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What is studying medicine really like? Q&A with a UNSW Med student

Did you always know you wanted to study medicine?  Did it impact on your subject selection for Year 12?

In year 11 I decided I wanted to do Medicine. It was my Biology teacher who inspired me to choose this; the way she taught really engaged me in the sciences and then I realised that was what I was good at.

I have always loved working with people, enjoyed solving puzzles and have a thirst for knowledge – so naturally I felt that Medicine would be the best path and it is something I really enjoy.

Which university are you enrolled in?


Was there a preference in which university you studied at, if so why?

Well, I started off with the Medical Science degree and applied for the Medicine Graduate stream program – this is highly competitive to get in (there are only 15 places) but I took a gamble and it paid off.

The Graduate Stream basically requires you to complete the Bachelor of Medical Science degree (3 years) + 1 year of Honours (a research program) + then they put you into the 4th year of Medicine and you complete year 4, 5 and 6 of Medicine (3 years) giving you 7 years all up with 3 degrees.

Find out more about this course here.

I wanted to do it this way because you get a better theoretical understanding of disease in Medical Science which prepares you very well for the clinical environment.

Every university differs slightly on how they go about selecting their students for medical courses, tell us about UNSW…

UNSW was not MMI, it was one interview with a panel of two examiners.

What was your ATAR score?


For those without a sufficient UMAT score, even an ATAR of 99.95 wont be enough to allow entry into medicine- is this true?

It depends – there is a certain threshold that must be met across all the undergraduate medical schools.

An ATAR of 99.95 and a high UMAT will not suffice if you can’t be yourself and engage in the interview – you need to really want it and be genuine, otherwise your examiners will see right through you.

Can you tell us about the UMAT, the nature of it, how you prepared, and how you apply to sit it?

I did the MedEntry course; you apply online for the UMAT.

How many hours a week did you study for the UMAT, on top of your HSC hours?

5 hours.

Did you apply for any scholarships? If so where, and what was the process- and any advice?

For Honours I did and I received the UNSW Honours Scholarship; you have to fill out a questionnaire online. Advice: answer genuinely and tell them what inspires you, that’s what worked for me.

What is the life vs. study balance of a first year medicine student?

Depends how well you want to do. In Medical Science, my study load was quite heavy as there were many exams throughout the semester and I was aiming to get into Medicine. However, in the holidays and quieter weekends I always made time for family and friends – you definitely need a balance. I also go to the gym regularly for exercise.

How many face-to-face hours do you have a week?

40 hours over 5 days.

Can you tell me about the dynamics of your classes (are they small or large lectures)?

We have a mix – so lectures are quite large, but tutorial sessions are smaller and personable. The great thing about UNSW Medicine is all the students like to raise discussion points and contribute to the class.

Which core units are the most stressful in your first year?

In Medical Science – Chemistry and Statistics

Is the course heavily group work based, assignment based, or exam based?

It is a mix – mostly assignments though.

Here’s a visual guide of the process from high school, to becoming a doctor:

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  • Hey I know this was published 3 years ago, but would you mind giving the identity/name of the person, so I can ask them any further questions about their entrance into unsw med? You can send it directly to my email if she/he doesn’t want their identity to be published on this website.

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