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How do I get into Medicine?

To get into medicine in most countries, you need to satisfy three criteria i.e., do well in:

  • Your high school/university;
  • a generic skills test and
  • an interview.

New Zealand and Australia are no different. In NZ the three criteria are: Grade Point Average, UCAT score and an interview. In Otago University there is no interview for Medicine, but there is for Dentistry. In most universities these three criteria are equally weighted.

Because medicine is the ONLY course where the government strictly controls the number of places, the demand is high which is one of the reasons why it is seen as an attractive profession.

Medical Entry Criteria provides details on entry requirements for various universities.

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The UCAT is a two hour test with 233 multiple choice questions in five subtests. UCAT is administered on computer in July.

Verbal Reasoning with 44 questions: Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a written form. 1 minute instruction section; 21 minutes test time

Decision Making with 29 questions: Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information. 1 minute instruction section; 31 minutes test time

Quantitative Reasoning 36 questions: Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form. 1 minute instruction section; 24 minutes test time

Abstract Reasoning 55 questions: Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information. 1 minute instruction section; 13 minutes test time

Situational Judgement 69 questions: Measures the capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them. 1 minute instruction section; 26 minutes test time.

UCAT is one of three criteria used by NZ and Australian universities in selecting students into high demand health related careers such as medicine and dentistry:

  • UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test)
  • First Year Uni GPA or NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) score
  • Interview performance (Panel or MMI)


At Auckland University, the above are weighted 15%, 60% and 25% respectively. At Otago, a certain UCAT threshold is required.

The above three criteria are weighted equally by most Australian universities.

Most countries in the world have three such criteria which need to be met to be accepted into medical school: Academic performance in school/university; a generic skills test (UCAT, MCAT, GAMSAT, UKCAT, BMAT etc); performance in an interview.

The UCAT is a two hour test. UCAT is administered in July. MedEntry offers UCAT Courses, UCAT Tuition, UCAT advice, UCAT preparation and UCAT Coaching.

MedEntry UCAT Prep has become synonymous with aptitude test success and is trusted by more students than all other providers combined. Performing well in the UCAT is critical for students wishing to enter medicine or other health science courses.

You will find information on the specific requirements of each university here.

For more information about the UCAT, you can download our information sheet from the free downloads page.

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Both Auckland and Otago University require UCAT for entry into medicine. Please see the next question below which gives details of universities and courses which require UCAT.

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You will need to sit the UCAT if you are interested in any of the following university courses:

  • University of Auckland (Medicine)
  • University of Otago (Medicine, Dental Surgery)
  • Monash University (Medicine)
  • University of Adelaide (Medicine, Dental Surgery)
  • University of Newcastle/University of New England (Medicine)
  • University of New South Wales (Medicine)
  • University of Western Sydney (Medicine)
  • University of Queensland (Medicine - conditional entry, Dental Science)
  • University of Tasmania (Medicine)
  • University of Western Australia (Medicine, Dentistry)
  • Curtin University (Medicine)
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Yes! Even high achieving students can stumble in the UCAT.

Some students with perfect GPAs (For New Zealand Universities) or year 13 scores (for Australian universities) have missed out on a place in medicine and related courses due to their low UCAT scores. In some cases, your UCAT score is more important than your first year university or year 13 score in securing a university place in Medicine or the health sciences.

Research shows training can significantly improve UCAT score by familiarizing you with the types of questions that will be asked and developing strategies to tackle them. 

An all-too-common fallacy about preparing for UCAT is that all you need to do is 'familiarise' yourself with the test by doing some practice questions. That's like saying the way to become a great basketball player is to familiarise yourself with a basketball court and practice taking a few shots.

Once upon a time, people were wrong. They thought that the automobile was an electric death-trap that would never replace the horse and carriage, computers were only for academic nerds, and people who used tuition were simply cheaters. Then, cars stopped exploding every time you started the engine, people realised that you could use computers for more than just calculating the digits of pi, and the 'cheaters' with the tuition... well, they started getting it. They got better grades, got into better Courses at Uni and just plain old got better. Times change, rules change.

Some people point not only to their own success, but also to the success of some others, as proof that UCAT Prep is unnecessary to get into medicine. Such arguments are spurious because they gloss over the obvious truth that certain people are more capable than others. Individuals succeeding without UCAT Prep simply don’t prove that everyone else can do the same, any more than Madonna’s success proves that everyone can become a star. Such individual achievements prove only that there are exceptional people who can overcome enormous obstacles and achieve their goals. The plain fact that many ordinary students have not achieved extraordinary results is pretty strong evidence that, for most of us, UCAT Prep can be a big help.

"Kids take prep courses to ace tests that are supposed to measure inborn aptitude," (page 100, Time Magazine, December 20, 2004).

