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How to get into Medical School UK

How to get into Medical School UK

how to get into medical school uk
how to get into medical school uk
Holly Melvin
4th Year Medical Student at The University of Manchester, Instagram account: @that.girl.medic
February 5, 2021

Applying to medical school uk

When I was applying to Medical School, I remember that the whole process felt very overwhelming. Exactly like you, I started with googling ‘How to get into Medical School UK’. I sometimes felt like I just needed a step by step guide, with all the important information and essentials, all in one place.

I’ve put this medical school application timeline together hoping that it will go some way towards ‘clearing the path’ for you. Hopefully, this article will provide some reassurance that what you are doing is putting you on track for that long-awaited place.

What to do in Year 11

Let’s start this ‘How to get into Medical School UK’ guide in the year 11.

This is an ideal time to begin considering whether Medicine is really for you. If you do end up choosing it, you will have given yourself maximum preparation time, and ultimately the best chance of securing a place.

The single best thing you can do this year to maximise your chances is to get good GCSE grades. Most medical schools seem to require a minimum of 5 x Grade 6 (B) GCSEs, including the core subjects such as Mathematics, English and Science. Whichever optional GCSEs you take alongside these have no bearing over how the university will view you.

However, some do have higher requirements, i.e. Bristol medical school requires a grade A minimum in Mathematics. Therefore, the key is to do your research on what each of the schools require, so you know what to aim for.

Is Medicine the right career for you?

Before you spend all your free time researching ow to get into Medical School UK, you need to make sure Medicine is really what you want to do. During this time, it is advisable to start getting work experience in the medical setting, and/or by means of a part-time job.

Medical schools value this sort of experience very highly, as these activities help you develop as an individual and acquire the fundamental interpersonal skills essential for Medicine. Even if you do not end up applying to study medicine, I guarantee that these activities will stand you in good stead for whatever you do in life.

It is always a good idea to get yourself a little diary to record any key events/learning points/pivotal moments. This will also give you the opportunity to reflect on what you actually gained from these experiences, which really is what makes them worth doing.

This will be invaluable when it comes to medical school interview preparation.

Work experience is also the best way to find out if Medicine is what you want to do in the future.

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Choosing A-levels

Most universities will require A level Chemistry. It’s advisable to also take A level Biology, as many (but not all) will require this too. The main take-home here is to do your research and check exact requirements on the online course pages of your universities of interest.

The third A level selection is up to you, so you may as well choose something you really enjoy. However, it is useful to bear in mind that it is often preferable for this to still be an ‘academic’ subject, such as English. Some universities may prefer it to be in another science subject.

It may also be useful to consider the type of College/6th form you attend. Some are very supportive of aspiring medical students and offer courses on medical school admissions tests and interview preparation. Or some may have very pro-active careers advisors who are experienced in tutoring prospective medics.

What to do in Year 12

This can be quite a hectic year. You’ve started A levels, are possibly learning to drive, and from an extra-curricular and social perspective, you are likely to be quite busy.

However, with planning and good time management, it is possible to achieve a balance. Try to focus on the end goal.

Considering your options

This year, you will need to start narrowing down which medical schools you wish to apply to. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, some Medical Schools have been doing virtual open days. These are great and I would highly recommend taking part in them if the Medical School is not doing in-person open days. If they do in-person open days, opt for those instead.

A few key points to consider:

1. Course type and teaching
Integrated or traditional? Does teaching mainly involves PBL (problem-based learning) or is it more lecture-based? It is advisable to gain as much information about each as possible, to decide which learning style you feel would suit you best.

2. Course length
Is it 5 years, or is it compulsory to have an intercalated year (i.e. Oxbridge)? If you are interested in intercalating, what options do you have regarding this? Range of courses, studying at other UK unis/abroad?

3. Facilities and the university itself
It is good to consider what you want out of university life in general:

4. Campus or city university?

5. Nightlife/culture?

6. Sports teams/ training facilities.

7. Good range of societies? (If they do not currently have a society that you are interested in, you can always set one up yourself!)

8. The admissions tests
There are two main exams – the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) and the BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test). Many candidates choose to sit the UCAT only, as this is the test required by most medical schools.

However, you will need to double-check if any of your chosen schools require the BMAT (such as Imperial/Oxford/Cambridge). It may well be worth sitting the BMAT anyway, as the preparation you do for the BMAT doubles up as general revision for your A-Levels.

