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

ALL universities now unfortunately require the UKCAT or BMAT as of 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
Duke Medicine

US Universities – Part 1 (Duke)

Duke University FAQs

Duke University

Subject studied:
Engineering, Economics

What subjects did you do at IB/A levels and what were your CCAs?
Subjects: Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, 2 ‘S’ Papers
CCAs: Students Council

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

Comparable; you can choose your own pace.

How did you decided on this final university?
The flexibility and breadth of education afforded by the US system appealed to me. Duke has a great combination of a strong engineering school & reputable economics department.

What are the cost of living and cost of school fees for the entire duration of the degree?
Cost of living in North Carolina isn’t too high. Do budget for about USD $10,000 to USD $15,000 a year for room and board. Typically, tuition fees will come to around USD $45,000 to USD $50,000 a year.

How do teaching and learning work in your school? Are the faculty accessible?
Teaching is conducted through a combination of classroom lectures, discussions, lab work (for science & engineering), & field work. While students are given the latitude to perform self-directed learning, numerous opportunities are available for collaborative work. Faculty are accessible, and are willing to engage students.

How large are your courses?

Varies; small discussion-based classes may have 10 students or less, while introductory courses (e.g. Introduction to Economics) may have up to 400 students.

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

There’s a healthy, collaborative spirit with regard to academics. In the US system, there’s typically a final exam for each course at the end of the semester, with about 1 to 2 midterm exams scattered during the semester.
It’s possible to repeat courses, with the permission of the Academic Dean.

How would you describe the school culture?
The Duke spirit is really strong. Duke isn’t located in a big city, and it makes campus life that much more vibrant. Sports like basketball, and to a smaller extent, football, are big at Duke.

Is there an established Singaporean presence at your university? How many Singaporeans are there per batch?
Yes there is. We have a reasonably-sized Singaporean community, and a Singapore Students Association. There are about 10 Singaporeans per batch.

How are international freshmen/freshers welcomed to your university?
There’s an International Students’ Orientation and a freshman orientation program. Freshmen are housed in freshmen-only dorms within East Campus. This is helpful in letting you get to know members of your class. Many of my closest friends at Duke were from my freshmen dorm.

Is your school “cliquey”?
To some extent. Greek life (e.g. fraternities & sororities) is rather popular. Certain groups of international students tend to form cliques. In general, however, Dukies are a bunch of approachable & friendly people.

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?
There is a good degree of integration. Due to the first-year housing arrangement and flexibility in course arrangements, there are numerous opportunities to meet people & find a group that you’re comfortable with. My freshman year hall-mates got along well, and we decided to live in the same cluster all the way through senior year. Among us, we had English majors, pre-meds, engineers, Caucasians, American-born Indians, Singaporeans – we were certainly a diverse bunch. Nonetheless, there are, as with many Ivies, rather ‘exclusive’ fraternities where people of a particular race / social class tend to gravitate towards.

What do students normally do in their spare time? Have you joined any extracurriculars? How do you find them?
I joined the motorsports team for a year, and was active in our SSA, helming it for a year. There are dedicated events for students to learn about the different extracurriculars on campus. Apart from extracurriculars, students can do lots in their spare time – attend campus events (theater / performances), socials, parties, go off-campus, explore the beautiful surroundings. During breaks, many of us venture beyond NC and travel around the US & beyond.

How would you rate the following “scenes” in your college and its surroundings: shopping, drinking, clubbing, fine arts, and sports?
Shopping – Not very active, although online shopping is very prevalent. There are very decent malls nearby (e.g. Southpoint mall).
Drinking – Active (on-campus & off). There are some pretty good bars in downtown Durham, near the American Tobacco campus. The legal drinking age is 21 and this is strictly enforced in Durham. Nonetheless, authorities provide students with reasonable leeway to hold parties on campus as long as things don’t get too rowdy.
Clubbing – Active. Don’t expect something like Zouk / Butter Factory though; the most popular club for Dukies, Shooters’, is more of a country-style establishment. Definitely not what we’d call classy.
Fine Arts – Active. The arts & theater scene is strong at Duke. The DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) is the largest theater in the Carolinas. It’s a beautiful establishment located in downtown Durham, just a 10 min drive away from Campus, and plays host to Broadway productions, high-profile concerts, recitals & comedy events.
Sports – Very active. Pretty much everyone is a Duke basketball fan. The Cameron Crazies, as they are called, are the most spirited in the country.

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

Most people stay in college dorms & halls. There’s an annual on-campus housing lottery. On-campus housing is guaranteed for freshmen on East Campus.

