Updated: Aug 7, 2022
The application for medical school can be very daunting. The deadline is months before many of your friends will begin to consider their application and it feels like an overwhelming amount of tick boxes to cover before you can even submit your application. You’re trying to juggle having the perfect personal statement, UCATs (University Clinical Aptitude Test) and BMATs (Biomedical Admissions Test) and mock exams, all whilst aiming to have a life inbetween! Here are some tips on things I would recommend doing during your summer holiday before your UCAS application to help you feel organised and less stressed before submission day.
1. Booking your UCAT for the end of the summer holiday
The UCAT is one of the possible tests you may be asked to do before applying to medicine alongside your UCAS application. The UCAT can seem very scary, with multiple sections including mathematics and funky shapes to decipher! A piece of advice that I found very useful was if possible book your UCAT towards the end of the summer holiday. This meant I could focus on my school work whilst term was on and then focus on the UCAT during the holidays, this helped me feel less overwhelmed by the workload. Another tip I would give for the UCAT is to study little and often, using practice questions and mock tests to gain an idea of the format of the test. It is not so much about learning a new concept but more, understanding the test and how to take it and doing practise questions will equip you with this ability to do so.
2. Work experience/ Voluntary Work
Again, I personally found doing voluntary work during my summer holidays instead of during term time a lot less overwhelming! Reaching out to places early with your intention of wanting to do voluntary work over the summer holidays can give the organisations an idea of how you can fit into their day-to-day practice. I personally did two voluntary placements over my summer holidays which accounted for 2-3 days out of my week. This still allowed me plenty of time to focus on my application, continue my part-time job (which also came in very handy as a discussion point at interview) whilst also having balance and enjoying my summer holiday!
3. Working on the personal statement
You do NOT need to have a perfect personal statement completed by the time the holidays finish! There will most likely be things you will still be doing you will wish to add to your statement by the time term commences. However, I would recommend having a clear plan of exactly what you wish to include in your statement and a brief timetable of when you want it finished by. You may also choose to write your introduction during the summer holidays, which you may decide to edit down the line.
4. Paid work
During my holidays I would increase the hours I would work at my part-time job. This allowed me to gather some money behind me before going to University and also allowed me to work on many skills I was able to speak about in my interview. Working at a coffee shop, my interviewers were keen to discuss the skills I had developed in this role and how I would apply it to my medical practice. So, just because something may not seem relevant to your application doesnt mean that is true as it may actually be adding to your personal development!
5. HAVE FUN
This is one of the most important aspects! A medical degree can be tough at times, and your holidays will get shorter and shorter. It is essential to find a good work-life balance and most importantly to have fun on your time off! You have most likely worked very hard at school after sitting mock exams and preparing for A levels and more examinations coming your way. Be sure to give your brain a rest, and make time for yourself and make some great memories - remember, you can't pour from an empty cup!!
I hope you find these tips helpful, and please dont neglect tip number 5! It is just as important as the rest.
Written by: Leah Brooks