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Old 03-08-2009, 10:55 PM   #1
a_p
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Default Answers to FAQ on NUS Medicine Admissions, Interviews, Disruption and Appeals

Moderator-copied. Original post here.

hi im a current student in the school of medicine. let me just give a quick overview of the admission system as far as i know it to be. admission scores into med comprises both a university score and a faculty score. both are worth equal weightage.

The university score is calculated by the office of admission and is a standardised admission score for all faculties of the university.

Took this from the office of admissions website:
To compute your University score you would include:
the best four content subjects (i.e. 3 H2 and 1 H1 content subjects, with at least 1 content subject to be from a contrasting discipline)
either GP or KI grade taken in the same sitting
H1 Project Work
The maximum points for H2 and H1 subjects are 20 and 10 respectively.
We will include in the scoring your best MTL subject grade (e.g. ‘H1’ MTL or ‘O’ Level Higher MTL) only if you present the result for consideration and only if it raises your University Score.

Correct me if im wrong, but this basically puts your maximum attainable score at 90. basically what this means is that your H2 subjects are worth doubly as much as your H1 subjects, including PW and GP. of and yes you absolutely have to do chemistry at H2. and either biology or physics. theres no exception to this rule. H3s/S papers do NOT count at all towards your admission score. they only serve as brag factors in your CV/interview.

Unfortunately admission into med is very competitive as only 260 people out of the many thousands who applied will be offered admission. the first stage of this ardous admission process is the shortlisting that is done purely on the basis of your university score (ie based on your A level results only). Out of the many people who apply for medicine, almost all of them will have perfect content subject scores (ie 4 H2 As or at least 3 H2As and 1 H1A).

The main distinguishing factor between most of the applicants is therefore their GP and PW scores, where even the toppest JCs do not have throngs of distinction scorers. It basically boils down to a game of math. From my experience, the lowest score that i have seen shortlisted is H2:AAA,H1:ABC so i think in my opinion you can use this as a guide in your chances of being shortlisted. for those who took the old A level syllabus and are reapplying this year, the lowest grades i have seen being shortlisted is A:AAA, GP B3, PW Band 2)

I am assuming that there is a linear relationship between the grades you get for a subject and your university score for that subject. ie the difference between an A and a B is worth the same in score as the diff between a B and a C. If anyone has more info on this, pls feel free to correct me. Therefore, to rate your chances more accurately, you can only have a total of 3 H1 grades worth of blemishes (sorry i cant think of a better word) from the perfect score or 1H2 grade level + 1H1. but of course this is from what i gathered from last year, this year's competition may be even more stiff. but in general if the only flaws in your result slips are a GP B and PW B you can sleep soundly, you should get thru the first round easily.

Once you get through the first round, it will then be a different ball game altogether. You will be assessed based on a faculty score comprising 2 interviews, 1 essay and a portfolio. However, the final admission score that is used to rank you (yes there is a rank) comprises both the faculty score and admission score in equal weightage as said earlier. So people who know that they barely got past the first round, have to work extremely hard for the second round if they want a chance at all. I remember the dean telling us before that the difference between the last admitted and the first rejected applicant has a final score difference of <0.1.

I am going to conclude this lenghty message with a few final tips. number 1. i think i have given you a good gauge of the score you probably need to get shortlisted. for people who definitely do not make the cut, you should probably not waste your 'first choice' option on medicine. it could help you secure a place in another faculty that you might like even better. secondly, people who are currently serving national service and are pretty sure that they will get pass the shortlisting round should start preparing your portfolio NOW. When the final shortlisting results come out, you have less than 2 weeks to prepare it for submission. if you are confined, lagi worse. and theres quite a lot work you need to do to submit a good portfolio, including obtaining 2 letters of recommendations and a personal statement. thirdly, even before you make that application for medicine in the next couple of days, ask yourself why you are doing it. are you doing it for yourself because that is genuinely have the passion for it, or are you doing it for your parents/money. Medical school is NOT a honeymoon place and the life of a doctor is honestly a very hard one. countless hours in the hospital, neglected families and outcasted socially. granted, the monetary rewards are not bad at all, but i sincerely believe there are better ways of getting rich. be sure you are applying for the right reasons, as the whole application process is not just to shortlist the best applicants for medical school but also to ensure that medicine will fit you best as a career in the future.

very lastly, for those who are thniking of applying thru the Exceptional Individual Scheme (EIS), please feel free to do so. However i wish to clarify that getting accepted through EIS is definitely not an easy thing (definitely not easier than the mainstream route) as the people who apply through it have very compelling cases that you have to compete against. and not to say the number of positions avaliable are very very few.

