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How hard is it to get into medical school in the UK

How hard is it to get into medical school in the UK

How hard is it to get into medical school
How hard is it to get into medical school
Emily Slaine
3rd Year Medical Student at The University of Liverpool
January 7, 2022

Medical school may seem difficult to get into, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m going to talk you through the process to help as much as I can. Some medical schools are easier to get into than others. 

Based on research, I have found that Imperial College London had the highest number of available places in 2020, 492. Queen’s University Belfast had the highest acceptance rate, with 26.10% of applicants being offered a place. 

Don’t focus too much on the statistics though. The medical school also needs to suit you. It’s very important to do some research to allow you to choose the right medical schools. You can apply for up to 4 medical schools in the UK via UCAS. When offers roll-out, you can then pick one medical school as your firm choice and one as your insurance choice. Alternatively, if you have received one offer for medical school, you can choose your backup course as your insurance choice (e.g. biomedical science or pharmacy). 

Have a look at the admission requirements of each Medical School in the UK here.

How hard is it to get into Medical School in the UK – different aspects

  • GCSEs
  • A-Levels
  • Work Experience
  • UCAT/BMAT
  • Interviews
  • Competition

GCSEs

You need at least 5 GCSE passes; in English, Mathematics and Science. You mightn’t even be considering medicine at this stage, so try not to get too stressed; just try your best in these exams.

A LEVELS

You need AAB-A*A*A at A-Level, in usually Biology, Chemistry and a third subject of your choice. This is guided by the requirements on the university website. These ones are more important because if you’ve secured an offer, this is the last hurdle to jump to get on the course! 

WORK EXPERIENCE

This can often be about who you know. If you have any medical contacts at all, please try and utilise them as much as you can for work experience opportunities. Some degree of work experience is needed; it usually doesn’t matter about the amount, but check the medical school’s website to be sure.

This doesn’t have to be work experience in a hospital; it can be in a GP surgery, pharmacy, care home etc. It’s about quality more than quantity, in my opinion, and learning something from the experiences. Work experience should make you more enthusiastic about studying medicine and will show the admissions tutors that you are keen, which is important.

You should also consider online work experience, and Holly has written a great article about it here.

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How hard is it to get into medical school in the uk

UCAT and BMAT

The UCAT is the University Clinical Aptitude Test and the BMAT is BioMedical Admissions Test. These tests are important as the score you achieve will determine which medical schools you can apply to. Make sure when you’re preparing for the test to put extra work into sections that you are less confident in.

What score you need to get varies from university to university. Here are some UCAT statistics from 2020:

UCAT 2020 Statistics

INTERVIEWS

Depending on the medical school, you may be notified about an interview from November-March. Start preparing for these early because it can be tough to find time for this around studying for A-Levels. Interviews are not as bad as they seem; they just want to meet you and find out if you have the qualities needed to be a doctor. 

Go prepared, be yourself, show enthusiasm, and you’ll be just fine. Most interviews for medical schools are now in the MMI format, which is much nicer, in my opinion. This means there are multiple different stations at the interview to give you more opportunities to impress the interviewers.

OFFERS

It’s a long wait and, in my opinion, the 2nd most stressful part of the process. Try and put your time and effort into focussing on your A-Levels and examination preparations. Once offers are secured, the real work begins for the final push; you can do it!

COMPETITION

Some medical schools are much more competitive than others. Som competitiveness statistics from previous years can be found here:

Competitiveness statistics 2020

DOS AND DON’TS

  • DO start your research and planning early. This will make the process much less stressful if you remain organised throughout.  
  • DO try and keep some sort of work-life balance. A-Levels are an intense 2 years, but you need to make sure and have some time to yourself to chill out. Keep up with your hobbies and self-care.
  • DO get many people to read your personal statement and listen to their feedback.
  • DON’T copy what everyone else does. Make your application unique and apply to universities that you actually want to attend, don’t just follow the crowd.
  • DON’T be disheartened by a bad interview because you have often performed better than you think. It’s easy to over analyse your performance straight after. Instead, I recommend going to do something you enjoy (e.g. meal out with friends, play some sport or an instrument) to take your mind of it. If you’re lucky enough, you will have other interviews anyway.
  • DON’T be afraid to ask for help. It can be a daunting process, but you’re not alone! Chat to other students applying in your year, as well as teachers and careers advisors.

GET YOUR HOSPITAL
WORK EXPERIENCE

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