So you’re up against the stiffest odds you’ve faced in awhile: The Medicine interviews. Roughly 2000 people apply. Most have “Straight As”. More than half get rejected before the interviews, eventually a mere 280~ students get accepted (NUS Medicine).
It’s not easy facing odds like that. But instead of wasting time worrying about the odds you’re facing, why not take a minute to look at some facts and tips that will point you in the right direction?
1) Remember they’re not trying to reject 1700 people.
They’re trying to accept 280~ applicants! This means you don’t have to worry about slipping up. Instead, give them reasons why they should accept you. Let yourself stand out. Create a personal story that is unique and will set you up to stand out. Let them remember you for something good that you did.
2) Don’t worry about not having medical knowledge.
For the Focused Skills Assessments (FSA) of the NUS applications, there are 8 stations in 90 minutes (7 stations for the NTU LKC admissions). They are a series of mini-interviews and dexterity tests. With 2000 applicants and 800 interviewees, admissions teams cannot afford to be unfair and test applicants on medical knowledge. The purpose is to find out how good a doctor or surgeon you might become, so don’t worry about studying for medical theory. You’ll be wasting time here. Spend your time more fruitfully preparing for the mini-interviews. The impressions you leave will make all the difference.
3) The Situational Judgment Test (SJT) can be prepared for.
They will tell you that there is no right or wrong answer, but put yourself in the shoes of an Admissions Officer – why would they do it then? There are ways to prepare for the SJT, you can approach helpful seniors for tips and questions (if they will tell them), or look us up at Impressionist: The Interview Specialists. Don’t land yourself in a tough spot by telling yourself the answers don’t matter. You should carefully ponder your responses instead of firing off the first thing that comes to mind.
4) Be ready for the atmosphere in the holding rooms.
It’s no joke when tens of the most competitive students in the country are crammed into a room together to wait upon their turn for the assessments. The cortisol (stress hormone – in case you don’t already know it) produces a tangible smell. Like a National Exam hall, but more intense. Be ready for it. Be prepared to wait a little longer if you’re scheduled in the afternoon slots. Delays can occur and that shouldn’t throw you off your game. You got this.
The worst thing you can do is to tell yourself you can “just wing it”. These interviews come by once in a lifetime, and you’re not going to have the luxury of practice unless you make sure you have some beforehand. Look for past questions, ask seniors who got in, but never, ever, ever be passive about your future.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Randy Pausch, famous for his Last Lecture:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”