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Medicine – Part 2 (Sydney Medicine)

Medicine FAQs

University of Sydney

Course: Medicine (MD, postgrad)

What subjects did you do at IB/A levels and what were your CCAs?

Chemistry, physics, maths, GP  . Rugby

How does the workload of university compare with IB/A levels?

Undergrad is manageable, you’ll have time for a part-time job.

Postgrad medicine is pretty full-on, there’s no time for work.

How did you decided on this final university?

I did my undergrad in sydney too, so i like this city. Also, i heard that Sydney University Medicine is among the top2 in Australia.

What are the cost of living and cost of school fees for the entire duration of the degree?

Annual fees ~$69000 AUD

cost of living

accommodation ~$320 per week

food ~ $20 a day

How do teaching and learning work in your school? Are the faculty accessible?

It is mostly up to you to attend the lectures and do your own readings. Half the lessons are compulsary and have attendance taken. When u dont understand the material, u can email the respective staff for help.

How large are your courses?

~350 at the start, but people unenrolled/repeated the year and now it is about ~310

Are people very competitive academically? How many exams are there in a year? What happens if one fails the year?

Not academically competitive because results don’t matter much; its more about passing, and quite many people offer help to other students, usually online.

There are about 3 major written exams, 3 small written exams, and 1 osce per year.

If one fails, they have to repeat the year.

How would you describe the school culture?

Work hard, play hard. Lots of study-time is required to pass the course. Once its over, people know how to let loose.

Is there an established Singaporean presence at your university? How many Singaporeans are there per batch?

yes. approximate numbers

2016 – 32

2015 – 29

2014 – 10

2013 – 25

2012 – 20

How are freshmen/freshers welcomed to your university?

There is a general Orientation’week for the whole university, when societies set up their booths. U can walk around and decide which one u want to sign up for.

In Medicine, there is a medicamp, which goes on for an entire weekend. it is always quite wild with lots of alcohol.

How are international freshmen/freshers welcomed to your university?

same as previous question. international students also usually look to join their country’s society. eg. Singapore Student’s Society

Is your school “cliquey”?

I would say, relatively, yes. but everyone talks to each other, as good communication and teamwork is required in the course.

Do people tend to hang among people of their own major/course/social class/race/nationality only, or is there a high degree of integration?

As above, moderate integration, but people mostly hang out with their own ethnicity. Asians will hang out with asians from other countries, aussies with aussies, etc.

What do students normally do in their spare time? Have you joined any extracurriculars? How do you find them. 

Sport. Australia is big on sport. I have joined touchrugby and ultimate frisbee. It is fun and important to exercise during non academic time, to keep healthy.

How would you rate the following “scenes” in your college and its surroundings: shopping, drinking, clubbing, fine arts, and sports?

shopping : not much

drinking : a lot

clubbing : not much, with the exception of a few people

fine arts : only the students who did undergrad in artsy subjects

sports : many people get involved. some try to learn new sports

How’s the accommodation? Do most people stay in college dorms/halls, or independently? How should one look for accommodation?

Most people stay independently to save costs.

A large group of people stay in student accommodation (private). While about 15% stay in student accommodation (college life).

One can look for accommodation on the university accommodation services website, reputable public agents, or websites without agents(at your own risk. , , etc)

How is the transport like? Does one need a car? If so, how should one go about getting a car?

A car is not needed especially if u live near campus.

A car is more for convenience in other aspects of daily living. Cars can be gotten from private car yards or directly from the company merchant eg. Toyota.  Websites like Gumtree are cheaper, but at your own risk.

Is Asian food readily available? If one is to cook, where can we get the Asian food from?

Yes, plenty of asian marts around.

Do most people cook, eat at a catered facility or cafeteria, or eat out? How’s the catered food?

Most people cook, as it is much cheaper.(labor cost in aus in high, hence eateries are expensive, average $10 per meal)

few eat at a catered facility because its expensive and repetitive.

There are some students who can afford eating out all the time.

What are the laundry arrangements like?

In private housing, usually it is provided.

In student dorms, $7 for a complete dry and wash.

Is it easy to find places of worship?

Yes. Even the university has them.

Do you think Singaporeans will experience a major culture shock?

