Ultimate Guide – Applying to Medical School Timeline

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Medical School Application Timeline

Understanding each step of the application process for applying to Medical School can seem daunting. Being such a long process, research, preparation, and commitment is needed to ensure your application is as competitive as possible. At the time of writing there are 33 Medical Schools in the UK. 

For 2018/19 entry there were 22,340 applicants, with 6701 securing a place. With such high competition, preparation is essential. This timeline can be used for reference throughout your application and will simplify the process from GCSEs to receiving an offer, highlighting the key things to do and dates along the way. Hopefully, making securing a place at Medical School as simple as possible.

More detailed breakdowns of each component can be found on the Medical Project’s website. These breakdowns will explain each step of the application in more detail and provide tips on how to complete them.

Year 11

Two years may seem like a long way off. However, Year 11 is a great time to start laying the foundations for your Medical School application.

June – GCSE’s:

Academically, these are the first hurdle in the process. Higher GCSE grades are going to increase the amount of medical schools you can apply to. At a minimum you need to have five 9/8 grades with 9/8’s in Maths and English and 7’s in the science subjects.

July to September – Choose A-Level subjects:

UK Medical Schools require a minimum of AAA at A-Level in Biology or Chemistry, plus an additional Science or Maths subject plus a third subject. Commonly, applicants choose Biology, Chemistry and Maths. Although, this is not essential, when choosing your third subject make sure it’s something you enjoy and can stay motivated with for the next two years. Note: all Medical Schools exclude General Studies and Critical Thinking as possible subjects, and some exclude Further Maths.

All Year – Extra-Curricular Subjects:

Medical Schools are looking for well-rounded applicants. Extra-curricular activities such as sports and music can demonstrate roundedness, and many other desirable qualities such as commitment, team work and communication skills. I’ve put all year since Medical Schools will look for evidence of continued commitment.

Year 12

This is the year when Medical School applications really start to come together. It’s a time to strengthen the application ready for the final push in Year 13.

AAA predicted grades:

These grades are the minimum you need to be predicted to be invited to interview. It’s important to keep academic standards high whilst working on the rest of the application. Typically, you’ll receive your predicted grades around the summer holidays.

All year – work experience:

Another essential part of any medical application is work experience in a caring environment. Medical Schools look for evidence of continued work experience i.e. weekly volunteering in a care home for several months. Shadowing health professionals is desirable, however, not essential for all Medical Schools. Year 12 is a fantastic time to do a few months volunteering in a care home and shadow a doctor because you’ll have the experience ready to talk about in your interviews and there’s less academic pressure than Year 13.

July to September – UCAT:

The UCAT (previously UKCAT) is the most commonly used admissions examination for UK medical schools. It is an aptitude test, not a knowledge test. It can be taken between the 1st of July and 18th of September at a time of your choice in test centres across the UK. Treat it like any other exam, give yourself plenty of time to prepare and practice. The benefit of the UCAT is you have a score before applying meaning you can have a rough idea of how competitive your application will be amongst other applicants in the same cohort.

July to September – personal statement:

This is your chance to sell yourself academically and personally, demonstrate your passion for medicine and show universities why you’ll make a fantastic Medical Student. Personal Statements have a 4000-character limit (roughly 500 words) so it’s important to really plan what you’re going to say. It may take several drafts, but you’ll get there in the end!

Year 13

This is it, the final push! Most key elements of the paper application are done. This year is about focusing on the interviews and achieving top grades.

October – choosing your Medical Schools:

When selecting Medical Schools to apply to it is important to research the university and the actual course to see if it’s somewhere you can see yourself thriving over the next five years. Each university has their own individual set of requirements i.e. some favour high GCSEs whereas some favour the UCAT. You should apply to universities which look for applicants with your strong-points.

15th October – UCAS deadline:

All parts of your UCAS profile need to be completed by now, and all relevant parts of the application uploaded. Late applications will not be considered by universities. 

August or October – BMAT exam:

The BMAT exam is used by several UK Medical Schools. It tests scientific knowledge and reasoning. Preparing early is a good idea since the October sitting will have to be revised for alongside your A-Level studies. All UK medical schools using the BMAT, apart from Oxford, accept results from the August and October sittings. You may only take the examination once per cycle, so if applying to Oxford you must sit the examination at the end of October.

November to May – Interviews and offers:

Depending on the Medical School, you can be interviewed from November to as late as May and can receive offers anytime during this period. There are three types of Medical School interview: traditional panel interviews, multiple mini interviews (MMIs) and Oxbridge interviews. MMIs are most commonly used. The decision to make an offer or not is greatly affected by interview performance, practice is key to performing well. Ask your friends, family and teachers to help you with this.

May to June – A-Level exams:

These grades are your key to meeting any offer. AAA is essential. Once interviews are done your focus should be on these exams.


Final word: as previously stated, this guide is intended to be used for reference throughout your application cycle. More detailed breakdowns of each part are available on the Medical Projects website and can be used when completing the corresponding section of the application.


Author: Cameron Elsworth

Author: Cameron Elsworth

Manchester Medical School