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GEM application, UKCAT score low, still a chance?

Discussion in 'UKCAT' started by Jam Man, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. Jam Man

    Jam Man New Member

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    Sorry of this is just another one of those threads, but I think some re-applicants might be able to comfort me with some advice over my dire situation, particularly those from grad applicants.


    Just back from my UKCAT. In complete disorientation and disbelief over the score I've got.


    VR 550
    VR 600
    AR 630
    DA 680
    Band 1
    Av - 615


    I'm a grad student, and this pretty much puts an end to my application for this 2014 entry. This is my first attempt.

    I found the exam fairly difficult - a lot more so than what people here were reporting. Especially the QR section, it seems it was a watered down version of the 600Q book. I ended up, like the VR section, guessing questions and didn't get a chance to come back to them. Even the DA section I was used to scoring 750+ in mock during relaxed conditions, I was confident I could bring this up to a high 800 in the real thing, no idea what happened.

    Essentially, I'm pretty distraught. I prepped for over 2 months using all the possible resources, inc medify, emedica, most UKCAT books etc. I think this probably the cause of much of my upset - the fact I worked hard for this but it resulted in a catastrophe. I spent about 4-5 hours in the past 3 weeks getting ready for this big day.

    I have a 2:1 and an MSc (merit). Over two year's experience as a HCA, clinical researching roles. Several placements etc.

    The problem is that I'm getting old, I can't afford to linger about and turn my life into continual attempts at entry, but that doesn't mean I don't want to try again. Other people I know are getting somewhere in life, starting the next stage of their careers, and here's me now having to try again to start medical school that some did the first time round.

    I know a few of you have not scored so great in first attempts, but given this score I don't know how much it can go up by. Shall I bother applying this year at all? My heart was set on KCL, but I know I can't get anywhere near that with this score, would Warwick even want me?

    The others that don't want UKCAT or use it a lot less have other requirements that I don't fulfill, so in one way to another I can't apply to those either.
     
  2. cphillips89

    cphillips89 New Member

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    Hi Jam Man

    I am sorry to hear your test didn't go as well as planned. As a starting point to moving forward with your application perhaps you could consider the following:

    1. Which universities that place a low emphasis on the UKCAT have requirements you don't fulfil, especially since you have a 2.1 and a Masters? I have a Graduate Entry to Medicine application guide - it's a little out of date but suggests that candidates with low UKCAT scores look at the following unis: Keele 5 year, Leeds 5 year, Queen's Belfast 5 year, UEA 5 year, HYMS 5 year & BSMS 5 year. There may be others, e.g. Bristol? I haven't looked into their entry requirements but it may be worth looking into if you can go down the 5 year route.

    2. I presume you're not sitting the GAMSAT or the BMAT? This could be an option for next year. What subject are your degrees in?

    3. Do you have any idea where your UKCAT went wrong? Did you answer ALL the questions, even if they were just guesses at the end? Did you guess the longer questions in order to pick up easier marks on shorter questions later on? SO much of this test is about strategy rather than ability. You say that you were scoring well in relaxed conditions but I think the key to this test is practising under timed conditions every time.

    I hope that helps a little. I was a first time applicant last year but didn't get past the interview stage. It was devastating particularly as, like you, I feel that I am getting a bit long in the tooth for this at the grand age of 29 :eek: We all have our weaknesses that we need to address in this process but hopefully they will make us stronger once we have overcome them.

    Best of luck.
     
    #2 cphillips89, Sep 20, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013
  3. Jam Man

    Jam Man New Member

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    5 year is always a possibility providing that they are GEM and not undergraduate as then they'd look at A levels which I didn't do so well in. Another factor is finances, I don't believe I get much help via the NHS through a 5 year course. I will investigate these, thanks for this.

    The other two exams are associated with universities that I'm not interested in applying in, or some of them have other requirements which I probably don't fulfil, I remember looking at some earlier. I figured the UKCAT was preferred by most universities, all of which were on my list of preferences.

    I think my exam went downhill due to several factors: very nervous prior to starting; I raced through the questions knowing that I didn't have much time and in the end I had time left (albeit a little), in all sections, but it wasn't enough to go back and re-familiarise myself. I think I was more concerned with doing them all than doing them properly. Had I spent a bit more time per question and made some educated guesses at the end I would've been in a better position. I was also taken back by the QR section, a lot of people claimed it was easier than any mocks they'd done - wasn't the case at all. My calculator was also huge, it took up a good portion of the screen so there was a lot of fumbling about getting it out of the way so I could get at the numbers I needed. I just found out today that some peoples' test centres had calculators that were small and could fit on the screen with no interference. Seems to me that the exam isn't even uniform in delivery.

    I was scoring well on the DA in relaxed TIMED practice. On many of my practices I had sometimes 4 minutes left, but yesterday I was rushing. Not to mention the much harder questions.

