Medicine

 Medicine applications are different to many other courses:

There is an earlier submission date

You will take an additional test (either the UCAT or BMAT)

You are very likely to be interviewed

You are applying for a vocation rather than a just a degree. You’ll need to show you understand what the job entails after graduation.

Essentially, you need to be thinking about UCAS towards the end of Year 12 so you can fill in any experience gaps over that summer. This is where using the post-it note method will help to show you these gaps.

What GCSE grades and A-level subjects do I need to study medicine?

There is no hard-line rule but below is UCAS’s own guidance. The stark reality is no matter how much you want to study medicine, if you do not meet these initial criteria, it is unlikely you’ll get past the initial sort. These can, however, be masked by an excellent UCAT/BMAT test score. Below is a statement from the UCAS website.

To become a doctor you need to complete a five-year degree in medicine. Entry requirements vary, but to get on a medical degree, you normally need at least five GCSEs at grades A* or A, including English and maths and at least grade B in science. You also need a minimum of three A levels at grades AAA or AAB in chemistry and either biology, physics or maths, plus another academic subject.

Choosing your university

There is one big factor that will determine which universities to apply for. One of the tests, UCAT, can be sat before submitting your UCAS application. Assuming you sit your UCAT at the start of Year 13, you will not waste time applying for courses that you won’t get in to. Some universities are very open about the minimum score they want, others are a bit vague, but you can find clues online. The BMAT universities tend to be more competitive. The advantage of knowing your UCAT score is you can decide to apply for only UCAT universities within your range or, if it is poor, only apply to BMAT universities.

Require UCAT

Require BMAT

AberdeenKing’s CollegeBrighton and Sussex
Anglia RuskinLeicesterCambridge
AstonLiverpoolImperial College
BirminghamManchesterLancaster
BristolNewcastleLeeds
CardiffPlymouthOxford
DundeeQueen Mary, LondonUniversity College London
East AngliaQueen’s Belfast
Edge HillSheffield
EdinburghSouthampton
ExeterSt. Andrews
GlasgowSt. George’s
Hull YorkSunderland
KeeleWarwick
Kent and Medway

Transfer to medicine when you’re at university

It is a myth that having a non-medical course ruins your chances of getting into medical school. Some degrees allow you to transfer to medicine at the end of the first year if you do well enough. Those set up for this are

BirminghamExeterManchester
BradfordLeedsNewcastle
CardiffLeicesterQueen Mary’s

Some universities have the system in place but do not guarantee that anyone can make the transfer:

Anglia RuskinPlymouthSheffield
AstonSt. George’sSussex
Edinburgh

Preparing a personal statement for medicine

Your medicine personal statement has a similar format and method to others, but do remember you are talking about the profession rather than the degree. It is essential you go beyond the academic and character traits for general degrees. You also need to show understanding of what it is to work as and be a  good doctor.

A common mistake is for applicants to talk about seeing a family member ill and being inspired to go into medicine – to make a difference. It is far more relevant, though, to discuss how you saw the team work in the palative care ward and how the doctors and nurses spoke and explained things to the patient.

Work experience is something that candidates worry about. It definitely does not have to be shadowing a brain surgeon, and, in fact, something meaningful like volunteering at an old people’s home is far more powerful. 

Attached  is an example of a personal statement, its right and wrong elements explored after the initial draft:

And this is an example of an excellent personal statement. As it is online, you can’t use it, but you can take much from its layout and flow.

Preparing for interview

Congratulations on getting an interview! This needs a lot of preparation and guidance. Below are some links for books and references to help you prepare.