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How to Apply for Undergrad Medicine in Australia

Published on
May 12, 2024
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Although the process for undergraduate medicine may seem never-ending, the process of entering undergrad medicine is a path to a career which is truly unlike any other. While intellectually rewarding and stimulating for those who undertake it, what is perhaps the biggest pleasure will be your potential to apply your skills in a clinical environment to real patients and people.

When it comes to the undergrad med application process, unlike most other courses, applying for undergraduate medicine has a few more steps. In addition to waiting for your final ATAR at the end of the year after your exams, there are several preceding steps to obtain entry into undergraduate medical schools.

Hence, applications for undergraduate medicine courses can, for many, be a daunting process, and this is only just the beginning. There are numerous factors to consider, such as UCAT dates and application deadlines, a time strenuous UCAT exam, and your own high school studies which stand in the way.

These are the aspects of the journey to medical schools in Australia, which are often unknown or difficult to navigate for many students in Year 11 and 12. This article ultimately serves to assist you with the undergrad medicine application process!

Undergraduate Medicine: Course Overview 

The majority of undergraduate medicine degrees are based on a 5 year system where you balance campus-based work and hospital placements. Typically, the first 2 years are spent developing personal, medical, professional skills, and knowledge needed by students in the medical field. The final clinical years constitute the execution of your learnt skills in the clinical environment. 

Undergraduate Medicine Eligibility 

To apply for medicine in Australia, whether as a domestic or international student, students must have completed their respective school leaving qualification.

The application process can be quite tedious if relevant documents are not kept handy. As a quick tip, accumulate important documents before you begin the application process and make certain you have the following details:

  • Proof of identity and citizenship
  • Academic transcripts

Domestic Students Applying To Undergraduate Medicine

As a domestic applicant for undergraduate medicine, you are eligible to apply for any undergraduate medical school university in Australia. This means you satisfy the requirements of:

  1. Academic grades: in the form of an ATAR ranking (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank)
  2. UCAT scores (University Clinical Aptitude Test), with marking scheme as based on a bell-curve scale out of 3600.

Both of these scores will be the primary determinants of your success in securing a medical school interview and potentially, an undergraduate medicine place.

International Students Applying To Undergraduate Medicine

The entry requirement for an international student is not all different compared to domestic students. Similar to the domestic pathway, medical schools in Australia for international students focus on:

  1. Academic merit (such as grades in A-Levels or International Baccalaureate or equivalent)
  2. An aptitude test score (ICAT or any other international equivalent)

Both of these scores will be primary determinants of your success in securing a medical school interview and potentially, an undergraduate medicine place.

Note that the University of Adelaide excludes the use of the ISAT, instead running its own aptitude test called the PQA. Additionally, Bond University, Curtin University, and the University of Newcastle, do not currently accept international students.

UCAT for 2022/ UCAT for 2023

The UCAT exam is a highly time-strenuous exam which seeks to assess your mental faculties. It is a two hour, computer-based test, divided into 5 subsection:

  1. UCAT Verbal Reasoning
  2. UCAT Decision Making
  3. UCAT Quantitative Reasoning
  4. UCAT Abstract Reasoning
  5. UCAT Situational Judgement

Ultimately, the UCAT test is identified by many undergraduate medical schools as crucial to understanding a student's potential in the fields of medicine and dentistry.

But how many times can you sit the UCAT?

Unfortunately, the exam can only be sat once per year, so it is crucial that you optimise your performance. To do this, the Fraser’s UCAT team offers multiple sources to assist with your understanding of the UCAT test format and overall UCAT exam preparation. Namely, we offer an abundance of free blog articles, preparation materials such as practice exams, as well as highly-skilled tutors who understand this exam and application process inside and out. 

But as you wait for the outcome of your UCAT exam, it is important not to forget the utmost importance of your high school studies, as these scores are still taken into consideration with your undergraduate medicine application. 

Undergraduate Medicine Interviews

You will hear about your interview offer at the end of December when you receive your ATAR, after which, the UCAT Consortium has communicated your results to universities. This is when universities finally are able to holistically assess the suitability of your application to proceed into this final interview phase. Should you secure an interview for undergrad medicine, it is crucial that you start to prepare for your medicine interview as your performance in your interview is yet another crucial factor for your overall success.

Medical school interviews are a critical component of the medicine admission process, conducted to assess an applicant’s potential and quality as a future medical professional.

There are two main interview formats for entry into any medical program in Australia.

  1. A panel interview consists of a conversation based on broad topics with multiple interviewers. The conversation will be a guided discussion which seeks to primarily assess your intentions as a potential medical student, communication skills, professionalism, and ability to think on your feet.

