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1st YEAR FAQ

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 22/02/2018

 

Any questions regarding this document should be preferably posted on the 1st Year Facebook page or otherwise directed to sams.uoa@gmail.com. We hope these answers are useful to you and hopefully provides some insight from the thoughts and opinions of previous 1st year students!

Disclaimer: Even though we are University-affiliated, many of these comments are our own opinions. Consult the University of Auckland as a final authority regarding Admissions, Enrolment etc. However, we have tried to provide links to the University’s website as much as possible for accuracy’s sake.

Furthermore, you may wish to consult this Google Doc which is also a FAQ document for the annual BSc Orientation which occurs in March each year: http://tinyurl.com/bscyear1q-a

If there are any statements you wish to add on to, correct or delete from this page, please contact us on sams.uoa@gmail.com

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Table of Contents

1. General Common Year 1 Questions

  1. Where do I get the POPLHLTH 111 Course Guide?

  2. Which Orientation Day should I go to?

  3. How do I enrol?

  4. I'm having problems with enrolment and don't know what do to! Can you please help?

  5. What General Education (Gen Ed) paper should I take?

  6. What is GPA and how is it calculated?

  7. Why do some subjects clash with themselves (e.g. Physics 160)?

  8. Should I apply for Semester 2 papers now?

  9. What is the DELNA?

  10. What is this academic integrity course?

  11. What is a "core" paper?

  12. What are course guides and where/when do I get them?

  13. How will I make it to my classes on time if I have classes/labs that are back to back?

  14. Do I really need to get a lab coat and safety glasses? Where can I get one?

  15. Textbooks: Do I have to buy them? Should I buy them?

  16. I don't care! I want to buy a textbook! Which textbook(s) should I buy?

  17. What edition textbook should I buy?

  18. How do I find past exam papers to practice on? And where are the answers?

  19. Exams: When are they? Why is my exam schedule so bad? When do we find out our mark? etc.

  20. What is the morning stream and afternoon stream I have heard about?

  21. What are overflow rooms?

  22. Should I do BIOMED or HEALTHSCI?

2. MBChB (Medicine) Entry Related Questions

  1. How will my Common Year 1 grades mathematically count towards MBChB Entry?

  2. Why shouldn't I care too much about UMAT?

  3. How do I register for UMAT?

  4. Should I purchase commercially available UMAT tuition?

  5. How should I prepare for UMAT?

  6. What is this "MH03" form I (may) have heard about?

3. Beyond First Year Questions

  1. What options are there apart from medicine?

  2. I hate BIOSCI papers. Is there any way I don't have to do them past first year?

  3. Is it possible to do BSc (Physiology/Psychology) and still complete it within 3 years even if I did Biomedical Science 1st year?

  4. What kind of jobs are there for BSc (Biomedical Science) graduates?

  5. What are these specialisations for Biomedical Science?

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General Common Year 1 Questions

1) Where do I get the POPLHLTH 111 Course Guide?

​POPLHLTH 111 does not have a Course Guide. They upload lecture notes onto CANVAS right before the lecture for you to download and annotate on during the lecture.

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2) Which Orientation Day should I go to?

If you are a BHSc student, go to the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Orientation Day. If you are a BSc (Biomedical Science), go to the Faculty of Science Orientation Day.

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3) How do I enrol?

After you apply for the University of Auckland and are accepted, you now have to enrol in the 8 papers (i.e., 4 papers in Semester 1 and 4 papers in Semester 2) required for 1st year. For Common Year 1, you have very little choice as to which papers you are allowed to do so the enrolment process is made easier as you can enrol in a "cohort" option which simply picks all your necessary papers for you and sorts the different classes to ensure all permutations of valid, non-clashing classes is presented to you. (In the usual enrolment process, you actually manually choose the courses you wish to do; but this is not really the case here).

Go to student.auckland.ac.nz > Log-In > "Enrol" > "Add Classes With" > "Timetable Planner" > "+ Add Course" > "Search by Cohort" > Select the relevant cohort > Send to your Enrolment Cart > Actually Click Enrol (and read & agree to the T's & C's)*

 

*You usually have to finish your payment by the 1st day of Semester which is typically either late February or early March; which should be plenty of time for StudyLink to process your Student Loan if you are applying for that.

