UK medical Schools
There are 57 Medical Programmes in the UK you can apply to:
- 16 4-year Graduate Entry programmes
- 27 5-year programmes
- 14 6-year programmes
The courses all vary in entrance requirements, selection process and competition ratios. Some medical schools use the personal statement to select applicants for interviews, while others only look at the personal statements at the interview. Another variation is in entrance exam requirements, for example, you may be invited for an interview:
1. Based on your UKCAT score at Glasgow Medical School
2. Based on your GAMSAT score at St George's Medical School
3. Or alternatively another medical school may not consider these scores at all and may focus rather on GCSEs, A Levels or university grades
Despite what most people think, the process of medical school application and selection is not intuitive, and there is an art to applying beyond just having good grades. The "better prepared" candidates often have a better chance than the "better" candidates.
When there are more eligible applicants than there are places, it is in the manner in which people prepare for their applications and interviews that differentiates them from others.
Every applicant that I see has healthcare experience, volunteer work, sports, leadership positions and much more. Indeed these are essential, but if every applicant has them, it goes without saying that these are not sufficient to set you apart from the pool of candidates.
Choosing a medical school
In the UK, you are only allowed to apply to 4 medical schools through the UCAS system. When choosing where to apply, many people look at the course structure, the location, where their friends are going, whether they want to live at home or not, etc. Even with high grades in your pocket, being smart about where you apply is probably the single most important factor that increases your chances of admission.
As every medical school in the UK uses a different assessment process, you can use that to your advantage by applying to schools that will favour your profile. You should never apply to a school for which you do not meet a minimum requirement. Achieving highly in another section of the application cannot make up for not meeting a minimum requirement.
Once you have selected the schools for which you meet the minimum requirements, you should focus on their selection formula. This tells you how they assess your application and which aspects the medical school gives most weight to in their assessment. For some medical schools this might be GCSE grades, while others give more weight to the UKCAT. Some will use personal attributes derived from your personal statement as 50% of their pre-interview score and others may have even completely different formulas.
You will find the selection formula for each medical school on our website. Once you have selected those schools where you have the highest chance of acceptance (not only looking at minimum requirements), you can then consider the other factors such as location, etc. to make the final choice. You may also wish to consider if you prefer/feel more confident with particular interview styles, for example, the multiple mini interview (MMI) or a panel-style interview.
Medical school restrictions
Most 4-year programmes are open only to ‘home applicants’, which include UK and EU applicants. However, a few of them, such as the University of Warwick and Imperial College Londondo have some places reserved for non-EU applicants. There is also an international 4-year programme offered by St. George’s, University of London. Most 5-year and 6-year programmes are open to non-EU applicants, although a governmental quota limits the numbers of allocated spaces. For information regarding international entrance statistics and number of places, please see the section of the website for international applicants.
About 40% of 4-year programmes in the UK consider applications from students who completed their first degree in a scientific discipline. The other 60% consider any undergraduate degree, including arts, social sciences or humanities. Most of the 5-year programmes accept all undergraduate degrees. There are a few exceptions to this such as the University of Dundee and the University of Nottingham, which consider applications to their 5-year programme only from students with an undergraduate degree in a scientific discipline.
The application process for programmers is centralized through UCAS and is exclusively online (www.ucas.co.uk). The application opens in mid-June and closes on the 15th October each year. Note that the UCAS regulation limiting application to either Oxfordor Cambridge (not both) only applies to school leavers and thus, if you are a graduate student, you can apply to both these medical schools at the same time.
Medical school additional requirements
Some medical schools like Cambridge and Oxford ask applicants to submit an additional personal statement and ask for additional reference letters. Alongside the UCAS application, most, but not all universities, require applicants to sit the GAMSAT, BMAT or UKCAT. The GAMSAT is only offered once a year in the UK so applicants should make sure not to miss the registration deadline for their application year. Once the UCAS applications are submitted and the medical schools receive the applicants’ GAMSAT, BMAT or UKCAT scores, applicants will either be notified of an unsuccessful application, or be invited for an interview. While the majority of medical schools make their offers solely based on the interview performance, a few medical schools still give your grades or exam results significant weight in the final decision algorithm. If you worry that interview skills are not your strongest attributes, but you have strong academics, these may be a good option for you.