Auckland Review of my Neuroscience Degree + tips

Discussion in 'NZ General Discussion' started by whatismyname, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. whatismyname

    whatismyname Member

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    G’day, MSO has been super helpful over the last few years in terms providing information about papers and courses and I just want to give something back. So I have decided to do a little review of my neuroscience degree and give some information about the papers that I have completed. I will also try give some helpful tips for those aiming for Medicine.

    A little about me: I completed my neuroscience degree at the end of 2017 at Otago, I had a Auckland GPA of 8.36 and a UMAT score of 139 (31st percentile). However, for section one, my UMAT score was below threshold and hence I was not eligible for Medicine at Otago Uni. Thankfully, I was accepted into Auckland Medical School, I give the glory to God for that.

    Onto the papers:

    PHSL341 and PHSL342 (A+ for both): Difficulty: 6.5/10

    These were interesting papers and well organized! Most of the lecturers provided some interesting content and they were more than happy to help you out with difficult concepts, all you had to do was ask. The cool thing about theses papers is that you get do a small research project in groups during the labs which is actually pretty fun. The internal assessments are a 5% research proposal, 25% report and a 10% presentation, all of which is based on your research project. The final exam consists of essay style questions. There are only 2 lectures per week for each paper so its not that bad! I would highly recommend these two papers.

    ANAT242 (Grade: A): Difficulty: 7.5/10

    You might have heard from other people to stay away from this paper, but to tell you the truth, its not that bad! There is a bit of content to learn but its not as much content as HUBS192. The content is interesting, in the first 10 lectures, you get to learn all the different parts of the brain and what happens if they get damaged. Then you slowly move into learning about neurons and proteins involved in the brain. Then you learn about the ethics and molecular side of the nervous system (such as a neurotransmitters etc). For one of the assessments, to do well, you really have to be good at identifying structures on a brain model, so I would highly suggest using the anatomy museum to revise. For the final exam, remember the details. For the SAQ’s, we were given pictures and had to identify which tract it was and also what cranial nerve was shown and what was its function, there were also some questions about the cerebellum and the colliculi. Overall, this was a cool paper and its honestly not as bad as people make it to be.

    PSYC211 (Grade A): Difficulty 6.5/10

    There is a bit of overlap with ANAT242. We had Liana Machado and David Bilkey. Both modules were interesting and quite straight forward. However, for the internal assessments, they tend to mark harshly (or at least that’s what my friends found). But the final exam was pretty sweet! All MCQs and they scale as well. So I would recommend.

    NEUR302 (Grade A+): Difficulty 6.5/10

    A good paper. No labs. Only two seminars a week. The sad thing is that the seminars last for two hours. However, the assessments were pretty straight forward e.g. research proposals, poster presentations, data analysis etc. The lecturers also presented interesting content! I think most people seemed to like this paper, they weren’t that harsh. The final exam involves essay style questions.

    NEUR301 (Grade A+): Difficulty 7/10

    This is a restricted entry paper. If you can get entry into this paper, I would recommend doing it. There were three modules and two seminars per week. There are only about 14 students in the class and so lecturers are chill. The assessments include writing a essay and doing a presentation for each module. The cool part was that for some of the modules, you could essentially write about anything that was relevant to that module (as long as you check with the lecturer). We had a lot of freedom to choose what we wrote about and what we presented on. I would recommend doing this paper.

    ANAT336: (Grade A): Difficulty 7/10

    Only one seminar a week (the best thing ever). You get to study two modules (each taught by a different lecturer). I chose Stephen Bunn and Ruth Napper. Stephens module was about how through the use various toxins we have been able to understand the process of neurotransmission. It was interesting! Ruths module was fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, it was also interesting. The final exam involves writing research proposals for each of chosen modules. I would recommend working with friend(s) and writing practice research proposals before the exam and possibly checking with the lecturer if there can be any improvements.

    MATH151: (Grade A+): Difficulty: 3/10

    I would HIGHLY recommend doing this paper to boost your GPA if you did pretty good at math in high school. Its very basic! The internal assessments include assignments during tutorials which you can work with others. The tests are really easy too and you get two attempts. You can really prepare for the final exam. Just do the previous exam papers, the questions each year are VERY similar.

