JCU Written Application – Comprehensive Guide

Ever wondered how to write a stunning James Cook University medical school written application? We got you covered!

Table of Contents



  1. Why do you want to become a medical practitioner / health professional?
  2. What activities (paid employment, work experience or voluntary work) have you undertaken, in addition to your studies, which indicate your motivation to study medicine or another health professional degree at James Cook University?
  3. Tell us why you are interested in a course where important themes are indigenous and tropical health and rural/remote medicine?
  4. Provide any other information you believe will support your application.

JCU is unique in that the written application is given significant weighting in determining offers. Each year, thousands apply so the admissions team will likely read over your work at most once. Therefore, it’s important to treat it seriously and put your best foot forward. More importantly, you need to be able to captivate the reader with authenticity and individuality. It can be daunting to begin which is why we’ve written a comprehensive guide to direct you down the right path. Firstly some general tips to keep in mind for all answers.

  • Avoid generic answers.  To separate yourself from the pack, your responses must show evidence of careful reflection. In doing so, you also reveal a lot more depth to your character and add more value to the answers you provide. 
  • Avoid general statements that don’t relate to YOU specifically. If someone else could write exactly what you wrote and it still makes sense, it is not personal enough.
  • The questions are all about using YOUR anecdotes and experiences to showcase your point. We will break this down further with question specific tips.
  • The space you have to write your answer is limited, so you want to draft your answer, and edit many many times until it is punchy and concise. Anything outside the lined space won’t be marked.
  • As this is a written application, your grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure play a crucial role in captivating the attention of the admissions team. You don’t want to be boring with your word choice.
  • Your answers should have some sort of logical flow to them and signposted sufficiently. This allows your answer to be understood easily by whoever is reading it. Again, this is key when your answer will likely get ready only once.

Question 1

Why do you want to become a medical practitioner / health professional?

This is the first answer assessors will read and like or not – it will set the tone of your application. The simplest way to stand out is by writing an answer that is personal. Follow the steps and use the examples as a guide.

Step 1: Ask yourself – what do I value?

Step 2: What experiences/aspects of my life have instilled these values in me?

Step 3: How have these experiences & values led to your interest in the medical career?

If you have followed the steps sincerely, you should now have a solid framework. Now your job is to flesh out your answer – use a level of detail that only someone who has been in your shoes could know. Keep the following in mind when doing so:

  • Use emotive language, describing emotions is a hallmark of authenticity
  • Avoid cliches like “I knew I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a child” or “At that very moment I knew I wanted to be a doctor”
  • Embellishment is necessary but keep it realistic
  • Avoid superficial, simplistic justifications e.g. “I want to help people”. Can you imagine how many people are writing that?

Problematic Answer
I believe I am a compassionate, caring and thoughtful person. Ever since I was a child, I have wanted to be a doctor. My mother always told me that I played with her stethoscope a lot as a child so I guess you could say it came naturally. My grandfather got really sick when I was quite young and was in the hospital all the time. The doctors helped him and my family and I was very appreciative. This made me realise I want to dedicate my life to being a medical professional to help others like him.

Good Answer
When I was young, my grandfather was diagnosed with Stage 3 liver cancer. Because of its late progression, unfortunately there wasn't much that could be done. When I was much older, I realised he put off regular medical check-ups because English was his second language and he felt embarrassed about seeking medical attention. I've reflected many times on what the outcome could have been if he had sought medical advice earlier. This is why I want to enter the medical profession; to increase public health awareness amongst the aged migrant community whom often suffer from preventable diseases because of language and cultural barriers.

Hopefully you can see that the latter answer uses detail and emotion to craft an authentic narrative. There is no need to list qualities – instead a reader is able to infer compassion and thoughtfulness from the answer.

Question 2

What activities (paid employment, work experience or voluntary work) have you undertaken, in addition to your studies, which indicate your motivation to study medicine or another health professional degree at James Cook University?

The first issue we have seen is that many candidates will try to cram countless activities they have done into the answer. This is often at the expense of answering the question at hand. This question is asking about the specific experiences that indicate your drive to study medicine.

Many candidates also stress about this question because they think they don’t have any medically related experiences (or so they think 😉). For example, a common misconception is that you must have volunteered at a medical clinic in order to showcase your interest in medicine. While that is definitely a great experience to have, it is by no means necessary. In fact, candidates have received interview offers by discussing simple experiences such as volunteering as a primary school tutor. How do you ask?

