If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been looking around for more info on whether your grades will make the cut for local med, or what the application timeline is like. I remember being in your shoes last year, equally lost and worried as to whether I would be able to make it to a local medical school, and googling for tips didn’t really dig up any results. So, I’ve written this post to shed some light on the application process for NUS & NTU, as well as to give y’all some
useless tips on how to prepare your portfolio and the subsequent Focused Skills Assessment + Situational Judgement Test.
Below are some of the topics I’ll be covering in this post:
- Timeline for NUS
- Grade requirements
- NUS Application + Portfolio + EIS
- NUS: FSA + SJT
- NTU Application
- NTU: MMI
- Admission outcome & the waitlist
- Is Medicine for you?
Timeline for NUS
|Early March||A-level results release|
|Mid March||Submit application|
|End March||Shortlisting for the interview + preparation of portfolio|
|Mid – End April||NUS Selection (FSA + SJT)
NTU Selection (MMI)
|Early May||Notice of acceptance!!|
|May – End July||Accepted/rejected + waitlist|
Sorry but I can’t really remember the timeline for NTU, but if you follow the NUS timeline, you won’t miss any of the NTU deadlines either, cos both have extremely similar application processes. And you can’t apply for NTU unless you took the BMAT last November.
What I appreciate about the new admission system is that grades are only used to filter who makes it to the interviews. Around 3000 people apply, and they’ll shortlist the top 800 or so for the interview stage. Once you’ve been shortlisted, your grades are disregarded and someone who scored 87.5 is as likely to get in as someone with 90 + 2 H3 Distinctions; admission is decided based on how well one performs during the FSA & SJT, which is a much fairer selection process.
- Don’t quote me on this, but your UAS score probably has to be > 87.5 to get a definite interview call-up via the normal route. It varies from year to year, but if you have 1 H1 or 1 H2 B with otherwise straight As, you’re pretty safe.
- Even with 1 H1 and 1 H2 B, if you have an A in H1 Chinese or O-level Higher Chinese, you can add 0.25 to your UAS score to bring it up to 87.75, which is usually a safe score unless your batch performed exceptionally well.
- If you UAS score is below that, or you’re reapplying, you can try the Exceptional Individual Scheme, it admits around 10% of our batch (30+ people). If you do a lot of volunteer work or are a star sports player, you stand a decent chance getting accepted by this route.
- Not sure about IB, but 43 and above should get you to the interview stage?
Portfolio for NUS
- Testimonial – It’s the piece(s) of paper given by your school on results day, and you’ll have to get it certified as a true copy at your school’s general office or sth.
- 2 letters of recommendation – Everyone is going to be rushing their teachers to write good stuff about them in the post A-level flurry, so to make your referee/teacher’s life easier, you can prepare a copy of your CV for them so that they can list some of your achievements and good traits in their letter of recommendation. Write a nice explanatory email to them, saying that you’re requesting for them to write a recommendation for you to apply to med, and make sure you include every little detail in the email and proofread it, because it’s unprofessional to forget to attach stuff or mention important details, as if their inboxes aren’t already flooded by all your other friends applying to uni. Keep track of the deadlines by which you need your referees to submit the letters of recommendation, and gently remind them when the deadline looms, because if they forget, your application goes bust.
- 1 resume – Follow the guidelines given on the NUS application portal; you’re generally limited to 1 A4 and a certain font size, so if you have too many achievements to fit into one page, make sure you list the most important ones first; don’t include trivial things like ‘Class chairperson’ if you have sth more important like
‘Can do 10 cartwheels’volunteer work. Personally, I categorised the items on my resume by the domain they fell under, like ‘Community’, ‘Leadership, ‘Academics’, etc.
- 1 personal statement – You should start working on this right after getting your A level results, because it’s something that takes time to write and has to come from the heart. It’s as much about selling yourself as it is soul-searching the reasons that motivate you to pursue a calling like Medicine. There’s a 1 page word limit and font regulations (Times New Roman + font size 11, if I recall correctly??) Write about yourself and the things that you’ve done that relate to the profession of a doctor (volunteering, leadership, research, etc.); be prepared to be asked questions from your own personal statement and make sure you can elaborate on everything you write in there. Plus, if you wait for them to call you up for the interviews before starting to work on it, you’ll need to get it ready within a week, which
may cause sudden deathis highly unadvisable.
EIS (NUS Med)
If you’re worried that your UAS score isn’t high enough to make the cut for the interview round, then you could try applying via EIS, which you can read more about here. I can’t provide you with much information on this scheme since I didn’t enter via EIS, but quite a number of batchmates were admitted via this scheme, so this is a viable route if you’re outstanding in other fields and just missed the UAS cutoff by a small margin.
Disclaimer: I’m not allowed to explicitly mention what goes on in the FSA and SJT, because they made us sign a non-disclosure form, but I’ll try my best to give a rough overview so that y’all will have an idea of what to expect.
- The Focused Skills Assessment comprises multiple short interview stations that seem more like a fun game show than a scary interview. They aim to test skills that medical students should have in a friendly/low-stress setting.
- You’ll be assigned to a group of 5 or 6 after registration, and they’ll be the people you’ll be going through the FSA with, and some might become your batchmates. Make friends with them and just chill until it’s time for the FSA to start!