There are three types of knowledge: Known Knowns; Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns. The people who don't prepare are in the last category. They don't know what they don't know!

People who are low on any scale, do not even know enough to recognize how much they are missing. People who are high on a scale, are deeply aware of how much they are missing, so they think they aren't really all that high. This can be about any skill, aptitude or talent. Many of us suffer from omission bias, ie., we prefer erring through inaction to erring through action, even though research shows errors of omission are costlier than errors of commission.

You might be familiar with the quote by Benjamin Franklin: "by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". These words definitely ring true for the two-hour, gruelling marathon that is the UCAT.

Consider this story about the French marshal Louis Lyautey: when the marshal announced that he wished to plant a tree, his gardener responded that the tree would not reach full growth for a hundred years. “In that case,” replied Lyautey, “we have no time to lose. We must start to plant this afternoon." Students thinking of preparing for improvement in performance in UCAT have no time to lose. They must get started now.

So start preparing now!

The UCAT is a skills based test: you cannot ‘cram’ information the night before. You have to overlearn the strategies to solve UCAT style problems so that thinking becomes automatic and fast.

Please also read the FAQ: Does the MedEntry program really work?

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Anyone in Year 12 or lower levels are NOT permitted to sit the UCAT. 

Everyone else can sit the UCAT. 

This means, anyone who is in final year of high school (Y13) can sit the UCAT.  

Those who have completed high school, in gap year, studying at university, graduates, postgraduates can also sit the UCAT.

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The UCAT will be held over the course of July.

When you register, you will have a choice of testing dates over the month of July. You can choose a date that suits you.

The sooner you register, the more likely it is that you have a wider range of dates to choose from.

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If you have not been successful the first time you sit the UCAT, you can re-sit it without being penalised. In fact you can resit the test ANY number of times as long as it isn't in a single year. You can only sit in Year 13 or thereafter (ie not in Year 12).

Please note that UCAT scores are valid for one year only. Therefore if you are applying to Auckland or Otago, you must also sit the UCAT in the first year.

Keep in mind that both Auckland University and Otago University allow only one attempt at applying for medicine after the first year of your undergraduate degree. Therefore, UCAT preparation is essential to ensure success.

Please also read the FAQ: When can I sit the UCAT?

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You can register an account online on the pearson VUE website from 2 March 2020. Registrations for UCAT 2020 open on the 2 March 2020.

Please note that enrolling with MedEntry UCAT Preparation course does not represent or include an application to sit the UCAT.

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The UCAT ANZ Consortium is a group of Australian and NZ universities which use UCAT as one of the criteria for entry into medical and dental schools.

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The registration fee is $299. If you are eligible for a concession, the registration fee is $199 (Australia only). If you are sitting the UCAT outside Australia and New Zealand, the fee is $374

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Registrations for UCAT 2020 will open on the 2 March 2020.

Your completed registration must be received at the UCAT office by 18 May 2020.

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Graduate entry route in NZ requires you to resit UCAT after your degree, but if you intend to apply to Australia, you will need to sit the GAMSAT.

The graduate medicine entry route requires that you complete a degree first before applying for Medicine. This means studying hard for an additional 3 or 4 years (and paying the fees), to maintain high grades with no guarantee of getting into Medicine. So you will have exams for at least 7 years: three years of first degree and 4 years of condensed medical degree. Undergrad medicine, for eg at Monash, is far less stressful because in the first year they ease you in, and in final year you are working as an unpaid intern (so no exams).

You also need to sit a test called the GAMSAT, which is a six hour test (compare this with UCAT which is a two hour test) as well as doing well in the interview. The preparation courses for GAMSAT are also far more expensive, in the range of $1500 plus.

The GAMSAT has been described by most people as ‘the most horrible thing I've ever had to do in my life’. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you do a Biomedicine or Biosciences degree, you will automatically be offered a place in Medicine, as some universities misleadingly make you believe. If you miss out on a place in Medicine, you may end up with a degree that is not useful for your future, and a waste of several years of your life.

The median age of students entering graduate medical programs in Australia is 25.4 years. By that age, you would have completed your medical degree and probably working as a Registrar in your chosen specialty if you choose the Year 12 entry (UCAT) route. Imagine entering medical school at 25 via graduate entry, then trying to study for the specialist training exams in your early thirties with a family to care for!

Further, when you apply through the graduate entry pathway, you can only apply to one university (with upto 6 preferences) and you will be interviewed only by one university. The universities have colluded to make it this way, so that it is less work for them and easier for them to select students (although it imposes harsh restrictions on aspiring doctors).

