As part of Alex’s talk last week on entry to medicine for graduates and postgraduates (slides available for download on our website), she came up with some interesting “inside information” about how Manchester address the selection process. OK, it’s not really “insider info” as they were perfectly open about it, but useful to know if you’re thinking of applying :
- Candidates are first screened by academic criteria.
- If they meet the requirements they are shortlisted on the strength of their UCAS personal statement and academic reference.
- The School shortlist more candidates than there are interview places available. Once shortlisted they are put in rank order by their UKCAT score – those with the highest scores are offered an interview.
They do, however, take into account mitigating circumstances. As the Medical School says :
“Importantly, we will continue to give special consideration to those applicants who claim mitigating circumstances or have benefited from our mentoring programmes. Hence a low UKCAT score is not necessarily an indication that you will be rejected before interview. We look at our applicants as individuals not numbers!”
So, there is no cut off score or pass mark for Manchester, but students have to do as well as they can in the UKCAT to increase the chances of being ranked high enough to get an interview. One may have a better personal statement than another but if they are ranked higher on their UKCAT score they are more likely to be interviewed, assuming they make the first cut.
This means that once you’ve reached the required standard on your personal statement, continually fine tuning the statement to make it even better won’t help. You’d be better spending time to make sure your UKCAT scores are the best they can be. As with most aptitude tests, you can’t really revise for them, but doing the practice tests provided on the UKCAT site will help with familiarising yourself with the format, which generally gives you a head start getting stuck into the tests when you see them for real. (Quick warning – if you download and start running the practice tests, there’s no way of stopping them before the end, without “ctrl-alt-delete”-ing your way out, so only start once you’re prepared to spend the time to finish.)
[Update 7.04.09 – see Holly’s comment below for more resources to help you prepare for UKCAT.]
Looking at this selection process wearing my ex-HR manager’s hat, it does seem like good recruitment practice – once you’ve assessed that a candidate has reached the standard required, by looking at a CV or personal statement, it’s better to use objective measures to differentiate between candidates (like the UKCAT test). If instead, you just spend more time poring over their personal statements, you’re increasingly likely to make subjective judgements based on irrelevant – and potentially unfair – criteria.
So, hats off to Manchester for their selection process – but don’t assume all universities are the same. Check, and if in doubt, keep polishing that personal statement.