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Choosing what to study

Ten tips for applying to Dentistry

The Dentistry application process is complex and lengthy. Here are some top tips to help you through it.

Busy dentists at work

1. Always apply through UCAS

No dental school in the UK accepts direct applications, so you have to apply through the standard UCAS procedure. The deadline for medical and dental applications through UCAS is 15 October.

2. Have good reasons for choosing Dentistry

Universities will be looking for reasons why they should give you – out of hundreds of applicants – an interview. Don't say you're applying because the money is good, or because one of your parents/guardians does it. If those are your reasons, maybe have a rethink about what you want to do in the future.

3. Get as much work experience as possible

For medical subjects, universities will want to know that you have the relevant knowledge and you’re aware of what you’re getting into. Get plenty of work experience – two weeks should be the bare minimum before you apply, but aim for more. Try and gain experience in different areas, for example, endodontics, paediatrics or general surgery.

4. Be interesting 

Universities don't want people who can't offer leadership qualities and the ability to think on the spot. You won't necessarily gain these skills if you’re only shadowing one dentist for a month. If you play a sport, are in a theatre group, play a musical instrument, or have any hobby at all, shout about it. You’ll have gained transferrable skills through these activities, so they'll work in your favour.

5. Be passionate

Similar to tip 2, make sure to show off your dental knowledge and prove that you really care about the subject. Express this in your application, and don't be modest.

6. Prepare for the UKCATs

Every university has clinical aptitude tests that determine your suitability to study the subject. These come very late in the process, usually after interviews. Some universities don't regard them as important as interviews, but failing the tests won't be helpful.

7. Run through your academic references with your school

All departments will expect good references from schools for the students they select. Talk through your application with someone relevant from your school – there should be a member of staff who takes care of careers and university applications.

8. Top grades are essential

You can have perfect experience and references, ace the UKCATs, dazzle with your wit and charisma at the interview stage – but if you get BBB in your A Levels, you’re unlikely to get accepted onto a Dentistry course. So revise hard.

9. Practice your interview technique

There are interviews for Dentistry applications. Relax and don't be scared – the university is interested in you and wants you to be there.

Find someone to practise interviews with you. Plan questions to ask the interviewers. This demonstrates your knowledge and interest (but don't answer a question with a question).

10. Research, research, research

Look around the internet and speak to different people to get advice. UCAS has extra tips for applications to Dentistry courses, and university websites usually offer help. Good luck!

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