I will be more than happy to answer any other queries you may have. including recommendations for overseas unis, costs etc. please feel free to pm me or reply below. I hope this post has answered many of your queries. Heres to the the best of luck for each and every1 of you. hope to see you come august.

Last edited by a_p; 01-30-2010 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:39 AM   #2
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Moderator-copied. Original post here.

Just in case anyone is wondering, i will just mention briefly about disruption from national service. Guys who are offered admission into the School of Medicine are given official disruption from the Singapore Armed Forces. Most of the guys are disrupted officially on 1 July every year after the admission results come out.

In the past, the criteria for disruption used to be that you needed to be combat fit and passed BMT. But nowadays the rule is quite lax and in the past few years there were complete 100% disruptions. In case anyone is wondering, the reason why they disrupt you is cos they want you to serve in a professional capacity as a medical doctor in the Singapore Armed Forces. As you know they do lack doctors in the SAF. So after graduate from medical school, you serve a year of housemanship then you are drafted back to the SAF in 2 batches. The better your results, the earlier you are drafted. You will then go through a 4 months gruelling Medical Officer Cadet Course in Nee Soon Camp before you are commissioned as a Captain(DR). You will then serve the rest of your NS liabilities as an SAF doctor in any of its services.

You could however choose not to go ahead with disruption (yes the choice is yours), and complete your NS liabilities before entering medical school 2 years later than your peers. But very few, if any at all, actually do this. Your NS liabilities actually run concurrently with your Ministy of Health bond. In other words, while serving NS, you are actually serving your bond.

Undergraduate tuition fees for medical school is about $18100 for people enrolling in the 2009/2010 academic year, and is expected to rise to about $18900 the year after. There is much financial aid (administered by the Dean's Office) avaliable for needy medical students, so you dont have to worry about not being to afford the hefty school fees.

Next, a short part about scholarships. To my knowledge there are a couple of scholarships that are avaliable for medical school, for those who are interested or eligible.

1) President's scholarship. Needless to say really.
2) PSC Local Merit Scholarship (Open) Medicine. Competition is needless to say even more intense than medical school itself, only about 5 are awarded each year. After graduating, you may choose a professional medical career, or join the Management Associates Programme (MAP).
3) ASTAR has a NSS (MBBS-PhD) scholarship. Basically you are given a scholarship to study an MBBS (in UK) followed by a PhD in a UK approved universtiy. After you graduate finally with a PhD, you are expected to serve in an AStar research institute. You have to apply and be accepted into NUS Medicine (and then reject it) to be eligible for this scholarship. Basically i think mainly females will be interested in this, as guys cannot be disrupted from NS for this scholarship. Keep in mind this scholarship is primairly for clinician scientists.
4) SAF Local Medicine Scholarship. Return to SAF as an SAF doctor, enough said. If you are seriously considering this, you could PM me and i can provide you with more information! 5) NUS Scholarships.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by yanshuo; 03-14-2009 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:52 PM   #3
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Default Interviews & Essay

So some of you have received your medicine shortlisting letter already. congratulations! consider the first small step of your application a success. Before i answer some questions and provide some advice about the interview and essay, i would like to talk a little about the whole admission process and the reason why i am doing this post.

Now that your university admission scores are officially cast in stone, the other part of the application process is the faculty score, which comprises 2 interviews, an essay test and a portfolio submission. The faculty score is of course worth half of the total possible score, and you could say is probably the distinguishing factor now that all of you have been shortlisted. What i am going to post in this post is some advice to those who bother to look & ask, as well as give an idea of what you should expect in the coming weeks. I am NOT going to give 'model answers' to interview or essay questions, neither am i going to tell you what you should or should not talk about in your interview, and i am definitely not going to send out my portfolio to you. Im sorry if i seem particular, but i feel that the the sanctity of the whole admission process has to be protected, and I am in no way attempting to dilute this process. Additionally, i should also state that I have no confict of interest with the process in anyway.

Okay, now that all those legalities are out of the way, your interview! There is basically going to be 2 interviews. The first interview is a pretty formal one, as compared to the second interview, which has a more informal setting. The first interview is solely by faculty members, basically means teaching staff from the school of medicine (including clinical faculty from various hospitals). Most of these interviewers are very reknowned doctors in singapore, and many of them have had interaction with generations upon generations of medical students. The second interview happens almost immediately after your first interview. The panel for the second interview is very varied, comprises of anything from nurses, to more doctors, to even medical students (basically anybody at all that is involved in singapore's healthcare setting).

