All About Otago Med Admissions

02/10/20219 minute read
All About Otago Med Admissions

All About Otago Med Admissions

Students who are interested in studying medicine (MBChB) at Otago University in Dunedin can apply through three different categories: undergraduate, graduate or alternative.

The most common one that students will apply to medicine from is the health sciences first year (HSFY) undergraduate pathway, which is predominantly for high school leavers in their first year of university study.

Admission into medicine is based on two admission requirements, your UCAT score and GPA.

Your first month of FYHS determines your year going forward. Make sure you start on the right foot with advice and help from MedView’s FYHS Workshops and Courses.

Undergraduate Category

Health Sciences First Year (HSFY)

All students interested in applying to medicine in their first year of the university must sit in the health sciences first year (HSFY). Once you set all the necessary papers and courses, you then apply to medicine which if successful, will begin in your second year of university study.

The medicine programme is a total of 6 years including your HSFY. In order to gain admission into the HSFY pathway, students must meet the university entry rank score requirements which are 140

HSFY Requirements
CurriculumEntry Requirements
QLD OP12 or below

There are no subject requirements in order to enter into the HSFY pathway however it is highly recommended that students take NCEA level 3 Chemistry, Physics and Biology (or the equivalent) to help them prepare. For students that have not taken these, Otago University has courses during the summer holidays to help them prepare.

HSFY Structure

Students completing their HSFY are required to take seven core papers that cover a range of sciences (listed below). In order to apply for medicine in your first year, you must achieve a 70% in each core paper however realistically, you should be aiming for an estimated 93-95%+ in each paper to give yourself a more competitive advantage since students are ranked based on their grades.

Semester One

HUBS191 - Human Body Systems I

CHEM191 - The Chemical Basis of Biology and Human Health

CELS191 - Cell and Molecular Biology

PHSI191 - Physics

Semester Two

HUBS192 - Human Body Systems II

POPH192 - Population Health

BIOC192 - Foundations of Biochemistry

Optional 8th Paper

The university allows students to also pick up an 8th optional paper in their second semester to help them explore areas outside of the core papers and/or help them boost their overall GPA. A list of potential 8th paper options can be found here.

English Diagnostic Test

In order to be eligible for admission via the HSFY category, all students are required to sit and pass a compulsory English diagnostic test in Semester One. You have the opportunity to sit it twice in Semester One and if you do not pass either, you must sit ENGL126 in semester two (which means you can not pick up the 8th paper). The test focuses on reading, listening and written comprehension and is reflective of the expectations required in order to progress into a professional programme. More information can be found here.

Medicine Requirements from HSFY

In order to be eligible for medicine, you must:

  1. Pass the English Diagnostic Test or ENGL126
  2. Have a valid current UCAT result
  3. Achieve a 70% (B+) in each core paper (after the first attempt)

Admission into medicine is based on:

  1. UCAT Threshold
  2. GPA

Otago is the only university in New Zealand that offers dentistry which is a five-year programme including HSFY. The undergraduate pathway is essentially the same, as students have to complete HSFY before applying however some requirements are slightly different.

In order to be eligible for dentistry, you must:

  1. Pass the English diagnostic test or ENGL126
  2. Have a valid current UCAT result
  3. Achieve a 65% (B) in each core paper and an average of 70% across all HSFY papers (after the first attempt)
  4. Receive an MMI Interview offer

Dentistry Requirements from HSFY

  1. UCAT Threshold
  2. MMI Threshold
  3. GPA

Every year, the Otago Medical/Dentistry School Admissions Committee determines a UCAT threshold. This threshold can change year to year and is not known to students prior to sitting the UCAT however in the last few years, the threshold for medicine has been 20th percentile for verbal reasoning and 10th percentile for situational judgement & the threshold for dentistry has been similar except it also includes decision-making (roughly the 55-60th percentile). If you meet the thresholds, your admission will be based 100% entirely on your GPA for medicine so your grades in your first year are super important!

In regards to the GPA, admission is based on your GPA from your best seven papers. This means that you have the ability to swap out one of your core papers (given that you met the 70% requirement) for your 8th optional paper. As mentioned previously, all students are ranked until the places are filled through the HSFY category so the higher GPA you receive, the better chance you have of getting in.

Ideally, you should aim for a 93-95%+ average across all your best seven papers which is high however MedView can support you across your core papers in your first year. Just check out our services available to you!

If students are unsuccessful in their applications via the undergraduate category, they can try again via the graduate category, after completing a degree.


HSFY applicants must complete the UCAT exam. Your UCAT score weighs 15% of your medical school application. The final score is combined from all five sections:

  1. Verbal Reasoning
  2. Decision Making
  3. Quantitative Reasoning
  4. Abstract Reasoning
  5. Situational Judgement

Final Thoughts

It is important to be well set up for your journey into Otago's medical school so start preparing early and plan ahead. Due to New Zealand only having two medical schools, it is an extremely competitive nature however MedView likes to promote a supportive, supportive and engaging environment.

We recommend that you start working hard in high school to achieve the entry requirements to get you into HSFY and take the recommended subjects, to establish a strong scientific foundation of knowledge prior to beginning your HSFY. In your HSFY, set yourself up for success by taking one of MedView’s courses to help you succeed in the core papers/UCAT, alongside tailored private tutoring to you! If you are interested in hearing more, please click here.

Your first month of FYHS determines your year going forward. Make sure you start on the right foot with advice and help from MedView’s FYHS Workshops and Courses.