    All in all, it's possible I was quite unlucky. I perhaps drew more difficult questions, and despite my 2 months of prep, I didn't anticipate this could happen. I was always under the impression that if I revise harder questions, similar to those in the 600Q book, I'd waste time trying to simulate a test that was never reflective of reality. What I got yesterday were essentially watered down 600Q questions.

    Needless to say, this experience has left me pretty shaken, not least because I spent the best part of 2 months prepping for a good 3 hours a day, and then 5 hours in the few weeks running up to the test. I'm still considering whether I should apply this year - it'll mean spending another 3-4 weeks now till the deadline working on a PS which no one will get to read due to my score. But I suppose its worth going through the process for experience.

    Had I been an undergraduate still I'd still satisfied that I had time left, but as the clock is ticking next year, I would probably say is my final chance, for everything - the exam, PS and interview (if I get that far) - quite a stressful thought thinking that this year was quite nerve wracking and I knew I could try again if it didn't go to plan.

    What was your situation last year? Where did you apply?
     
  4. cphillips89

    cphillips89 New Member

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    As a graduate, most 5 year courses look at your degree result rather than your a levels (depending on what your degree is in). They are not "GEM" as they are undergraduate programmes but they have different entry requirements for undergrads and grads. Finance is the main issue with these courses (around 36K, rather than 24K for the 4 year course which is still astronomical).

    In terms of sitting other exams, I would recommend thinking about it for next year. Particularly the GAMSAT as it provides access to some of the biggest GEM courses, St Georges, Nottingham, Swansea, and also spreads your bets in case the UKCAT doesn't work out.

    Last year I sat UKCAT (715) and GAMSAT (59) and got interviews at Barts 4 year, Barts 5 year and St Georges 4 year but unfortunately didn't get an offer. Kings 4 year rejected me straight off as their cut off was 730 I believe.
     
  5. Jam Man

    Jam Man New Member

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    The GAMSAT I've heard is a beast of an exam, tougher than the UKCAT in fact? What did you think? How long would you say you spent preparing for it? I'll do more research into the GAMSAT.

    Have you taken the UKCAT/GAMSAT again this year?
     
  6. MattKneale

    MattKneale Member

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    Hey, my 2p.

    GAMSAT is, by a country mile, a lot tougher than the UKCAT. It's more learnable, but it's much more effort I'd say. I did both last year after flunking the UKCAT (615) and underestimated the science, scoring 59, 67, 49 (or there abouts!). Admittedly I could have done more work for it, but didn't fancy repeating the experience. If this is your first application then I'd just resit the UKCAT next year; I went from 615 to 740, and whilst the exam seems easier for everyone this year, it's obviously still possible to get big leaps in scores. Most people do much better second time around, because you have a better idea on the timing of the exam, which is obviously the main challenge.
     
  7. surgery.

    surgery. New Member

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    I remember you from TSR during last year's UCAS; good to see in your signature that you had no ''technical issues'' during your UKCAT! Great score. :D
     
  8. Jam Man

    Jam Man New Member

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    I spent the best part of 2 months preping for the UKCAT, and of course I don't really want to have spend more prepping for another exam which is of course tougher.

    How did you find the UKCAT last year, and what did you do to improve?

    I'll of course be resitting the UKCAT again this coming year, but there'll be a lot more pressure on me to do well - I don't want to delay my career any further than I've already done by flopping this year's exam. It's beyond my imagination to think of flopping next year and re-trying to for a third time to gain admittance in 2016! But then of course the UKCAT doesn't guarantee a place, there's still the PS and interviews to overcome.

    The problem this year was that I had it ingrained in me that the timing was tight so I was rushing through all the questions without actually answering them properly. In fact in both the VR and QR I guessed a fair amount, and had a few minutes at the end of the both sections which I knew in the exam that something went wrong as I'd never finished any section so quickly.

    Anyway, I'm still contemplating on whether I should apply this year just to go through the process. Perhaps I'll try a few schools that don't weigh the score so heavily, and perhaps 5 year courses.
     
  9. cphillips89

    cphillips89 New Member

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    Jam Man

    As MattKneale sais above, the GAMSAT is undoubtedly tougher than the UKCAT. You need to put much more preparation into it, e.g. lots of people teach themselves A level chem, bio, phys. However it depends where your strengths lie - science grads will have an advantage in section III whereas an arts background would help with sections I & II. I think I prepped for three months but I wasn't working.

    I'm only sitting the UKCAT this year - I was out of the country between March & August & knew I could only realistically prepare for the UKCAT after returning.

    Best of luck with whatever you decide.
     
  10. M150

    M150 New Member

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    Heya,

    I've just finished the GAMSAT and it isn't exactly an easy exam. There are 3 sections and the tests take an entire day. You also do need a good science knowledge base for section 3. It's not easy and it's bloody expensive.

