You strike out upon your path, ready to head to a future as a physician, and you find yourself looking at medical schools in Australia. Most likely you are a resident of Australia, but it could be that you are a globe-trotter who loves the idea of travel. Perhaps you aren’t sure of where to go and you are searching everywhere – looking at all your options. Good thinking. Being open to options is commendable.
One of the best reasons to search around is because finding your perfect school means more than just geographic convenience, it means finding a school that is the perfect fit for you. How to prepare for your medical school application means knowing what kind of applicants a school is looking for, and what kind of doctor you can become through those programs.
This article will dig in to what kind of career and future medical schools in Australia can offer you, as well as taking a sharp look at what you should offer them – as an applicant – to optimize your chances of acceptance.
Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa. If you see an error here, please notify us with the updated information, and we’ll send you a FREE copy of a BeMo ebook of your choosing! You can receive our Ultimate Guide to Med School Admissions, our Ultimate Guide to MMI Prep, our Ultimate Guide to Medical School Personal Statements & Secondary Essays or our Ultimate Guide to CASPer Prep! Please email us at content [at] bemoacademicconsulting.com with any corrections, and we’ll arrange to send you your free ebook upon confirming the information.
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List of Medical Schools in Australia
Below is a list of medical schools in Australia:
The GEMSAS System
Many Australian medical schools use GEMSAS for an application system. The GEMSAS application allows you to fill out one application, rank your three to six schools of choice, and receive matches and offers of interview through the system.
What does this mean for your application?
It means that, in order to get selected – to have a “match” – you're going to need to be extra-savvy about your school selection. Because you are making one application, it needs to fit all six schools.
One place in the applications that you can stand out is in your medicine portfolio. This medicine portfolio Australia uses is a place for your background information, work and volunteer experiences, and sometimes a personal statement.
Only a few Australian medical schools use the portfolio. Should you only apply to those schools? It depends on your application.
If you have some of the best test scores on the GAMSAT or MCAT, you might not need the boost that a portfolio will give you. You can stand on that foundation. If, however, you don’t have sheer numbers power, the portfolio could give you the edge you need to succeed.
If you had a bad year – and we all do – and you’re needing to think about how to get into medical school with a low GPA, you can explain anomalous grades, or compensate for them, with a strong portfolio and a medical school personal statement.
Not every medical school in Australia uses personal statements, but if you select schools that do, you can show a strong connection to rural medicine, a background in remote communities, or a passion for such service.
You could use the statement, or part of it at least, to talk about your bad year, what struggles you persevered through, and how your grades suffered, but you weathered a severe personal storm. That might change a debit into a credit, causing the application committee to focus on your ability to handle tough times and comport yourself well against the brutal shriek of adversity.
So, knowing your schools of choice and their medical school requirements is key, but so is knowing your application. Remember: this is about finding matches; it requires finesse.
Wondering how to get into medical school in Australia?
The Importance of the Interview in the Australian Medical School Application Process
Australian schools give a lot of weight to the interview; an applicant’s score can be greatly affected by their performance in the interview. This is good news for you, because interviews are a great place to showcase your communication skills and express why you are the perfect fit for your chosen school, especially if you did not have the chance to complete a portfolio. They are perfect to help you stand out from the crowd and leave a positive impression on the admissions committee.
Keep in mind, however, that you must first get to the interview. Your test scores will get you to the interview, so don’t rely on your communications skills alone for a good application. Aim as high as you can while taking tests like the GAMSAT, and shore up your GPA.
Most Australian medical schools use the multiple mini-interview, or MMI. How to prepare for your multiple mini-interview will be crucial to your application process to Australian medical schools, so preparation is key. Taking an MMI interview prep course will help immensely. Practice your answers to MMI questions. The most helpful practice, however, is a mock MMI.
While practicing, don’t memorise your answers; just know your material and have in mind the kind of answer that you will give, in its entirety, but not word-for-word. That way you will avoid sounding stiff and robotic.
Not all interviews will be MMIs, however. Whatever format they may take, you still must learn how to prepare for your medical school interview. A panel interview presents different challenges and opportunities for you. One opportunity, for instance, is that panel interviews tend towards more open-ended questions. Instead of a series of stations, focused on one aspect of healthcare, you will get more common medical school interview questions. This gives you the opportunity to steer the interview, guiding the admissions panel toward your strengths.
For example, if asked, “Why do you want to attend this school,” you can highlight your commitment to a particular program they offer. As we will talk about later in this article, many Australian medical schools desire candidates for rural and remote regions, so answering the “Why” question with a “because” answer that demonstrates experience with rural healthcare, even if only peripherally, shows off your strength and personal connection to the school.
If you end your question talking about how an early experience in a remote region led you to pick certain electives or look for jobs that increased your knowledge of the area, you are steering the interview. The follow-up question might ask you about that job, and now you get to talk more about your suitability, strengths, and experiences.
Finally, since interviews are so important, take some extra time to work on your interview technique. There is no better way than with a mock medical school interview. A mock interview puts you in the hotseat, and thus, will not only test the strength of your answers, but how you handle the anxiety of the interview itself.
Do you need to write a personal statement for your application? Check out our tips:
What Kind of Applicants Are Preferred in Australia?
Australian schools have two categories of applicant that they are very interested in. Almost every medical school in Australia is aware of the challenges that face their Indigenous population and the sections of the Australian populace who live in remote regions.
Most universities in Australia offer special programs or boosts to Indigenous applicants. The University of Melbourne, for instance, allows Indigenous Australian applicants to waive the GAMSAT test – although if you’re an Indigenous applicant, you will still need to achieve academically, with a medical school GPA requirement of 5.0 or higher.
Deakin holds 5% of its domestic places in reserve for Indigenous Australian applicants. This means that, if you are Indigenous, you must remain competitive, but you might be in a smaller applicant pool, which increases your chances of acceptance.
The University of Sydney holds Indigenous applicants to a lower ATAR score requirement.
Most medical schools in Australia have some Indigenous application stream that you can use to good advantage.
Remember, however, that any given school will have its own approach to how it handles Indigenous applicants. Instead of an MMI, your interview might be a panel interview, for example.
Proof of Indigenous ancestry might also be required. University of Sydney requires documentation, for instance, that can be a letter of ancestry, stamped with a common seal and signed by the chairperson of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Land Council, or by the delegate of an incorporated Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation.
Are you planning to practice medicine deep in the wild, off the trampled tracks of common civilization? In addition to being an admirable pursuit and a great life adventure, the good news here is that Australian remote communities struggle to find health professionals, so Australian medical schools seek out those who are willing to relocate.
Many Australian universities have slots set aside for students willing to commit to practicing medicine in remote areas that are underserved and difficult to staff. These positions come with the student agreeing to practice medicine for several years in one of these remote locations.
Signing up for this kind of program might give you a better chance of entry; schools like the University of Melbourne or Deakin reserve spaces specifically for applicants from a rural background.
If you haven’t lived in rural regions, but have experience in rural or remote communities – even on a vacation or a trip – you can probably find a way to list that in your CV, if you can submit one. Experience in remote regions can be a benefit to admission, but even without it, you can sign up for these tracks.
New Zealand and Australia have always had a special relationship, sharing a lot of cultural origin points as they do. Because of this relationship, there is an understanding that New Zealand citizens should be particularly welcome in Australia.
If you are from New Zealand but are looking at Australian universities for medical school education, know that you will be treated as a domestic applicant for the purposes of occupying a Commonwealth Supported Place.
New Zealanders will also have benefits. For example, a New Zealand citizen residing in Australia is entitled to medicare. So, making the move to Australia for your medical school will likely be a smoother transition than if you were to head further abroad.
With only two medical schools in New Zealand, you might want to apply to a few schools outside of the country, to maximize your odds. Most students will want to apply to between eight and ten schools, so applying to Auckland, Otago, and the three-six ranked schools in GEMSAS.
Aside from those groups, Australian medical schools welcome applicants who are local and international without special backgrounds. So long as they are competitive with their GPA, GEMSAT – or the other medical tests – ATAR, and other aspects of their application.
What Kind of Academic and Non-Academic Achievements are Preferred in Australia?
What Kind of Doctor Can You Become While Learning in Australia
Just as with the kind of applicants medical schools in Australia are looking for, the two most unique physicians that will come out of Australian medical schools will be those equipped to handle the remote areas of the country, and those who are interested in work with the Indigenous population. These two areas of medicine share quite a bit of overlap, as well, since many Indigenous communities are remote.
