ADMISSIONS BLOG

Admissions Blog

With the next admissions cycle almost upon us, final year MD student Qimeng Gao shares some of the common pitfalls in applying to medical school to help our admissions blog readers. Qimeng, from the Duke-NUS MD Class of 2018, is a student reviewer in our MD admissions process and currently pursuing research projects related to transplant immunology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. 

pitfall applying to medical school

Tomasz Jakub Merta, a Polish graduate from New York University Shanghai, attended our inaugural run of the Prehealth Experiential Programme (PrEP) last year, eventually applied to the Duke-NUS MD programme, and will join our class this year. We interview him to learn more about his PrEP experience.

Visit https://www.duke-nus.edu.sg/admissions/prep to learn more and apply.

Tomasz (2nd from left) and his groupmate during a TeamLEAD session in PrEP

Tell us about your background and how you ended up in Singapore, coming from Poland and then China. 

I decided to become a doctor instead of a soccer player at the end of junior high school. The idea of studying abroad arose in my mind as an opportunity to explore the world, especially since I hadn’t been able to travel much before. Even then, I never expected that I would come to Asia. I was applying to universities in the US, New York University in particular, when I learnt about the newly-established NYU campus in Shanghai. I decided to apply, and ended up receiving an offer. Following the admitted students’ weekend in Shanghai I fell in love with the city and knew I had to stay.

How do you decide whether to sit for the MCAT or GAMSAT? These are two different tests that medical schools use in their admissions process. If you are applying to Duke-NUS Medical School, you have the option of taking either, as we accept both for applications to the MD and MD-PhD. Here are 10 things you should know before deciding on the MCAT or GAMSAT.

1. Both are standardized medical school entrance tests, except they are used predominantly in different regions of the world.

The MCAT is developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and used mainly by medical schools in the US and Canada, while the GAMSAT is developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in conjunction with the Consortium of Graduate Medical Schools and used mainly by graduate-entry medical schools in Australia, Ireland and the UK. Duke-NUS Medical School accepts both tests for applications to the MD and MD-PhD.

2. The MCAT is held more frequently throughout the year, and at more countries, compared to the GAMSAT.

You should start planning to sit for either of these tests at least a year before you intend to apply to medical school, as seats are limited.

The writer, Tan Chin Yee, is an MD-PhD candidate who joined Duke-NUS Medical School in 2015. He completed his first 2 years in the MD programme and is about to begin his PhD research abroad, in Duke University, Durham, NC.

I’d like to start off, perhaps disappointingly, by saying that there is no correct way to write a personal statement. In preparing for medical school and graduate school applications, I’ve consulted online resources [1, 2, 3] which provide guiding questions and even dos and don’ts of writing personal statements. I’ve also glanced through books of compiled personal statements (all scrutinized and allocated grades by an expert panel, mind you). To some extent, these resources are useful if you are just getting started. You might need a rough idea of the morphology and style of a personal statement, and these serve as useful starting material to help get your creative process going. However, be mindful that they are at best adjuvants. Remember that the personal statement is supposed to be personal, hence the mission here is to tell, in a matter of 1-2 pages and in your own words, your story from aspiration to application.

Academic performance and other accomplishments presented in your CV are not the only things that matter when applying to medical school. Recommendation letters are a crucial part of your application, especially if your referees know you well professionally and are able to vouch for your character.

Upbeat interviewed two of our medical students who are also student file reviewers* to share their advice on what makes a good recommendation letter.

Student A graduated with a BSc in Pharmacy from National University of Singapore before joining our MD Class of 2018.
Student B graduated with a BSc in Biochemistry from Washington State University and an MSc in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University before joining our MD Class of 2017.

What makes a good recommendation letter?

Learn more and apply for the Duke-NUS Alumni Clinical Observership

zhaohan medical shadowing
Zhaohan (far left) and classmates from the Class of 2020

I'm Zhaohan, a first year student from the Duke-NUS Medical School. I'm also a trained and qualified lawyer of the Singapore Bar, having previously read law at the National University of Singapore. I applied to Duke-NUS in the knowledge that a life in medicine was for me, and like my peers, I've run the gamut of experiences to prepare myself for applying to medical school. Some of these experiences include work shadowing opportunities with physicians. If you'd like to know more about how best to make use of such opportunities, this article may be for you.

Why Work Shadowing?

The most important question

Why do you want to be a doctor? Think about that question really hard because it’s going to come up for the rest of your life. It’s going to be on your application essays to medical school, on your interviews, on your dinner table with your parents; it’s going to be a question that you’re asked for the rest of your life from the moment you decide to enter medical school or even do an undergraduate pre-medical degree, as I did.

There is no one answer to this question and through the years, my answer changed drastically. I knew from the age of seven that I wanted to be a doctor and most of my life has been shaped by that decision. But it wasn’t until university that I finally figured out the true reason why I wanted to be a doctor.

Hi! First off, if you’re reading this page in preparation of applicant day, congratulations on getting an interview! I’m Sam, currently in 2nd year and going through clinical rotations. I majored in Physics in the University of British Columbia and now I’m back in Singapore to pursue medicine. Here are some tips for applicant day that I’d like to share, categorized to pre-applicant day, applicant day and post-applicant day.

class of 2019 md

A few of us in our white coats 

Pre-Applicant Day: