s4-6-button.png

Accessing the Professions

Some courses at university require more than just a UCAS application, particularly popular, demanding courses or courses with a restricted number of places. This is the case with 'professional degrees' in LawMedicineDentistry, and Vet Medicine.

Girl examining contents of jar in Chemistry Lab

As well as gaining strong Higher results, to enter these degrees universities may ask you to take additional tests, gain work experience, and attend an interview. If you're interested in one of these subjects it’s really important to know exactly what's required to get in, well in advance of making your application. That way you'll have time to prepare and get organised.

We've laid out the general requirements for each of the four subjects below and offered some tips to help you achieve them. Remember though, every university that offers these degrees has very specific entry requirements so once you’ve read our general advice, use university websites or prospectuses to check the exact details for the universities you'd like to apply to.

When you're applying to popular, competitive courses like these, you need to try your best to stand out from the crowd. Most applicants will have the same grades in the same subjects as you...so you need to show that you offer something extra - experience, enthusiasm, and commitment to the subject.

What do I need to do?

In 2014 there are 10 universities in Scotland offering accredited LLB Law degrees. The Higher grades required for entry range from AAAAA to BBBB in S5. You must have a Higher in English, while other Arts and Social Science subjects like History are considered valuable. You'll need good National 5 grades in Maths and Science too.

What’s the LNAT and how can I prepare for it?

The University of Glasgow also requires you to take the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT) as part of your Law application. This close-reading and essay-writing exam is taken externally in Pearson Test Centres during the year of your application to university and tests your language and writing skills. Registration for the LNAT starts in August and tests can be booked from September to January.

The test is not on one particular topic so you can't revise for it in traditional ways. The best way to prepare for the LNAT is by practicing your reading and writing skills. Try reading a good quality newspaper every day to gain an understanding of current affairs and expand your vocabulary. There are also practice tests online which allow you to practice both the close-reading and essay-writing parts of the test. See here for more info.

How do I go about getting work experience?

Work experience is not always a requirement for studying Law but it is a very useful addition to an application. Gaining work experience will:

  • Demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm
  • Allow you to understand the realities of a career in Law
  • Develop essential skills for the study and practice of Law

Types of experiences which would be relevant for a Law application include:

  • Visiting a court
  • Working in a solicitor's office
  • Working at an estate agent
  • Volunteering at a branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Speaking to a solicitor, judge or other kind of legal professional

Try phoning or writing to your local solicitor and asking for advice. It can be very difficult to gain these kinds of experience so remember any kind of work that allows you to develop the kinds of skills which are valuable for the study and practice of Law will help to demonstrate your commitment. Quality work experience is always better than quantity.

When do I need to apply?

The UCAS deadline for Law is the same as general UCAS deadline, JANUARY 15th.

Any advice on applying to Law?

As well as gaining academic qualifications, prospective Law students will also have to demonstrate that they have the essential skills needed for the study and practice of Law. These skills include:

  • Ability to analyse and interpret information
  • Logical reasoning
  • Ethical judgement
  • Communication skills
  • Excellent written and spoken English

What kinds of extra-curricular activities do you currently do that demonstrate these skills? What kinds of experiences or achievements could you gain to help develop these qualities? Remember, you need to be able to demonstrate that both inside and outside of school, you are meeting the criteria of a suitable candidate.


What do I need to do?

In 2014 there are 5 universities in Scotland that offer MBChB Medicine degrees. The Higher grades required for entry range from AAAAA to AAABB (or AAAAC) in one sitting in S5, plus additional Advanced Highers in S6. Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Physics are very important subjects for Medicine. You'll also need a good National 5 result in English.

As well as this, applicants will be expected to sit the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test or UKCAT.

Gaining work experience is important as you need to be able to demonstrate that you understand the realities of a career in Medicine.

If you have achieved the required grades in your exams, a high enough score in your UKCAT, and demonstrated your potential through your UCAS application, you'll then be expected to attend an interview. This will finally determine whether you've achieved a place on the course.

How can I prepare for the interview?

Once the university has read your application, if they like what they see you may get invited for an interview. Every university has a different way of interviewing but most involve either a traditional panel interview or Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI).

panel interview consists of two or three members of the university asking you questions about your application to try and get to know you. Typical questions might be:

  • Can you describe your work experience, what you learnt and why it was valuable?
  • What skills and qualities do you have that a future doctor needs?
  • Why do you want to study at this university?

Some ways to prepare for this include:

  • Get friends and family to ask you questions so you can practice speaking your answers out loud.
  • Read quality newspapers and look out for the latest medically-related stories. The BBC News ‘health’ webpage is a good place to start.
  • Seek out experiences which will build your confidence. Medicine will be looking for confident, articulate, enthusiastic candidates so practice your communication skills whenever you can.

The MMI interview is very different. You'll move around a variety of different stations - at each one, you'll take part in timed activities designed to test your communication skills, logic, ethical reasoning and your ability to think quickly. You won't know beforehand what kinds of questions you'll be asked or what kind of activities you'll be asked to take part in so preparation is tricky. Try anything you can think of though to build up your communication and logic skills.

What’s the UKCAT and how can I prepare for it?

For Medicine, applicants are also asked to sit the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT). This exam is taken externally at Pearson Test Centres and is divided into five sections:

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Decision analysis
  • Situational judgement

The test is designed to challenge applicants' quick-thinking as each section is strictly timed. That means the best way to prepare is to practice answering questions quickly. Then practice some more! You can try practice tests on the UKCAT website - the more you do this, the more you’ll get used to the pace of answering that's required. Brushing up on your maths and English language skills would also be useful.

How do I go about getting work experience?

Gaining work experience in a hospital or at a GP practice can be hard. Universities understand this so specific work experience in these environments is not always essential when applying to Medicine. However they do want to know that you understand the realities of a career in Medicine. This could be gained through work experience in other areas, particularly in caring professions. Consider:

  • Care homes
  • Hospices
  • Charity organisations
  • Speaking with doctors, GP’s and other medical professionals

All of these things will give you a valuable insight into a career in Medicine. Remember, quality is always better than quantity so make the most of whatever opportunity you get by asking lots of questions and working hard.

When do I need to apply?

The UCAS deadline for Medicine is OCTOBER 15th each year. Registration for the UKCAT begins in the previous May to September and the last testing date is at the beginning of October before the UCAS deadline.

Any other advice on applying to Medicine?

As well as achieving the right grades in school and scoring well in the UKCAT, applicants to Medicine need to demonstrate that they have the skills and qualities needed to be a future doctor. These skills include:

  • Empathy
  • Teamwork
  • Patience
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to demonstrate commitment, motivation and enthusiasm for a medical career

Taking part in extra-curricular activities will help you to develop these skills. You'll then be able to write about them in your UCAS personal statement, proving that you have all the qualities a future doctor needs.


What do I need to do?

In 2014 there are 2 universities in Scotland that offer BDS Dentistry degrees. The Higher grades required for entry range from AAAAB to AABB in one sitting in S5, plus additional Advanced Highers in S6. Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Physics are very important subjects for Dentistry. You'll need a good National 5 result in English too.

As well as this, applicants will be expected to sit the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test or UKCAT.

Gaining work experience is very important as you need to be able to demonstrate that you understand the realities of a career in Dentistry.

If you have achieved the required grades in your exams, a high enough score in your UKCAT, and demonstrated your potential through your UCAS application, you'll then be expected to attend an interview. This will finally determine whether you've achieved a place on the course.

How can I prepare for the interview?

Once the university has read your application, if they like what they see you may then get invited for an interview. Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) are the style of interview used at both the University of Glasgow and the University of Dundee. It's very different to a traditional interview. You'll move around a variety of different stations - at each one, you'll take part in timed activities designed to test your communication skills, logic, ethical reasoning, and your ability to think quickly. You won't know beforehand what kinds of questions you'll be asked or what kind of activities you'll be asked to take part in so preparation is tricky. Try anything you can think of though to build up your communication and logic skills. 

For example:

  • Ask friends and family to ask you questions so you can practice speaking your answers out loud.
  • Read quality newspapers and look out for the latest medical-related stories. BBC News ‘health’ webpage is a good place to start.
  • Seek out experiences which will build your confidence. Dentistry will be looking for confident, articulate, enthusiastic candidates so practice your communication skills whenever you can.

What’s the UKCAT and how can I prepare for it?

For Dentistry, applicants are also asked to sit the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT). This exam is taken externally at Pearson Test Centres and is divided into five sections:

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Decision analysis
  • Situational judgement

The test is designed to challenge applicants' quick-thinking as each section is strictly timed. That means the best way to prepare is to practice answering questions quickly. Then practice some more! You can try practice tests on the UKCAT website - the more you do this, the more you’ll get used to the pace of answering that's required. Brushing up on your maths and English language skills would also be useful.

