I sat the UKCAT last year and received a score of 680. (Average being 600). So it wasn’t a bad score but I’m now faced with sitting it again. Advice for the UKCAT:
Verbal Reasoning – Some say you should read the passage first and get an idea of it and where different parts are within the text. Others say to read the question first then skim read through the text. Personally, I read the question first because the texts sometimes are very long. I think the point of this section is to see your ability to cut out the unnecessary and get to the point.

Quantitative – Personally my worst section. Many say the actual test is easier than the practice questions. Personally, last year I found that the difficulty level was the same in the practices and the actual test. Therefore, my advice would be to make sure you can do all the practice questions and know the basics which will definitely come up. Such as % changes. And practice on your computer calculator only.

Abstract – I think the more you practice the section the easier it becomes. Many times the same patterns come up again and again. Last year I had questions which were the same as the ones in the practice book. And don’t forget the simple patterns like counting the number of sides! This actually comes up more than you think.

Decision Analysis – Personally, I think this is quite fun. One thing I’ve learnt is that every single word from the coded line will be in the answer. EVERY SINGLE WORD. They may have extra words in the answer, but the correct answer will contain all the words in the coded line. Watch out for hints like ‘personal’ meaning ‘I’ or ‘Me’ will be in the answer.

Most of all, it is true, practice makes perfect. Keep practising. You’ll find you reach a stage when you can’t practice any more. You’ve done all the questions you possibly can. That’s when you know you’re ready. And, every time you practice. Try and stick to the time limit. It’s a good idea to get used to the timing.

Wishing you all the best.

– Rabia

A male contraceptive pill?

Recently the BBC had an exciting news article that we may soon have an effective male contraceptive pill. Scientists in USA have been testing a drug ‘JQ1’ on mice. These tests have shown that whilst consuming the drug, the mice were rendered temporarily infertile, due to low sperm count and low motility levels. But of course, there are a lot of tests still to be done including on humans before you see this pill behind the Pharmacy counter.

But even before this prospective pill could be found and tested, scientists had to go deeper into the genome to find the ‘contraceptive gene.’ Known as ‘Katnal1’ this gene responsible for sperm production was found in mice. It is then this drug ‘JQ1’ which will interrupt Katnal1 to make a reversible contraceptive. This drug stops protein production meaning the male gametes do not fully form and the body disposes of them. Meaning, no fertilisation. (Or reduced chance, as one should say.)
It is reversible in the sense that it does not stop the early stages of sperm production and the organisms ability to produce them. It just stops them from fully forming in the later stages, whilst taking the drug.

But, another study has found that ultrasound to the testicles can stop sperm production. First proposed in the 1970’s it is only now being pursued. It has been found that two 15 minute doses, two days apart and through warm salt water “significantly reduced” the number of sperm. After being tested on rats, their sperm count dropped to ‘below 10 million per millilitre’.

But how good is this? Yes there will be fewer unplanned pregnancy but will this increase the rates of under-age sex? And will this lead to reduced use of the condom? Which the global world has taken years to raise awareness of. But then also, will there be any need for condoms?

– Rabia

Getting into Med School

So, I’m a bit confused about the system and its effectiveness. I know many people who received amazing A-Level results, you may be one, but have not got a place at Med School. We have experience, grades, volunteering all under our belt yet every year it seems average student nick the exceptional students places.
This was recently in the news as well, how this system is not effective. Other countries operate in that students apply after receiving their grades, as university begins later. Surely this is a better system.
But none the less, every opportunity should be seized. If like me you’ve found yourself on a gap year, lets make the most of it and gain as much as we can from it.
– Rabia

Medicad’s first post

Hi everyone,

This is my first post as a contributor to the Valuemed blog. I am a mature student about to embark on a pre-medical course, hoping for entry to medical school in 2013. I have always been in awe of the ability doctors have to diagnose and treat patients. Being brought up in a family with a history of depression and autistic spectrum disorders was challenging, but it made me appreciate how illnesses can affect patients in different ways. I’ve always made it my aim to try and change the lives of people suffering, because I can understand how difficult it is for themselves and their loved ones.

I have experience of working with a wide range of people in different settings – I am a keen volunteer. I’ve previously been a trustee for a youth organisation, and I’ve more recently become involved with St John Ambulance and King’s College Hospital. In addition, I have undertaken clinical placements at the National Society for Epilepsy and at the Ophthalmology department of Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

The branches of medicine that interest me and will feature in my future posts, alongside current medical news and my experiences as an applicant, include neurology, psychiatry, infectious diseases, preventative medicine and medical genetics. I am hoping that my posts will inform, engage and perhaps inspire, as I set out to expand my knowledge of such a dynamic field.

Until next time,


Hello Everyone

My name is Rabia and this is my first post. I hope to build a relationship with all of you so here’s some information about me. I am 18 years old and have just left school after completing my A-Levels and attaining A*A*A (Biology, Chemistry and Geography.) Like many others on here, I too am a prospective Medical student. After failing to gain a place in the 2012 cycle I am about to embark on a gap year and then re-apply. Why do I want to study Medicine? Is the trickiest question for me. It’s something I can’t put into words. Maybe its the rush and excitement I’ll get every single working day. Or maybe the fact that I am genuinely helping and saving people. Or maybe its the fact that I’ll be applying my favourite subject, Biology, every day.

Joining this blog is my way not only to share what I feel but to indulge in research, in the latest medical topics or areas of interest to me to hopefully put across my excitement and enthusiasm to the readers. What better way to learn than to teach others?

I have followed Doctors in a Hospital where I observed the workings of a ward round, basic examinations conducted and of course key skills and qualities such as teamwork with other doctors and nurses, politeness towards patients and the ability to always have a smile on your face. I was lucky enough to be involved in a private consultation informing a family member of a patients severely deteriorating health and almost confirmed death, which I will always remember. Similarly I have had experience in clinics, pharmacies and a dental practice. (The dental placement however, I can say was my least favourite…)

So what about my gap year? I’m going to continue with my voluntary work which I’ve been doing for 2 years now at a local Hospital which goes to patients in wards to sell newspapers and items. I’m also beginning another volunteering opportunity with disabled people. More work experience is to come but first and foremost I need to re-take the dreaded UKCAT and find a job!

– Rabia

Introduction from a guest blogger applying for medical school

 Hi everyone its hanifz here,

I am a new guest blogger on this site and thought I’d introduce myself. I am currently studying a Biomedical Science Degree at university and am planning to apply for medicine this year. I hope to study medicine as I have always been fascinated by the human body and how intricate a system it is. I have chosen to write for this blog so that I can talk about the medical world and all that intrigues me about it. As well as allowing me to gain a greater insight into it.

In medicine the area of most interest to me is oncology, in particular working in paediatrics. The idea of helping people with one of the most life threatening diseases is a huge draw for me. In addition, the fact that there are so any variations of cancer means it is an area that will continuously test me. In preparation I have undertaken work experience in a local hospital and nursing home to gain an understanding of how medicine works in reality.

I hope to write many more posts in the future. Thanks