Not in Sydney, there are many Singaporeans around.

Do you ever feel peer pressure to do something you’re uncomfortable with?

Sometimes, you have to speak to a group of students during discussion class, or speak to a patient when you are not prepared. Those can be challenging sometimes. Other than that, no.

Do you think that there might be any groups which might feel uncomfortable or marginalized at your school?

Only a few. As there are many people from different backgrounds here, most people find others that they can get along with. Open discrimination is not commonplace in a university

What’s the best experience you’ve had so far in college?

It is simply making close friendships with your neighbours, getting a good support group.

Is there anything that you wish you knew before leaving?

Not much, it is not hard to adapt in an asian-populated city like Sydney.

Any final things you’d like to tell Singaporeans about your school?

It is very big, and takes time to walk from class to class. some people even skateboard.



bridge of sighs

Choosing your UCAS university

Choosing your university

For those of you applying to the UK for university, you will have to choose 5 universities for your UCAS application. Here’s how you do this.

  1. Find rankings.

Here are a few university ranking guides that you can use to decide on which university you want to apply to. This should be your first step. Decide roughly what type of university you want to apply to: top 10? top 20? top 50? You can decide where you want to aim by looking at your current grades. The grade requirement typically becomes higher as you go higher up the rankings.

Bear in that mind that the first two links below are the more popular UK rankings.

  1. The Guardian:
  2. The Times:!/page/0/length/25
  3. QS:
  4. The Complete University Guide:

Take the guides with a pinch of salt! All the guides base their rankings on slightly differing criteria, such as research quality, student satisfaction, entry standard, completion rate. So I suggest reading up on what criteria each guide uses. But if you’re too lazy to do this, a safe way would probably be to cross-check the rankings across the guides, e.g. top 10 universities across all rankings.

One more tip is that it is normal for people to have a ‘back-up’ choice or a ‘safety-net’. This is really important. You don’t want to have all 5 universities requiring 3A*. So for example, if your first 4 universities require 3As, you would want your 5th choice to require 2As 1B in case you don’t meet your 3A offer.


  1. Research differences in the course in different universities.

I failed to do this for my own UCAS application. Can you believe it? This is very, very important and you mustn’t skip this step. Courses differ hugely across universities and this will literally make or break your academic experience in university. There are several ways that they can differ: the lecturers, the amount of options you get, the exam structure, the day-to-day lecture-tutorial ratio.

For example, I did not know when I applied that Cambridge’s Law course offers more choice of modules than Oxford, and has exams at the end of every year, instead of 100% of your final grade being based on your final year exams.


  1. Is it right for you?
  • Do you want to go to a university that has a campus lifestyle or is in a city?

The universities in London don’t have a campus lifestyle, e.g. UCL, LSE, KCL, Queen Mary, due to the space constraints. That was one of the reasons I chose to apply to Warwick, Durham and Oxford (in addition to LSE and UCL). The university buildings in London are dotted around the city so it feels like you’re not in university, whereas in Oxford you’re in a university town so it feels really cozy and homey. Bear in mind that cost of living in London will also be much higher than outside of it, e.g. accommodation, cost of food, transport.

  • Does the university have all the facilities you require?

This question would most likely apply to science students. You would want really great lab facilities. However, for humanities students this doesn’t hugely apply.

  • Still unsure?

Order a prospectus from the universities!

Go to an Open Day to visit the university and see if it’s right for you! This is probably the best way to see if you’ll enjoy being there. After all, this is 3 or 4 years of your life. I would say visiting it for a day and having a tour is more than worthwhile. Check out the dates for open days on the official university website, or at a combined calendar on

Contact us and we will be most happy to give you advice on what to do and how to choose your university.







golden gate bridge

America (Part I) : The Good.

America (Part I) : The Good.



There is a huge variety in the kinds of people you meet in the States. From East to West, North to South, all sorts of individuals with different values and belief systems. Honestly, the US feels like a continent made up of countries, instead of states. Each state has their own laws, their own politicians, their own personality, and they function almost independently from one another. Because of this, the different states tend to attract different types of people, and hence why each has their own characteristics.



