Please note that all the advice stated here are based on my experience and the experience of my batch mates. The application process is constantly updated so the best place to get proper advice is through the Faculty of Medicine itself. (http://medicine.um.edu.my/?modul=STUDENT&pilihan=BMAT_%28UMalaya%29) There may or may not be changes in the application process in the year that you wish to apply.
Being one of the few students from GCE A-Levels enrolled into the University of Malaya Medical Programme (UMMP) this year (2016), I feel that it is my duty to guide prospective students who wish to enter this school but are worried that their qualification may be a barrier. Many fail to realise that the Faculty of Medicine in University of Malaya is one of the few public schools in Malaysia which has taken the step towards broadening the entry qualification for their prospective students to support more students from various pre-university backgrounds.
Thus, starting from entry batch 2016, anyone with STPM, Matriculation, GCE A-Levels or International Baccalaureate (IB) can fight for a place in this school. I wholeheartedly support this move by the faculty and I’m proud to be apart of this institution which strives towards excellence. Hence, fret not if you are a student taking GCE-A Levels or IB and you are hoping to land a spot in the University of Malaya medical school because you are given equal opportunity to compete for a place.
Why Medicine at University of Malaya?
This is the first question that you should ask. There are many options to study Medicine in Malaysia so you should carefully weigh your options, especially if you have a sponsor for your education. (eg. JPA Program Lepasan Bursary) Currently, University of Malaya is the oldest medical school in Malaysia with the biggest teaching hospital which staffs the largest number of medical professionals for teaching. Plus, they have recently decreased the intake cohort size rather dramatically to cater for quality rather than quantity. That being said, you can be confident that you will be getting adequate clinical exposure and plenty of attention from the lecturers. Additionally, the price that you pay for the education that you receive is definitely worth it. Due to large subsidies by the government, the entire programme only costs RM 12, 710 in 2016 which is far below the average of RM 400,000 that private medical schools charge. On a side note, although the spirit of entering a public medical school in Malaysia is to serve the Public Service Department in the future, it’s also worth to note that the degree is recognised by Singapore Medical Council (SMC) which could possibly be a safety net in the future which right now is pretty unpredictable. There are downsides to this medical school too. But I think I will reserve that for another time.
- Academic Requirement
As you can see, you have to pass all the requirements stated in the table above to be qualified to enter this course. Competition is rigorous. There are only 139 of us accepted into the 2016 batch, a number minuscule compared to other medical schools. Before you even proceed with the admission process, make sure you pass the academic requirements. The SPM requirement is ‘A-‘ in 5 subjects that are Biology, English, Mathematics/Additional Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics. You will absolutely NOT be accepted without obtaining the following grades in your pre-university studies: (exhaustive list in table above)
- Matriculation: PNGK of 4.00 in PSPM1 & PSPM2 given selected subjects are taken
- STPM: 3As and above in selected subjects
- GCE A-Levels: 3As and above in selected subjects (Note: ‘A’ includes ‘A’ and ‘A*’)
- IB: 35 points and above with Grade 4 in selected HL subjects
When do you need to send in the results by?
I have many friends who sat for their A-Levels in June 2016 and got their results in August 2016 but still managed to get accepted. The most important thing is that you are committed enough to contact the Faculty of Medicine directly to inform your situation because they make case based exceptions. My friends were initially rejected when application results came out in early August because of incomplete results submission but after reasoning to the faculty members about the late results release by CIE, they were successful in obtaining conditional offers. Be aware that if you get your results only in late August 2016, your situation is rather shaky because you will only be enrolled under the 2nd intake bound to the faculty’s exception at that point in time. Nonetheless, do not let this discourage you!
2. BMAT (UMalaya) – Aptitude Test
Once you are confident you can achieve the results required, you can proceed to the next step which is to sign up and sit for the BMAT (UMalaya) examination which is held around February or March. You can sign up for the BMAT (UMalaya) test for the 2017 intake starting 21st of November 2016 to 15th of January 2017. The price has been raised to RM200 for the upcoming application (2017 intake) although it has been partially subsidised by the government. Visit the Faculty of Medicine website and follow the instructions to sign up: http://medicine.um.edu.my/?modul=STUDENT&pilihan=BMAT_%28UMalaya%29
Regarding the BMAT (UMalaya) test, it is basically the same aptitude test that Oxbridge, UCL, Imperial and Leeds applicants take but with a tweaked name. It follows the same format but it has been bought over by University of Malaya. Section 1 tests your aptitude which includes reading and analysing as well as verbal and numerical reasoning. Section 2 tests your scientific knowledge which can appear simple, but due to the higher general performance of the cohort, the graph tends to be steeper, so don’t be fooled. Finally, Section 3 is essay writing which makes you critically think about a contemporary topic out of a few choices.
You can practice answering past year questions for each section here: http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/bmat/preparing-for-bmat/practice-papers/
Visit http://www.admissionstestingservice.org/for-test-takers/bmat/scoring-and-results/ to know more about the scoring. The scores will be sent approximately a month after the examination date through email so make sure you enter a valid email during registration.
*Do not confuse this test with the one taken by overseas applicants in November/December which is BMAT only. Application for BMAT test and BMAT (UMalaya) test is separate and sadly, the faculty does not accept the overseas BMAT test results. So, if you took the BMAT test before to apply through UCAS, please RESIT for BMAT (UMalaya) in February.
3. Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
Like many overseas universities, University of Malaya has started to implement the Multiple Mini Interview format to filter their students. You will be invited for the interview if you pass the minimum requirements in the BMAT (UMalaya) test and minimum academic requirements.
Because of the non-disclosure agreement between students and the school, I am not allowed to explicitly expose any of the questions asked, thus, I will explain the process of the interview. However, there are many practice questions that you can find online if you simply google “Multiple Mini Interview Preparation”.
In our year, there were 8 stations in total and you will spend about 5 minutes in each station. There are no breaks given in between each station so prepare yourself mentally to do A LOT of talking. You will be given a situation or a question or even a statement to spark a conversation with the examiner. They may or may not be related to Medicine. There will be an examiner in each station scoring you and the scores will be totalled up at the end. Don’t be discouraged if you flunk a station. Move on and redeem yourself in the other stations.
4. Malaysian English University Test (MUET)
For STPM and Matriculation students, you can register through your schools to sit for the MUET test. GCE A-Levels and IB qualification holders have to register for MUET as a private candidate and go to a centre or high school to take the test. Preferably, those who have yet to take the MUET can register for the upcoming session which is on March 2017. Registration is open from 1st November 2016 to 9th January 2017 only. However, please note that MUET is a requirement only, but not a selection criteria. Means anyone with Band 3 and above is eligible to graduate from the school. Do not be discouraged from applying if you have a low band compared to your peers, language can be improved over time. Another important piece of information is that although MUET is required in order graduate, it is not essential to be submitted during the application process. You can take your MUET during the 1st year in medical school if you have missed the registration given that you have acceptable TOEFL or IELTS results. Therefore, you should understand that the function of IELTS or TOEFL is not to replace MUET but more like a tool to buy you time and fill up the space in the application page while you sit for MUET.
I would like to close off this post by saying that you should not let anyone or anything discourage you from following the path that your heart desires. Ultimately, let passion guide the way. With that, the entire application process which seems like a tough nut to crack at first will be a breeze to you. After all, people with great passion can make the impossible happen. All in all, make sure you have these 4 things ticked for the application:
- Academic requirement
- BMAT (UMalaya)