• SAMS UoA

#Insights: MBChB, BPharm, BOptom Entry

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 20/02/18

Necessary disclaimer: We are not the final authority on this matter. In reality, the FMHS Admissions Office can change their admissions process to match their needs. We provide this information based on information as reliable and current as possible (e.g. website, and other publically accessible knowledge). Of course, we try to represent reality as accurately as possible, but we must acknowledge that we are also human and do make mistakes. Take this with a grain of salt please!


Throughout this year, we’ll have a side blog “#Insights” and we will invite some guest writers to share their experiences doing the professional clinical degrees: MBChB, BPharm, and BOptom. Many students do complete a BSc in Biomedical science / BHSc (aka First Year) prior to entering these pathways, and we’d be naive to not cater to them! This article aims to explain the entry requirements of the professional clinical degrees mentioned through the undergraduate pathway, the importance of UMAT, and addressing the competitive nature of 1st year along with the perceived pressure to purchase services from external tutoring companies.


MBChB Entry - First Year General Category

  1. Pass all 8 papers.

  2. Obtain a GPA of higher than 6 (B+) in order to be eligible.

  3. Complete the UMAT. (https://umat.acer.edu.au/)

  4. Apply for the MBChB programme before 1st October.

  5. For interview invitation, all applicants will be ranked according to their core paper grades only (not UMAT score). Their MEDSCI 142 score is highly unlikely to be available so it is assumed the applicant will obtain an A+ in that paper temporarily. (This means that everyone gets assigned an A+ for that paper anyway which is why MEDSCI 142 does not practically count). This means that your 3 papers: BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110, and POPLHLTH 111 scores are averaged and ranked against all other applicants.

  6. Receive an interview invitation.

  7. Accept the interview.

  8. Attend the interview.

  9. The Admissions Office will then rank everyone again 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.


Also, for context and from the historical data below, you want to get a core >8 GPA (on average from all four cores: 107, 110, 111, 142) if you are in the First Year General category. If you are part of the RRAS, INTERNATIONAL, or MAPAS programmes, then the GPA entry requirements will be slightly different. It is possible to get in with lower GPAs like 7.25 as seen below from historical data in 2016, but incredibly rare (in fact, there might not be ANY successful applicants with GPAs of 7.5 nor 7.75 - the next step up might have been 8.0 GPA - by only taking the extreme values; you can create illusions of safety in the “7.5 - 7.75 bracket”. You seriously need to have a core GPA of MINIMUM 8.0 to be realistically considered for MBChB. In order to even get an interview for MBChB specifically, you should be aiming for a GPA of at least 7. For the 2018 cohort, you can see that the interview cut-off score was 7.25 even. I hope this paints a picture that things change throughout the years; so just focus on doing your personal best!!! The grade “boundaries” change drastically each year and is unpredictable.

Source: Official Information Request in this link: https://fyi.org.nz/request/6264-mbchb-general-entry-information


Historical Data (2018 MBChB) - First Year (FY) Only

2018

Source: Official Information Request in this link:

https://fyi.org.nz/request/7164-mbchb-first-year-entry-information


BPharm Entry

  1. Pass all 8 papers.

  2. Obtain a GPA of higher than 4 (B-) in order to be eligible.

  3. Apply for the BPharm programme before 1st October.

  4. All FY applicants are ranked according to their 4 semester 1 papers (well, semester 2 as well; but since everyone gets an automatic A+, when you’re ranking people, it won’t make a difference).

  5. Receive an interview invitation.

  6. Accept the interview.

  7. Attend the interview.

  8. The Admissions Office will then rank everyone again based on this combined metric: 50% based on your overall GPA and 50% based on your Interview score.

Note: you don’t need to do UMAT.

Note: there sometimes may be a “minimal MMI score threshold” that one must achieve in order to get into the BPharm programme. For example, a 9-GPA applicant with a poor MMI score will still not get into this programme if their MMI score was below the cut-off threshold.

Note: The weighting between grades and interview score may change from year to year.


BOptom Entry

  1. Pass all 8 papers.

  2. Obtain a GPA of higher than 6 (B+) in order to be eligible.

  3. Apply for the BOptom programme before 1st October.

  4. All FY applicants are ranked according to 3 core semester 1 papers: BIOSCI 101, BIOSCI 107, CHEM 110 (well, semester 2 as well; but since everyone gets an automatic A+, when you’re ranking people, it won’t make a difference).

  5. Receive an interview invitation.

  6. Accept the interview.

  7. Attend the interview.

  8. The Admissions Office will then rank everyone again based on this combined metric: 50% based on your core GPA (BIOSCI 101, 106, 107, MEDSCI 142, CHEM 110, and PHYSICS 160) and 50% based on your Interview score.

Note: you don’t need to do UMAT.

Note: the “core papers” are different to MBChB.

Note: there sometimes may be a “minimal MMI score threshold” that one must achieve in order to get into the BPharm programme. For example, a 9-GPA applicant with a poor MMI score will still not get into this programme if their MMI score was below the cut-off threshold.

Note: The weighting between grades and interview score may change from year to year.


UMAT Weighting for MBChB Entry

Many people complete UMAT just to keep their options open in case they want to apply for MBChB - which is a smart thing to do. However, people often over-exaggerate the importance of UMAT on its entry into medical school. By all means, we don’t wish to downplay the importance of its 15% allocation to the MBChB rank score, but understanding how the score is calculated is important.