 

BSc (Biomedical Science) should enrol in the following papers:

  • Semester 1: Biosci 101, Biosci 107, Chem 110 and Poplhlth 111*

  • Semester 2: Biosci 106, Medsci 142, Physics 160 and a General Education

 

*For BSc (Biomedical Science), it is not necessary to take Poplhlth 111. Only if you are intending to apply for MBChB (Medicine), you will be required to take that paper. If you are absolutely sure you will not be applying for MBChB, consider taking Stats 101 as that is another core paper you will have to take inevitably. However, my opinion is that it would be best to take Poplhlth 111 to keep your options open should you change your mind later and want to apply for Medicine. 

More info here. ​

 

BHSc (Health Science) students should enrol in the following papers: Semester 1: Poplhlth 101, Poplhlth 111, Biosci 107 and Chem 110 Semester 2: Poplhlth 102, Hlthpsyc 122, Medsci 142 and a General Education More info here.

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4) I'm having problems with enrolment and don't know what do to! Can you please help?

If you would like to drop your enrolled cohort for a serious reason (e.g. you now have a clash), you need to contact your Student Centre. Excuses like "I don't like my timetable" are unlikely to work! :P

Otherwise, all other enrolment problems should be dealt with by your Student Centre.If you are a BSc (Biomedical Science) student, contact the Science Student Centre through this link.If you are a BHSc student, contact the Medical & Health Science Student Centre through this link.

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5) What General Education (Gen Ed) paper should I take?

General Education (Gen Ed) papers are meant to broaden your experience and exposure to other fields not related to your degree so provide basic understanding of certain subjects. However, in the context of Common Year 1 Biomed/HealthSci, your semester 2 is already quite packed in both your weekly timetable and the amount of stuff you need to study (e.g. MEDSCI 142!).

It is often recommended that you simply choose a Gen Ed that you are interested in because the more interested you are, the more motivated, and better you'll do! This is absolutely good, sound, advice.

 

However, I would like to bring a few more points for you consideration: Some Gen Eds (particularly language papers) will inherently require you to spend more time on them for study thereby taking time away from more "important" papers like MEDSCI 142. You ideally want a paper which is not time-intensive and relatively easy to get good marks in so you can focus on your core papers."Easy" papers can also be interesting."Interest" in a paper might even show you another degree/career pathway you might be interested in!

If you wish to apply for MBChB, your Gen Ed final score is not as important as your MEDSCI 142 score. Take what you will from this and make up your own mind :) You are allowed to choose from most Gen Eds in the two lists:

  • Open (O) Schedule: link.

  • EMHSS Schedule: link.

However, you are highly unlikely to be able to do the following Gen Eds: BIOSCI 100G, MEDSCI 101G; this is because if you do a course in a certain subject (e.g. BIOSCI 107), this makes you ineligible to undertake a General Education in the same subject - see this link for more details.

Special note regarding PHARMACY 111G: if you do this Gen Ed, this makes it difficult for you if you wish to complete a BPharm degree - so it is best to avoid it.

 

In short, here are a few Gen Eds for you to consider that past years have found easy: INTBUS 151G, ECON151G, PHIL 105G, EDUC 121G, EDUC 122G, SCIGEN 101G, MUS 144G Please note that every year, the timetable gets swapped around so not every paper is always available given the potential clash with your core timetable which takes priority over the Gen Ed paper.

 

There is also a website out there which allows people to anonymously post their course review of certain papers - the accuracy and unbiased view is not guaranteed though - take it with a grain of salt! ​

http://www.studentcoursereview.co.nz/q/new-zealand/university-of-auckland 

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6) What is GPA and how is it calculated? ​

Your final grade in a paper is a combination of your internal assessment grade and your exam mark (e.g. a typical paper might look like: 50% exam, 20% mid-semester-test, 20% lab and 10% assignment; however, this is different for every paper and you should refer to your course manual or course coordinators as they should provide this information). Your final grade in a paper is called a 'Grade Point Equivalent' (GPE). When you take an average of your GPEs, they become a 'Grade Point Average' (otherwise known as your GPA). This helps simplify your grades into a single number. 

