Choosing Which Medical Schools To Apply To

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Pursuing a career in medicine is a big decision and it all starts with right medical school. Choosing one from amongst so many programmes available can be overwhelming in itself.

Here are a few ways to help you narrow down that list.

UKCAT/BMAT Scores

Different universities use different tests to rank students for their interview and some do not take any of these tests into consideration. This makes for a great starting point for your shortlist.   

Let’s start with the UKCAT. Your score in this test can influence some of your initial decisions. If you did not score very well in this test, you should consider cancelling off your list those schools that use the UKCAT for ranking students for the interview.

With the UKCAT off your shortlist, you should take your chances with the BMAT and apply only to those universities that require BMAT scores.

Mother and child with Gap Medics student on the Paediatrics ward at Morogoro Regional Hospital The Type of Courses Offered at the Medical School

The course curriculum and the way the course is structured will have a major influence on whether or not you enjoy your years as a med student and also how well you do. Some course styles may just not be suited to your way of learning so it is advisable to do a thorough check on the courses on offer. Some things you may want to think about:

  • Does the school offer PBL or traditional learning? What is your preference?
  • Some schools offer more clinical contact than others and they start earlier too. Here again, some students prefer earlier and more frequent patient contact whereas for others, more extensive classroom study works better.
  • Is the programme being offered by a well established university or it is a relatively new course by a start up university. While there may not necessarily be anything wrong with a start up university, they are more prone to teething problems. Are you willing to take that chance? 

Tuition Fees & Scholarships

This is often the key decisive factor for many students. The tuition fee in some medical schools is prohibitive. Are you eligible for any scholarship or can you apply for any type of funding or a student loan? Ask around. Explore all of your options before giving up on any medical school only because the fees are too high.

Location of the School

Considering this is where you will be spending the next 4 or more years of your life, the location can be a significant factor when making your choice. What are the factors you would need to consider here?

  • Would you like to live on campus or at home?
  • How far is the school from home?
  • If your choice involves a daily commute, are there good rail or road transport links?

The University/Classroom Structure

Some students in bigger schools with larger year groups whereas others may find larger classes overwhelming and for them, small class groups work better. Think about your preference in this regard. It will make a tremendous difference to the way you perform during the next few years. 

Making a pros and cons list of all the medical schools on your shortlist will make it easier for  you to make that final decision. 

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