  • Your UMAT score is typically reported to you as a percentile score. E.g. a percentile score of “34” means that your score was better than 34% of the people who sat UMAT in that year.

  • The University of Auckland uses the total raw score for MBChB entry. You are told your raw score for Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, and overall. Only the final overall raw score is of importance for UoA.

  • The Raw Score is normally distributed; i.e. in a bell curve shape probability density curve; or a sigmoidal cumulative frequency curve (shown below). This means that the further you deviate from the 50th percentile, the smaller the change in your total raw score.

Below is the 2017 UMAT Graph showing the relationship between percentile score and raw overall score:



So for example (from the graph above taken from ACER), if you obtained a total percentile score of 50, then your total raw score would approximately be 150. If you obtained a percentile score of 70, then your total raw score would be ~162.

An increase in 20 percentiles only yields an approximate increase in 12 points raw score.

A percentile increase of 30 (i.e. from 50 to 80) yields an increase of (~150 to ~169) only ~19 points raw score.


As you can see, that is why you often anecdotally hear about that guy who got 30th percentile but still got into medicine. It simply is because of the normal distribution and the relatively low variance in UMAT Raw scores.


Lastly, 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.


External Services Discussion points

Here at SAMS, we will neither endorse nor actively encourage the use of external services. However, we do think it is very important to be fully aware of certain points surrounding this issue. As such, we encourage you to read the following points and carefully consider whether external services are for you.

  • Recommendation from the University. See this link. The University is a place of learning, so it has readily available tools to help you learn. The University also employs teaching staff to aid your education - utilise these resources!

  • General feelings amongst the student population that it did little help. Anecdotally throughout the years, many students (from all relevant degrees) in retrospect often don’t feel these tuition services realistically had much of an impact. That said, there is no doubt that external services might work for some people; but definitely not everyone.

  • External services’ advertised statistics are often skewed. Throughout the years, we’ve seen stuff like “80% of our regular class attendees get into med” or “90% of our attendees got an interview”. Thing is, they get to play around with all sorts of statistics and can choose whichever one statistic they think sounds best to market their product.

  • External services may have limited effectiveness. There is often a confounding factor of socioeconomic position. Most often, students who can afford such expensive tuition services are those from higher socioeconomic positions who, coincidentally, are more likely to achieve higher grades anyway. See studies from James, 2010; Roth, 2000; and Griffin, 2014. As such, it casts questions: does taking these external services help get you into medicine, or is it that being from a higher socioeconomic position helps get you into medicine.

  • Removes the independent aspect of tertiary education. Tertiary education is a place where you have to learn “how to adult” and to develop independence. These external services may provide these tuition services which effectively nicely organise everything for you into one nice little package, (which is cool and all), but this may be more detrimental than you realise. Going forward into 2nd year in any degree, there are little to no such services you can purchase in order to synthesise your personal educational resources, and you may find transitioning into future years at University increasingly difficult. It’s best to hit the ground running now - get used to making your own notes, creating your own learning style, understanding how you learn best.

  • The underlying “I must purchase these services in order to get into medicine” is harming to the atmosphere of 1st year. The existence of such services may cause pressure on surrounding students to feel like they’re disadvantaged for not using these services. All external services (even non-profit organisations) can’t deny that they either directly or indirectly use this atmosphere to make money off you. A business will only survive if it can make money. Try not to let these feelings influence your decision as to whether realistically these services are worth purchasing.

  • The University does not care if you get in or not; these organisations do. The business of these companies is gained by helping as many students into their desired programme as possible. The University, on the other hand, just needs to fill a quota. Since there is always an over-abundance of applicants compared to places available, if one student doesn’t achieve, they’ll just take the next; whereas if these companies don’t help the student achieve, they lose their business.

  • Some want to say they did everything they could to get where they are. Some students have said that they wanted to have done absolutely everything they could have to get a good shot at MBChB entry - including working extra jobs just to foot the tuition bill for these services. This aspect of self-satisfaction might be important to some.

  • External Services may provide wrong/incorrect/outdated information. Courses change from year to year, and the amount of misinformation given by past students have caused headaches for teaching staff needing to correct their mistakes. Whilst content might stay similar, lecturers will change and therefore the style of questions will also change, leading these external services to prepare students for the wrong types of questions.


Then where do I find help?

You’ll find that struggles at University entwine both your academic and personal life. Often, academic struggles and mental health struggles go hand in hand, and it’s so important to deal with these earlier rather than later. Below are a few suggestions on where to look for help academically and personally:

  • Your course coordinators, teaching assistants, and tutors. These people are paid to supply you your education. If you’re having trouble, contact your course coordinator, who are trained in these situations to help.

  • Library and Learning Services. These people are trained to help you with your education. They hold regular workshops to improve your skills. Visit: library.auckland.ac.nz

  • Your friends, senior students, or even us! Being a student is difficult not just academically, but to your mental health. Please, engage with your friends, engage with those helpful senior students that are wanting to have a chat with you, engage with us. We guarantee you that we’ll always have an open ear to have a chat! Contact us at sams.uoa@gmail.com!

  • The University Counselling Service. In this link, it details that the University provides FREE counselling services for all University students. Although they provide this service for the short term (i.e. up to 6 free sessions), some counselling is always better than none. Furthermore, they can refer you to other counselling service providers as well. Please, if it gets bad, talk to them - they are trained professionals!