Advice for the FPASing

It is that time of year again, when final year medical students all over the country realise that they have to start applying for one of these job things. I know this partly because my Facebook feed exploded on Monday morning with fifth years who just registered for FPAS and partly because suddenly half my blog hits are coming from people who got here by searching for FPAS information.

I’m writing this not because I consider myself to be any sort of expert. I’m writing it because I figure that if Google is going to send you here, you may as well get something useful out of it.

  • You are entitled to find this a little bit scary. The other thing that happened on Monday morning was that FY1s collectively developed a superiority complex about the whole thing, and — well, it’s easy for us to say that we’re rising above FPAS now, but for two weeks last year I was absolutely incapable of clicking on anything that said “register” or “submit” or “agree” unless I was holding my flatmate’s hand.
  • In my application cycle, the Foundation Programme as a whole was oversubscribed by 81 applicants. I do not know and nor does anyone else how far oversubscribed it is likely to be this year, but I would expect it to be by more than last year.
  • Your application is scored out of 100.
  • Between 34 and 43 points are available for educational achievement at medical school. These are the points that correlate to your academic decile, which you should have been told by your medical school. The formulae for calculating academic deciles are not standardised.
  • Of the 7 points that are available for additional academic achievement, 5 of them are for an additional degree. You will only be awarded points for one additional degree, so, if you came to medical school with a BSc and an MSc and a PhD, choose whichever gives you the most points.
  • Of the 7 points that are available for additional academic achievement, 2 of them are for publications, presentations, and prizes. The important things to note here are that publications must be in a peer-reviewed journal and must have a PubMed ID; that presentations must be at a national or international level and do not count if they are for the BMA or for a student organisation; and that prizes must be at a national or international level and must be first prize. The things to note that I am most often asked about are: 1) UKMSA presentations do not count, 2) Student BMJ articles do not count.
  • Your application will not include any white space questions. Your other 50 points come from the Situational Judgement Test, which you will sit on either December 7th or January 7th. Your medical school chooses the date. You are the guinea pig year for the SJT, which is why none of us can offer you a great deal of useful advice about it. There is an official practice test on the UKFPO website.
  • There is no blanket minimum score for getting into your first choice Foundation School. It depends on which your first choice is and on how many other applicants select it as their first choice.
  • The competition ratio for South Thames for 2012 entry was 91%. A lot of you have been asking that. It was the least competitive Foundation School in London last year and that was the lowest competition ratio since 2008, and the stats I have only go back to 2008. I wouldn’t bet on it staying like that this year.
  • The competition ratios for the four years before that are in this table. FPAS has changed geographical boundaries over the last few years, which is reflected in the Foundation Schools that are listed as not applicable in some years. The vaguely nonsensical order is reflective of nothing except that this is the order I was working from last year.
  • Good luck!

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