Marianne – 4th Year Medical Student at Imperial College London

Hello everyone! this is Marianne from @mariannedoesmedicine. I’m a medical student (undergrad) at Imperial College London and I just finished 4th year! I wanted to write this article about my journey to medicine! The journey was a bit long and there were definitely ups and down and many thing I wished I had known before I started… I want to share my story with you all along with some tips! Hope it’s useful for anyone who is going to start on this journey soon!

First of all, let me start by explaining that I am French, and even though I have been in the British schooling system at different points in my life I did the end of my high school in France in the French system. Studying medicine in the UK was my goal. My first obstacle was that people around me did not understand why I wanted to go study abroad, why I wanted to apply to the UK while I could just continue into the French system. But this is what I wanted. Little 16 year old me was determined. This is my Tip number 1: when you know what your goal is, don’t let people stop you or tell you what to do!

Then I had to write my personal statement and complete my UCAS. These steps were actually ok, even though I had no one to help me, reading examples from the internet and getting my English speaking teachers to reread my work. The hard times came with the Ukcat and the BMAT. I can’t remember how I found out I had to do 2 different tests and why I thought that it was going to be ok, on top of my intense 6th form with 8 to 5 everyday. I hugely struggled with the Ukcat as it is largely tests of logic and decision making which I had never encountered before. Going through revision questions were me staring a series of triangles and trying to complete the sequence, while remembering I had 45 seconds per question… The result was not amazing. My BMAT was a week before a big mock exam at my 6th form, and I had to be very organised and resilient to not lose track of both. I was the only one in my school sitting the BMAT so I remember missing the friendly support and feeling very isolated. The BMAT was on a science program I had not studied at school and had to teach myself slowly over summer. I am proud to say I got a good result (I mean exactly on the threshold for Imperial, not above it! But it’s all I needed right?) Tip number 2: work hard on those entrance exams. You don’t have to do both of them. I think working over summer is a good idea because you won’t have as much time during the school year.

Waiting for responses from universities was extremely difficult. I saw several rejections coming, some of them very dramatic. One university specifically, sent me an email saying I did not have the right language qualification (I had 2 GCSEs which were English litterature and American history, and they wanted a lower GCSE which was called English First language). It is hard to explain how defeated I felt by this. It was so unfair. It made no sense. They did not even give me a chance. And worse yet, this was my safety choice which I was sure would accept me. I felt awful. This leads to my tip number 3: check entry requirements for all your universities. Carefully. Check them twice. Don’t waste a choice on a uni like this! After 3 refusals out of 4, I was surprised to see the only university left to hear from was actually my favourite choice: Imperial College. I think I stopped hoping quite early seeing my other failures. But one day, I got an email: I waited the whole day to read it and  at home when I finally did I broke down in tears. I was called in for an interview!!They wanted to meet me. Maybe I had a chance!

I was so extremely scared for my one interview. I had one chance. No backups anymore. Imperial only had a 10/15 minute interview at the time, which was so shortI came all the way to London the day before, we visited the university and I was amazed. I was really in love with it all! It was so bittersweet as I knew this could be the first and last time I saw this place. Maybe I would never get to come back. The interview was like a daze, I was very stressed but really did my best and try to communicate my passion about medicine, all in the sweetest French accent, coming out on trembling lips and with a weak but hopeful smile. When it was over, I thought I had hadn’t done great. I wanted to stay longer and tell them more, I wanted more time, but it was over. However as you have guessed, the response that came a few weeks later was a positive one.

If you think the roller coaster of emotions was over now, think again! The predicted grades were achievable but yet to be achieved. I worked very hard for the following months, for my one goal that was now so close. My friends were all going to uni in France so didn’t need any specific grades so no one was as stressed as I was. The day after my 9 days of exams (4 hour exams for most of them), I felt satisfied. I had really done all than I could. I had no regrets. I am not going to describe results day. How my mum pushed through the crowd of 200 students telling them that I needed my results first (it was definitely totally random and unjustified but I was too terrified to complain). And at last, I was relieved of the burden. I was in. I was going to Imperial! Tip number 5: Believe in your dreams. Don’t let anyone stop you.

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