Advice for Referees

Advice for Referees

This page is designed to help referees deliver appropriate advice to potential dental applicants, such that students understand how to achieve the research and understanding of a dental career, which underpins a successful application. We also offer suggestions on what information we are searching for within the reference about a potential dental applicant.

Unusual or Extenuating Circumstances

Any circumstances, which prevent the student from undertaking, or completing their university entrance examination syllabus, should be explained, either on the UCAS form, or by separate letter, to be received by 16 October. In these circumstances, we recommended contacting the Admissions Office for advice as soon as possible.

The UCAS form should be marked indicating whether academic results are under appeal.

Late Decision or Change of Career Path

Applications from candidates who have taken longer to commit themselves to applying for dentistry are quite acceptable, providing the decision is made for the right reasons. If the student has clearly not been able to complete the appropriate research, then their application will be disadvantaged.

Should students also later find that they have not undertaken the appropriate academic qualifications, then please ask for advice for the best course of action.

Student Research and Completion of the Personal Statement

Rather than just list all the work experience that has been undertaken, it is more revealing if students can inform us of what they have now learned about a dental career and its implications.

If students have had difficulty in undertaking research, eg there are no dental placements available for them locally, then they should inform us of these difficulties and concentrate on researching their careers in other ways.

Completion of the Reference

At Aberdeen, UCAS forms are processed in three stages to assess different aspects of the application:

  • An academic score, based upon our minimum academic requirements (contributes up to 60% of total score).
  • A UKCAT score. The score allocated is based upon an applicant's overall performance in the UKCAT compared with the performance of all other applicants to Aberdeen. Achievements are ranked in deciles and allocate the appropriate score. (contributes up to 40% of total score).
  • An interview score. Only the top 60 applicants based on the above are likely to be asked to attend for an interview, where the above attributes will be further explored. In addition, the interview will assess communication and interpersonal skills.  All subsequent offers are based on performance at interview.

The reference provides us with invaluable information about certain aspects of the application not covered elsewhere in the UCAS form. Given the above outline, we hope referees will inform us about certain key qualities a student may possess:

  • Good personal organisation and time management, allowing for academic achievement, as well as leading a full and balanced life.
  • A good sense of social responsibility, including evidence of caring for others, compassion and empathy. Contribution to school-based activities, particularly those of a mentoring nature.
  • Demonstration of good communication skills, both in listening as well as speaking.
  • Honesty, reliability and trustworthiness.
  • Evidence of the ability to work with peers and teachers, i.e. in teams. Are students able to take on a leadership role if needed, as well as integrate, be flexible and co-operate with their colleagues?
  • Early indications of students' ability to take responsibility, which will be expected of them as postgraduates.
  • Evidence that the student is a well-rounded individual, rather than simply an academic. A range of outside interests, eg sporting, creative, musical etc. will allow for relaxation in a busy course and career, as well as developing a sense of identity with one's future patients.
  • Whether the student is a sociable individual, clearly enjoying the company of their peers.

We do realise the pressures that are put upon referees, particularly as references are no longer confidential.  However, should there be certain aspects of an application that you feel Selectors should know about, it is important we recognise your concerns.

Further Points to Note:

  • If the candidate has needed to repeat some studies (eg a whole year), please inform us of this and the reasons why this was deemed necessary. This is more helpful to the student than for us to note a discrepancy in the times that examinations were undertaken.
  • If a student has taken an atypical academic pathway, we should be informed of the reasons why our required subjects and grades have not been undertaken or achieved.
  • A reference that simply describes students' academic studies is not helpful. We value referees' comments on students' other abilities and personal attributes.