- There were a total of 5 stations for my year (2016), with a few minutes of prep time before entering the room, with each station lasting 5 minutes. You enter a room and complete the tasks/talk to your interviewer, and once the time for each station is up, a buzzer will sound. You leave the room and wait outside the adjacent room for the next station.
- I can’t say what each station aims to test, but it’s very obvious what trait they’re looking for once you read the task (while waiting outside the room/station). Just stay calm and do your best; even if you think you’ve messed up, correct yourself and continue on in a composed manner. Don’t scream like a dying chicken or panic excessively, that would probably not work out in your favour cos doctors need to be able to stay calm under pressure.
- Just remember that your interviewers (who happen to be doctors/ faculty deans) want to get to know you as a person, so be yourself and don’t panic!!! They’re not out to kill you or ask you killer questions, they really do try to make you feel as at ease as possible, which is really nice of them imo.
- You don’t need to study for this, but you can if you
are kiasu afwant to.
- You’ll be given multiple case studies/situations, and some possible actions that can be taken in response to the situation. You have to judge if the actions are appropriate/inappropriate, but it’s all MCQ so don’t worry.
- The SJT is very basic, just stick to your everyday morals and you should do okay. Going with your gut instinct is probably the best way to do the SJT, because the more you psychoanalyse the question, the more uncertain you’ll get.
- If you wanna prep, just google around for free SJT resources for a rough idea of what the questions will look like on the day itself. Having sat for the UKCAT, I found the NUS SJT very similar to the UKCAT SJT section, so check that out if you wanna. 🙂
- Don’t bother comparing answers with your friends, no one really knows what the ‘correct answer’ is so you’ll only freak yourself out more if you think too much about the SJT after it’s over.
- Only those who took the BMAT can apply to NTU, which means there’s considerably less competition, and the applicants are actually serious about med.
- The word limit for the NTU PS is only 300 words (!!!), which means you have to slash most of your NUS personal statement to make the magical 300 word limit. Start work on it early and get your friends/seniors to give you feedback (the more critical they are, the better).
- The MMI (multiple mini interviews) is similar to the FSA, but with more stations. There were 8 stations, and each was 3 minutes long.
- Our parents were invited to attend the pre-MMI briefing with us, where they explained the differences between NUS & NTU med and why we should pick LKC over YLL (lol @ the rivalry).
- The atmosphere was also very relaxed, and they plied us with food before starting the interviews!!
Admission outcome & the waitlist
- As mentioned in the timeline, the first wave of results will be released in early May via an online portal (used for all SG uni applications). Our results were released on 5th May, but some of my friends got theirs a few days/weeks later.
- Your online portal will show you which courses you’ve been accepted into. If it shows your 2nd/3rd choice instead of Med, then you know you’ve been rejected or at least put on the waitlist.
- If you didn’t get accepted in the first round, you’ll be on a waiting list. There’s still hope of getting accepted into NUS/NTU when those higher up on the waitlist reject their offers. The waitlist takes a few months to clear, cos some people can’t decide whether they wanna go overseas or take their NUS/NTU place. As long as they don’t reject their offer, the waiting list doesn’t move.
- The NTU waitlist moved a lot, because a fair number were accepted by both NUS & NTU. Almost everyone picked NUS > NTU, so the NTU list kept moving and a lot more people were suddenly accepted.
- Some batchmates were accepted as late as mid-July, because some guys couldn’t defer NS, so the space was freed up for them. Don’t give up hope! (until term starts in Aug; by then it’s really too late)
Is Med for me?
Whatever your reasons for applying for med, ask yourself if you can see yourself working as a doctor for the next 30-odd years of your life, or if you’d rather be pursuing another career that you’re more interested in
and is probably less tiring. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re the type who says that being a doctor is a calling, or if you’re applying for fun or due to peer pressure; the interview I had friends who wanted to do Med so badly but didn’t make it past the interview, while there are some batchmates who applied for fun and got accepted.
In my NUS and NTU applications, I listed Medicine as my first choice and put random courses for the other choices because I was going to go overseas for med if I couldn’t get a spot here, but a lot of my friends put dentistry/law as their other choices, and most succeeded in getting a place in one of these 3 courses, or they left for greener pastures in UK/USA.
If you’re thinking of joining Medicine just to become a specialist/get into the Residency programme, I hate to be the one who bursts your bubble, but it’s becoming more difficult (and will only get harder) to get a coveted spot for specialty training. MOH has been aggressively pushing their new agenda of having more ‘generalists’ (i.e specialties like geriatrics, family medicine) – just read this article, it explains MOH’s reasons very well – on top of decreasing the total number of residency places available. So if you’re entering Medicine hoping to be a neurosurgeon or some elusive specialty, just don’t.
Wanting to heal people and make their lives better in any capacity should be your reason for joining Medicine. Don’t do it for the money, prestige, or the dream of someday becoming a specialist. Do it for the love of the people, and wanting to help them; that’s what will keep you motivated throughout the good and bad times.
If you have any burning questions that you want to ask me privately, just fill out the contact form and I’ll get back to you whenever I can (email replies will probably be slower than if you comment here publicly).
2018 edit: Due to the overwhelming number of emails I’ve been receiving, most of which ask similar questions, I’m removing the contact form. So, if you have any questions for me, just leave them in the comment section below, so I can answer it publicly for everyone’s benefit. 🙂
I’ve also written about what life is like as an M1, so click here to read the post! 🙂