    On the other hand, you could think about it for next year. There is a test in March if that's not too soon for you. The score would only be valid for 2015 entry but you would know both the GAMSAT and UCAS score in advance which would let you apply more strategically if you really don't want to wait another year.
     
    nisha 122 likes this.
  11. MattKneale

    MattKneale Member

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    Thanks haha, I was pleased with 740 initially this year (well over the moon!) but then it transpired that everyone is doing better, especially on DA. So I now feel distinctly average again!

    UKCAT was hard last year, but I didn't do anything particularly different this year: same 600Q book, same Medify resource. I think the UKCAT mainly comes down to time management and knowing when you're beaten on a question. To get a good score you don't have to answer everything, you just need to ensure you pick up every single easy mark there is and hope for the best on the remainder. On a second sitting you're more aware of timing (indeed I went into the exam this year with this being the sole thing in my head: manage the time) and it works. People inevitably do better second time around.

    You need to make sure you remove your reliance on a calculator in QR too. I didn't use it once in the end, which probably cost me a 700+ in that section but I was content with ensuring I could do as much as I could in my head. I got 680 in that in the end, and I found myself going through it quicker because I didn't have to keep opening the calculator.

    I'd apply for GEM and 5 years anyway this year. You won't get in, but you can try and get some PS feedback for next year. That's what I did last year anyway :)
     
  12. Jam Man

    Jam Man New Member

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    Indeed, it was time management that cost me this year's exam. But I instead of striking a balance between being quick, and doing things properly I went to the extreme and sped through the sections. Though, I know you need to answer all the easier questions first to be successful, but how do you know you've done this unless one actually goes through the whole section?

    How did you improve your non-reliance on the calculator? Practice more mental arithmetic?
     
  13. MattKneale

    MattKneale Member

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    I went through QR with the mindset that if it didn't immediately jump out to me, then I flagged and moved on. Meant I finished with quite a bit of spare time to go back and get as many tough questions as possible. And yes to the latter question :)
     
  14. Jam Man

    Jam Man New Member

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    Do you think there is more pressure when sitting the UKCAT for the second time to do well? I remember my heart rate elevating significantly and the nerves setting in prior to starting the exam last week, and I can't imagine it being any less severe for my 2nd go as there will only be more pressure to do well as to not postpone entry yet again, for 2016.


    So the exam delivery in March is for 2015 entry, do they repeat the exam again next year for 2015 entry? Although it gives me 5 months to prepare, would I be able to take it again next year if I'm not ready?

    Is it A-level bio, physics and chem or GCSE?

    ---

    Over the past few days I've been considering how I'm going to spend the next year or two to strengthen myself for the entrance exams and my PS. There's now so much time that I could probably even start another postgrad degree.
     
  15. M150

    M150 New Member

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    Hi Jam Man, sorry but I can't work out how to quote you on my phone.

    The GAMSAT is only held once a year in September and the result is valid for two years. You have to sit the exam before the UCAS deadline and the results are not out until after the deadline. The GAMSAT just gone was valid for 2014 and 2015 entry.

    There is also the GAMSAT Ireland which is held in March and you can sit it in London. If you are using it to apply for UK universities then you can sit it in the March and know the results when you apply the following October. But it is only valid for the one UK application cycle.

    GAMSAT is A level standard (well, bits are first year degree level biology and chemistry but most people seem to only focus on the a level work).
     
  16. cphillips89

    cphillips89 New Member

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    Occasionally I wondered whether I would completely flop but I just tried to put those thoughts aside and told myself to get a grip. When I was in the waiting room with all of the nervous 17 year olds, I realised how scary it is for them, whereas I've been through uni and sat umpteen professional exams. You get one shot per year and you can't worry about what ifs. I know it's hard, but you need to work out how to reduce the anxiety and become more confident. When you get to med school, the exams are only going to get tougher.
     
  17. j-fizz

    j-fizz New Member

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    Hi..
    I've just completed my UKCAT and did really quite badly.
    Average of 597.5.. Gutted with this. Was wondering if any of you would be willing to offer some advice.
    Is there any point in applying? What Universities would be appropriate to apply to?
    I also did the GAMSAT exam and am awaiting those results.. Not feeling too confident about that either.
     
  18. Jam Man

    Jam Man New Member

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    I suppose we're pretty much in the same boat with a few points apart.

    If I was you, depending on your GAMSAT scores, I'd probably apply to a combination of unis that require no/little UKCAT, and GAMSAT unis. As I haven't done any other exam but the UKCAT I'm going to apply for some 5 year courses with low UKCAT cut-offs. I'm not going to get in, but I think going through the process would be useful.
     
  19. j-fizz

    j-fizz New Member

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    Do you have much experience?
    Yeah I may be applying to a couple of 5 year courses.. What Universities are you looking at for those?
    Thanks for the advice by the way.
     
  20. Martigan

    Martigan Super Moderator

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    Just to add a little to the pot. One advantage of going for a GAMSAT uni is the lower applicant to offer ratio, as the fact it such a beast to prep for and take reduces those willing to go for it.
     

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