Welcome to the “Beginners Guide to Studying Medicine in Australia”.
In this guide you’ll discover everything you need to know about the steps required to get accepted into Medicine in Australia, straight out of high-school.
This guide is perfect for anyone in Years 10, 11 or 12 at high-school (or with a child currently in these year levels) that wants to gain admission into Medicine at the end of Year 12.
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
Chapter 1 – Where You Can Study Medicine in Australia
Chapter 2 – The Complete Process For Getting Into Medicine
- The 3 Major Assessments For Medicine (Including Everything You Need To Know About Them)
- The Scores Required To Get Accepted Into Medicine
So lets get started with it!
Chapter 1 – Where You Can Study Medicine In Australia
Many universities across Australia have medical schools that allow students to study Medicine straight out of high-school. These degrees are called “undergraduate degrees” and fully qualify you to practice as a working doctor in Australia.
You can study Medicine in Australia at the following 12 universities:
The University of New South Wales (UNSW)
The University of Queensland (UQ)
The University of Adelaide
The University of Western Australia (UWA)
The University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Charles Sturt University
The University of Newcastle / University of New England
Western Sydney University
Chapter 2 – The Complete Process For Getting Into Medicine
The process for getting into Medicine is relatively consistent for all of the 12 universities in Australia where students are able to study Medicine straight out of high-school.
All of these 12 universities require students to sit, and excel in, 3 major assessments.
Now you’ve got a basic understanding of the 3 assessments you (or your child) will need to excel in to gain admission into Medicine, we’re going to go deeper into each assessment and explain:
1. Exactly what the exam is, how it works, and everything you need to know about it.
2. What scores you will need on the exam to be competitive for Medicine.
Study Medicine in Australia: The UCAT Exam
The UCAT exam accounts for ~33% of your child’s chances of getting into Medicine.
This means that it is just as important as all of their school subjects combined.
What is the UCAT?
The UCAT (also known as UKCAT or University Clinical Admissions Test) is a 2-hour computerised test that is designed to identify students who have the skills and characteristics of someone who would become a successful doctor.
The UCAT exam has 233 questions across 5 sections.
The first section is Verbal Reasoning, which has 44 questions (to be completed in 21 minutes). This section assesses students abilities to critically evaluate information presented in written form.
The second section is Decision Making, which has 29 questions (to be completed in 31 minutes). This section assesses students abilities to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information.
The third section is Quantitative Reasoning, which has 36 questions (to be completed in 24 minutes). This section assesses students abilities to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form.
The fourth section is Abstract Reasoning, which has 55 questions (to be completed in 13 minutes). This section assesses students’ abilities to use convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information.
The fifth and final section is Situational Judgement, which has 69 questions (to be completed in 26 minutes). This section measures students abilities to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them.
Why the UCAT?
The UCAT was created with the goal of identifying students with the skills and characteristics of successful doctors. This allows universities to identify students that are both an intellectual fit, and character fit for the medical profession.
When is the UCAT?
The UCAT is held every year in July. You are able to choose any day within July to sit your exam as it is held in small computer labs across Australia.
What score do you need to succeed on the UCAT?
Over the past 2 years, universities have generally required students to score in at least the 90th percentile (top 10% of students) on the UCAT to be considered for selection into Medicine. This makes it considerably more difficult than the ATAR exam because you are only competing against students hoping to gain admission into Medicine (who are the top 2-3% of students in each state).
What does it take to succeed on the UCAT?
Given that you need a score in at least the 90th percentile to gain admission into Medicine, this means that out of the 18,000 students that sit the exam each year in Australia, under 1,800 of these students gain admission into Medicine. The difference between the students who succeed on the UCAT, and those that fail, largely comes down to their preparation.
When should you prepare for the UCAT?
Many students leave their preparation to the last minute, however many students who are certain that they want to study Medicine and are wanting to maximise their chances of success, start preparing from the end of Year 10 (over the school holidays), or at the end of Year 11 (over the school holidays).
Study Medicine In Australia: The ATAR
The ATAR score accounts for a further ~33% of your child’s chances of getting into Medicine.