 

Below tells you the estimated grade thresholds for most papers. However, in some papers, the grade thresholds are not the same. They are sometimes adjusted higher or lower depending on how well the rest of the cohort does in that paper; e.g. in one year, Poplhlth111’s A+ grade threshold was not 90%. It was around 93-94%*** my source is from friends who got A or A+ and calculating their grades manually. This is by no means from official UoA announcements. Point is, it can vary slightly from paper to paper - some departments like to scale marks, other don't - just try your best and get the best mark you can!

9 =  A+ (Score is 90 or above)

8 = A (Score is 85 - 89.99)

7 =  A- (Score is 80 - 84.99)

6 =  B+ (Score is 75 - 79.99)

5 =  B (Score is 70 - 74.99)

4 =  B- (Score is 65 - 69.99)

3 =  C+ (Score is 60 - 64.99)

2 =  C (Score is 55 - 59.99)

1 =  C- (Score is 50 - 54.99)

0 = D (Score is 0 - 49.99: i.e. fail grade)

 

More information regarding GPA calculation can be found here.

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7) Why do some subjects clash with themselves (e.g. Physics 160)?

The component that seemingly clashes during the enrolment process is the labs and tutorials. Labs are usually run fortnightly with tutorials every other week. If you’re doing BSc (Biomedical Science), that would probably only apply to Physics 160. So for example, odd weeks are lab weeks and even weeks are tutorial weeks. This appears as if the lab clashes with the tutorials on SSO. If you press ‘Enrol’, this should not appear as a problem. 

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8) Should I apply for Semester 2 papers now?

Yes. The only thing you get to choose is your general education paper (assuming you’re doing Biomed/Healthsci). Although there are a lot of choices out there, it doesn’t hurt to pick now as otherwise you may miss out on your preferred lab streams. Furthermore, when picking a gen ed paper, the ones that are deemed to be the "easiest" often fill up very quickly so enrolling earlier will ensure you have a place in the paper. If you end up changing your mind you can always change it before the semester starts.

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9) What is the DELNA?

The DELNA is a fairly simple test that all first years need to sit in order to assess English language skills. You need to book online for a session and the test should take approximately 10-15 minutes. You can find more info here.

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10) What is this academic integrity course?

Academic Integrity is important in university – the work you hand in must be all your own and not copied from someone else. You’ll have to complete an Academic Integrity course at some point during your degree, and you’ll find that you’re automatically enrolled in it. You’re supposed to read about academic integrity and watch a few videos here and answer quizzes about it on CANVAS. You need to get it 100% right, but you have infinite chances and it’s not exactly the hardest thing ever! It’s nothing to worry about; just something you can consider doing before University starts so you don’t have to even think about doing it during University. If you don’t complete it within the first semester you will simply be re-enrolled in the following semester until it is completed. Find out more here.Back to Top

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11) What is a "core" paper?

This depends on who mentions it:

  • To the common university student, "core" papers are compulsory papers that you have no choice but to complete as part of your degree. However, you are likely to have to do all 8 prescribed papers so this is confusing and irrelevant to Common Year 1 students.For Common Year 1 students wishing to apply for Optometry (BOptom), "core" papers are 6 papers: BIOSCI 101, BIOSCI 106, BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110, PHYSICS 160, and MEDSCI 142. This is because these 6 papers count towards both the interview selection and the selective entry into the BOptom programme.

  • For Common Year 1 students wishing to apply for Medicine (MBChB), "core" papers are 4 papers: BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110, POPLHLTH 111, and MEDSCI 142. This is because these 4 papers count towards both the interview selection and the selective entry into the MBChB programme.

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12) What are course guides and where/when do I get them?

These are books which are printed for each individual course by the relevant departments. Some departments require you to buy it from UBS (each coursebook costs around $30). Other departments give you one copy as part of the cost you paid for the course. If you don't want to buy a courseguide, the whole thing is often uploaded to CANVAS as well, so you can print off the relevant pages for lectures (but it's probably easier, and cheaper, to simply buy the courseguide). Inside these courseguides should be all the relevant course information, lectures, tests, labs etc. Also, the important stuff that's in these courseguides are the lecture notes - these lecture notes are usually organised into lectures. So, the pages for Lecture 1 will contain Learning Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Aims/Concepts (whatever fancy word the lecturer wants to call them) will have relevant pictures, notes etc. for what the lecturer will cover in Lecture 1. Such is the same for Lecture 2, and so on. However, some lecturers don't put that much in the lecture guide and require you to write a lot of stuff during lectures; this gets rather troublesome.

