With February half-terms over, the race towards the summer exams is beginning to heat up. While your UCAS applications and Oxbridge interviews later this year must still seem a very long way off, it is very important to start planning for the coming year. With everything happening, it can be easy to become overwhelmed, short on time and start to neglect parts of your academic and personal life! So with that said, this blog is meant to be a short guide to how to best plan out your year and in coming blog-posts, I will be examining each of these topics in more detail:
Now is the time to step back and get your planner out. The next few months will (rightfully) be focused on finishing your AS courses and preparing for your exams. However, during this crucial Spring period you will need to spare some time from revision to focus on organising Summer opportunities, extra reading and other potential activities that will boost your UCAS form. Some key considerations month-by-month are listed below.
Next month I will be doing a deep-dive into the range of potential summer activities that are key for building up your personal statement and make for excellent conversation pieces during interviews. For medical applicants especially, work experience and shadowing opportunities are a crucial component of your application, so it’s important to start organising these summer plans as soon as possible. Furthermore, if you are only just finishing your GCSEs, then this coming summer would still be an excellent time to gain some work experience as having had two summer internships instead of one will make your application seem that much richer!
This month is really dedicated to exam preparation and revision. In April’s blog, I will write about some core science revision tips but also reflect on how your revision this spring can be really helpful in guiding your interview preparation studies in the autumn. Once AS exams are all over, there is a temptation to think that you can gleefully burn your notes and forget everything over the summer! Unfortunately this strategy would severely compromise you in the Autumn ? Oxbridge interviews questions are often focused on topics covered during AS (or even GCSE), which is sometimes material that has been long forgotten. The number of A-level students I have interviewed who have forgotten the GCSE definition of osmosis has been quite shocking!
In May, exams will be winding down and you will finally be able to look forward to a well-deserved break. During the summer though, it’s important to use the spare time to start fleshing out your extra-curricular reading. Having a reading plan for the summer is an important strategy to have sorted before the holidays start so as to maximise your time and holidays. In May’s blog post I will also discuss starting a scrapbook which will form an important part of your interview preparation.
When the new school year starts this Autumn, students tend to be very busy with their new course load. As the personal statement deadline tends to approach faster than expected, it is incredibly useful to prepare your first draft during the summer holidays. The first draft is always the hardest to produce, so June’s blog will show you how to plan, write and then review your draft personal statement with specific attention to the way those applying for Medicine or Science should approach it.
As if your Autumn wasn’t going to be busy enough, all medics will have to take the BMAT and a majority of Science applicants to Oxford and Cambridge will be asked to take the TSA exam. These tests have become increasingly common over the past few years and they do form an important part of your application. Students will be screened (and turned down) based on their scores, so the Summer months should be used to start preparing. In July’s blog, I will introduce the tests, describe how best to start preparing for them.
From August onwards, my blogs will return to focusing on specific interview questions, techniques and tips that should be helpful as you start to practice your own interview technique. However, I can’t finish this blog without any actual Science or Medical content! So for the Medics I shall leave you the following link on the voting in of childhood euthanasia in Belgium. Euthanasia is a very common ethics question for medical applicants and this development in euthanasia laws is significant so all medical applicants should be aware of it!