First of all, basic advice: dress well. This is a pretty formal interview, and all of you should be dressed appropriately. For the guys, formal business clothes and long pants, leather shoes. Tie or not is up to you (but i find a tie quite stifling, theres really no need to wear one actually). for the guys going from army camps, please take the effort to change out of your no 4. or no 3., no need to look more goondu. For the females, business attire. no jeans no flip flops please.

Second advice: be respectful. the panel (esp the first interview) are basically your most senior doctors in singapore or respected people of the faculty. Remember to greet them, smile and be nice. There will be times where they will grill you like crazy, or try to irritate you. But please, be civil. I know of a person who got into an argument with the interviewer, and obviously nothing good came out of the situation.

Thirdly, what to expect. The interview is going to last for about 20 to 30 minutes. There will be about 3-4 interviewers in the room, and each of them is going to take their turn to ask questions. They will all be holding copies of your entire portfolio, including your recommendation letters. And they will drill you based on what you write/what your recommenders write in your portfolio, so be prepared to answer questions about them. Some of you lucky people will also be interviewed personally by the Dean of Medicine himself. I suggest you find a picture of him and recognise his face.

Definitely you can expect a question on why you chose to apply to medical school. And i think no sane person would go in to your interview without having a pre-prepared answer to this question. My biggest advice is to be honest. As i have said earlier, all these people are experienced. Some of them have done interviews for over 20 years, and trust me - they know when you are sincere and when you are not. So all of you who have applied, be sure your heart is in the right place, or you will not be able to survive the intense grilling. I know of a friend who walked in wanting to do medicine, but walked out convinced by the interview panel that medicine was not for him. Basically the best way for you to prepare for your interview, is to do a some kind of self reflection. never ever try to lie your way through, its not going to work!
be honest with yourself, and why you really want to be a doctor, and trust me you will be able to answer the questions well. now also please note that insulting foreign trained doctors, dentists or other healthcare professionals in general (even if its a joke) is definitely not going to be taken lightly, so please dont try to be witty. insulting lawyers might turn out a different way though haha (just joking, dont do it)

For those of you who are interested in medical/clinical research, please feel free to state your case also. Which brings me to my last point. do some reading and read up about the medical healthcare system in Singapore. They wont expect you to know anything much at all, but please make sure you are at least equipped with general knowledge that any well read person will have. stuff like the medical syllabus, medical specialities, research opportunities, career progression, examinations, years of study, your bond, costs, the minister of health, the academic profession of the minister of health (engineer), HOTA, NUHS, organ trading, euthanasia, common cause of hospitalisation/deaths, means testing, lifestyle diseases and so on. Reading and researching bout all of these will help you also in understanding our health care system better, and the pivotal role you will have to play in the future as doctors.

Dont be overly stressed by the interview though. The interviewers are generally very very nice people. They are definitely not out to kill you. All of them were in the hotseat not too long ago themselves, and they know what you are going through. At the end of the day, treat them respectfully, be honest with them, have a good chat with them, and you will be fine!

Next up, the esssay. The essay is a 45minute affair, where they can ask you to write about anything under the sun, with respect to medicine of course. I honestly dont know what they are looking out for exactly. But i guess maturity of thought is probably a big scorer on the list. take some time to plan out your essay beforehand, so you dont end up rambling on like a headless chicken. Some previous year questions include: what is the biggest sacrifices you have made and what sacrifices you think doctors must make, changes you want to effect in the local healthcare system and so on. My best advice is for you to go in with an open mind, be prepared to write on anything (and really anything at all), and be totaly honest in your writing. Even though it is not a language examination, do spend some time checking through your work. make sure theres no glaring language errors, you never know how that can work against you! likewise as the interview, reading up and knowing a little about our healthcare system and the role of a doctor will probably help you a little.

Last bit about your portfolio. Do begin work now if you have already not done so, you dont have much time left. You will need 2 letters of recommendations + a personal statement + a CCA summary. Do not send in extra documents beyond what they requested. Thats just gonna irk the admissions committee and is not going to help in anyway at all! For the letters of recommendation, you really can get anybody to write for you. Best are the people whom you know well of course and are authorative figures to write about your character and your suitability for the course. Using your JC testimonial is fine in fact, if you cannot find someone to write. In fact, an added advantage is that you know what exactly is written about you, and can use if to prepare for your interview. Also try to find a person whos not stressed out by having 1000 letters to write (like most teachers are) and give him/her ample time to do a good piece for you.

Your CCA summary should be one page. Please follow the instructions and not exceed the limit. Yes you can put in all your CCAs from secondary or primary sch that you think is fitting. But please of course use some discretion.

About your personal statement. Definitely talk about why you want to do medicine. talk about your past experiences and how they have shaped you or your interest, whether in sports/academics. Use personal anecdotes, as they somehow have an uncanny way of connecting you the writer with the reader. Again, be absolutely honest in your writing! And trust me, if your heart is in the right place, you will be able to write a beautiful personal statement.

Part 2 continued below.
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:52 PM   #4
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Default Interviews & Essay Part 2

Part 2:

I apologise for the super long post, before i end off theres something i want to say. Now, the admissions process definitely has its inherent flaws. a 20-30 minute interview and a 45min essay and a short personal statement is definitely not the best of ways in judging whether a person is suited to be a doctor, especially at a young age of 19. And I myself personally think that in some cases the admissions committee have made some mistakes in their decisions. I know to some of you, medicine is a life and death thing. I was in your shoes once and i know how it feels. But at the end of the day, know that sometimes we cant have what we want. This is all part and parcel of the real world, which sadly is something that 12 years of fomal education doesnt prepare you well for. At the end of the day if you are not admitted, do touch your heart and think carefully whether you were really serious about doing medicine anyway. Know that there are always alternatives towards achieving your dreams and passions. and there are a lot of people who choose to pursue such admirable paths also.

Heres wishing all of you all the best. if you have any queries, do feel free to PM me and i will try to answer them.

Hope to see you come august in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Good luck
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Old 05-16-2009, 01:30 AM   #5
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Moderator copied post from here.


In 2009, nearly 2,000 students applied for Medicine. About 800 were shortlisted for interviews, but Medicine has only 260 places. We regret that we must turn away many deserving candidates. Please understand that your candidacy has already been carefully considered, and the decisions of the Admissions Committee are final. If you decide to appeal, you should remain realistic about your chances.

Is there a reserve list?
At this time, all places have been filled. A small number of students have already been identified and ranked as reserves. Should any students withdraw from the class before the beginning of term, we may be able to make a small number of offers to shortlisted students. Reserves are not notified of their status or their ranking on the reserve list. Appeals will not have any impact on the composition or ranking of the reserve list. In the meantime, if you were offered another place at NUS or another university, or a scholarship, we would encourage you to accept it. Accepting another place or a scholarship will not harm your chances of being offered a place in Medicine from the reserve list.

Can I apply next year?
If you enroll in university in 2009, you can apply in February 2010 under Category E. Your application will be considered on the basis of your university results in addition to your 'A' level results. If you enroll in a local university, please note that your eligibility for the MOE Tuition Grant is equal to the number of years in your new course, minus the number of years you have already spent in a local university. Thus, if you enroll in Medicine after one year at NUS/NTU/SMU, you would be liable for full (non-subsidized) tuition fees for your last year in Medicine, which are currently S$106,430 per year. This is a new policy, effective in 2008-09.

If you are currently serving your National Service, we recommend that you re-apply in the year that youwill be completing NS. You should apply under Category A.
Please note that if have already attended the medical school interviews, in addition to your online application through the NUS Office of Admissions, you must also submit an application under the Exceptional Individual Scheme (EIS), available at http://www.med.nus.edu.sg – otherwise, you will not be granted an interview. This is because under the normal admission criteria, a candidate is not granted repeat interviews for Medicine. You will compete with that year’s cohort.

What other options do I have?
You may wish to consider the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (GMS), a partnership between NUS and the Duke University School of Medicine in the U.S. This four-year programme, culminating in the Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree, accepts students with bachelor's degrees and will enable graduates to practice medicine in Singapore. Information is available at www.duke-nus.edu.sg .

Can I study medicine overseas for a few years and then transfer back to NUS?
Singaporeans and SPRs attending medical school overseas may apply to transfer to NUS. Transfers should apply through Category E in February. In the event that a vacancy is available in that particular year (which is not always the case), candidates will be considered on the merits of their 'A' level results and their medical school results. Please note that NUS has a residency requirement of 50%, so transfer students must spend at least three years in the medical school at NUS, no matter how many years they have already completed.

Source: Deans Office, Medicine
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