitter (@Zenxenitious) and ( Just drop me a message or something and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Victor TehVictor Teh is a first year medic in the University of Cambridge. His phone is permanently on flight mode but you can always catch him online

Medicine Twinning Programme in Penang and Ireland


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Hello everyone! Greetings from the land of Leprechauns and everything green!! If you are reading this article, that means you have at least a slight interest in studying Medicine in Ireland!! Well, first let me introduce myself! I am Yeo Chun Huay from Subang Jaya, currently studying medicine in University College Dublin, Ireland! I did the Cambridge A-Levels course in Taylor’s College Subang Jaya, which, I must say, helps a lot when you reach university since you would have covered quite a lot of things back in the A-Levels programme!

Now, I am actually in the Penang Medical College program, which is a twinning program. The pre-clinical years (2.5 years) will be done here in Dublin, Ireland while the clinical years (2.5 years) will be done back in Penang, Malaysia. This is a choice for people who missed out on the IUMC dates, or didn’t meet the requirements for it. For people who don’t know what IUMC is, it’s the Irish Universities and Medical Schools Consortium. That’s where you need to apply to if you are looking for a full 5-year/6-year medicine course in Ireland. For this article, I’m just going to tell you guys about the Penang Medical College programme. You don’t need to write a personal statement or anything to enter. Basically, the process is actually quite easy. All you need to do is fill out the registration form, hand it in and wait for your interview date. Once you’ve got your interview date, you have to travel to Penang (if you don’t already live there) for the interview.

For the interview, I have to say that not much preparation is needed. The common question I think was a typical medical school question, “Why do you wanna be a doctor?” Get the answer to that in your mind before you enter and you should be fine. Basically the interview is more of a confirmation from them just to check if you are serious in pursuing this medicine course and not drop out half-way. It’s a solo interview so please don’t get nerve spasms! The interviewer was quite friendly for me so you guys should have no problem. It’s most probably going to be more of a discussion than an interview anyway! If everything goes well, you will get your offer letter in matter of days or if you are lucky then in a few hours!

After getting the offer, there are some things to be done too. Health check is compulsory just to check for Hepatitis B Antigens and to get your Hep B Vaccine. IELTS is also a necessity, so you need to score a 6.5 average and a minimum of 6.0 in each of the four sections of the test. IELTS wasn’t really a very hard English test for me since I have a good English foundation since young. Some tips to get you through IELTS is just to do their sample tests or watch any videos on the test you can find on YouTube! There really isn’t any point in spending a lot of money to attend their workshop since you can find everything online anyway. Just don’t panic on the day of the test and you will be fine. Apparently you can do TOEFL instead of IELTS but I went for IELTS so you need to check that yourself. For attachments, personally I’ve never had any hospital attachments before I came here to Ireland so it’s not a compulsory thing, but you may do it just to get some exposure to the medical world. Volunteer jobs are entirely up to you; if you think that they help you then by all means go ahead!

There’s one more thing that I would like to add! On the website, the deadline for the registration for PMC is in February. But I actually applied in August and kind of rushed through my application in a month, and I arrived in Dublin on September the 1st! Although I got through within a month, please don’t be like me; apply earlier, please! The process of rushing is so not fun. NOT FUN AT ALL! Also, if you apply earlier at least you will have a goal to spur you through your A-Levels! So just to remind you, set your path as early as you can!

That basically wraps up your application process for studying in Ireland through the PMC Programme. Since I was an A-Level student, here are some tips and reminders for you guys about the CAL programme. Study hard and look around for scholarships while you are at it. Although medical scholarships are super rare, just keep an eye out or discuss with your friends. For you guys who are going to sit for AS, score as high as possible, while you guys who are sitting for A2 soon, keep doing past years and you should be fine. Heck, I did better in A2 than in AS!  Most importantly, don’t miss out on deadlines for applications! That can scar you for life, or just wait another year! Just in case some of you don’t know, Ireland is part of the European Union and not the United Kingdom, so prices for everything here is in Euro! Hope you guys have a pleasant time applying to come to Ireland! It’s a grand place and I’m sure you are going to like it here. Hope to see you guys here. Cheers!

P.s: Here are the minimum requirements for the PMC programme!

Yeo Chun Huay
1st year Medical Student in UCD (Stage 2)
8 October 2014


Yeo Chun Huay is a self-funded student currently pursuing his medicine degree in University College Dublin. He will be returning to Penang Medical College in 2017 with students from both UCD and Royal College Surgeons Ireland (RCSI). He has one motto in Ireland, if its free, don’t complain!

