Hi! My name is Emily, and I’m a 3rd-year medical student at the University of Liverpool. I have just finished my summative exams for the year. I’m going to talk you through my journey to medical school, and it’s had its ups and downs, that’s for sure, but who’s doesn’t!?
Summer of 2016
Preparation really began after I received my GCSE results in the summer of 2016. My grades were better than expected, particularly in Biology and Chemistry. I took 10 subjects and managed to get straight As, which I was absolutely thrilled about! I began to think about the future and consider my options.
I’ve enjoyed science for a pretty long time, but I was also rather keen on mathematics. I started to do some research into Medicine and the entry requirements at different universities. The expectation was at least AAA at A-Level (they don’t ask for much, do they?!). I wasn’t absolutely set on Medicine at this stage, but it was definitely a consideration.
I then attended discussions at school with careers teachers. I made the decision to study Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics. I also pondered the idea of a 4th A-Level, which was needed to be accepted into Queen’s University Belfast. I initially wanted to branch out and study something a bit different, like Religious Education. However, this didn’t quite work out, so I ended up selecting Physics. Tough subjects but all ones that I enjoyed.
I had a lot on my plate!
As well as studying for my A Levels, I was also preparing for my driving test, regularly showjumping at the weekends and trying to juggle some sort of social life. You could say my plate was pretty full.
My AS Level year was hectic due to the 4 subjects, which in hindsight maybe wasn’t ideal, but hey, that’s just my opinion. Exams rolled around, and it was an intense few weeks before summer at last! I’d worked hard throughout the year, so I hoped for the best on results day. I was happy with my results but a bit gutted about my Biology grade, which was lower than I’d hoped. I distinctly remember a careers teacher at school saying, “are you still sure about medicine?”. This just spurred me on even more. I managed to get a few weeks of medical work experience over summer 2017 (an amazing trip to India organised my Medical Projects) and a week in cardiothoracic surgery in Belfast in autumn. These were both really interesting experiences, which made me even more enthusiastic about applying for Medicine.
Dropping down to 3 A-Levels
I decided to drop down to 3 A-Levels (no more Physics, much to my delight as AS level was tough enough).
Late in the summer, I made the definite decision to apply for Medicine as an undergraduate. Very exciting but hectic times ahead! I honestly had no clue about the UCAS process, so that was a hurdle to jump. I was allocated a UCAS tutor at school who helped me prepare for the early October deadline. From August-January it was BUSY! UKCAT prep, UCAS prep, personal statement writing…. all whilst trying to keep on top of work.
Due to the early deadline, I really had to try and keep organised. My top tip for anyone going through the same process is to start early! I also attended many university open days (Edinburgh, Glasgow and QUB) however, once I received my UKCAT results, I totally changed my mind. I found the UKCAT pretty tough, so with my slightly below average score, my choice of medical schools was a bit more limited.
This was ok though, I still had several to choose from. I applied for Medicine at Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham and Queen’s University Belfast (with a pharmacy backup at QUB).
Next was the anxious wait to see if I received any interviews. Good news! I got 3 interviews in total from Liverpool and QUB (which were both in January) and Bristol (in March).
The pressure was then on to prepare, so I attended mock interview days with my headmaster and year head and an interview preparation course up in Belfast. I started to prepare more or less as soon as I found out I had interviews. Better to over-prepare than under prepare right!?
A showjumping injury!
In the midst of this, I managed to get injured at a showjumping competition, where I dislocated my shoulder. A small minor setback…oops. Thankfully it happened in December, so no key events then, really.
My first interview was at QUB, which, I have to say, had a lot riding on it. This was my top choice as it’s the closest, and I’m a bit of a home bird (or so I thought). I was super nervous about this one, and as a result, I definitely did not perform my best.
However, I brushed that interview off and prepared for the next one a week later in Liverpool. I have to say, as interviews go, this one was LOVELY. All the interviewers were very nice, a more relaxed environment, everything just fell into place that day. Of course, I had my wee mummy with me for emotional support (my number 1).
Bristol was a bit of a fail to be fair, and the vibe just didn’t suit me there. Some people are just better suited for certain universities, I think, and Bristol just wasn’t the one. It’s a gorgeous city though, highly recommend a trip there. With interviews done and dusted, I waited for (hopefully) an offer. Hurray, Liverpool offered me a place for September. The excitement was real! Absolute happy tears that day.
March to June was head in the books. I had worked so hard to get the offer, and I wasn’t going to let it slip away. I still managed some showjumping in and around exams and saw the amazing Ed Sheeran in concert. A-Levels are tough, so it’s essential to give yourself some chill time. You absolutely need it.
The night before A-Level results, nervous times. I hardly slept a wink that night, but I do remember thinking to myself that I’d tried my absolute best, and that’s all you can do. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.
I was expecting to get my A-Level results at around 9 am at school. However, the welcome emails came through much earlier, at 6:30 am! I was, of course, awake and heard my phone vibrate from the corner of my bedroom. I leapt out of bed, not really knowing what to expect. I just hoped and prayed I’d done enough. And there it was, a welcome email from the University of Liverpool Medical School. I couldn’t believe it, what a dream!!!
I ran into my parents’ room, and funnily enough, they were both wide awake too. I was in floods of happy tears, and the moment was just so special. Even thinking about it now gives me goosebumps. We all went out for a lovely family dinner that night, and I just thought to myself, “wow, I actually did it”. All the studying, late nights, interview prep had all led to this moment. Liverpool, here I come!!!
So that’s my story, and for anyone currently in the process of applying, all the very best of luck to you. You’ve got this. ☺
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