Whether as the kind of applicant you are or the kind of doctor you want to become, Australian medical schools definitely have a focus towards Indigenous help and to ensuring that there is exemplary professional medical services for remote and rural communities – many of which are Indigenous. Find ways to bring out your connections and commitments to those initiatives, and your application will be all the stronger for it.
The interview process is valued highly in the Australian medical school system, so be sure you are prepared for that.
Beyond that, the rest of the practical advice for applications is obvious: high test scores and strong academic performance will always make for a standout candidate.
1. Are Australian schools open to international applicants?
Yes, mostly, but not in all cases, and they are sometimes held to different standards.
Bond University is only open to Australian citizens, residents, New Zealanders, or holders of an Australian Humanitarian VISA. University of Queensland, on the other hand, asks that international students meet English language requirements and have a student VISA, so you can see that there is variance between schools.
If you are an international student, check to make sure that any school you are looking at is open to your application.
2. What exactly is GEMSAS, and how does it work?
GEMSAS is an online application system. You make one application and rank your top-choice schools, between three and six institutions. GEMSAS then finds the best match. From there, you will be moved to the interview phase.
There are four areas to GEMSAS:
(1) GAMSAT – your score on the graduate medical school admissions test.
(2) GPA – your qualifying degree’s score.
(3) Supporting documentation – if required by the schools you are applying to, you will create a portfolio to send in. Documents might be required by certain schools. You also need supporting documentation if you went to a non-ARTS school or if you are a rural Australian.
(4) CASPer – this is your score on the CASPer test. It is not always required; like supporting documents, this is school-dependent. If your school of choice does require this test, definitely consider a CASPer test prep course.
GEMSAS contacts you after a match is found, so be sure to set up your email’s spam filters accordingly. Even so, make sure you check your junk mail folder. You do not want an acceptance email or match notification to slip through, since a delay will mean being passed over.
3. If I am accepted, can I take a deferral?
No, not usually.
Most medical schools in Australia do not allow deferrals. Some will, especially if you are completing an Honours year.
If you have extenuating circumstances, such as a severe illness in the family, contact your school to ask about the possibility of deferral, but do know that it is unlikely.
4. What do I do if some of my ranked schools in GEMSAS require additional documents, but others do not?
You fill out the additional documentation and GEMSAS matches you.
You don’t need to worry about anything beyond just filling out the application and ranking your schools of choice.
The only thing that changes is that the documentation won’t be considered for schools that don’t require it or take it into account.
5. Can I apply to some schools through GEMSAS and others outside of the GEMSAS system?
There is nothing in the policies of GEMSAS that excludes you from applying to schools outside of the three-six you have ranked within their system.
Some Australian schools don’t use GEMSAS, although not many.
Actually, we at BeMo usually recommend apply to between eight and ten schools, so adding one or two schools outside of the GEMSAS system might be just perfect. The caveat is, of course, that you will have to create separate applications for each school because the GEMSAS system will no longer be finding automatic matches for you.
6. Do I need letters of reference?
Most schools in Australia do not require letters of reference.
If you do apply to one that asks for a letter, get a referee who is somebody who you have a strong professional connection to – through school or work – and preferably is connected to medicine or academics in some way.
Ask for a good letter of reference politely and respectfully, and thank your referee afterward.
Be sure to follow any guidelines for how these letters need to be sent in, if your school requires it.
7. What is a Commonwealth Supported Place?
It’s one type of space available to matriculants in Australia.
This means that the government pays for some of the fees of the university – not as a loan, but as a subsidy that needs no paying back.
You must be an Australian citizen – or New Zealander – to be eligible for a CSP.
Bonded Medical Places are the other most common type of slot available, and these are the rural and remote placements that require graduating physicians to work in remote areas in exchange for subsidising their education.
8. How long do I have to decide if I want to accept or decline an offer?
Not long. The hard deadline will be sent to you along with the offer, and it is not a languorous period of time. Don’t dawdle and reply quickly to offers.
It’s a big decision, but it’s not sudden: you have the whole application process to think over your school choices. Choose wisely, know your decisions inside and out, and you will be decisive when those offers come in.
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