So, you want to be a Doctor? How to get into Medicine in New Zealand

So, you want to be a Doctor? How to get into Medicine in New Zealand

1 month ago by Robert

Congratulations on your decision to pursue medicine as a career! Medicine is an interesting, valued and rewarding profession. The process of getting into medicine can be confusing, so here’s an introduction.


Criteria for getting into medicine

In New Zealand, you cannot enter medicine or dentistry as a school-leaver. You must first complete at least the first year of an undergraduate degree at Auckland or Otago University. Alternatively, you can enter medicine via the graduate entry pathway, after having completed a degree. This means that applying to either Auckland or Otago Medical School or Dental School is a two-step process. First you gain admission to a degree that qualifies you for applying to medical school, then you apply for Medical or Dental School during that degree.

Note that New Zealand students can also apply to study medicine in Australia, and there are several advantages to doing so. You can read more in our blog on applying to medicine in Australia as a Kiwi.


Entry into First Year

For Year 13 students wishing to enter medicine or dentistry, you will first need to apply to the Bachelor of Health Sciences or the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science at Auckland University, or the Health Sciences First Year at Otago University. You will need to meet Auckland or Otago’s subject and grade requirements.


Entry into Medicine / Dentistry

For Auckland University, you will need to have at least a 6.0 GPA across the 4 core papers and no failed papers. You will also need to achieve a good score in UCAT and succeed in a medical interview.

For Otago University, you will need to achieve high grades with no compulsory paper grade less than a B. You will also need to achieve a minimum UCAT score in each subtest. Entry into the medicine course at Otago does not require an interview, whilst entry into the dentistry does require an interview.


The UCAT and preparing for it

The UCAT is a two-hour, computer-based test which assesses a range of mental abilities identified by universities as important to practicing in the fields of medicine and dentistry. It consists of five separately timed subtests which each contain a number of questions in a multiple-choice format:

  • UCAT Verbal Reasoning
  • UCAT Decision Making
  • UCAT Quantitative Reasoning
  • UCAT Abstract Reasoning
  • UCAT Situational Judgement

The UCAT is a very difficult test. UCAT questions are completely different to those you will have encountered at school or university. The UCAT is highly time pressured, and the vast majority of students do not finish the test. It is a test requiring extreme concentration and quick-thinking skills.

The good news? It is possible to prepare for and do well in the UCAT. From our decades of experience, we know that the best way to prepare for the UCAT is to do a little bit of practice on a regular basis.

You can get started with MedEntry’s free Diagnostic exam.

Note: New Zealand students can first sit UCAT ANZ in their final year of schooling (Year 13) and can apply to 16 Australian medical schools. Students who are applying to study at Auckland or Otago University, sit the UCAT in their first year of university study.


The interview and preparing for it

If you are applying for medicine at Auckland or dentistry at Otago, you will need to attend and perform well in an interview to gain admission.

It is essential that you familiarise yourself with the questions that you will be asked, and develop strategies to ensure you present your ‘best self’ to the medical interview panelists. MedEntry provides comprehensive interview preparation.


Applying for medicine

You can apply to study medicine in New Zealand during the first year of your university degree. For Auckland, applications generally close in early October and for Otago, applications generally close in mid September.

Students in NZ can also apply to study medicine in Australia in year 13. You can read more in our blog on studying in Australia.


Important dates

The entry process for medicine can be complex, and there are lots of important dates to keep in mind. A sample timeline is below (make sure you research the specific dates applicable for your year and your situation):



Start of March

Registrations for UCAT open

Mid - May

Deadline to register/book for UCAT

July - mid August



UCAT results sent to universities

Mid September

Deadline for applying to Otago uni for medicine / dentistry

Early October

Deadline for applying to Auckland Uni for medicine

Early October

Interviews conducted for Otago University

Mid November

Interviews conducted for Auckland University


Remember that you are going to be busy in your first year of university so it is important to be organised – note down important dates at the beginning of the year so you do not miss important deadlines!

More information regarding the medical entry process can be obtained from MedEntry’s UCAT handbook.



Facebook Instagram Discord

Keep up to date with the latest information

Sign up for our Newsletter
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest information