Study Medicine In Australia: The Beginners Guide

Welcome to the “Beginners Guide to Studying Medicine in Australia”.

In this guide you’ll discover how to get accepted into Medicine in Australia, straight out of high-school. 

This guide is perfect for anyone in Years 9, 10, 11 or 12 that wants to get into Medicine.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Chapter 1 – Where You Can Study Medicine In Australia

In this section, you’ll discover the universities you can study Medicine at straight out of high-school.

Chapter 2 – The Complete Process For Studying Medicine In Australia

In this section, you’ll understand how the medical admissions process works in Australia. We’ll explore the 3 key assessments you must excel at.

Chapter 3 – Next Steps From Here (To Maximise Your Chances of Studying Medicine)

In this section, we’ll give you guidance on how to excel in the medical admissions process and get into Medicine.

If you don’t have time to read this entire guide now, you can download the PDF version of the “Beginners Guide to Studying Medicine In Australia” for free by clicking here.

Chapter 1 – Where You Can Study Medicine In Australia

12 universities in Australia allow students to study Medicine immediately after high-school. Many universities across Australia have medical schools that allow students to study Medicine straight out of high-school. These degrees are “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:

  • Monash University
  • The University of New South Wales (UNSW)
  • The University of Queensland (UQ)
  • Curtin University
  • The University of Adelaide
  • University of Western Australia (UWA)
  • The University of Tasmania (UTAS)
  • Charles Sturt University 
  • Flinders University
  • Latrobe University
  • The University of Newcastle / University of New England
  • Western Sydney University
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Chapter 2 – The Complete Process For Studying Medicine In Australia (Updated For 2021/22)

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.

  1. UCAT Exam
  2. ATAR Exam
  3. Medical Interviews (And Written Application)

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.
  3. How to successfully prepare for the exam (to achieve top marks).

Step 1 To Study Medicine In Australia: 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 to identify students with both the skills and characteristics of successful doctors. Universities can use this assessment to find students that are both an intellectual fit, and character fit for the medical profession.  

When is the UCAT?

The UCAT is held throughout the month of July. You can choose any date/time throughout July to sit your exam in one of the small testing venues across your state.

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 get 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).

From our past students, we’ve seen that students starting at the end of Year 10 in our programs achieve an average UCAT score in the 96th percentile. This is in comparison to the average UCAT score of 91st percentile for students starting at the end of Year 11. 

Given that a score in the 90th percentile is quite competitive, and the 95th percentile all but guarantees medical admission (alongside a strong ATAR and Interview), we recommend students start preparing for the UCAT exam as early as possible (with the earliest time being the end of Year 10).

Download a PDF version of this guide by clicking here.

Step 2 To Study Medicine In Australia: ATAR Exam

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. 

If you were to study Maths, Chemistry, English, Biology and Physics – these scores would be 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 (ranks below 30.00 are reported as ‘less than 30’).

You want to be aiming for an ATAR score of at least 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.

What ATAR subjects must you study for Medicine?

Most universities require students to study an English subject, and Chemistry, in order to be accepted into Medicine. You can review the specific subjects on the university website.

Download a PDF of this guide by clicking here.

Step 3 To Study Medicine In Australia: Medical Interviews

Medical Interviews usually account for the final 33% of your medical admissions application.

What are Medical Interviews?

For students that achieve outstanding ATAR and UCAT scores, a select number are 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?

Universities use one of three different types of interview structures in Australia and New Zealand:

  1. MMI (Multiple Mini Interview): candidates rotate through various themed ‘stations’, each addressing a particular topic presented as a ‘scenario’.
  2. Structured panel interview: this is a traditional style of interview where all candidates are asked the same or similar questions.
  3. 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 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 are worth at least 33% (and sometimes even up to 80% of the admissions criteria. 

Some universities even use interviews as the sole criterion in determining entry into Medicine.

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
  • Empathy
  • Moral and ethical reasoning
  • Self-awareness
  • Maturity
  • Awareness of health issues
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Quality of motivation to study medicine

Download a PDF version of this guide by clicking here.

Chapter 3 – Next Steps (To Maximise Your Chances of Studying Medicine In Australia)

To maximise your child’s chances of getting into Medicine, we’ve found that top students all have the following 3 traits in common:

  1. They focus on the entire Medical Admissions process.

Top students focus on excelling in every stage of the Medical Admissions process, from the ATAR, to the UCAT and Medical Interviews.

With each phase contributing ~33% to their chances of getting into Medicine, top students prepare properly for every assessment (not neglecting one for another). This means that they only choose a preparation provider that assists with every stage of the process (ATAR, Interviews, Applications & UCAT).

  1. They prepare early.

Whilst many students leave their UCAT and Interview preparation to the start of Year 12, our top students begin preparing from Year 10 or Year 11 as it allows them to evenly balance their workload with their school subjects (i.e. ATAR).

Students starting in Years 10 and 11 can prepare for just 3-4 hours per week and achieve top grades in the UCAT and Interviews.

  1. They have access to tutors and support.

Companies in the Medical Admissions space often provide students with practice questions and resources for students to study independently without any support from teachers or tutors.

Just like how top students use teachers (at school) and tutors (out of school) to achieve high grades in their school subjects, we’ve found that the top 1-2% of students all have access to tutors and LIVE support on a weekly basis for all assessments.

Next steps from here

If you have a child in Years 10, 11 or 12 that is passionate about Medicine and seeking support in the medical admissions process, you can book in a call with us below to see if they’re a good fit for our premier program – the Med Prep School program.

This program is limited to only 200 places per year, due to the personalised support and access to tutors/teachers that each student is offered, and comprehensive support for every stage of the Medical Admissons process (from the UCAT, to ATAR, Medical Interviews and Applications).

Book in for a call with us below by clicking “Schedule an Appointment”.

About MED PREP SCHOOL

Med Prep School is the school for future doctors, guiding students to excel in their ATAR, UCAT and Interviews to earn a place into Medicine.