Applying to Medical School · Feb. 07, 2019
How to Get Into Medical School UK - A Timeline
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)
Think about where you want to go
- 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
Year 13 (age 17-18)
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.
Write a personal statement that stands out!
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.
The information used for this blog post was assessed from the UCAT and BMAT website in the first week of February. You are advised to check and confirm before applying.
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.