  2. Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) involves students rotating between 6-10 stations of 5-8 minutes each, where each station will have a different focus. MMI questions tend to be posed as part of a main prompt listed outside the interview room, and are ultimately posed to push your moral limits.

How Do I Apply And Where Can I Apply?

Each medical school in Australia has their own admissions centre relative to their respective academic authorities of each state. Hence, your Australia study options are stated below:

  • Victoria : Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC)
  • New South Wales : Universities Admissions Centre (UAC)
  • Queensland : Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC)
  • South Australia : South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre (SATAC)
  • Western Australia : Tertiary Institutions Service Centre (TISC)
  • Tasmania : University of Tasmania (UTAS)

To apply, you should seek to complete appropriate documentation by around the last working day of September, and submit payment and application to your desired universities or their relative state education authorities for consideration in the January offer rounds.

What varies for different medical schools in Australia is their weighting of each of the ATAR, UCAT and interview. While some universities equally weigh the three criteria listed above, other universities might value a certain criterion more than the other. As such, university websites and the information they provide with regards to selection criteria for medicine can often be difficult to comprehend for many students. 

It is also important to note that ATAR entry requirements and cut-offs vary from year to year and the continuous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic renders these changes even more difficult to predict.

University Specific Undergraduate Medicine Requirements

From us at Fraser’s, our biggest recommendation is that if you are truly passionate about securing a place at one of the medical schools listed above, cast your net wide! Apply to as many medical schools as possible, as this will ultimately heighten your overall chance of securing a place at one of many prestigious medical schools in Australia.

The compounding factors of varying weighting across the three core assessment criteria, in addition to the natural subjectivity of the interview process, means applying to multiple universities best increases your chances of securing a medical place.

Undergraduate Medicine Fee Structures

It can be a major challenge to get your head around the types of places available and how to pay your medical school fees.

The university education system in Australia is heavily regulated and subsidised by the government. This means that there is fixed funding that a medical school receives to run its course. Consequently, there are different tiers of payment contracts that a student can enter into with a medical school.

CSP - Commonwealth Supported Place

This is the basic university course fee structure that is familiar to most students studying in Australia. A Commonwealth Supported Place is heavily subsidized by the government, meaning that most of your university course fees are covered by federal funding. It is important to know that while the majority of your fees are covered, there is still an outstanding balance known as the ‘student contribution amount’ that university attendees are required to pay. 

Eligibility: To qualify for a medical CSP position, you must be an Australian or New Zealand citizen. Alternatively, being a permanent visa holder is also acceptable. 

BMP - Bonded Medical Place

The Bonded Medical Place is a scheme that aims to improve healthcare in rural and remote areas by obligating junior doctors to spend time in a predefined ‘area of need’ following their graduation from medical school. It is important to understand that the nature of a BMP contract is dynamic. What is meant by this is that the terms of a BMP rural placement following graduation, including the duration and location of placement, are subject to change every year. But once you have accepted a BMP position, the terms of your agreement are fixed. 

Beyond the employment obligation, a BMP is no different from a CSP from a financial point of view. These bonded positions have identical eligibility requirements as a CSP and are also subsidized to the same degree. Furthermore, both CSP and BMP places are eligible for HECS-HELP loans should the student require such assistance. 

Domestic Full Fee Place

The domestic full-fee place is not supported by the Commonwealth government financially but is identical to the CSP in that it is a no strings attached medical place. The major application of such a high cost is that the fees exceed the limit of $155,448 afforded to students by the HECS-HELP loan. In practical terms, this means that by approximately the second year of a standard medicine degree, a student will no longer be able to delay medical school fee payment, and will be charged for tuition upfront. 

Undergraduate Medicine Australia Key Dates

Almost all admission centres hold deadlines for applications to each of their provided undergraduate degrees at respective universities. This is usually by the last working day of September. Additionally, payment for application to these universities must be paid before their due dates, or your application may be deferred to later round offers, which is less than ideal!

The official UCAT dates for 2022 are as follows:

Key Events Dates
UCAT Registration Opening Date 1st March 2022
UCAT Registration Closing Date 10th May 2022
UCAT Testing Period 1st July 2022 - 11th August 2022
Results Released to Universities Early September 2022

Subsequently, you should hear of your interview results by late December, and undergo said interview process by early January.

Where To Next?

Check out some of our Free Tools and UCAT Articles!

Or visit our Online UCAT Atlas, featuring written guides, video tutorials, and model answers.

If you need guidance on preparing for your UCAT in 2021, enrol into one of our ultimate UCAT online courses - get a chance to learn from expert tutors!