No matter what sort of person you are, be it city or country, working or studying, there is somewhere in America for you. Take California for example, if you like wine, go to Napa Valley; if you enjoy wilderness, Yosemite is just a few hours drive away; if you love the city life with beautiful weather and access to beaches, Los Angeles is the place for you; if you want to go somewhere rich in culture and open to all sorts, San Francisco is a lovely place to be. Expand this scope to the entirety of the States? You have New York, probably the busiest metropolis on the planet, St. Louis for that neighbourhood suburb feel, Atlanta to get your fill of wonderful country music, Boston for the breathtaking architecture. Whatever your taste may be, you can decide where to go accordingly. And of course, since it is all considered domestic, you are able go just about anywhere with your student visa!



Ah shopping, my largest vice. In my opinion, is a godsend. Back when I was still studying in Berkeley I bought almost everything off Amazon. And with a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime (free for the first year if you’re a student!) that offered 2-day free shipping, I was receiving packages to no end. Everything from chia seeds to toilet paper, furniture to high-heeled boots, Halloween costumes to makeup organizers, all paid for and delivered conveniently to my doorstep. Gone were the days of walking 10 minutes to the nearby Target only to stand in the makeup aisle for hours trying to decide which mascara to buy. Instead, I got to cut down on time by reading reviews and within the comforts of my bed. In every apartment I moved into, I was known as the ‘package girl’. Boy do I miss those days… Furthermore, now in certain states, Amazon even offers within 2-hours delivery! Oh what time it is to be alive.



As you could probably gather from above, living in the States can be very convenient. You can get just about anything delivered to your door at almost all hours, even alcohol and groceries. Of course while the more remote areas may not enjoy such luxury, there is a general effort in Big America’s part to make the lives of their consumers easier. Moreover, since Silicon Valley, the home ground of most start-ups, is in the US, you will also get access to a variety of very useful and fun apps.


All in all, there are many pros to living in the America, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. But where there is good, there will also be cons. Watch out for Part 2 of this instalment, The Bad.



rejected ivy league

Best, Brightest and Rejected: Elite Colleges Turn Away Up to 95%

Best, Brightest and Rejected: Elite Colleges Turn Away Up to 95%

rejected ivy league

Stanford University accepted 5 percent of applicants in the latest admissions season, a new low among elite colleges.

Enrollment at American colleges is sliding, but competition for spots at top universities is more cutthroat and anxiety-inducing than ever. In the just-completed admissions season, Stanford University accepted only 5 percent of applicants, a new low among the most prestigious schools, with the odds nearly as bad at its elite rivals.

Deluged by more applications than ever, the most selective colleges are, inevitably, rejecting a vast majority, including legions of students they once would have accepted. Admissions directors at these institutions say that most of the students they turn down are such strong candidates that many are indistinguishable from those who get in.

The college was “declaring war on the whole rigmarole of college admissions,” its president said.
Isaac Madrid applied to 11 colleges, a scattershot approach that he said is fairly typical at his private high school, Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, Calif. Students there are all too aware of the long odds against getting into any particular elite university. “It was a crazy amount of work and stress doing all those essays by the deadline and keeping up my schoolwork, and waiting on the responses, and we had more than $800 in application fees,” he said.

Isaac Madrid, who attends a private high school in San Jose, Calif., applied to 11 colleges and was accepted at Yale.
Mr. Madrid, 18, got a taste of how random the results can seem. He was among the 95 percent turned away by Stanford, but he got into Yale, which he plans to attend, and he admitted having no real insight into the reasons for either decision.

Bruce Poch, a former admissions dean at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., said he saw “the opposite of a virtuous cycle at work” in admissions. “Kids see that the admit rates are brutal and dropping, and it looks more like a crapshoot,” he said. “So they send more apps, which forces the colleges to lower their admit rates, which spurs the kids next year to send even more apps.”

For most of the past six decades, overall enrollment boomed, while the number of seats at elite colleges and universities grew much more slowly, making them steadily more selective. Enrollment peaked in 2011, and it has dropped a bit each year since then, prompting speculation that entry to competitive colleges would become marginally easier. Instead, counselors and admissions officers say, the pool of high-achieving applicants continues to grow, fed partly by a rising number from overseas.