    MAOR110: (Grade A+): Difficulty 3/10

    Definitely recommend. The lecturer is cool and makes the lectures enjoyable. Its very basic Maori language. I was afraid that I wouldn’t do as well because I had no idea how to speak Maori but its really easy! I know some international students that took the paper and they were doing well too! Its fully internal, so no final exam!

    MAOR102: (Grade A+): Difficulty: 4/10

    Interesting paper! You get to learn about the Maori culture and traditions which could potentially help you with the interview at Auckland. The content is really straight forward. Try and get involved in the tutorials otherwise it will get boring. The markers were quite generous too. For the final exam, they gave a practice pool of MCQs beforehand which was helpful. There are also two readings for the exam which they give beforehand. The questions for the readings can be REALLY straight forward.

    Advice for applying at Auckland med school:

    UMAT: This was my fourth time sitting UMAT. I am absolutely terrible with this exam. Out of all the attempts, this one was my best (31st percentile) which shows you just how bad I am at UMAT. For Auckland, they look at your RAW score, so even if you get a low UMAT, I wouldn’t stress about it. Try work hard on your GPA.

    GPA: My Auckland GPA (8.36) helped balance my UMAT. Aim to get a GPA above 8. I spent a lot of time in the library when people I knew were out and about having fun. Getting a GPA above 8 is not easy and you will have to make sacrifices. But if you are really wanting medicine, there’s no shortcut. If you can, try and stay on top of your lectures. I kept separate folders for my papers in which I put my lecture notes. I would revisit the notes when I would prepare for tests or exams. Try to be organized with your lecture notes because it will really help when preparing for exams. Your GPA is a really big factor when applying for anything, be it Medicine, Dentistry, or even postgraduate study, so focus heavily on achieving a competitive GPA.

    Interview: I actually enjoyed the interview process. It was my first time doing the MMI. I wore formal dress pants, a plain blue shirt, a red tie and black leather shoes. I arrived about an hour before my interview and I sat with a group of people that were in my interview stream. Everyone is nervous at this point so try talking about something other than the interview with the people around you. You get assigned a buddy who helps carry your bag and guides you to your stations.

    There are eight stations and most of the interviewers are really friendly! I had one interviewer who was the ‘mean cop’. He interrupted me at times, disagreed with my points etc. Just hear them out and they might try persuade you to think differently about what you have just said, but just stay firm with your answer while at the same time respecting their opinion. The questions I got asked were:

    1) Describe a time when you were judged unfairly

    2) How does the treaty of Waitangi affect Maori health outcome?

    3) What are your interests outside of work/study?

    4) How can we prevent young teachers from leaving Auckland due to expensive housing?

    5) Acting station – your friend thinks uni is a waste of time, respond to him.

    6) What are your thoughts on alternative medicine? Should health professionals advocate for them?

    7) What do you think about scientific and cosmetic testing on animals?

    8) What experiences have you had with health professionals?

    The interviewers also have follow up questions. If you would like to know what I said in my answers, just flick me a message. The main thing I would say is that during the interview, try and smile and just have a normal conversation. Let the interviewer talk. If you can use a bit of friendly humor, that would be good too!

    Hope that’s been helpful. All the best for the coming year. Give it your all! If you have questions, feel free to ask at any point
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    lo1699, Dsmity, emmabone and 14 others like this.
  2. CheesyJellybean

    CheesyJellybean Member

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    whatismyname Thank you so much for this- I was hardcore stressing about my UMAT score which is quite tragic! Did you apply to other unis as well? Thanks!
  3. whatismyname

    whatismyname Member

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    No one likes UMAT haha. I only applied to Auckland and Otago. I was ineligible to continue with Otago because of my UMAT (which was below threshold for section 1). Auckland doesn't look at UMAT as much. So if you have a high GPA and a low UMAT, as long as you have a relatively good interview, you should be on track for a med offer! All the best!

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