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The James Cook University Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) is a 6-year undergraduate course offered primarily for school leavers (i.e. applicants who have completed Year 12 or equivalent in the last two years and have not completed more than 3 subjects at a tertiary level). JCU’s 6 year medical program is located in Queensland, with the first 3 years at JCU Townsville or Cairns and the clinical placements for the final 3 years undertaken in JCU Townsville, Cairns, or Mackay.
Although much more of the 150 available CSP places are reserved for school leavers compared to non-school leavers, the JCU application process is still very competitive with only a 61% acceptance rate. Anecdotally, the admission requirements are even higher for interstate and non-rural applicants due to JCU’s focus on nurturing local doctors who are passionate about rural, indigenous, and tropical health.
This article will cover both the academic and non-academic requirements (e.g. Personal statement, Letter of Support, and Interview), as well as give a comprehensive overview of JCU’s selection and application process.
What ATAR and UCAT do I need?
For the 2022 medicine intake, James Cook University published that the lowest ATAR (termed selection rank) to receive an offer was 89.75 while the median ATAR to receive an offer was 98.40. However, JCU does not have an official minimum ATAR cut-off due to the multi-faceted nature of its selection process, which means academic shortcomings can be compensated by a strong application and interview.
Unlike most medical schools in Australia, JCU does not consider the UCAT as part of its selection process. Although this may come as a relief to some, the omission of the UCAT elevates the importance of non-academic requirements like the personal statement and letters of support when competing for an interview offer.
Does JCU Medicine have subject prerequisites?
JCU Medicine requires all candidates to achieve a minimum grade of C in Units 3 & 4 of English, Mathematical Methods, and Chemistry to be eligible for an offer. Interstate or overseas equivalents of these subjects and grades are also accepted.
For NSW applicants, the equivalent academic requirement is a minimum of band 3 in English Advanced, Mathematics Advanced, and Chemistry.
For applicants of non-English speaking backgrounds, the English language proficiency requirement is a valid IELTS (academic module) minimum score of 7.0 in all components within 2 years before applying for registration.
Lastly, James Cook University strongly recommends the study of Physics and Biology although they do not form the prerequisites for the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) program.
What is the Personal Statement?
JCU requires all applicants to submit a personal statement, which has a significant weighting in ranking applicants for offers (likely as a hurdle for interview offers). The personal statement consists of typed responses to three set questions and is an invaluable opportunity to showcase your authenticity and individuality. Moreover, the personal statement is the first step to preparing unique experiences and ideas you can use in the interview. However, note that your personal statement won’t be read by interviewers.
Historically, the three questions have remained largely unchanged and include:
- Why do you want to become a dental or medical practitioner?
- Tell us why you are interested in a course where important themes are indigenous and tropical health and rural, remote medicine?
- Provide details of any activities (paid employment, work experience or voluntary) you have undertaken in addition to your studies which indicate your motivation to study medicine or dentistry at James Cook University.
For tips on how to approach each question, check out our comprehensive written application guide for JCU.
What are Letters of Support?
JCU allows you to attach up to three Letters of Support written by anyone of your choosing (excluding family members) who can attest to your personal qualities and suitability for medicine. Ideally, you should choose a referee who knows you well and you’ve had long-term involvement with, as they would be better positioned to provide a more reliable, specific, and generous appraisal. Some examples of people you could choose are employers, work experience supervisors, school teachers, guidance officers, and extra-curricular coaching staff.
Letters of support should include a brief explanation of their involvement with you and supporting evidence for traits befitting of the medical profession (e.g. work ethic, professionalism, strong interpersonal skills, compassion, teamwork, integrity, etc.). JCU also requires referees to include contact details such as their phone number to verify the legitimacy of their letters.
JCU has no requirement as to who the letters of support should be addressed to, but welcomes letters addressed to the Selections Officer or Committee, Admissions Officer or Committee, some address letters of support to the College Dean or simply to whom it may concern.
MissionMed students who applied with three letters of support have historically experienced a higher success rate.
Dr. Jason Yu
What is the JCU interview like?
JCU typically sends out medical interview offers in early November (based on the 2022 cycle) and conducts its interviews via zoom during early December or January depending on your offer round.
The university uses a panel/SSI interview format where the panel consists of a medical practitioner, an academic staff, and a member of the community. The interview questions assess your communication and critical analytical skills, advocacy and ethical reasoning, empathetic reasoning, teamwork, and collaboration skills, knowledge about tropical medicine, motivation to pursue medicine, and understanding of rural and remote health issues.
Although 900 interview offers are made to Australia and New Zealand applicants, only 170 final offers are available. As such, the JCU interview is highly competitive and should not be taken lightly.
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What is the selection process for interview offer
Interviews are offered based on the applicant’s written application and academic results (either predicted or actual).
First-round interviews are offered in early December for applicants who submitted their predicted results through the ‘Prediction of Academic Achievement’ application form. The Prediction of Academic Achievement application form is to be completed by your school and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline (which was 4 pm Friday, 7 October for the 2022 cycle). The rough date will likely be similar this year.
Second-round interviews are offered in early January to ensure no applicants are disadvantaged if their host school does not provide a Prediction of Academic Achievement form or if the predicted results differ from their actual results.
What is the selection process for final offers?
The final offers to JCU medicine are made based on a balance between academic results, the written application, and the interview. An unknown weighting is attributed to each of these sections to rank applicants before final offers are made in round 1. Depending on the number of acceptances and deferrals from round 1, JCU may make a small number of offers in subsequent rounds.
Does JCU offer any adjustment factors or alternate entry pathways?
JCU considers its MBBS course as one with special admission requirements and thus does not consider adjustment factors such as EAS or subject bonuses.
However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants can apply to Medicine through the Indigenous Medical recruitment pathway by submitting relevant documentation to email@example.com for confirmation. Further information can be found here.
What are the key dates and deadlines to apply for JCU Medicine?
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