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Applying to medical school

Applying to medical school takes planning, dedication and perseverance. The process actually starts at the point you choose your A-levels or equivalent qualifications. This page will take you through a few of the main routes to medical school. If you want read about the career path of a doctor and once you have qualified you can see our Career Pathway page. This page will cover:

  • Which A-levels/qualifications will I need?
  • How do I apply to medical school?
  • When do I need to apply to Medical School?
  • When do I apply to medical school.
  • What are the UKCAT and BMAT?

Choosing your A-levels / qualifications...

The most common path into medicine is through A-levels, IB, Scottish Higher or equivalent qualifications. Each medical school has its own criteria for subjects you need to take, so research each university's  requirements. Generally, they will looking for Chemistry, Biology, Maths and one other subject. If your subjects don't match the university's entry criteria you will likely be wasting your time applying to that university. 

Check each universites entry requirements!


How do I apply to medical school?

Applying to a UK medical school requires you to apply via UCAS. However when applying to medical school you need to apply earlier than normal subjects, the application cut-off date for medical school applications is the 15th October each year. It is vital you apply before this date or your application will be rejected and you will have to wait a full year before you can re-apply. 

Now you know the application date, there are several things you will need to complete to have your application ready to submit. Here is what you will need to do before October 15th:

  1. Understand your predicted grades - If you are way below the predicted grades that medical schools require then you might need to look at re-taking the year or ways to get back on track with your subjects. If you are on target to meet the university entry requirements then great!
  2. Research, Research, Research - It is absolutely vital you research each medical school before you apply. Some have very high grade requirements, high UKCAT or BMAT scores, require specific GCSE results etc so its highly important you make sure you fit their criteria and don't waste a space on your UCAS application for a university you will be rejected from straight away. 
  3. Gain work experience - You will need to show you have gained an understanding of what medicine entails, speaking to medical students, attending open days, shadowing medical professionals, working in a care home, volunteering etc... All these are great options for showing you are dedicated to a career in healthcare. You will need these for your personal statement...
  4. Write your personal statement - All the best examples from the experience you gained above needs to be communicated in your personal statement. Some universities use this to assess you and your suitability to study medicine so it needs to be well researched, very well written with perfect spelling and grammar.  (More about personal statements).
  5. Sit your UKCAT or BMAT - The UKCAT needs to be completed by 1st October 2018, most students will aim to sit the UKCAT in summer (More information about the UKCAT). The BMAT exam is taken on either the 1st September 2018 or 31st October 2018. Yes, the second BMAT date is after the UCAS application date but its fine, the results are sent to the universities directly so you can sit either (More information on the BMAT).

You will need to have all these elements completed and optimised just to apply to medical school.


OK I understand that, what's next?

The simple answer is you need to optimise all of the above. You need to read in detail about each one of the application elements and optimise it for your application. This takes hard work and many hours, but you really need to do this to maximise your chance of gaining a place at medical school. Read more:

  • Choosing which medical schools to apply to.
  • The UKCAT.
  • The BMAT.
  • Gaining experience.
  • Writing your personal statement.

I've applied. What happens now?

Great! You have submitted your application and now you wait nervously to hear back from the medical schools. Some medical schools invite you for an interviews, others will not and provide you with a 'conditional offer', some medical schools can reject you. There is no specific date universities will make this decision and each university will make decisions at different times so you will be waiting from October until March/April time. Either way you will need to check your UCAS application dashboard and your emails regularly for updates. 

For any of the above options you will receive and email and your UCAS dashboard will have the latest information.

  1. Rejections - If you receive all rejections, it just means not this time and you need to go back and repeat "How do I apply to medical school" steps above and look to improve each element again to apply next year. Read about dealing with rejection.
  2. Interviews - If you receive interview invitations you need to start research the university's interview process and start practicing. You can read about interview preparation here. 
  3. Conditional offers - Great! But now you need to get the grades.. focus on your exams and put everything into them! You don't want to have nailed the application process and fail on the grade requirements. 

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Medical Projects organise hospital work experience and university preparation courses. Find out more.