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13) How will I make it to my classes on time if I have classes/labs that are back to back?

Lectures start 5 minutes after the hour and finish 5 minutes before the hour giving you 10 minutes to travel to your next lecture (assuming it’s at another location; otherwise, you have 10 minutes to chill in the same lecture theatre). ​ Also, if you are fast enough, you can leave your lab early provided you finish all the required work early :)

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14) Do I really need to get a lab coat and safety glasses? Where can I get one?

You will be required to buy a lab coat for use in BIOSCI, CHEM and MEDSCI labs. You will need to bring it to every lab you have or face the threat of hiring one! Although it's only $2 each time, this isn't worth it in the long run as you'll need a lab coat for the rest of your University degree anyway so you may as well invest in one now. You’ll also need safety glasses, which always must be worn in CHEM and MEDSCI labs (unless otherwise stated) and in BIOSCI labs when using harmful chemicals. These can all be bought at University Book Store (found at Kate Edgar Information Commons Level 0 and Level 1). You can also get them second hand at some other places (the Grafton campus usually sells some at a discount but it's often sold out quickly - so get in quick!).​

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15) Textbooks: Do I have to buy them? Should I buy them?

Textbooks are massive thousand page books which contain a plethora of information which is incredibly beneficial to anyone able to read them. At University, courses usually "recommend" or "prescribe" textbooks. "Recommended textbooks" often supplement course material well hence they are recommended. "Prescribed textbooks" are prescribed likely because the course coordinator / professor wishes you to do homework and actually read parts of the textbook. That said and out of the way, it is strongly advised that you do consider the following before purchasing physical textbooks:

  • You can access textbooks for free at the University of Auckland Library. Simply walk into the Library and borrow them either from Short Loan or from the shelf and have a read. You just need your UoA ID card to borrow the textbooks!You may even have access to the electronic version of the textbook. Some textbooks can be accessed via the UoA Library website via your University log-in. For example, Webb & Bain's Essential Epidemiology 2nd Edition can be accessed in this link.

  • They're heavy to carry around. You're likely to be going into University 3-5 times a week. Who wants to lug around these heavy beasts all the time?

  • You can purchase just the electronic version. In this digital age, you can get the electronic version easily onto your mobile, laptop, Kindle (TM) without it being so darn heavy to lug around!

  • They're expensive. Possibly the most expensive paper weight.There are second hand textbooks available. Join this FB group, follow the rules, and buy a second hand textbook for much cheaper.

  • Second hand textbooks are often "brand new condition" for a reason. People tend to open their book once or twice during the semester because of the "New Year New Me" mentality but soon don't bother when they realise that they just need to study through their course guide primarily.

 

We recommend doing this: Wait until the end of Week 2 to decide whether you need a textbook. See what your study behaviour is like. Do you actually go to the library often and read the recommended readings? Do you struggle to understand the background information from lectures? If so, then sure, it may be beneficial to purchase a textbook. However, we strongly recommend refraining from buying textbooks because the vast majority of people just do not find buying textbooks worth the money.

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16) I don't care! I want to buy a textbook! Which textbook(s) should I buy?

The best textbook to get is Tortora & Derrickson's Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. This textbook is recommended for BIOSCI 107 and prescribed for MEDSCI 142. You will need to do pre-readings for the labs in MEDSCI 142 from this textbook. (But this can be done at the Library anyways). Since this textbook covers two courses, it is economical to purchase this. Textbooks for other courses are not recommended by us.

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17) What edition textbook should I buy?

Of course, purchasing the latest edition is very nice, but you will find it is quite expensive. Textbooks simply get updated every few years to keep up to date with the latest information and in the process, the page numbers get changed around for certain topics. Between editions, however, you will find that the vast majority of content remains identical, just simply on a different page. Given that your course books often cite your recommended readings from certain page numbers, it is annoying to not have the right page number - but that is what an index is for! However, most course books will actually include the page numbers for the prescribed readings for multiple editions of the textbook.

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18) How do I find past exam papers to practice on? And where are the answers?

Go to this website, click on “Readings & Exams”, then type in your course number: e.g. “CHEM 110”. Click on the exampapers option, press the ‘View Online Tab’, log in with your Uni log in and then you can view past year exams (not course assessments such as Mid-semester tests - those are normally provided by the course coordinators via CANVAS).

