What every pre-dental student should know about applying to dental school in the UK

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While every dental school has its unique set of requirements, eligibility criteria and methods of teaching, there are a few aspects that are common to all. When reviewing your application, there are three main factors that all schools will take into consideration – your academic performance, your non-academic performance and your performance in the UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test). Taking the UKCAT is a mandatory requirement for all dentistry school applicants.

Academic requirements

All candidates must hold a good honours degree in a medical science or health related degree from a UK university.

The BDS or Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree is a five-year programme in the UK. Most schools offer both a graduate entry and a standard entry pathway. If you are applying to the graduate entry pathway, you must show that you have covered the relevant biomedical subjects in your earlier formal qualifications.

Non-Academic Requirements

  • It takes more than good academic ability to gain a place in dental school. In order to set yourself apart from other applicants and to demonstrate to the school that you have what it takes to complete the rigorous dentistry course, there are a few things you should consider doing:
  • Undertake as much shadowing or work experience as possible to get a feel for life as a dentist
  • Do a placement abroad to broaden your view of dentistry and get an idea of dental practices in other countries
  • Volunteer with global aid organisations
  • Talk to dental students to get a better idea of what to expect in dental school
  • Talk to dental professionals to get a better idea of what to expect when you start practice

In addition to the above, you will also have to write an outstanding personal statement that demonstrates a genuine passion for the dentistry and get reference letters that attest to your attributes and skills. Make sure you check each school’s requirements with regards to reference letters. Some schools may leave it up to you to decide who to ask whereas others may have specific requirements as to who you need to obtain your letters of reference from.

Different dental schools have different application deadlines. Make a note of the deadlines for all of the schools that you intend applying to. Also, make sure you put together all of the requirements, including the personal statement and letters of recommendation and submit the complete application before the deadline. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the amount of time you will require putting together all of the requirements. No school will accept your application if it reaches them after the deadline.

Once the school receives your UCAS form, they will carefully consider all aspects of the remaining application and score your form objectively. If your application meets their approval, you will make it to the next step – the interview! Good luck!

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