Well, the role of a doctor is multi-faceted. It involves connecting with people, educating the community about healthcare, working as part of a team, leading teams of allied professionals, public health advocacy, participating in ongoing research… the list goes on. You want to communicate the parallels between your experiences and that of a doctor. For example, as a volunteer tutor, you connect with your student, help them with their education and work as a team towards a common goal. Experiences like this foster the crucial values and traits that directly relate to the job of a doctor. If you can communicate that idea to the admissions team, it will be received well.


Good Answer
In high school, I volunteered as a Chemistry tutor to aid some of my peers who were struggling to keep up with the difficult content. I was constantly putting myself in their shoes to try and understand the obstacles they encountered. I had to carefully deconstruct complex concepts to simple terminology so it could be understood step by step. Through this experience I've also come to realise that a big part of learning is actually passing on your own knowledge as this reinforces your own knowledge. This has been one of my motivations for seeking out the medical career where teaching is an integral aspect not only towards patients but also colleagues.

See how this actually answers the question directly? It relates the experience to the medical profession. Furthermore, the experience used wasn’t even medically related!

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Question 3

Tell us why you are interested in a course where important themes are Indigenous and tropical health and rural/remote medicine?

Many student find this question difficult – particularly those that feel like they haven’t had much interaction with Indigenous and rural communities in their day to day lives. If you feel like you fall into this group, read on! Many candidates in this situation tend to fall into the trap of overusing various facts and statistics. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t use them (this shows you’ve done your research and are well-informed), but facts should be used in a personal context.

Our biggest tip is to see if there is any overlap in specific elements of Indigenous and Rural healthcare, and your experiences. For example, you may be aware of how one of the hurdles of rural health care is the physical distance from hospitals. In light of this, you may choose to speak about a personal experience on a Duke of Edinburgh hike where someone may have gotten injured, and it was difficult to get proper medical attention given where you were hiking in. While the connections that you make, may have to be more abstract, finding a way to make it personal will make your answer stand out more than simply listing facts and statistics.

Of course, if you have been fortunate enough to have directly relevant experiences to these communities, then all you need to do is reflect on those experiences. You want to break down what parts of those experiences were memorable, and how that has motivated you to want to pursue this field in medicine. It could be helpful to supplement your anecdote with other facts or issues that impact rural and Indigenous communities. However, you want to tie it all back to how your experiences and these facts have motivated you to pursue this JCU degree.

Good Answer
I was on a Duke of Edinburgh hike in Armidale in the New England region recently where a colleague of mine broke his ankle badly after a mistep. My friend was unable to continue on the hike and our group managed to get him to an area where he could be extracted after waiting two hours. I accommpanied him to hospital and it was decided that he required surgery. There was no surgical facilities at the hospital so he had to be transported to another bigger hospital to get the procedure done. This experience was eye opening as it showed me the complex and inaccessibility of on-demand healthcare that I was used to in metropolitan Sydney. By experience this first hand I noted the widened gap in the accesibility of healthcare in rural areas and therefore I am motivated to help bridge this gap in the future!

This is a great start! There are already elements of a personal story and a strong contextual link to real problems faced by rural and Indigenous communities.

Question 4

Provide any other information you believe will support your application.

The beauty of choice! A blank canvas and the freedom to write anything. Yet, the burden of choice, a task so heavy on the mind. Many students don’t know what to include in this section. Our advice is to use this section to demonstrate interests and qualities about yourself that aren’t inherently obvious from your other answers, or from your academic results.

  • Avoid talking about your school results as they don’t add any insightful information that the university won’t already know from your ATAR.
  • The strongest answers to this question that we have read have often been about hobbies and areas of interest. Not only does this add a personal flair but it demonstrates passion, well-roundedness and your organisation ability i.e. you are able to balance different facets of your life.
  • If there were any important leadership or volunteering experiences that you didn’t mention that you feel may further convey more about, then this could also be worth mentioning. Remember, you can use this section to your advantage, so think carefully about what you want to communicate before you answer the section. For example, if you were the captain of the school cricket team, simply stating this doesn’t help the admissions team understand your leadership skills. However, talking about some of the moments where your leadership skills were tested gives the admissions team a better idea about your character.

Need a trained eye to review?

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Disclaimer: This is a paid service.


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