Note: answers are not provided for exams as they are designed to be revision tools. Instead, if you got together with friends to discuss answers, and for the leftover questions that you still couldn’t do - asking your lecturers (via email) or asking on Piazza, would help your learning experience more. However, for subjects such as CHEM and PHYSICS, if I recall correctly, they do post up on CANVAS past exam papers AND past exam paper answers. The BIOSCI department usually has some past tests/exam MCQ quizzes on CANVAS where they do tell you the answers to the past MCQ section of the exam - the long answer section will have to be determined by you.

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19) Exams: When are they? Why is my exam schedule so bad? When do we find out our mark? etc.

  • The Exam Schedule is typically released during, or after, the mid-semester break for the corresponding semester. (So for Semester 1, the Exam Schedule will be released in both your SSO and in this link in approximately Week 6.

  • Exams are closer together for the larger classes, so generally Biomed papers tend to have their exams within the first week or so of exams. This is to allow a longer processing time for exam papers with larger classes so that your marks can be released on time.

  • Exams are timetabled according to the exam office – the departments do not have any control over the timetable so complaining to them won't really help your case. In addition, all of the prior years to you have had their exams crammed together so they are extremely unlikely to change them anyway.Your overall grades will be released on SSO, usually between 10 and 20 days after the last day of the exam period. You will not get the exam grade itself but an overall grade including coursework. More info here.

  • You can request to get a photocopy of/get your original exam script here. You can request to get it recounted here, however you should weigh all your options before proceeding with this because it costs money ($55 per paper requested!) and you’re unlikely to get a different grade. Note that they do NOT remark your paper, but rather recount the number of marks that the examiner recorded.​

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20) What is the morning stream and afternoon stream I have heard about?

​Because there are so many students in certain classes (e.g. 1000+ students enrolled in CHEM 110, BIOSCI 107, and MEDSCI 142), the University lecture halls are unable to fit 1000 students all into one place at one time. As such, there are often two streams for the same course where the lecturer will present the same content twice in one day; just at different times. You are expected to show up at the stream you are enrolled in although some people like to "stream-hop" and attend the morning stream just so they can finish their day early. As for choosing which stream to enrol into, I do not believe you are able to do that any longer due to the rigid enrolment structure of the Timetable Planner Cohort system.

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21) What are overflow rooms?

Similarly, because of the sheer number of students in certain classes, at a given lecture slot (e.g. 9am-10am on Monday morning for BIOSCI 107), two lecture theatres might be dedicated to the one lecture. The "overflow" lecture room is likely nearby the main lecture theatre and will have two screens: one showing live video footage of the lecturer, the other showing the Power Point presentation (or whatever the lecturer is using to teach). Some people like the overflow rooms because of it being a bit less stuffy and more relaxed in atmosphere. After all, fitting 500 students into the main lecture theatre can definitely cause undue heating effects!

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22) Should I do BIOMED or HEALTHSCI?

​As the Student Association for the Medical Sciences, we primarily cater to BSc (Biomedical Science) students so we're inevitably going to be biased towards it here :P Nonetheless, here's some (hopefully) objective points for you to consider to guide your choice:

 

BIOMED  - BSc (Biomedical Science)

  • You can apply for Optometry as well. If you're going for BOptom, you must do BIOSCI 101, 106, 107, CHEM 110, PHYSICS 160, and MEDSCI 142. BIOMED gives you this option. HEALTHSCI does not.

  • You need to do Physics. If you've done high school physics all the way up to Year 13, you should have little problem as you'll have done most of the content before. If you have done it to Year 12, PHYSICS 160 is a nice continuation of what you learnt. If you have only done it to Year 11, consider it a rough challenge where you'll be learning quite a little bit extra. If you have not done it at all before, good luck.

  • A little bit more objective. In Year 1, the BIOMED degree requires very little essay writing. Most assessment is either Multi-Choice or Short Answer. This makes assessment much more objective with your answers being either "right" or "wrong" and with fewer shades of the in-between. 

  • Much more science-based. If you enjoy your purer scientific learning, BIOMED is for you. If you did lots of high school science, you'll find learning in BIOMED much more familiar.

