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Choosing a Medical School
There are 33 medical schools in the UK. All degrees in medicine provide the same qualification, although some degree titles have different names (e.g. MBBS, MBChB). The different names can be confusing but all UK medical degrees are equivalent, regardless of the degree title. It is very important you take time to research each medical school to find the best fit to your learning style and lifestyle. Do not choose a medical school just on its name or reputation. Here are some things to consider when finding the right medical school for you.
Which is the best medical school in the UK?
The answer is simply that there isn't one! All UK medical schools are good for different reasons and there are no medicals school in the UK with a bad reputation and the degree at the end are all equal when it comes to applying for your first job. Therefore, you should choose your medical school based on where you would like to live while you are studying, the type of course you would like to do and which universities accept your qualifications.
Please don't choose a medical school based solely on its reputation as you might be applying for a medical school your grades, interview style, personal statement just wont match their criteria and you will just be rejected and waste one of your four choices. You have to find the university that fits you, it might surprise you when you research them but don't discount any because you think they aren't "prestigious"!
Medical school teaching styles
One of the most important factors to consider is the style of teaching the university uses. There are three main types of teaching style:
- Problem Based Learning (PBL)
- Traditional Teaching
- Integrated Teaching
You will need to read about each type and reflect on your learning style. Ask yourself if you prefer learning from books and lectures or if you prefer seminar style discussions with independent learning. Make sure you take time to think about this as you will have 4-5 years of this and you need a style that works for you.
Entrance exams. UKCAT, BMAT or both?
Each medical school has different exam requirements. To see each university's entrance exams see our page: Entrance exams. You will need either the UKCAT or BMAT so its important you read about these and make sure you complete them before the exam closure date.
Some students/people say you "can't revise" for the UKCAT or BMAT but you 100% can! Make sure you do revision, look at past papers, take online tests and time yourself. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can wing it on the day.
What grades do I need for medical school?
Grades are very important. If you don't get the grades, its unlikely you will gain a place, even if you nail all the other areas of the application process. This is one of the best documents for checking each university's grade requirements: Guide to Medical School Grades
Location, location, location
Make sure you have researched the area, university campus, facilities, social clubs etc. You will be here for at least 4-5 years so you need to be happy. Some things to consider:
- Do you get home sick? If you need to spend time with your family every week or two maybe consider how much it costs to get home and how long it takes. There's nothing worse than being home sick, you wont be able to give medicine your 100% attention if you are missing home too much.
- Socials and sports - These are great ways to switch off from your studies so if you play a specific sport then spend some time checking out if they have a sport team you can join. Making friends outside of medicine and having a hobby you can spend time de-stressing with is great for you and your studies.
- City or campus? Make sure you check out the location and lifestyle that comes with your university choice. Speak to current medical students if you can. Understand what your life will be like and if you will enjoy it.
These elements can be asked at medical school interviews so make sure you have done your research!
What is an intercalated degree?
An intercalated degree is where you take a year out of medical school to study another degree in one year. These can be a great way to boost your qualification an knowledge in supporting subjects such as anatomy or pharmacology. They don't always have to be healthcare focused, you could take a language degree at some universities. The benefits of doing an intercalated medical degree:
- Gain an additional degree (BSc or equivalent).
- Gain knowledge in a subject that contributes to your medical knowledge.
- Take a break from medicine for a year (medicine is tough and sometimes having a year out can be a great break and you can come back more motivated to completed your degree).