Medical School Application Guide

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A-level Subjects - A–level Retakes

By Rebekah Morris 9 months ago 751 Views No comments

A levels subjects

With entry to medical school remaining highly competitive, top A level grades are important to get in to all 5-year and 6-year programmes as well as to get in to some of the 4-year graduate courses. However, as you will see on each university’s page, there are some programmes (particularly 4-year programmes) that do not consider A-level grades at all. St George's University of London's 4-year programme for graduates is one of these.

With most schools requiring AAA to give out a medical school acceptance offer, as well as many schools moving towards an A*AA requirement, it is a fact that grades matter as much as subjects when it comes to your A levels.

Regarding the subjects to choose, the only subject requirement which is common to almost all medical schools in the UK is Chemistry. There are a few exceptions for undergraduates, and there are more exceptions for graduates if they have a degree where Chemistry is a significant component. Many schools will also request a second science at A level; particularly A level Biology, as this A level gives a good foundation for understanding human physiology.

There is not one strict way in which medical schools view A levels. Some medical schools, such as Cambridge, prefer 3 sciences to A2, while others will specifically value a non-science A2. Some, such as Leeds, do not distinguish between the subjects as long as Chemistry is included and only look at the grades.

There are no medical schools that require 4 subjects at A2, but there are medical schools that will consider your application to be stronger if you have taken 4 subjects at A2 (for example Barts and the London will accept a grade C in a 4th A level, but require a B or above if the subject is only taken to AS level). Note that most medical schools do not accept General Studies, Citizenship Studies and Critical Thinking in their A level requirements

A levels Resits

Extenuating Circumstances

Many schools will accept A level resits in extenuating circumstances. They may require evidence of this and if your heart is set on one of these medical schools the best course of action would be to contact their admissions office as early as possible and explain your situation. Alternatively, consider applying to one of the schools where there is no disadvantage to applicants who have had to resit A levels.

Schools where there is no disadvantage

For 2017 entry, the University of Exeter and University of Plymouth are the only Medical Schools who will consider them in the same light as other applicants with no conditions at all. Many other medical schools will accept students who have had to resit A levels only if certain conditions are met. For example, BSMS require you to have only dropped one grade in one subject on your first attempt and Liverpool may require higher grades after resit.

Below is a summary of the policies of each university on applicants who retake their A-levels

Medical School
Policy on A-level re-takes
Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Note that Barts does not normally accept A level resits after the normal 2 year period in which most candidates take these exams. The only exception to this rule is if the candidate is protected under the Equality and Diversity Act of 2010, in which case they should contact the medical school by the 1st September in the year of application, to ensure the school is aware. Resits during the normal 2 year period are acceptable.
Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Will only consider resit students who have only dropped in one grade for one subject – i.e. achieved AAB, A*AB at the first attempt.
Students will need to be predicted an A grade in the subject they originally achieved a B in.
Students who have dropped more than one grade in one subject, or dropped one grade in more than one subject will only be considered in extenuating circumstances
Cardiff University
Only accepts modular resits within the 2 year period.
Hull York Medical School
Resits done in the initial post-16 2 year programme are accepted, however any resits taken in a third year after post-16 will not be accepted. If applicants have extenuating circumstances at the first attempt, they should contact the university before they apply.
Imperial College
Only accept resits outside the 2 year period in extenuating circumstances.
Keele University
Anyone who has not achieved the required A levels within three years will need to wait until after they have achieved the appropriate grades to apply
King’s College London
Only accepts resits within the 2 year period
Lancaster University
They consider applications from applicants who have taken 3 years to achieve the required grades at A level. In absence of mitigating circumstances, these candidates must have achieved AAB or ABB in their A Levels at the first attempt.
Newcastle University
It is expected that A level grades are from a first attempt, but extenuating circumstances will be considered with the appropriate supporting information from an applicant’s school or GP.
Norwich Medical School
Resits will be considered if a minimum of ABB was obtained in the first sitting, plus a fourth AS at grade B. Applicants who are repeating their AS year, or all or part of any A level (thus taking longer than 2 years to complete their A levels), are expected to achieve an A* in at least one subject as follows:
  • Resitting one A level, must have predicted A*
  • Resitting two A level, must have predicted A*A
  • Resitting three A levels, must have predicted A*AA
  • Candidates resitting any subject are expected to gain at least one grade higher than that originally achieved.
Plymouth University
Consideration will be given to resit candidates who have achieved a minimum of AAB at their first A level attempt. Final results must be obtained within a maximum of 3 years.
Queens University Belfast
They have accepted resits in the past when a student previously held a Queen’s offer and has missed by 1 grade. Graduates require ABB at first attempt
St Georges
A Levels must be completed within two years.
Swansea University
A levels are not considered (graduate programme only)
University of Nottingham
In terms of resits for A level, the university will accept up to one module resit per subject, so long as this happens within the 2 year period you are studying A levels. Resits are not considered after a subject has been certified.
University of Sheffield
The three A Levels should be studied for no longer than two years, must be passed on the first attempt, and should all be taken in one sitting.
University College London (UCL)
A levels should be completed within 2 years.
University of Aberdeen
A level grades should be obtained at the first sitting.
University of Birmingham
Do not consider A level resit grades
University of Bristol
A level exams should be taken within 2 years.
University of Cambridge
A student's application is unlikely to be adversely affected by their resitting one or two modules – applicants are advised to consult the College to which they wish to apply for specific advice about their position regarding retakes.
University of Dundee
Results must be obtained 2 years after completing GCSEs, at the first attempt.
University of Durham
All grades must be attempted at the first attempt of each subject.
University of Edinburgh
All grades must be attempted at the first attempt of each subject.
University of Exeter
Resits would only be considered in exceptional circumstances
University of Leeds
Resits only considered in exceptional circumstances as they consider such candidates to have a significant advantage in improving their grades. The grades would have to be significantly better along with extenuating circumstances to account for why the appropriate grades were not achieved first time around
University of Leicester
Resits will be considered if the applicant has previously held an offer from Leicester and if there are extenuating circumstances.
University of Liverpool
University of Liverpool Applicants who are resitting their A levels may apply, but the medical school may specify that their offer is conditional on higher A level grades than the typical offer. They must have scored a minimum of CCC in their first A level sitting and they must reflect on their academic experience in their personal statements.
University of Manchester
A level exams should be taken at the same sitting, after no more than two years of study.
University of Oxford
Students who need to sit retakes in order to achieve the grades required have a statistically lower chance of being shortlisted for interview. If extenuating circumstances have affected your grades, please contact the admissions office.
University of Southampton
A levels should be taken within the standard 2 years and at one sitting
University of St Andrews
Candidates who take more than the normal number of years to obtain their qualifications will only be considered if there have been extenuating circumstances that are fully documented. The re-taking of AS modules would be allowed as long as the A2 qualifications were achieved after 2 years of study.
University of Warwick
A levels or GCSE results are not considered for entry on the course