  • Consider the 3 other papers: BIOSCI 101, BIOSCI 106, and PHYSICS 160. Read through their course descriptions to see if they interest you. Perhaps read our reviews on this website to give you an idea of what they're about.

 

HEALTHSCI - BHSc

  • You cannot apply for Optometry.

  • A few more essays - perhaps a little subjective. There are a few more essays. We're not saying that you need Top of the World English Literature writing skills, we're asking you to research a topic, grasp the big ideas, and convey your opinion clearly. That said, it might feel that assessment is therefore slightly more subjective given that someone must read your essay and then give you a mark. If you are quite happy with essay writing, then perhaps Health Science is for you.

  • Consider the 3 other papers: POPLHLTH 101, POPLHLTH 102, and HLTHPSYC 122. Read through their course descriptions to see if they interest you.

 

Also consider this:

  • Consider your "Plan B". What if you don't get into your desired programme? Sure, both degrees can apply for Pharmacy, but what if you wish to continue with BIOMED or HEALTHSCI? To oversimplify a complex topic, you can potentially think of Health Science leading to a career as an epidemiologist / public health policy advisor; whereas Biomedical Science leading towards a career as a Scientist. Do you prefer thinking of health more holistically and in the context of society (i.e. Health Science) or do you prefer thinking of health more intricately and in the context of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs (i.e. Biomedical Science)?

  • There is no "easier" course. There is only a course that you are personally better at. If you're interested in the topic, you'll naturally study better for it, and you'll likely do better at it.

  • The non-core papers are less important. Assuming you are aiming for MBChB, you need only get a B+ GPA across the 8 papers. It is the core papers that you really need to do especially well in.

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Medicine (MBChB) Entry Related Questions

1) How will my Common Year 1 grades mathematically count towards MBChB Entry?

  • Pass all 8 papers.Obtain a GPA of higher than 6 (B+) in order to be eligible.

  • Complete the UMAT.

  • Apply for the MBChB programme before 1st October.All applicants will be ranked according to their core paper grades. Their MEDSCI 142 score is highly unlikely to be available so it is assumed the applicant will obtain an A+ in that paper temporarily. (But everyone gets assigned an A+ for that paper anyway). This means that your 3 papers: BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110, and POPLHLTH 111 scores are averaged and ranked against all other applicants. Receive an interview invitation.

  • Accept the interview.

  • Attend the interview.The Admissions Office will then rank everyone based on this combined metric: 60% based on your core GPA (i.e. across MEDSCI 142, BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110, POPLHLTH 111), 25% Interview score, and 15% UMAT Raw score.

The above process is detailed here.

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2) Why shouldn't I care too much about UMAT?

The Undergraduate Medical Admissions Test (UMAT) is a 3 hour aptitude test which counts for 15% of your final mark in getting into medicine. You will receive your result as both a percentile and a raw score. If you scored in the "80th percentile", this means your score was better than 80% of all the people who took the test in that year.

There are two good reasons why you should not care too much about UMAT:

  • UMAT is not indicative of how good a medical practitioner you will be. Well respected medical researchers who have conducted research on the correlation between UMAT scores and the success of future medical careers concluded that it had no proven indication of how 'well' a medical practitioner one would turn out to be. Many advocates have been calling for the removal of the UMAT criteria for MBChB entry. Source: guest editorial "Selecting medical students who will become general practitioners: is the aptitude test suitable?" in this link.

  • The UoA Medical Admissions Office uses your raw score, which is a normally distributed metric (i.e. bell-curve shape). In the contrived graph below, you see the 50th percentile score at approximately 150 raw score (out of 300). If you achieved the 70th percentile, the raw score shifts by much less from 150 raw score to 160 raw score (out of 300). This diminishing change in raw score in response to achieving differing percentile scores away from the 50th percentile means that even with a terrible UMAT score (raw or percentile), you still have a good to fair chance given that only the raw score is taken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3) How do I register for UMAT?

Applications for UMAT open in December the preceding year. Registration costs a few hundred Australian dollars and needs to be completed before approximately June each year ahead of the actual test in late July. You can find all the information regarding registration on the ACER website: https://umat.acer.edu.au/. ​

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4) Should I purchase commercially available UMAT tuition?