What is the ATAR?
The ATAR is a ranking of Year 12 results that measures your overall academic achievement in your school subjects compared with all other final year students in Australia.
The ATAR is not a score out of 100 – it is a rank. This means that your score between 0 and 99.95 tells you where you rank in your state.
E.g. an ATAR score of 70 means that you are in the top 30% of your state.
E.g. An ATAR score of 99 means that you are in the top 1% of your state..
The ATAR allows Medical Schools to compare the overall achievements of your school subjects against every other student who is finishing Year 12.
How is ATAR scored?
The ATAR is calculated by combining your scores in all your school subjects together.
This means that if you study for example: Maths, Chemistry, English, Biology and Physics – these scores are combined together into one single ATAR score between 0 and 99.95 (in intervals of 0.05).
The highest rank is 99.95, the next highest 99.90, and so on. The lowest automatically reported rank is 30.00, with ranks below 30.00 being reported as ‘less than 30’.
You will want to be aiming for an ATAR score of over 98 to be competitive.
ATAR for Medicine?
To be competitive in the medical admissions process, you want to be aiming for an ATAR over 98. An ATAR score of 98 means you’re in the top 2% of students in your state.
This score can be as low as 95 if you come from a rural background or have another form of special consideration that universities consider.
On each university’s website, they publish data on the “lowest-accepted-score” from each year. You can go to their website to find more specific information on the precise score you can aim for on each university.
What ATAR subjects must you study for Medicine?
Most universities only require students to study an English subject, and Chemistry, in order to be accepted into Medicine. In the following video we break down how to select the right subjects for Medicine.
Study Medicine In Australia: Medical Interviews/MMI
Medical Interviews usually account for the final 33% of your medical admissions application.
What are Medical Interviews/MMI?
For students that achieve outstanding ATAR and UCAT scores, a select number are then invited to attend a medical interview at the universities they have applied to. This is where students are able to demonstrate their passion for medicine, and character and interests beyond their raw ATAR and UCAT scores.
What are the different types of Medical Interviews?
There are broadly three types of interview used in Australia and New Zealand to select students for entry into medicine and dentistry:
- MMI (Multiple Mini Interview): candidates rotate through various themed ‘stations’, each addressing a particular topic presented as a ‘scenario’.
- Structured panel interview: traditional style of interview, where all candidates are asked the same or similar questions.
- Semi-structured panel interview: traditional style of interview, where interviewers do not have to adhere tightly to a ‘script’, and can ask follow up questions.
Which type of Medical Interview does my university do?
MMI interviews are used at all the universities except the University of New South Wales, the University of Adelaide, James Cook University and Otago University Dentistry (which use Panel interviews).
Why Medical Interviews?
Medical interviews are a critical, yet often underestimated part of the medical admissions process. At some universities, they are as important, or even more important than UCAT and ATAR in determining entry into medicine. They may be weighted at 1/3 or even up to 80% of the admissions criteria.
Some universities even use interviews as the sole criterion in determining entry into medicine, once a threshold UCAT and ATAR has been reached (e.g. at University of Newcastle and New England).
When are interview offers released?
The interview offer release date varies depending on the university. Most universities release interview offers during October/November (as late as late December for Monash). For interstate students some universities release offers around mid January (rural students may receive offers earlier).
When are they?
Medical Interviews are held at different dates/times for each university, however all of them are in the months of December and January at the end of Year 12. You can receive multiple interview offers, and will need to attend an interview for each university you apply for (to have a chance of being accepted into it).
How are Medical Interviews assessed?
Medical Interviews are designed to assess qualities considered important in both the study and practice of medicine.
Each university differs in their marking criteria for medical interviews. However, common assessment criteria include:
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking
- Decision making
- Social responsibility
- Moral and ethical reasoning
- Awareness of health issues
- Teamwork and leadership
- Quality of motivation to study medicine
View our complete guide on Medical Interview by clicking here.
To discover more about how the entire Medicine Entry process works for Medicine, attend our free webinar on “How To Help Your Child Excel In Medicine Entry” by clicking the button below.