How do I go about getting work experience?

Gaining experience 'shadowing' a dentist is a very important part of your application. This means spending some time at a dental practice, in a community setting, or in a dental hospital watching a dentist performing their duties. This will help you to gain an understanding of the realities of a career in Dentistry.

The best way to gain work experience is to phone local dental practices and let them know you would like to shadow a dentist. If, for whatever reason, you're unable to do this you could always ask to speak to the dentist and ask some questions. They may be able to recommend other opportunities that might be useful for you too. Be polite but persistent!

When do I need to apply?

The UCAS deadline for Medicine is OCTOBER 15th each year. Registration for the UKCAT begins in the previous May to September and the last testing date is at the beginning of October before the UCAS deadline.

Any other advice on applying to Dentistry?

Applicants to Dentistry also need to demonstrate characteristics which are important for the dental profession. These include being able to:

  • Demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness
  • Demonstrate a caring nature, empathy, a respect for the views of others, and an ability to put people at ease
  • Demonstrate good communication skills
  • Work in a team and have the capacity to act as a leader
  • Be self-critical and self-motivated
  • Think independently
  • Plan and think on the spot, with good problem-solving and analysis skills
  • Show strong evidence of manual dexterity, creativity, and spatial awareness

Taking part in extra-curricular activities will help you to develop these skills. You'll then be able to write about them in your UCAS personal statement, proving that you have all the qualities a future dentist needs.


What do I need to do?

There are two universities that offer degrees in Veterinary Medicine in Scotland: the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow. Entry requirements include AAAAB in your Highers by the end of S5, and BB in Advanced Highers in S6. Subjects which are important for Veterinary Medicine include Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths.

Universities also require applicants to have gained a wide range of work experience, involving both small and large animals.

If you have achieved the required grades in your exams and demonstrated your potential through your UCAS application, you'll then be expected to attend an interview. This will finally determine whether you've achieved a place on the course.

How can I prepare for the interview?

Once the university has read your application, if they like what they see you may then get invited for an interview. Every university has a different approach to the interview process but it’s likely that questions will arise from what you have written in your UCAS personal statement. Questions might include:

  • Can you describe in detail what you did during each aspect of your work experience?
  • Can you speak confidently about why you would like to study Veterinary Medicine?
  • What makes you a good candidate?
  • Why do you want to study at this university?

Ways to prepare include:

  • Ask friends and family to give you a 'mock' interview so you can practice responding out loud.
  • Ask current students what their interview experiences were like.
  • Seek out experiences that allow your confidence to grow. Your interviewers will expect you to be confident and articulate so the more ways you can develop your communication skills the better.

How do I go about getting work experience?

Gaining work experience can sometimes be difficult which is why it’s a good idea to start making plans early. Some ways to get work experience include phoning local practices and farms and asking if they need volunteers, speaking to friends and family to gather contacts, or contacting vets to ask for advice on the realities of a career in Veterinary Medicine.

Types of work experience which you should try to gain include:

  • Attendance with a veterinary surgeon (companion animal and farm animal) - minimum of 2 weeks or occasional days/weekends over a substantial period.
  • Experience of working on a dairy farm
  • Assisting on a sheep farm at lambing time
  • Experience working with horses
  • Working in a boarding kennel or cattery
  • Visit to an abattoir (not essential)
  • Any additional relevant experience, e.g. zoo, wildlife park or laboratory.

When do I need to apply?

The UCAS deadline for Veterinary Medicine is OCTOBER 15th every year.

Any other advice on applying to Vet Med?

As well as achieving the right grades in schools and gaining a broad range of work experience, applicants to Veterinary Medicine need to demonstrate that they have the skills and qualities needed to succeed in the profession. These skills include:

  • Empathy
  • Teamwork
  • Patience
  • Communication skills
  • Ability to manage stressful situations

Taking part in extra-curricular activities will help you to develop these skills. You'll then be able to write about them in your UCAS personal statement, proving that you have all the qualities a future vet needs.


 

Applying to Medicine? 

We spoke to Sarah, a fourth year medical student at the University of Glasgow, about the steps she took before applying to study Medicine. She offers some good advice...

The Reach Programme

Reach works with S4-S6 pupils who have an interest in studying Law, Medicine, Dentistry or Vet Medicine. To find out more, visit the Reach Programme.