We do not think this is a good idea. Please consider the following points below:

  • The Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) is the final authority on the UMAT and (quote) “do not recommend or endorse any commercially available courses offering UMAT preparation. Nor do ACER or the Consortium have knowledge of the content of such courses, or any involvement in their development, or any commercial interest in the programs.”

  • Anecdotally, students (both those who get into MBChB and those who do not get in) who have purchased these commercially available UMAT tuition services in the past largely agree that the cost far outweighs the benefits.

  • Statistics like "most people who sat this course were offered an interview" have little weight to them. Companies purposely skew their statistic to sell their product without accounting for obvious interaction effects such as socioeconomic position, scholastic achievement, and verification from the University admissions office.

  • There is a pervading mentality of stressed first year students thinking "if other people take the course and I don't, I will be disadvantaged." The point is, there are other methods to prepare for this test that doesn't require purchasing these external services.

Granted:

  • In the past, some students have raised that they are sated by the feeling of "I did everything I could to give MBChB entry my best shot - so I worked extra jobs to pay for this tuition". We have no argument against this.

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5) How should I prepare for UMAT?

  • Check if you have a Semester 2 lab clash with UMAT. The UMAT is usually held either on the penultimate or last Wednesday of July and can clash with labs going on at the same time (e.g. MEDSCI 142, BIOSCI 106, PHYSICS 160). If you have this clash, find out as soon as you can, contact your course coordinator, who will then organise a temporary lab switch so you can attend a different stream just for the first lab. This is no big deal and should be done as early as possible (e.g. in June) so everyone is prepared.

  • Practice speed reading. The UMAT requires you to read and sift through a lot of words. Many people do not even finish the test due to the shear amount of words. I know I didn't - I skipped the last 10 questions! The average reader can read 200 wpm with 60% comprehension. Try up-skill yourself by doing something like the following: (i) Go to some random news website and take any 300 words,

    • Set a countdown timer for 30 seconds and read through the article

    • Grab a blank piece of paper (or open up a blank text document) and write down 10 different bits of information you can remember from the article. Practice this exercise a few times every day to improve your reading speed and reading comprehension. Challenge yourself if that gets to easy by increasing the amount of text, decreasing the time, or demanding even more bits of information from yourself.

  • Read and expand your vocabulary. Section 2 of the UMAT will require you to "Understand People" and their feelings. However, you need only introspect to realise how complex describing one's feelings are. Thankfully, the English language provides such a plethora of words for us to express ourselves. Unfortunately, this means there are many words that have similar meaning, but are still slightly different. Being able to describe the difference between "despair" and "dejected" for example. By reading more, imagining, empathising, and being exposed to these similar (but different) words, this will help you develop a stronger grasp of the different words, which translates to a stronger grasp on ones' emotions.

  • Practice Sudokus and/or other logic puzzles. Section 3 of the UMAT requires you to recognise patterns and perform logical deductions. Practice doing these types of pattern-recognition exercises to train your brain.

  • Get a run-up of consecutive regular good night's sleep. Sleep improves function. Get quality sleep. If you're anything like me, you probably won't have a nice sleep right before UMAT, so make sure you're well rested the entire week before so you're not feeling any bit groggy on the day.

  • Understand what to expect. The entire test is multiple choice. There are three sections to the test each testing different skills: 1) Logical reasoning and problem solving, 2) Understanding People, and 3) Non-verbal reasoning. Read carefully through the UMAT website (such as in this link) to understand exactly what sort of questions may be asked so there are no surprises on the day.

  • Do the practice test under test conditions. When you register for UMAT, they automatically give you a practice test. I strongly encourage doing this test under test conditions, as if your actual test, to gauge how well your ability to cope under 3 hours of exam pressure, hydration levels, concentration levels, and food requirements. It's not an easy feat. Ask a runner how their muscle feels right after a marathon and compare that to how your brain will feel right after the UMAT. Adjust your preparation accordingly. (E.g. if you feel you need to go toilet at least once, then mentally prepare for that on the day etc.). Just don't get caught by surprise.

  • Plan your UMAT day. The test typically takes place at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau which is able to be reached by train followed by 20 minutes of walking. Alternatively, you could get dropped off. Alternatively, you could take the bus. But then there are not really any food stores around so you might need to bring your own. Research, plan, and prepare. Make sure you know exactly what you need to bring (admission slip, ID, pencil, eraser, AT HOP card, etc.) and think it through. Don't forget to plan your journey home as well!