Medicine in Cardiff University


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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 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, the NHS, BBC news and also the respective universities’ websites. And if you ever fail, I hope you have the courage to try again.

imageedit_2_8264332927Rucira 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.

Medicine in Monash Malaysia


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1. What was included in the application process to read Medicine in Monash Malaysia?

I applied online through My advice is to apply as soon as your forecast/ actual results are available.  A band score of 7.0 is required in IELTS. The ISAT (International Student Admissions Test) is required too!

2. What are some of the activities you participated in that you think helped your application?

Being a member of the St John Ambulance Malaysia, I learned a lot about first aid and how to handle emergency cases. It mainly helped me in my interview, more specifically how to think critically and how to answer questions asked by the interviewer. I also believe that the school is looking for people who can work well in a team.

3. How was the interview session?

The interview session was fun because it was like a mini game going on. Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) could be tough for some people that couldn’t read carefully, think critically and answer questions quickly.

There were 4 interviewers with different questions. Candidates were given 2 minutes to read through the passage and 8 minutes to answer 5 to 6 questions.

The passages I got were on:

  • Doctors being tired due to long shifts;
  • Helping aboriginal children in funding on breakfast scheme;
  • Parents not agreeing on children studying agriculture; and
  • Team members neglecting their projects. Give advice.

Some of the interviewers are quite strict; you’ll be pestered and pushed to answer the questions. Most are very friendly and they’ll allow you to ask questions like how the syllabus is and anything you’re curious about. The “seniors” are quite helpful too! Don’t be shy to ask them for tips.

PS: Running is required, so ladies, ditch your high heels.

4. What do you think contributed to the success of your application?

I think the interview covers a whole lot in the application process. So as I mentioned earlier, ECAs and teamwork will help your answering technique. Do practice questions on ISAT and score well in your Pre-U course.

5. What advice would you give to future applicants?

Good luck in your future career as a doctor! Don’t be too stressed up on studies and do well!

*Note: Monash University Malaysia uses the same syllabus as Monash University Australia and is recognized by both the Malaysian Medical Council and Australian Medical Council. You may apply for housemanship in Australia.*

imageedit_14_6684298470Melanie Hew is a joyful girl who enjoys bringing happiness to people. She will be pursuing Bachelor of Biomedicine in the University of Melbourne. She hopes to be a paediatric cardiologist in the future.

Medicine in University of Gadjah Mada Indonesia


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Hello there! If you are looking at this wall of text, I presume you are interested in at least one of these following courses: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Veterinarian Science. If you’re not then you might be looking at the wrong post.

Let me just be honest. I chose University of Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia to study medicine due to economical considerations as I come from a middle-income family. The whole course costs around RM 200k. The fees increase from year to year, so check it out yourself.

First, let me do a brief introduction of Yogyakarta (but I believe Mr Google can do a lot better than me). Yogyakarta is a city located in central Java, famous for its special status as the only city in Indonesia with a Sultan, and also well-known for the number of universities crammed into this little city. Here, you can see university students literally everywhere, and the city’s economy revolves around the needs of students: from 24-hour photocopy shops to convenience stores and cafés – even Dunkin Donuts is open 24/7! You don’t even have to worry about your laundry, as for less than RM 1 per kilo, people will be begging you to let them do your laundry, iron it and give it back to you all neatly folded.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
I took the SPM, then came here to study in University of Gadjah Mada after doing a short foundation in science course (7 months). For more info on this, please contact the sole agents managing the students entering this university (Medic ProLink and Nugrahan)

Link to FB:

What was included in the application process to your university?
It involved taking an entrance exam, called the Gadjah Mada Scholastic Test. I was tested on the 3 sciences, Mathematics, English, and Bahasa Indonesia. The tests that were difficult were the Mathematics and Physics tests. The test consisted of hundreds of objective questions, and the marking scheme was: 4 points awarded for each correct answer and -1 point for every wrong answer. But it appears that in 2014, the test has been altered and it is no longer that difficult. There is a psychological test and IQ test too. All the tests will be done on the same day, and you will be interviewed on the spot by doctors for aptitude (just to make sure you have interest in the course you are pursuing, nothing much). The interview is normally one-sided, where you answer questions the doctor asks. Make sure you keep up on the latest medical news as there will be a question or two on recent medical issues. The results will be announced a month or two later. The tests normally commence in June or July, so be sure to contact the agents before this period. My recommendation: study as hard as you can before the exam because whether you enter or not all depends on the test results.

What did you include in your personal statement?
For the personal statement, well I just wrote an honest summary about myself, my strengths, and my weaknesses. They just expect something simple, just so that they can see if you are suited for the course you want to pursue at their university.