How is the transport like? Does one need a car? If so, how should one go about getting a car?
There are free shuttle buses that ply the major routes around campus. A car isn’t necessary; if you need to take a quick trip or run errands, car-sharing services like Zipcar are available. A number of my American housemates had a car, and we could run errands together.

Is Asian food readily available? If one is to cook, where can we get the Asian food from?
Yes, there are nearby Asian supermarkets that cater to a sizeable Asian population in the Triangle region.

Do most people cook, eat at a catered facility or cafeteria, or eat out? How’s the catered food?
Most people eat at on-campus cafeterias. Portions, as with the rest of the US, are large. There’s a good variety of options, and many nearby delis and cafes do food deliveries to campus. It’s possible to cook if you’re living on Central Campus, an option open to Juniors & Seniors.

What are the laundry arrangements like?
On-campus laundry rooms are available, and are well-maintained.

Is it easy to find places of worship?
Yes; do get in touch with the various religious organizations on campus. The Duke Chapel is a great piece of architecture.

Do you think Singaporeans will experience a major culture shock?
No. Things aren’t that different in the US. For one, language isn’t a problem, people are pretty chill about things.

Do you ever feel peer pressure to do something you’re uncomfortable with?
No, Dukies tend to be respectful of each other’s values & practices.

Do you think that there might be any groups which might feel uncomfortable or marginalized at your school?
Duke is sometimes perceived to have a ‘rich, white-boy’ image. There has, in recent years, been much discourse to reinforce the importance of inclusiveness, after a couple of incidents where African-American students were abused with racial slurs.

What’s the best experience you’ve had so far in college?
Tenting with 11 other Cameron Crazies to get front-row tickets for the basketball game against our arch-rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels, in 2009. That involved living in a tent outside the basketball stadium for a month, in the middle of winter. That was great for bonding & forging camaraderie through the pursuit of this common goal – to survive that period.




Choosing Universities- Part 1 (Norcal vs Socal)

Choosing Universities- Part 1 (North California vs South California)

“California girls, they’re undeniable, daisy dukes, bikinis on top.” Katy Perry’s voice was the soundtrack of my summer in 2013, all geared up with flip-flops and denim shorts, ready to head out to the green lands of California for my first year at UC Berkeley. The funny thing was, as a born-and-bred Malaysian, I did not realize that California is almost twice as large as the entire Malaysian Peninsula. Needless to say, I felt just a little lied to when I found out that not all of California is sunshine and rainbows. And that in fact, Northern California (NorCal), was very, VERY different from Southern California (SoCal).

Que in what felt like the most cold and miserable fall semester of my life. I ended up having to purchase a whole new wardrobe made of boots and giant coats, while my bikinis and crop-tops were left to gather dust. But once I got over the shock that California in itself feels like an entire country, I began to appreciate the differences between the two half-states.

The Bay Area, located very snuggly in NorCal, is the heart of all things technology and start-ups. Silicon Valley is home to the infamous Facebook, Google, Apple, Netflix, and almost every tech company you have heard of. Naturally, the people around this area also tend to be a generation of incredibly intelligent, creative hippies. I have seen more strangely dressed individuals in the last 3 years, than I have ever in my lifetime. If you want quirky, open, passionate, driven people to be around, NorCal is the place for you. We even have the Golden State Warriors to boast about! The more notable universities on this side of the Golden State would be Stanford and Berkeley.

SoCal on the other hand, is the kind of California that you hear in songs and see in movies. Beautiful weather all year round with gorgeous beaches and wonderful views. The people are bronzed, fit and wonderfully dressed. Here, in the heart of Los Angeles lies Hollywood, so don’t be surprised if you see famous celebrities going about their day every once in awhile. I do have to admit, being in the City of Angels sometimes felt like being back in high school where the pressure to fit in and look good was reasonably high, but the beauty of the city makes it all worth it. The University of Southern California, UCLA and Caltech are the popular universities located in SoCal.

At the end of the day, Los Angeles and San Francisco are two incredibly fantastic cities that have their own personalities, each because of their fame and size, have become representatives of SoCal and NorCal respectively. My suggestion, visit them both! Stay for a week or so and get a feel for the people and the environment. They are so different that you wouldn’t think you were in the same country, much less the same state. Either way, I love both of them and I think that most of you would too.

If you have any queries, do email us at!


Fung Ying

Quintessential Consultancy


US Essays- Part 1 (Self-Reflections)

Writing College Essays: A Self-Reflection.