At the same time, students send more applications than they once did, abetted by the electronic forms that have become nearly universal and uniform applications that can make adding one more college to the list just a matter of a click. Seven years ago, 315 colleges and universities accepted the most widely used form, the Common Application; this year, 517 did.

Students applying to seven or more colleges made up just 9 percent of the applicant pool in 1990, but accounted for 29 percent in 2011, according to surveys by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and counselors and admissions officers say they think the figure has gone higher still. While people have lavished attention on a Long Island teenager who was accepted by all eight Ivy League colleges, admissions professionals say it is remarkable that anyone would apply to all eight.

Stanford received 42,167 applications for the class of 2018 and sent 2,138 acceptance notices, for a first-year class that, ultimately, will number about 1,700.

The University of California, Los Angeles, the national leader in applications, had more than 86,000 requests — twice as many as in 2005 — for space in a first-year class of about 6,000, and it also received 19,000 applications to transfer from other colleges and universities. This year, for the first time, the admission rate for first-year applicants at U.C.L.A. and the University of California, Berkeley, could drop below 20 percent.

A generation ago, it was rare for even highly competitive colleges to offer places to fewer than 20 percent of their applicants.
“For most kids, this really used to be a regional process, but they have access to so much information online now, so every school seems local,” said Richard H. Shaw, the dean of undergraduate admission at Stanford. Admissions directors at several top Eastern colleges agreed, saying that they now received more applications from California than any other state, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Some of them also pointed to colleges’ increasingly aggressive outreach to prospective students, with mailings, emails and advertising — some of it well intentioned, and some of it more cynical.
“One of the ways that colleges are measured is by the number of applicants and their admit rate, and some colleges do things simply to increase their applicant pool and manipulate those numbers,” said Christoph Guttentag, the dean of undergraduate admission at Duke.

A generation ago, it was rare for even highly competitive colleges to offer places to fewer than 20 percent of their applicants. In 2003, Harvard and Princeton drew exclamations of dismay (from prospective applicants), envy (from other colleges) and satisfaction (from those they accepted) when they became the first top universities to have their admission rates dip below 10 percent. Since then, at least a dozen have gone below that threshold.

This was the second year in a row that Stanford had the worst odds of admission among top colleges, a title that in previous years was usually claimed by Harvard. This year, by the April 1 deadline for most colleges to send admission notices, Harvard and Yale had accepted about 6 percent of applicants, Columbia and Princeton about 7 percent, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago about 8 percent. (Some rates will increase by a few tenths of a percentage point as colleges accept small numbers of applicants from waiting lists.)

Several universities, including Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, had admission rates this year that were less than half of those from a decade ago. The University of Chicago’s rate plummeted to a little over 8 percent, from more than 40 percent.

The most competitive small colleges draw comparably accomplished applicants, but far fewer of them relative to their size, so their admission rates are higher. Even so, the acceptance rates at Pomona, Amherst, Harvey Mudd, Bowdoin, Claremont McKenna, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Williams and others were between 10 and 20 percent this year.

Mr. Shaw, the Stanford dean, said he could not predict where the rates would bottom out — in fact, he never expected them to go as low as they have.

“Honestly,” he said, “I’m sort of in shock.”




MMI Mark Scheme

Our Quintessential Medicine Tutors share some of the common mark schemes for MMI ( Multiple Mini Interviews). Note to pass, you must have good discussion of both sides of the issue with regards to the MMI scenario.


mmi mark scheme

UK medicine

Medicine in UK – FAQs

Here are the common FAQs Quintessential Medicine Tutors have kindly compiled for our Pre-U students 🙂

  • Deadlines
  • Top UK schools
  • Requirements
  • Deferrment policy
  • BMAT
  • Essay Practice
  • Referee
  • Interview practice
  • Submission help
  • Matriculation Tip


  • 15 October, 18:00 (UK time)– any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science and dentistry
  • Only four medical schools out of five choices
  • Oxford or Cambridge, cannot choose both


Top UK schools

UK Top Medical Schools

There is only one non UKCAT non BMAT school left in UK as of 2015/2016


Deferrment policy

  • If you decide to delay your studies you can still apply now and defer your start date by a year.
  • This way you can get your results confirmed and hopefully receive an unconditional offer for the following year.
  • If you’re applying for deferred entry in 2016 you need to meet offer conditions by 31 August 2015.