UCAT

The UCAT can be taken from July to October. You will need to book this online via the UCAT website, at your nearest test centre. It is a multiple-choice, computer-based exam, and you receive your result straight away at the end.

It is advisable to consider taking the test earlier on rather than later, to give you time over summer to focus on your personal statement, and for a well-deserved break!

It is easily rescheduled if the test date is approaching and you still feel unprepared, as long as you give enough notice.

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BMAT

There is usually one test date for the BMAT; this year it is Wednesday 3rd November 2021.

Registration is done via your school/college, and you will either sit the exam there (if it is an approved test centre) or at an open test centre. You can find your nearest open test centre via the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) website.

The Personal Statement

The summer holiday, after you have completed year 12, is usually the time most people begin their personal statement. However, there is no harm in starting it earlier than that.

The main thing to be aware of is that the UCAS deadline for submission of medical school applications is earlier than that of other courses. All applications to medical school must be submitted by 15th October each year.

This is early on in year 13 and it is therefore essential that over the summer break, you ensure you have gained enough experiences (such as volunteering/work experience described earlier) that you can write about.

It is advisable to refer to your notebook/log of experiences and get a first draft together in early summer. Get as many people as possible (including family and friends) to look over it. Try to be open to feedback.

Your school/college should look over it when you return from your summer break, giving you time to make the finishing touches and amendments before the deadline.

What to do in Year 13

Year 13 – the last chapter of the How to get into medical school guide.

This year is a big one – you sit your final A level exams, and submit your medical school applications, waiting to hear back about interviews. It has the potential to be very stressful, but if you have been proactive in the year prior, you will have already done a good portion of the work.

Your first task is to get your application sent off and to finalise which medical schools to apply to. Remember, you can apply to up to 4 medical schools.
Obviously, your personal preferences here are very important. However, it is also advisable to play to your strengths, and try to choose medical schools who are going to value what you bring to the table.

For example, some schools do not mind if your UCAT score is on the lower side, as long as you have lots of extra-curricular experience and gained valuable things from that. Some, on the other hand, will only offer you an interview if you achieve above a higher cut off score. Again, doing your research pays off, and it is wise to make time for this.

Preparing for interviews

Some schools start their interviewing process as early as November, and they commonly run through until April. It comes around quicker than you think!

The first step is to consider the type of interviews conducted by the schools you have applied to. Most will use what is known as the MMI (multiple mini interviews) system. This involves several different stations that assess different aspects, whether they be about your personality or aptitude/skills. Types of station range from personal statement reviews, to ethical scenarios, to role-plays.

A small number of schools still use the traditional panel interview set up. Doctors/academics will be asking questions about you and your motivation for studying medicine, picking out points from your application, or giving you scenarios to work through.

There is a wealth of information out there regarding UK medical school interviews. Buying a medical school interviews textbook is a good option, as they provide guidance on how to approach all the common interview questions, often with model answers and ‘need to know’ information.

Offers

Typically, you will receive offers no later than the end of April, and submit your firm and insurance choices in May. Now all that is left to do is sit your finals exams and wait for your results in August.

Your place will then be confirmed (on the condition that you achieved the grades required of the offer). Then it’s off to medical school in September, congratulations!

If you don’t get any offers/miss your grades

There is no doubt that initially, this is an upsetting and challenging situation. It is natural and absolutely fine to feel a range of emotions. This doesn’t need to mean the end of the road, however.

Suppose you resit your A levels/ reapply the following year. In that case, it actually adds great strength to your application if you can show how you overcame this ‘bump in the road’ and that it has made you an even stronger and more determined applicant as a result.

Try to use this year as an opportunity to gain more voluntary/work/life experience, start new hobbies/try new things/travel (COVID permitting!). I guarantee you it will not be wasted – many people look back on their gap year as one of the best things they ever did.

Final thoughts on how to get into medical school

There is no simple answer for ‘How to get into medical school’. The journey to becoming a medical student can initially feel daunting. Hopefully, by breaking it down into stages and putting it into a medical school application timeline, it begins to seem more achievable. There is no doubt that a lot of commitment and hard work is involved. However, these are essential traits of a would-be doctor, and you probably wouldn’t even be reading this if you don’t already possess some of these traits.

Finally, do not be afraid of asking for help. Be that from friends/family for emotional support, from school for advice, or from healthcare professionals/other people you may know who have insight into the medical profession. In my experience, most people are usually very willing to help.

You will most certainly be stronger and better prepared for it.

That just leaves me to say that I hope this article has been useful to you, and I wish you all the very best of luck!

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