If there was one thing I learned about the college application process when I was applying to American universities, it was that everything mattered. Getting high SAT scores or a high GPA can only get you so far. It appears as though the United States wants to know more about you, the individual; not just what you are capable of academically, but also your interests and passions, your past experiences and future plans, and what you can bring to the table. In the span of two months, I had written 14 essays for 10 different colleges, all asking about my extracurricular activities, my inspirations, my life and why I had decided to pursue the course that I had chosen.


Writing openly has always been very easy for me, and having authored tens of thousands of words of fiction during my high school days certainly helped. It allowed me to approach the questions asked on the applications with a different and honest point of view, which I believe ended up being my saving grace. Asked about my favourite work of art, I talked about a tattoo born from difficult experiences; asked about my world, I talked about how ostracised I felt from my peers after having transferred from a local to international school. In my opinion, the college essays are an opportunity to highlight what makes you, you.


My advice would be this: don’t be afraid to be different, don’t be afraid to mention your past relationships, or your family difficulties, or your struggles with fitting in. The more muck and dirt you reveal about yourself in this process, the better. Because in the end, our failures play a larger part in forming our personalities than our successes. From my three years of having studied in the United States, I have come to realize that American schools really enjoy and relish in diversity: in people going against the grain, in highlighting and developing your own unique potential.


Methodologically I would suggest collating all your essay titles in one place. Often universities tend to ask similar questions, and this would save you the hassle of having to rewrite similar essays over and over. Do this early, so that you have the headspace to brainstorm and discuss your ideas with close friends and family. When you start writing your essays, don’t stress too hard about completing them all to perfection at once. Give yourself time to sleep on what you had written for the day, and come back to it later. The best way to overcome writer’s block is to take a break and relax, do something else that would take your mind off this stressful process. And remember, you are not likely to ever meet any of the individuals who read your essays, so bask in that freedom, have fun with it, and write!


If you have any queries, do email us at!


Fung Ying

Quintessential Consultancy

Chem engineering

Editing Essays- Part 4 (Chem Engineering)

Chemical Engineering is a very technical and challenging course. Many famous CEOs, business leaders and Nobel Prize winners studied chemical engineering.



Note the comments in  in the essay to a laymen and lack of elaboration, good opening lines. Often candidates may better their essays by reading widely on global affairs. Contact us if you want to know how this essay turned out great!

#chemenginessays #editingchemenginessays #quintessentialedu #educationconsulants #chemengineducation #futurechemengineer



Editing Essays – Part 3 (PPE)

Said to be the university subject of future prime ministers, PPE (Politics, Philosophy, Economics) personal statements can be very daunting and demanding.



Take a look at this great essay. Say things with conviction and elegantly illustrate your points to its core.

#ppeessays #editingppeessays #quintessentialedu #educationconsulants #ppeeducation #futureprimeminister



Editing Essays – Part 2 (Law)


Often Law essays can be daunting. How do you show depth and breadth without sounding contrived and boring?



Note the comments about substantiating your understanding and evolution of thoughts.


Note the importance of an active voice and the importance of stating solutions and not just platitude statements.


Note the importance of being specific about what you want to do and sharing deeper reflections on what your trips taught you.

#lawessays #editinglawessays #quintessentialedu #educationconsulants #laweducation




science student

Getting References – Part 1 (Science)

Here is a sample reference of an good student Harvard would accept:

X has been an assistant in my laboratory during the past year, and has proven to be exceptional in several respects. First, X is exceptionally intelligent. He proved to be a very quick study, learning the elements of experimental design and the uses of microcomputers in record time. Furthermore, his questions are always thoughtful and penetrating. X threw himself into his assigned projects wholeheartedly, and shows every sign of having real talent in . . . . I was a little surprised by his high degree of enthusiasm because I knew that X was not primarily interested in . . . . When I mentioned this to him, I discovered that he has well defined career goals that mesh with the projects he was working on . . . .

Second, X is exceptionally diligent and hard working. He worked many extra hours over the summer. I vividly recall coming into the lab late in the evening. . . and finding X at work. X invariably finished projects well in advance of our projected target date. X was always cheerful during this intense period, and was a joy to have in the lab.

Third, X is very good at working with other people. He is exceptionally nice and considerate and sensitive. X is not only good humored and friendly, but also is good at gauging other people’s level of knowledge and attitudes. . . .

All in all, I think X has a very bright future, and I am sure that he would benefit from . . . . Given his great intelligence and sensitivity, I am sure that he could put . . . to good use.

In short, I give X my highest recommendation, and very much hope that the committee judges his application favorably.



Choosing your degree: Ma, I want to be a hairdresser.

