Prefect – Kirsty
This month I got two other replies from universities – I unfortunately got a rejection from Cardiff (it’s all right, I didn’t want to go there anyway!) but I got an offer for Medicine from Queen’s! I’m delighted that I got offers from my top two choices, Queen’s and Aberdeen, but that just makes my decision about where to go even harder. Both of my offers are AAA and the courses are very similar, so the decision is really down to whether I want to live in Aberdeen or in Belfast for 5 years. At this point, I really can’t decide but I have until the 8th June until I have to make my decision.
School is very stressful as exams are not far away at all – my first exam is on the 4th May, which is so scary! I’m finding it hard to go to school from 9am to 3:30 and then go home and revise on top of that – it requires lots of motivation, and I’m trying to find motivation in the fact that I need AAA to get into university. I’m almost done making all my revision notes, which is the hardest bit – and then I’ll start to learn them and do lots of past papers, because past papers are the best thing to do! Also, I always make sure to go through the exam specification and use it as a checklist to make sure I know everything that could be on the exam.
I have some great news – I got two offers this month – one from Dundee and one from Aberdeen! Both are for Medicine and I have to get AAA in my A levels for both – this has given me the motivation to get revising that I needed! Now I have the offers, I think I can provide some more advice for interviews and applying to university!
A common myth is that you can’t prepare for interviews – I would definitely disagree! One of the first things I did to prepare for university was go on a course called Applican – it was very budget friendly in comparison to other courses! It was a two day course which covered writing your personal statement, UCAS, interview skills and UKCAT tips. If you want to apply to Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Medicine I would really recommend it!
Another thing I did to prepare for my interviews was buy some books on medical interviews (in my opinion the best one is ‘Medical School Interviews’ by ISC medical, which provides numerous interview questions and example answers) and go through them, making some notes on the key points and making sure I knew what I would say if I was asked those questions – I think it is important to know roughly what you would say for answers, so you are not caught out at the interview, however you shouldn’t learn off answers because the interviewers want to see that you can think on your feet!
Also, it is handy to have lots of examples to demonstrate certain skills ready! For example, ‘Doing my Silver Duke of Edinburgh’ has improved my teamwork skills, as I was able to motivate other members of my team when they were feeling down, and I also realised the importance of communication within a team, as we had to discuss and make decisions together when we were navigating’. If you have lots of examples like this ready to go, you can slip them in when you are asked about teamwork, communication, or any other key skills, and you will definitely impress the interviewer! Every time you say you have a certain skill or quality (for example, being a good listener), you must back it up with a good example, because anyone could say they are a good listener, but if you say that volunteering in a care home has improved your listening skills as you talked to the residents about their lives, you’ll definitely earn brownie points with the interviewer!
If you prepare for nothing else, make sure you know everything about the university you’ve applied to and the course you want to do – you’re guaranteed to be asked about these at your interviews!
Finally in an interview, you have to make sure that you sell yourself – don’t put yourself down or undersell what you’ve done. However, don’t be arrogant! There is a fine line between selling yourself and being arrogant and the only way to find this is by practising! Whether it’s practising in front of a mirror or doing mock interviews (I’d highly recommend doing mock interviews!), practise and preparation is key!
As I’m writing this, I’m about to go back to school after a week off for half term – I took most of the time off and was really glad for the break as life has been very hectic at the minute! I just finished my last university interview on the 4th of February, and I’m so relieved to have all of that over and done with! I also had interviews in Queen’s and Aberdeen in January. I think that they all went quite well (there were no disasters, anyway!) but I have a long wait now until I hear back from universities – it most likely will be the end of March. I’m getting more nervous the longer I have to wait, especially since most of my friends have offers already, and I’m ashamed to say that I have been refreshing my emails multiple times a day to see if I have any replies from universities! But I think I have to just put this out of my head and focus on my A Levels now, as recently I have been neglecting my schoolwork a bit to prepare for interviews! However, I’m finding it hard to get the motivation to start preparing for my A Level exams because I’ve already done so much work for getting into medical school over the past few months and I just want a break!
In terms of being a prefect, recently, we had our school open night which all prefects had to attend. I helped to direct the parents and then I went up to Chemistry and took part in some experiments for the P7s. Overall, I’m still enjoying being a prefect!
13 December 2015
The last few weeks have been mad! Between my piano exam, tracking tests, my orchestra concert, a school musical and my university interview in Dundee, I have been up to my eyeballs in work! The school musical also meant that I missed quite a lot of school work, so I’m a bit worried about that at the minute. I have just been borrowing my friend’s notes and copying them up in study at the minute. Make sure that you copy up everything that you have missed and catch up on all the work done in class, even if it takes you a few weeks because there’s nothing worse than revising for an exam when you missed out parts of the course!