Some people think universities are education oriented organisations, but in reality they are massive businesses with annual income of each university around two billion dollars - they earn about $30,000 per year of study at university for each student they enrol (about $10,000 from you, and the rest from the government). This means that the longer you study at university, the better it is for them. This is the reason why some universities are moving towards graduate-entry medical programs. It is to increase universities' income, not because it is good for you! Furthermore, universities are prohibited from charging full fee for undergraduate medicine, but they can charge full fee for graduate medicine!

With the higher debts of graduate entry and the uncertainty of whether you will get into medicine, universities will be laughing all the way to the Bank, but you will end up in the classic wheel of borrowing to pay for a degree to get a job to pay off what you borrowed (if you don't get into medicine).

Some people feel that they want to go to so-called "prestigious" universities (eg. Sydney University) which offer only graduate medicine. However, unlike other disciplines such as law, in medicine it does not matter which university you graduate from.

Perhaps 15 years ago, when GAMSAT was new, it was easier than UCAT but now most medical students who sat both tests claim GAMSAT is harder. GAMSAT is getting much harder for several reasons (eg many professionals wanting to change careers, the 'late bloomers', many school leavers putting off the hard work and difficult decision).

Another important reason: It has been well documented that there is a general decline in psychometric test performance as a person advances in age. For eg, see "Socio-economic predictors of performance in the UCAT": Puddey and Mercer, BMC Medical education, 2013, 13:155. This shows that performance of candidates sitting UCAT between 16 years and 45 years consistently drops with age. So you are far better off sitting the test as early as possible (in year 12).

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MedEntry provides many free sample questions as well as a free online half-exam.

For those who have purchased access to the MedEntry LMS, you will have access to thousands of practice questions with full solutions.

In the MedEntry UCAT workshop, numerous past UCAT questions will be discussed.

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When you purchase the MedEntry UCAT package, you will get numerous resources for you to use. You will also get additional recommended reading in the UCAT Courses. This is definitely much more than you need, if you use it properly. How to efficiently and effectively use these resources is also discussed in the UCAT Courses.

We also recommend that you use the UCAT Consortium's three practice exams (plus the additional 400 questions) that is provided for free on their website.

Apart from these, we do not recommend any other courses or programs. There are some websites spruiking UCAT products which are scams, run by bankrupts etc. They are also likely to mislead you.

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Personalised UCAT tutoring is available as part of the Diamond Package only. If you are not enrolled in the Diamond Package and wish to access UCAT tutoring, you can do so by upgrading to the Diamond Package.

You will receive a total of five one hour sessions of one-on-one, face-to-face UCAT tutoring. Further UCAT tuition sessions can be arranged at additional cost: however, most people find additional sessions unnecessary. UCAT tutors will also be available for support via phone and email between sessions. The location and exact timing of the UCAT tutoring is negotiable between you and your UCAT tutor.

All our UCAT tutors have performed exceptionally well in UCAT, interviews and school/Uni and have been trained by MedEntry.

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You can sit the UCAT in your final year of schooling (year 13) and any number of times thereafter. Many students and parents mistakenly believe that they can only sit UCAT once and only in first year of university. They are misled by Auckland and Otago unis which tell you that you need to sit the test in the first year of uni because they don't want you to gain a competitive advantage over other students.

MedEntry suggests that all students who are interested in pursuing medicine sit UCAT as early as possible (in year 13), for many reasons.

  1. Sitting UCAT in year 13 is great practice for you. When you sit UCAT again in the first year of your university degree, you will already be familiar with the process and experience of sitting UCAT. This will greatly reduce your stress levels and increase your performance. You will already be ahead of others. Performance generally improves on re-sits (this competitive advantage is generally not available to Australian students). Remember that both Auckland and Otago University allow only one attempt at applying for medicine after the first year of your university degree (but remember there is no limit of the number of attempts at UCAT). Therefore, doing well in UCAT is essential.
  2. UCAT tests skills that need to be developed over a period of time. Students who start earlier with their preparation do better in UCAT. UCAT preparation will also boost your year 13 school performance and your university GPA by enhancing your thinking skills.
  3. If you do well when you sit UCAT in year 13, you can apply for an undergraduate medical degree in Australia. There are many benefits to studying medicine as an undergraduate. However, once you start a university degree, you are NOT eligible to apply to most medical schools in Australia.
  4. Students in Y13 intending to pursue medicine have to make a decision about whether to start at Auckland or Otago university. One of the factors to consider is what your UCAT score is likely to be (because they are weighted differently at these universities). By sitting UCAT, you will get an idea of this, so will help you make a better decision.
  5. The thinking skills that you learn by preparing for UCAT will help you get a better score in Year 13. Further, most First Year university exams are MCQ type (Multiple Choice Questions). You will learn the psychometrics of how such questions are designed and marked, so you will be able to do much better in first year university as well, enhancing your GPA.

Please also read the FAQ: Can I sit the UCAT more than once?

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