I remember telling my granddad and mum that I wanted to be a hairdresser and sweep hair off the floor. (That isn’t even what a hairdresser does but let’s move on.) Now I’m a lawyer. Suffice to say, we don’t know what the heck we want when we’re younger.

This article is important. This is probably the most important article you will read. I have heard from countless of classmates/friends/family that their degree either 1. Wasn’t something they liked 2. Wasn’t something that helped their career 3. Wasn’t something they found was worth the money.

You want to undertake an undergraduate degree. But you have no idea what to study, where to study, what you want to do after you graduate, what career you want to be in.

The list of questions is endless. But first, we have to decide on what you want to study, before we can move on to harder questions.

I can guarantee you that pretty much everybody has felt that fear when deciding what to study in their undergraduate degree. So don’t panic.

Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to figure out what you want to do with the next few years of your life.



A.  What do you like?

i) What do you WANT to study?

  1. One piece of advice that always stuck with me was this: you will never be the best in your field if you don’t like whatever it is you’re doing.

2.Don’t undermine what passion does. People who enjoy their subject do way better at it than people who don’t enjoy their subject (assuming equal natural aptitude for that subject).

ii) What subjects are you currently studying that you LIKE?

iii) Do you like to read and write? Do you prefer calculations? Do you like debates or exact answers?

1.Do you sway more towards qualitative or quantitative analysis? This can help you decide whether you want to be in the arts stream or sciences stream. E.g. if you prefer exact answers, you won’t enjoy the slightly less exacting science of writing essays.

B. What are you naturally better at?

i) To give you an example of this: I chose to do Design Technology (DT) for GCSEs. I was terrible at DT, and all things that required me to do precise practical work, art, and design. But I chose it because I LIKED it. I switched from DT to Geography after one term. Basically, don’t just choose something you like to do, because you may suck at it, and being lousy at something is not fun. So on that note, don’t immediately cross out doing subjects you are good/great at but is not your favourite subject.

ii) List your academic strengths/weaknesses.

  1. NB This is a list not of what you like but what you are GOOD at.


A. What subjects are you currently studying for your pre-university course (A Levels/IB/AP)?

i) For example, most universities require you to have studied Chemistry and/or Biology to apply for medical school. Most Maths courses require you to have done Maths, and some preferably Further Maths. Engineering most likely require Maths and Physics. Research what certain degrees require you to study at GCSE/A Level before you pick your GCSE/A Level subjects.

B. Some degrees require certain GCSE grades. Most of the time at least a C is required in Maths and English.

C. So if you’re a keen bean and you’re reading this article before you’ve started your O Levels or A Levels, be sure that you choose the right subjects to prevent doors being closed when you choose your university degree.

D. If you’re not sure what you want to do, it’s safe to AVOID ‘softer’ subjects, like Photography/Media/PE/Business/Law (for A Levels this isn’t even recommended for those applying for a law degree) /Sociology, if you’re aiming for a traditional career path.


A. Some career paths are really straightforward and require you to have a specific degree. Whereas some career paths accept a range of different degrees.

B. If you want to be a doctor, you HAVE to study medicine. There’s no way around it.

C. But if you want to be a lawyer, you can do the conversion course (GDL) after doing any degree you want. However this is not a viable option if you want to practise in Singapore. They don’t accept the GDL so you would have to read Law in university (and at certain universities only:

D. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you can pretty much do whatever you want, but Business or Economics might give you a better foundation.


A. Sometimes what you may learn in a Mathematics degree is nothing like what you’ve been doing in your A Level/GCSE Maths subjects. Or sometimes, I feel like I only like doing a subject because I’m good at it? But when it gets hard I don’t like doing it anymore? HAHA. So make sure you think about why you really like that subject first before you use it to base your degree choice on it.


A. Sometimes your university may allow you to transfer to a different degree course. This might be an option, though quite uncertain. You would probably have to email the university to confirm the possibility of this.

B. Sometimes you can do a double degree or a joint honours degree, e.g. History and Politics, Law and Business, you get the idea. Sometimes certain universities offer a joint honours but others don’t. This may be something to further consider.

C. Sometimes certain professions don’t require a specific degree, e.g. you can do a conversion course (the GDL) from any subject to practice as a lawyer. Other examples are media or business.



Quintessential Consultancy

Studying Medicine

Editing Essays – Part 1 (Medicine)

Here, we share with you common pitfalls and improvements that one can make to an essay with help and advice.

 Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 11.22.22 pm

Note the use of “gratifying prestige” and *no recognition of the long and arduous journey of medicine”. Here’s what an improved essay draft could look like:

edited essay

#medessays #consultancy #quintessentialedu #essayconsultants #educationconsultants #medicine #medicalstudents