‘I’m really sorry but we have offered the place to another person. Both of you are brilliant students, but her GCE results are better.’ I was told this when I asked for a reconsideration of my application at HKU.
With straight ‘A’s (and a few A*s) in GCE A Levels, a bright CV and letter of recommendation from a reputable programme host, I was not able to get into HKU BPharm.
I’m not sharing how I end up here in HKU Pharmacy, but I hope the following tips will help you guys through.
Contrary to JUPAS admission, you are only allowed to pick 3 programmes per University. If you are certain on a pharmacy career, place it in your FIRST option. The same applies to MBBS (Medicine), which means you can only decide on one. So if you place either one in your 2nd or 3rd option, a quota will be wasted.
On top of that, timing is another issue to consider. The deadline for Main Round (MR) application usually lies in late December or early January. If you are shortlisted for an interview, which is required for all NON-JUPAS applicants, you will hear from the department by Easter (i.e around March or April).
For the gifted and talented, you may consider Fast Track (FT) application. The deadline is around late October to November and results should be released between Christmas and January. Although the candidate pool in FT may be relatively more competitive, if you are not shortlisted in the first round you might still be reconsidered in the MR (no guarantee though!). So check out the schedules so you don’t miss the deadlines!
When it comes to the procedures, it might be slightly different from what you expect. There is a set quota of intakes for each programme. Your application will first go to the department of your 1st priority in the first round screening. It will go to your next option in the second round only if you failed to be shortlisted and the same applies to the third round. As soon as the quota for sending out conditional offers is reached, application closes. This mean if you place a choice that you reckon you are likely to receive an offer in the third priority (given that it is not what you preferred), you will miss 2 rounds of screening chances.
For example, if your choices are A>B>C, in round 1 your application will go to Dept A ONLY. After Dept A has scanned through all applicants and you are not shortlisted, your application will go to the Dept B.This sounds ridiculous but Dept B will not receive your application until round 2. This will have greatly reduced your chance of getting into HKU and therefore in such dilemma, it is best if you balance between your interest and the chance of getting into HKU and make careful decisions when applying. Don’t forget about other achievements too!
I don’t reckon I need elaboration on this. In short, Chemistry and Math are mandatory (with at least an A grade), and Biology is recommended. Usually you do AS in lower sixth/ grade 12 and A2 in upper sixth/ grade 13. Taking AS and A2 level will give you an AL grade. So, this means you should have your AS grade by summer that will allow your teachers to fill in the predicted grade for you.
However, if you feel that life is too short to be wasted on A Levels, you could shorten the agony. Depends on your college’s policy, you may be able to do all AS and A2 modules in one year (That is what I did for math. It’s relatively easy for HK students to get an A*). This will give you a complete AL grade by the time you apply and feedbacks was that you are more likely to secure a place in different universities as well.
Often Chinese students take up 4 or more A Levels instead of the standard 3 and a half (3AL +1AS). Plan your strategies on getting at least 3A* (yes, that’s the doorstep requirement) in your predicted grade to secure your chance of getting an interview. Taking up extra AL subjects and not getting A* doesn’t boost your chance of getting in – It is just the number of A*s you get ultimately they are concerned.
It would most likely be a panel interview. Just relax and be yourself in your interview. Some of the typical questions that professors will ask students are as follows:
- Self intro (Must-ask question)
- Why do you want to do pharmacy?
- Why not other professional (Doctor, nurses…)?
- What qualities that you think will make you a good pharmacist?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Did you apply to other Pharmacy schools? (If no, why not?)
- What movie/TV Opera/book do you watch/read?
- Questions related to your personal statement
- Do you know anything about the pharmacy sector in HK?
- What are the prospective careers of the degree? Where can you work?
Okay, calm down before you start throwing rotten eggs at me. The interview is just an a process for professors to know more about you, see if you are genuinely interested in this field and look at your communication skills/abilities. They won’t ask you subject related questions; so don’t bother to study your chemistry or anything you learnt.
One final word – study hard.
Get amazing predicted grades, behave normally in interviews, pass with flying colours and you should be good
P.S.: For the nosy ones: I retook my GCE, reapplied, did the interviews again and got in with 3A*s.
Author: Crystal Laurinda