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Medical School Application Tips

Posted: January 03, 2019

Understanding the Application stage of the medical entry process

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You've been studying hard. And now you have another hurdle to cross before you are offered a medical interview. You are ready for the challenge, but is that what your written application portrays?

Your medical school application is part of an important pre-interview screening process that conveys an overall impression of a candidate that is directly comparable to other applicants in the same intake. Your answer reflects your knowledge of social appropriateness along with other precursors of success, such as your writing style, spelling and punctuation awareness, and general awareness of content suitability. All Australian universities assess application criteria differently, but usually, they will subscribe to a structured process where an admissions committee will screen your application to assign a score. This score will directly reflect your chances of being offered an interview place, dependant on the calibre of other candidates. Some universities then use secondary assessors to further assign scores to establish inter-rater reliability. Regardless of how your university assesses your medical school application, you’ll have only a small window of opportunity to impress the university, and it’s important that you approach this gateway to medical entry with the magnitude it deserves.

Every year, students become overwhelmed with the varying criteria that their medical school applications need to meet in order to gain them a coveted interview position. After spending so many days working on your application, and so many years working on your practical criteria, don’t fall over so close to the finish line. Submit a medical school application that enhances your chances of selection and opens doors to your dream future, and do not rest until you know you have crafted that application!

Does your Medical School Application reflect the 'best you'?

The art of writing an impressive application is not too difficult once you’ve successfully completed all the academic criteria, work experience, medical involvement or extracurricular activities that will really make your writing pop. The hardest thing is – how to integrate this information when and where it is relevant, without committing the common ‘faux pas’ of non-relevance, self-grandiosity, misdirection, cliché, stereotyping, and insipidity? And how can you be sure that you’ve avoided the very worst mistakes, including the content matter that will single-handedly dismiss your application from further consideration? Furthermore, which universities expect résumé information written into your application, and which universities disapprove of it? Does your writing read like an application, a curriculum vitae, a biography, a dramatic script, or something else entirely? – and what does your choice of style reflect about you?

Your application needs to maximise differentiation in the right ways and facilitate an opening to your relationship with the university you are applying to. And it all happens using the magic of words and genuine communication.

Advice on writing your medical school application

Some handy advice for you, from NIE’s professional team of education, medical and psychological experts, is to pay great attention to every word you write, and to the concepts you are leveraging to tie those words together. Take some time to let your answers ‘cure’ (that is, to rest your writing so that you can then re-read your answers with fresh eyes after a short break).
Some other tips from our team to help make the writing component of this daunting task easier are as follows:

  • Do not present superficially. That is, it is better to theme yourself to show strength in a few areas if you are limited for writing space than it is to scatter your accomplishments ‘too thin’ and lose any advantage that theming may gain you when capturing the attention of a reader.
  • Avoid untruths and exaggerations. We can tell. Just believe us.
  • Be humble yet proud. When you convey facts or personal information, do so with humility rather than arrogance. Most of our clients are high achievers, and you are used to progressing through life with success and hard-earned results as a matter of familiarity. However personality is easily revealed within open answers, and you should manifest this familiarity as a strength and not as conceit.
  • Show grit. Grit is a psychological construct that predicts success, especially in competitive fields and in higher academia. It is described as ‘the perseverance and passion to attain long-term goals’ – and you will want to show some aspect of grit in your medical school application.

How do you know that your application is up to par?

The sad truth is that most medical school applications from aspiring candidates do not make the cut. Even those with the most brilliant GPAs or academic rankings have been caught out by the application process.

There is nothing that can predict the acceptance of your application by your chosen university or universities with 100% accuracy, as the assessors on the other side of the process are given set criteria but are also human, with all of humanity’s personal foibles and idiosyncrasies. However, there are many things that are within your power that will increase your chance of success.

There are many online resources that may help you to practice your writing, editing and communication skills, and we would encourage you to utilise any reputable ones that you find. Have your parents and mentors look over your writing, and ask them for their honest take on how you deliver yourself. 

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