Is it hard to study medicine in the Czech Republic

Every year we form a large group of students, coming to the Czech Republic to study medicine at Charles University.

Medicine is one of the most popular study choices for international students.

According to the statistics from the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic, a total of 7,500 of international students chose medical and pharmaceutical specialisations in the Czech Republic in 2016.

In order to get free medical education in the Czech Republic, you need to be able to speak Czech and be prepared for high competition (5-10 persons per place).

Valeria Krivulya and Taisiya Fedorkova, recent graduates of the GoStudy courses, are now the students at the faculties of medicine at Charles University. They tell our blog readers about their preparation for the entrance exams and explain why Czech applicants have a considerable advantage over international students.

What level is requested in the entrance exam

“There are completely different requirements for the applicants in the Czech Republic than in Ukraine. In Ukraine I studied bio chemistry, but the overall knowledge I received there was not sufficient, probably only 10% of the material covered in the entrance exams at Charles University .”

Valeria Krivulya, a graduate of GoStudy courses in 2015-2016, went on to study at the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague

“As it turned out, chemistry is taught at a low level in Russia. In the Czech Republic you are expected to have university level of knowledge for the exams. You need to know chemistry, especially organic chemistry. They also require for the applicants to know Latin. You need to know the Latin names of bones. Biology, zoology and botany were the hardest ones for me. You need to know a lot of terms, names of species and their families. In Russia, this level is not required, you enrol based on the results of the unified state exam.”

Taisiya Fedorkova, a graduate of the 2015-2016 GoStudy course, came to study at the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, Charles University

Valeria: it looked like we studied chemistry and biology in detail at school. But the Czech Republic has a very high level of chemistry education. We studied only some organic chemistry in Ukraine. In the Czech Republic there was a whole exam for organic chemistry. You had to know a lot of information by heart, all formulas of amino acids, fats, all processes in chemical terms, the way they happen in the human body.

There are special gymnasiums, preparing students for admission to medical faculties in the Czech Republic. Things that we learn in Ukraine or Russia for two years, are studied by Czechs for four years, thus they are already more competent. It is difficult to compete with them.

I came to Ukraine in May and discussed questions from the sample examination tests with my school teacher. She didn’t know the answers to most of the questions either. The requirements are that much high in the Czech Republic, in Ukraine even the teachers do not always know the answers to these questions.

Why the Czech Republic

Taisiya: I’m from Lesnoy, a small Russian town. Two years ago, I went to the Czech Republic for a month for the summer courses to see if I could live and study here. In the end, I realised that I liked it, the Czech language is quite interesting, and decided to come here to study. Charles University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities. I wanted to get a good education.

Valeria: my uncle is a dentist. He advised me to go to the Czech Republic. He comes here often for some professional development courses; he said that medical education here is very good. It was also important for us that this education is free.

Competition is very strong here. If you want to be a doctor, you have to earn it. And you will become a really good doctor afterwards.

The program “Admission to Medicine” includes 870 hours of the Czech language classes, preparation for entrance tests in chemistry, physics, biology and a course in terminology for the prospective students of medical faculties.

Should you learn the Czech language in advance?

Valeria: Of course, it is better to learn Czech in advance and come to the Czech Republic with at least some knowledge. I had absolutely no knowledge. From the beginning of October I attended lectures at the First Faculty of Medicine and understood next to nothing. I started to understand what the teachers were talking about only by the end of December.

Taisiya: I studied the language on Skype for a year before coming to the Czech Republic. My friend studied for a year at the preparation courses, he told me how hard it is when you do not know the language and how difficult it is to get nostrification and sit your exams.  I arrived with at least some knowledge of Czech, which made it easier for me.

Valeria: I have never had any special abilities to study languages. At the same time, during my studies here I spent all my free time preparing for exams. First for nostrification, then for the entrance exams. I went to Czech classes and did my homework, the Czech language was always in the background. I really want to thank my amazing teachers – pani Svetlana, pani Yana, Anichka. They are really wonderful teachers.

Taisiya: I had very good teachers. All of us loved them very much. We focused on grammar, vocabulary and conversation. I believe that if you attend all classes, complete all tasks, then you can achieve B2 level by the end of the year.

Czech is a complex language. I can’t say it’s easy to learn it in one year. If you feel that you lack confidence in English, the language that you studied for over 10 years at school, then you may want to consider starting to learn Czech in advance.

I tried to keep get rid of my accent as much as possible. I believe that if you don’t speak the language well, you will never blend in. Besides, it is very important for a doctor to know the language well.

Photo from the archive of the First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University

How to prepare for entrance exams

Valeria: I took GoStudy classes in biology, physics and chemistry. I also attended lectures in biology, physics, chemistry, and Latin at the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University.

Taisiya: I studied chemistry, biology and physics with a girl who is now in her fifth year at the faculty of Medicine at Charles University and went to GoStudy classes.

It helped a lot that during the Czech language lessons, we also studied biology, analysed materials in biology in Czech, and worked out test tasks.

I also went to the preparation lectures at the first faculty, but they did not help much. I was more interested in seeing how they were taught and whether or not I would understand the teachers.

Valeria: The first faculty of Medicine publishes sample exam questions. I prepared for my exams using these sample tests. And it worked well.

Taisiya: There are very good chemistry textbooks for medical school applicants by Eva Streblova. These books are very helpful, everything is written in a fairly clear language.

Is there any difference in exams for different medical faculties?

Valeria: I applied to the second faculty of medicine, but I didn’t prepare for the exams at all. Every medical faculty requires something different. One faculty focuses on chemistry, organics, another one – on biology and anatomy. The second faculty of medicine focuses on chemistry. Chemistry is my weakest subject, so I didn’t get in. After all, I went to lectures of the first faculty of medicine and prepared specifically for that. The second faculty publish their own sample examination questions as well. If you wish to study at the second faculty, you need to prepare with them.

There were fewer questions and very little time during the exam for the second faculty. Whereas the exam of the first faculty had 300 questions, 100 each for chemistry, physics and biology. They gave us two hours for each subject, so I had enough time there. The difficulty was that you needed to choose several answers, and if one of the chosen options is wrong, then you do not get a point. The exam at the first faculty took a very long time – from 9am to 4pm.

Taisiya: it was more complicated at the second faculty exam as they checked all three subjects in one test, you had to remember everything.

Chances of admission for medicine

Taisiya: I only applied to the medical faculties of Charles University. I know it was risky, but I knew that it was important for me to become a doctor. If I hadn’t been able to enrol here, I would have gone back to study in St. Petersburg in Russia. Since I had fewer options, I had to make more of an effort.

I was offered a place at the faculty of medicine at Charles Faculty in Pilsen. I know that there is a chance to move to the first faculty in Prague after two years of study. The first two years at the first faculty of medicine in Prague and Pilsen have identical programs. The atmosphere in Pilsen is much less tense. I know that a lot of students get expelled in the first year.

Valeria: If you want to go to medical school, you need to spend most of your day studying. For several weeks I tried not to leave my room at all, I just studied. That was worth it. It is better to make efforts for several months and get admitted.

To be honest, I thought that I may not get in and was mentally preparing to go to the University of Chemical Technology, but I was admitted to General Medicine program at the First Faculty of Medicine. I didn’t score 15 extra points for the dental faculty.

Applicants, trying to get into the Dental faculty in the Czech Republic, have to train even harder. There is a huge competition, only 50 places and 1,500 applicants.

At the same time, about one half of all places at all of the faculties of medicine is allocated to Czech students, who are admitted without exams.

Is it worth working as a doctor in the Czech Republic?

Valeria: Of course, I haven’t decided yet whether I will work in the Czech Republic. If I get a good offer, I think we can stay here. In any case, I think that I won’t have any problems finding a job with a degree from Charles University.

I like being in the Czech Republic, but I miss my family. My first month was hard. I didn’t know the language, I didn’t know anyone, I had never been to the Czech Republic before. I would say the first month is the most difficult for all students. But then I got used to it and made friends. I’m glad I chose Prague, I think it’s my city. Prague is very cosy, comfortable, homely, you feel at home here.

Taisiya: I really like this country. I’m from a small town, and I like it that Prague is cosy and quiet, no one is in a hurry. Everyone is friendly. I think I’d like to work here.

I would also like to do an internship in Germany if I manage to learn German to the appropriate level over the next few years. But first of all, I will need to learn Latin and improve my Czech.

Valeria and Taisiya came to study in the Czech Republic through Admission to medicine program.

Alina Baeva 14 December 2020

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