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6) What is this "MH03" form I (may) have heard about?

Prior to 2013, there was a form which was required to be submitted separately to the SSO application for MBChB called the ‘MH03’ form. On this form asked 2 questions: “Please state briefly why you wish to undertake the medical programme. Please include any professional and personal experiences, and other personal attributes that you feel are relevant.” and “Please describe any sporting, cultural, artistic and community involvements, leadership roles and other personal achievements that you feel are worthy of merit.”  You were given 3000 characters for each question - this was submitted online separately to the SSO application.

From 2014, you were required to type in the answers in the application on SSO along with the rest of your personal information so you did not have to separately write up an "MH03 form". This is a great time for some introspection because it will help with your interview preparation along with help explain more explicitly why you would like to be a doctor.

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__________

Beyond First Year

1) What options are there apart from medicine?

There are many options available! You can apply for Optometry or Pharmacy, switch to Nursing, continue with Biomedical Science/Health Science, switch to the medical science degrees: BSc (Physiology) or BSc (Pharmacology) etc. If you’re keen on getting into medicine, there is still postgraduate entry into medicine you can consider and that is after you have completed an undergraduate degree i.e. a Bachelor’s degree.

More info:

Optometry: Here and here

Pharmacy: Here and here

Nursing: Here and here

These degrees (above), along with Medicine (MBChB), are specialist clinical degrees where you will learn about patient interaction. Therefore, they have a clinical element and will have their own unique papers and a different degree structure; e.g. have 30-point papers (normal papers are usually only worth 15 points)

 

Medical Science degrees (degrees which have ‘MEDSCI’ papers as part of their core papers)

Biomedical Science: Here

Physiology: Here

Pharmacology: Here

Medicinal Chemistry: Here

Other: Bioscience Enterprise: Here

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2) I hate BIOSCI papers. Is there any way I don't have to do them past first year?

IOSCI papers get much better in 2nd year and 3rd year with regards to Biomedical Science. But if you really dislike BIOSCI and wish to not take them, you can switch to Physiology or Pharmacology. These 2 degrees comprise purely of MEDSCI papers and you get a bit much more freedom to choose elective papers. Quite a few people generally find BIOSCI papers to be more manageable than MEDSCI papers, especially in Stage II and III, as MEDSCI papers have lengthy lab reports and tend to just have more content than BIOSCIs, so make sure you weigh your options as dropping BIOSCI papers could end up being detrimental. Switching from Biomed to Physiology is quite a popular option for people going into 2nd year, however 3rd year Physiology requires you to take four MEDSCI papers out of 309, 311, 312, 316 and 317. This forces Physiology students to take either one (or both) out of 309 and 311 which are notorious for being the most difficult Stage III MEDSCIs. 

There are a lot of different factors so if you want more information please contact us at sams.uoa@gmail.com and we'll try our best to help.

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3) Is it still possible to do BSc (Physiology/Psychology) and still complete it within 3 years even if I did Biomedical Science 1st year?

Yes! That is entirely possible because it is possible to finish Psychology’s first and 2nd year papers within one year due to some papers’ prerequisites to be BIOSCI or MEDSCI first year papers. More info here and here.

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4) What kind of jobs are there for BSc (Biomedical Science) graduates?

We have a post dedicated to this universally asked question

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5) What are these specialisations for Biomedical Science? These specialisations include:

  • Cancer Biology and Therapeutics

  • Cardiovascular Biology

  • Cellular and Molecular Biomedicine

  • Genetics and Development

  • Microbiology and Immunology

  • Neurobiology

  • Nutrition

  • Reproduction, Growth and Metabolism

The different papers for each specialisation can be viewed on the University website here and the descriptions for each here.

These specialisations aren't compulsory but are recommended so that once you have completed your degree you will have specialised in a specific topic, rather than having done a range of papers that don't really relate to one another. 

 

If you are considering further study in the medical sciences and want help regarding Stage II and Stage III course selections, stay tuned on our Facebook page and/or lecture announcements. We have talks which will occur later in the year for first year and for second year medical sciences students addressing these sorts of questions at greater depth. Otherwise, feel free to email us at sams.uoa@gmail.com.

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