Did you perform any attachment?  
I did a medical attachment before I entered university, but in my opinion it was solely to convince myself that I am interested in medicine and to experience the life of a doctor. You will get more than enough hands-on experience in the clinical years if you have the right attitude and sufficient knowledge, so do not worry.

What advice would you give to future applicants?  
Think carefully before you choose medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or veterinarian science. Once you take the first step, there is no turning back. Any regrets will probably accompany you for your entire life, and turning back will result in a big waste of your parents’ money. Consider the number of people you need to compete with after returning to Malaysia, the amount of hours you will spend dating books and journals, and just simply being in the medical world where no one but people in the same field will understand stuff you say. Be prepared, for the medicine course is a very gruesome, multilevel mental challenge. It will change your life completely, in ways you will never have imagined, be it for good or for bad.

Now for you city folks, I’m going to address your main concerns.

Q: What is the average internet speed there? Will it be fast enough for me to video call home or have an online conference video call with my friends?
A: I’d say 2 Mbps tops for 3G network (normally only enough for social messaging and light browsing) and if you have the cash, 5 Mbps if you get a telephone line connected to your rented house. 5 Mbps costs around RM700 per month? Personally I use a 1 Mbps line which costs around RM70 and share it with 2 housemates.  Just nice for all of us, as long as we don’t stream movies at the same time.

Q: What is the usual means of transport?
A: Not many people here can afford cars so we get around by motorbikes. But there are some who prefer to get a car, which costs around RM50k?

Q: What are the living conditions there?
A: Well, money talks here so, the more money you are willing to spend, the better the conditions. A typical room with air conditioning and an attached bathroom for a girl easily goes up to RM 500, with water heater even more. Because all my expenses here are on my parents, I prefer to go on saving mode. My rent costs around RM 2k per year, so that can give you a general idea of how prices can vary. It is totally dependent on what you want. Climate here is similar to Malaysia, but the dry spells and rainy seasons are much more prominent than in Malaysia. Most nights are chilly enough, so sometimes you don’t even need to turn the fan on when you go to bed. Generally, Yogyakarta’s condition is similar to Ipoh, just not as developed as Kuala Lumpur. Expect to take a free “time-travel” back to our parent’s era where Coke is still sold in glass bottles, roadside stalls sell fuel for motorcyclists, small roadside stalls everywhere etc. Ask your parents how their era was like, and it won’t differ too much in terms of infrastructure, except for the fact that you have better technology like computers and 3G networks. In my opinion, it’s not too bad, but initially I really had a culture shock. Just saying.

The student is a low-profile medical student, currently studying in University of Gadjah Mada. He believes that everything in life has an answer or solution in the end.

Applying to Medicine in Trinity College Dublin


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Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Emily Tan from Penang. I am currently studying medicine in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. I am now in my second year. I previously did my A-levels in Taylor’s College Subang Jaya.

What was included in the application process to your university?
The application process is relatively easy compared to UCAS. Basically, there is a specific application form when applying to Ireland universities. I had to rank the universities of my choice, namely Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork and National University of Galway. I also had to send in a resume regarding my scholastic achievements and extra-curricular activities.

Did you perform any attachment?
I shadowed an orthopaedic surgeon in Penang General Hospital for a week. That experience was truly the defining moment for me to pursue medicine as my lifelong ambition. I have gained insights on the working life of a doctor and how important the doctor-patient relationship is, besides having knowledge on your respective field of work.

What are the ECAs that you think helped your application?
Music has played a huge role in my life as I have been playing the piano and violin since young. I channelled my passion into actively participating in the music scene in high school and also in college. Besides it being my passion, it is also another way for me to unwind and de-stress after a long day.

How was the interview session?
Successful applicants are shortlisted for an interview depending on which university you get into. I was interviewed by two Trinity representatives. It was more of a conversation/discussion rather than a formal interview. It was basically an interview to get to know you better. The questions posed were rather conventional, such as “Why did you choose medicine?” and they were more focused on my resume, so re-read your resume and thoroughly know what you wrote. Most of the time, the interviewers questioned more deeply into my response, so really know what you are going to say, but most importantly, just be yourself.

What advice would you give to future applicants?
Choose a field which you are most certainly passionate about. If you are uncertain about it, do attachments or talk to seniors to gain insights on what that particular “life” is all about. Do not be afraid to approach people who have already gone through this process. Good luck!

Here’s my email, if there are any queries on anything.

Emily TanEmily Tan Chiao Wei is currently chasing her dreams of being a medical practitioner in Trinity College Dublin. She has amazing patience and this meticulous character that compliments her friendliness so well. That aside, she also loves music and dogs as much as medicine, if not more.