  • 2-hour, pen-and-paper test divided into 3 sections
  • Aptitude and Skills (Generic skills in problem solving, understanding arguments, and data analysis and inference. (35MCQ, 60mins)
  • Scientific Knowledge and Applications (The ability to apply scientific knowledge typically covered in school Science and Mathematics by the age of 16 (27 MCQ,30min)
  • Section 3: Writing Task (The ability to select, develop and organise ideas, and to communicate them in writing, concisely and effectively. 1 essay, 30min )
  • Registration deadline 15 Oct Test date 4 Nov, results release 25 nov, no carryover of results
  • How to study: BMAT website, official guide


  • Test period: 1st July to 6 Oct, test dates are weekly, result released on the spot
  • Verbal Reasoning (-Assesses ability to critically evaluate information that is presented in a written form (44MCQ-22m)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (Assesses ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form 36MCQ, 25m)
  • Abstract Reasoning (Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information, 55MCQ, 14m)
  • Decision Analysis (Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information, 28mcq, 32m)
  • Situational Judgement (Measures capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them, 68MCQ, 27min)
  • How to study: UKCAT website, Kaplan

Difference between BMAT and UKCAT

  • BMAT is more sciencey, aptitude
  • UKCAT is more medical, wide range of academic, ethics, situational judgement
  • The BMAT as well as UKCAT are taken only once every year; you can’t retake it after you’ve taken if for an application cycle. If you are applying again the following year (e.g. you didn’t get in), then you will need to retake them. The scores are only valid for a single application cycle
  • all results under your name are sent to the universities automatically by the exam provider.

UCAS Essay


  • Very important, only 1 is needed
  • Generally includes predicted grades, any obstacles they’ve had to face, and their potential and motivation,
  • Why they’re suited to their chosen subject and career path, plus their attitude, motivation and commitment.
  • Skills and qualities like aptitude and enthusiasm, plus current or past achievements that will help with their chosen subject area.
  • Achievements, work experience, and extracurricular activities that relate to their chosen course(s).
  • Any factors/personal circumstances that might affect their performance (consent must be gained first to mention health or disabilities).

Submission Help

Get an expert to vet and handle your submission. Don’t risk it.

Interview Practice

  • Why do interviews go badly:
    • It said “ I had little evidence of caring work experience” “didn’t seem to understand the course” and “struggled to explain what I learnt from work experience”. Yes, my interview went pretty badly.
    • More prestigious schools tend to ask more complex basic science questions also
  • Moral of story is you really need to practice being sharp at interviews!

Matriculation Tip

  • Students have been known to save up their leave to enable them to start school on 2nd year of NS (e.g: graduate 2015, start school 2017)
  • Matriculation period is early-mid October

Medicine in UK – UKCAT


Our friendly medicine tutors would like to share more about the UKCAT. So where are the resources? Apart from individualized lessons,  you need to know about all the available resources for UKCAT


  • Test period: 1st July to 6 Oct, test dates are weekly, result released on the spot
  • Verbal Reasoning (-Assesses ability to critically evaluate information that is presented in a written form (44MCQ-22m)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (Assesses ability to critically evaluate information presented in a numerical form 36MCQ, 25m)
  • Abstract Reasoning (Assesses the use of convergent and divergent thinking to infer relationships from information, 55MCQ, 14m)
  • Decision Analysis (Assesses the ability to make sound decisions and judgements using complex information, 28mcq, 32m)
  • Situational Judgement (Measures capacity to understand real world situations and to identify critical factors and appropriate behaviour in dealing with them, 68MCQ, 27min)


Study from:


This will cost 60 pounds


This will cost 155 pounds.

3)UKCAT Iphone practice app

4) UKCAT Practices

Main tips:

  1. is to understand the concepts, if you get something wrong, make sure you correct the concept, not just knowing the answer for the sake of memorizing as questions may not be repeated.
  2. Practice practice practice

If you’re still not confident, further practices:

Must know from official UKCAT website: 

1)UKCAT official guide

2)UKCAT video guide

3)Computer interface familiarization with UKCAT


Good student website forums: