Rejected Getting rejected from medical school is a horrible experience and it is really difficult to know what to do when all your hard work doesn’t pay off. This section provides general advice for anyone who has been rejected or has missed their grades.

Don’t give up

Getting rejected can make you feel like giving up completely. However, it is really important to remember that getting into medical school is very very competetive and even four rejections does not mean that you are not good enough for medical school or that you cannot be a doctor. If you want to do medicine then do not give up without a fight. Being rejected or missing your grades may mean that it will take longer to get to medical school than you expected, or that you will go to a different medical school than you had hoped. However, if you stick with it then you can still get there in the end and it will be well worth it. If you need some inspiration, have a look at our section on people who were successful second time round.

What went wrong?

In the majority of cases, the most likely reason for getting a rejection is bad luck. There are between 4 and 60 applicants per place on medical courses, depending on the university and the course. Universities have no choice but to reject hundreds of excellent applicants each year, simply because they do not have enough places. You need to be prepared for this and accept that there is a lot of luck involved. However, it is also a good idea to write to universities to ask for feedback. They are not obliged to send you feedback but many universities will be prepared to give you more information about the reasons for your rejection. You can use this to look again at your application. Other than this, it is very important to look at your application and be critical. You need to look at everything from your grades or qualifications, work experience, voluntary work and extra curricular activities.

Four rejections

If you have been rejected by all four medical schools then there are a number of options open to you, depending on your situation.

Still studying:
If you are still studying, the most important thing to do is to concentrate on your grades. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. Work hard and focus on getting the grades you need. You can concentrate on getting into medical school when your exams are over.

Missed your grades:
Whether or not you got any offers, if you missed your grades then you need to decide whether to resit or to study a different degree and re-apply as a graduate. If you think that resitting is the right thing for you then it is a good idea to write to medical schools to find out if they accept applicants who resit. If you decide to do another degree before studying medicine then it is a good idea to look at the subjects that will give you the most options. For example, subjects that cover biological science are the most widely accepted at the moment. Have a look at our course guide for graduates for more information.

Rejected but you got the grades:
If you are in this situation then you will need to decide if you would rather study something else or if you want to reapply. It can be difficult to take an unexpected gap year, especially if your friends are going to university next year. However, if you want to do medicine then a gap year is probably the best option. You can spend a year travelling or earning some money whilst improving your application. Do not start a different degree if your heart isn’t in it, even if you still intend to apply as a graduate. Graduate entry medicine is a good option for people who miss their grades or don’t realise they want to study medicine until they are older. But it is expensive and competitive. Your chances of a place are much higher as a gap year student than as a graduate. Have a look at the section below for some ideas on how to improve your application for next year.

Graduate entry applicants:
Graduate entry applicants are more likely to get 4 rejections due to the increased competition. You can increase your chances of an offer by applying to more 5 year courses, which are less competitive than 4 year graduate entry courses. Otherwise, the advice for improving your application is the same as for A level students. Have a look at the next section for some ideas.

Improving your application

There are lots of things you can do to improve your application and increase your chances for next year. Here are a few ideas:

  • Work experience:
    If you cannot find any faults with your original application then the best thing to do is to simply get more experience and take up more interests. Long term voluntary committments and healthcare work with lots of variety will always boost your application. Have a look at our volunteering section for more ideas.
  • Healthcare jobs:
    Get a job as a healthcare assistant (HCA) or phlebotomist – you don’t need much experience to do this type of work but these jobs can give you some really useful experience in the NHS and you can earn some money at the same time. Try the NHS jobs website for local jobs or yellow pages for local nursing agencies. You could also try contacting your local hospital.
  • Volunteer in a developing country:
    Spending a gap year volunteering in a hospital, school, childrens home or working for community projects can be really rewarding. It can give you a different perspective on working as a doctor and can be a fantastic opportunity travel and to learn about a different culture.
  • Take up a new hobby: 
    Use this opportunity to take up something that you have always thought about doing but never got round to. Join a gym or a sports team, do a fun-run, learn a musical instrument, go to an art class, learn a language or anything else you are interested in. This will make you sound more interesting, but more importantly will be a bit of fun.
  • Do science A levels:
    If you don’t already have chemistry and biology A level (or equivalent) then getting these qualifications could open up lots of medical schools that would not consider you without them. Have a look at our A levels section for more ideas.
  • Ask the medical schools:
    If you are re-applying to medical school then it is a good idea to write to lots of universities before you apply and ask them what they think of your chances and what advice they would give. Write them a shortened personal statement, with an overview of your work experience and qualifications and include a covering letter to explain that you would like to improve your application before the next UCAS round. Their responses will help you decide where to apply and help you to identify where you can improve.