As I mentioned before, I had an interview for Dundee very recently, which was a very stressful yet strangely enjoyable experience! It was great to look around Dundee and the university to get a feel for what it’s like, and my mum and I had the chance to look around Edinburgh on the way back home! My tips for the interview would just be to relax and let your personality shine through, because they’re not looking for a robot who knows all the answers! Also, make sure you dress professionally – this doesn’t mean that your clothes have to be expensive though! I got my dress in New Look! For boys, I would definitely go for a smart suit and for girls I would suggest wearing low heels – I found it made me walk straighter and look more confident. If you don’t need an interview for your course, lucky you!! After going through one interview already, I feel a bit more prepared for my interviews in Aberdeen and Queen’s, which are in January.
Aside from interviews, school life is going well; I always like the last few weeks before the Christmas holidays because everyone is so festive!
10 November 2015
I have some more exciting news – I sent off my UCAS form on the 13th October and so UCAS is officially out of my mind! My advice would be to start everything early and not send it off until you are completely happy with it. I’ve also been asked to go to an interview in a university in Scotland which is very exciting! For Medicine, the interviews are MMI style (meaning multiple mini interviews) so instead of one interview there are lots of different stations, some of which include common interview questions like ‘what is your biggest weakness’ and some of which have actors. In these you are given a scenario and you have to play the role of a doctor. These are to test your communication and empathy skills. Hopefully I will receive a few more invites to interview but I’m really glad that I have time to prepare. If your choice requires an interview, make sure you know your personal statement inside out and be prepared to answer any questions on it!
Apart from that, school life is just as you would expect – at the minute I’m finding Chemistry quite hard though, and it’s normally my best subject! However, I always find that I understand things better once I’ve gone over them myself, so I’ll do that at the weekend! I did my first prefect duty at a parents’ evening which was good fun, but it made the day very long! Apart from duties, it’s not much different being a prefect than being a normal pupil and I don’t find that my friends treat me any differently, so there’s no need to worry about that if you’re chosen to be a prefect.
Sunday 4 October 2015
Hooray! After what seems like years, I have finished my personal statement! (Seriously, it took me seventeen drafts!) I’m so relieved that it’s done and I’m really happy with it. My main advice would be to save your personal statement each time you edit it – you might want to go back and use a phrase that you had written before. Also, get as many people as possible to read it and be critical about it – take their ideas on board. Don’t rely on spellchecker and make sure every word is spelt correct and your grammar is perfect – it makes a really bad impression if you use ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’! Finally l, make sure every character counts – cut out filler words like ‘also’ and make sure each word shows the university how you are suited to their course.
Sunday 13 September 2015
It’s only the second week at school and I already feel like I’ve been back for weeks! I did my UKCAT and I got 733 average, which I was so pleased with! (I wanted at least 650) If you don’t know, the UKCAT is an aptitude test for all Medicine and Dentistry applicants – it’s two hours of pure stress and it’s done online in the same place as you do your driving theory. If you’re doing it, I’d highly recommend the Kaplan ‘Score Higher on the UKCAT’ book – I had a few others but this was the best! Start with this as it gives you advice and techniques and once you feel confident with this, move on to online questions – I got a week’s subscription to a website called Medify and I used the official UKCAT mock tests (definitely do these!) Practising online is key as it’s so different to using a book. I also went down to the library and did full mocks using ear plugs as this replicated the exam the best! For lots of tips and tricks, look on the website, www.thestudentroom.co.uk – I found it so handy!
In terms of A levels, I think I’m coping well – having dropped English, I now have plenty of study periods to get my work done in school. Being a prefect is also going well – I do two duties a week and I’ve signed up for two school events. It takes up time but there are perks – on a Tuesday I have a prefect pass which allows me to go home early because I have study the last two periods!
However, the most stressful part of school right now is my personal statement – it’s so hard to get everything you want to say into 4000 characters, however, my advice would be not to worry about the character limit at the start and then start cutting down the characters by rephrasing and making it more snappy.
Sunday 23 August 2015
At exactly 6:56am on 13th August, I got my AS results (They were meant to be out at 7:00 but somehow I was able to get them a few minutes early!) and I was so relieved to discover that I got 4 As! This means I can go into upper sixth with a solid foundation, so I can hopefully get A*s at A2. It’s also handy because I don’t need to do any repeats, which add extra pressure during your exams. However, if, like some of friends, you aren’t happy with your AS results, remember that there are always repeats and remarks! Definitely get your papers remarked if you are only a few marks away from the next grade. (Although this doesn’t really apply in science subjects, as the answers are either right or wrong) As I’m writing this, I’m stressed because my UKCAT is tomorrow! (The test you have to do to get into Medicine at university) However, I’m just relaxing tonight because I know there’s nothing more I can do – this is something I do the night before every exam. Always rest and have an early night – you’ll do much better if you are calm and well-rested. Aside from that, I’m excited about going into upper sixth, as well as being a prefect. At the minute, I’m not sure what being a prefect really involves or how much of my time it will take up so I’ll just have to wait and see!