Hey, long time no see!

In my latest blog post (click here) I left it that I was waiting to hear back from Imperial about whether they would still accept the B grade I received for Chemistry. Well, another painfully long week later, and I received an email saying that as I did not meet the offer conditions I was not accepted. The email ended saying that if I wanted to still study there, I would have to reapply for 2021 entry, but if not then “best of luck with your other choices”…!! WHAT.

I couldn’t fathom the thought of having to reapply to medicine all over again, which would involve sitting the BMAT entrance exam which was only a couple of weeks after my chemistry autumn exams that I would need to sit to get an A. I replied to their email, and poured my heart out about how unreasonable it was to expect me to reapply when I had only lost my hard-earned offer because of a grade that I received having never even sat the exam. They replied and said that because I accepted an offer from them for 2020 entry, they would automatically give me an offer for 2021 without the need to sit the BMAT or have an interview. I was so relieved, but also kind of angry they didn’t make that very clear on the first email, which would have saved two days’ worth of heartache. I now just needed to sit the chemistry exams and get an A and my I would start my medical degree in 2021. Hilariously, that would mean me having a gap year (which I just spent months talking myself OUT OF).

>> Gap Year Before Medical School? COVID-19 and My Gap Year Dilemma

I was on holiday in the Brecon Beacons in Wales at the time of all of this, so you can imagine how that holiday went… lots of tears and forceful emails being sent back and forth to Imperial, exam boards and my school in our hotel room. The minute I got home from that holiday, I planned my revision over the next five weeks (aware of the fact that many other students sitting the exam would have began revising a lot earlier than I had :/ ). I also was adamant I didn’t want any help from my school because of how badly they dealt with my situation, so I had just over a month to revise a whole A level by myself, and with very little prior knowledge as I’d forgotten everything over lockdown.

Chemistry Revision

I revised almost every single day for those five weeks, and felt very confident for the exams by the end of them. I had sat many past-papers from previous years at home under timed conditions, and consistently achieved good marks (and using the grade boundaries from that year, would have achieved A/A* grades). Things were looking good.

The actual exams I sat, though, were DIFFERENTLY hard. As if 2020 couldn’t be hard enough for students in the position of sitting these exams already! All three papers were definitely not as straight-forward as previous years (I’m assuming they stepped the difficulty up a notch for 2020 exams as this specification has been around for a few years now), but I know I tried my best.

The good thing about these exams is that I honestly do not think I could have tried any harder to prepare (whereas after exams I’ve sat in the past I always had a niggling feeling that I could have done more). Therefore if it doesn’t work out and I don’t get an A it must be for a reason, and someone, SOMEWHERE, really doesn’t think medicine right now is the best thing for me.

Plan B

To get the automatic offer from Imperial, I had to apply through UCAS again (another £26 to add to the £130 I had to pay to sit one A level… great). I didn’t see a point of applying to other medical schools as I would need to sit the entrance exams (UCAT cycle was nearly over and the BMAT very close to the end of my chemistry exams, and most medical schools need the same grades as Imperial anyway).

So for my remaining 4 choices, I applied to Biochemistry courses. I have already received a confirmed offer to study Biochemistry at Newcastle so at least I’ve got a good plan B confirmed. Newcastle also offers a ‘transfer to medicine’ scheme after first year which means if I do well in my first year of Biochemistry and get a competitive UCAT score (uh-oh), then I can transfer to their Medicine degree course. I can do post-graduate medicine after completing the Biochemistry degree too if it comes to it (but the cons include having to fund tuition fees yourself with no student loans :/). Both options are not the end of the world and these alternative routes will give me more life experience, but it will just mean adding quite a few years to the journey of becoming a doctor, through no fault of my own.

Grade Boundaries

I am slightly concerned about how they will calculate the grade boundaries for this exam series, because so few students sat the exams in the autumn compared to the numbers seen in usual summers. There is little data for exam boards to use to judge the distribution of results and how hard the cohort found the exam.

This is a good webpage from Ofqual about how they’re approaching the grade boundaries for autumn A level exams.

I read a news article saying that the grade boundaries for autumn exams are expected to be significantly lower than previous years so that the percentages of students achieving each grade matches those that received those grades this summer (which, after the U-turn back to CAGs, were much higher) – meaning, I would need to get less marks to reach an A – which is good news!!

Here is the news article.

Gap Year Plans

I have now finished sitting all the chemistry exams, and so have an entire year to spend doing WHATEVER I WANT – well, COVID permitting, which doesn’t leave much. I am currently working at my part-time job, which I am so grateful for as it is keeping me socialising and earning money, and I know how hard it is to find a job in these times.

I want to continue with the blog, but am very wary that I can’t exactly call myself the conscious medic if I don’t get into medicine (if I don’t get an A). Results for the exams are being released on December 17th, so I still have a lot of time to kill until then. Travel plans are most certainly off the menu in the near future, so I need to get my thinking cap on to think of ways to spend the next few months in the best way possible.

Thank you

Despite not posting on here for two months, I’m happy that my posts on medical school applications and EPQs have proven useful to a lot of you, and I wish you luck with your medical school applications if you’re applying. Thanks to everyone else for asking over on Instagram about what’s happening with me, I really appreciate it 🙂

I’ll try and get a few posts up before the 17th, and I really hope I’ll be posting on the 17th of December still being the conscious medic !!

Oh, I almost forgot – happy world vegan day for yesterday!!

The Conscious Medic

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