How to Get Into Medical School UK - A Timeline
Applying to Medical School · Feb. 07, 2019 Miss Pippa Morris
Pippa is a third year medical student at the University of Cambridge. She is a member of the Oncology Society and the vice president of Caius Medical Society She is also a tutor for science, maths, and medical school entrance exams. She writes blogs and is a BMAT Tutor for theMSAG.
Getting into medical school in the UK can be stressful and involves a lot of work, but there is a lot that you can do to prepare beforehand and improve your chances. Dr Jiva, the founder of theMSAG has a success rate of 100% getting students into medical school when meeting the applicant at least a year before the deadline. This is a rough guide, based on our 11 years of experience to give you an overview of the steps required.
Year 11 (age 15-16)
Some people might think that this is quite a young age to begin preparation for applying to medical school, but getting a head start will be of great benefit. It’s a good time to consider whether studying medicine is right for you. Think about what life could be like at med school, and whether a career in the health service appeals to you.
Regarding GCSEs, it is important that you work hard to get the top A*/A grades. A few medical schools will have set subjects (eg. UCL) but in general but there are no particular requirements as to what subjects you should take, other than those required by the Government.
Find out whether a career in medicine is right for you
It might be around this time that you start thinking about careers. If you think a career in medicine is right for you, you should begin sorting out your work experience at a local hospital, GP practice or community organisation. Lots of places won’t accept students until they are age 16 due to legal reasons, so it's worth checking and make sure you apply strategically.
If you are fortunate enough to have family or friends who are in a medical career, contact them. You can ask them about what the role of a doctor entails, or even ask if you can shadow them for a couple of days. The long summer holiday after your GCSE examinations is a great time to start collecting experiences, which you can then put on your personal statement. Make sure these are varied (different specialities as well as different types of healthcare), as it is important to understand the role of the multidisciplinary team.
Doing work experience and not keeping track of your learning and reflections is one of the most common mistakes made at this stage. Have a little notebook, and at the end of each day, write down what you saw, what did the doctor do, what did the patient feel, did anything surprise you, what did you feel, what did you learn, etc. It only takes 5-10 minutes per day but it makes a great difference and gives you an amazing head start for when you will have to write your personal statement.
Choose your A-level subjects wisely
When choosing your A-level subjects, you should check with the UK University you wish to apply to whether they have any specific requirements. Most UK medical schools require you to sit an A-level in chemistry, and often biology as well. The third subject is usually up to you, so have a think of what you find the most enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be a third science, however, some universities prefer this.
Depending on your school set up you may also need to consider which college you wish to attend for sixth-form. Different schools/colleges will offer different amounts of support for you medical school application which is worth bearing in mind when deciding. There is a large difference between how many students get into medical school from one sixth form to another. Some will offer UCAT courses, interview preparation etc. in-house while others may not have a career adviser that has extensive knowledge on the medical school admission process.
Year 12 (age 16-17)
At the start of the year, it is important that you are focused on the end goal. Work hard for your studies, as the entry requirements are high, ranging from A*A*A to AAA. Think about what is realistic for you. If you do not think you can achieve AAA, then get in touch with us early so we can help you plan your alternative options to get into medical school, including entering a programme in the UK that allows transfer to medicine, preparing for a graduate application or studying medicine abroad.
Think about where you want to go
Different universities run very different courses, particularly in the first few years of the degree. Some give medical students very early clinical exposure, whereas others separate the degree into pre-clinical, which is mainly focused on teaching the core science, then the clinical years where medical students put their scientific knowledge into practice with patient contact.
- Course structure - is it traditional/ integrated or heavily focused on problem-based-learning (PBL)?
- Length of course - is it five or six years? Are there opportunities to intercalate?
- Teaching - is it mainly lecture-based, or is there more self-directed/ group learning?
- Anatomy/Dissection methods - does it offer prosection, full-body cadaveric dissection, a mix of the two or even more modern methods using anatomage tables?
- Facilities - how old are the facilities? Do they involve new technology?
- The University - is it a campus or city university? Do they excel in any of your favourite sports?
Start preparing for the admission exams
There are two main admissions exams that medical schools require: the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) and the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). There are similarities between the two, but you should try some questions for each and see which you prefer or are better at.
You will almost certainly have to take the UCAT, and most of the time, it makes sense to sit the BMAT too. Many applicants feel they can get away with not sitting the BMAT as less schools require it. If you want to apply to Oxbridge or a uni such as Imperial, then of course you need to sit it. But even if none of your top choices are BMAT schools, it may very well be worth sitting it in order to be more strategic in your application as many of the BMAT schools have lower competition ratio.
Year 13 (age 17-18)
Year 13 is a busy year, which some students can find stressful. Between school, exams and medical school preparations there's a lot to do, but it's also important to try and stay calm, and keep doing what you enjoy, be that sports, music or something else.
Get your medical school application in early
Prepare for your medicine interview
- MMI Interview (Multiple-Mini Interviews) - this involves a number of different stations assessing different parts of your personality and skills. These may be role plays, ethical dilemmas, personal statement reviews and testing your motivation for medicine.
- Panel Interviews - this usually involves you and a few doctors/ academics who will ask questions about your application. The questions can be based around your personal statement, your motivation for studying at the university, ethics and other common medical school interview questions.
Your medical school offers will be sent out by the end of April, and you must submit your choices in May. After this, work hard to meet your offer grades and hopefully the next stage will be to start your medical school in September!
We hope you have found this information helpful in understanding medical school applications UK. If you have any questions or would like more information, email us at hello@theMSAG.com.