The unthinkable has happened. You have opened your AS or A2 results, and have fallen short of what you expected. There are a whole host of reasons why an applicant may not achieve the required grades, and we know that even the brightest and best can have a few off days that can lead to a lower final grade. We often hear from people who have missed their offer, or not achieved what they needed to at AS, and are devastated that they won’t be able to get into medical school. They have heard from Sandra, who was told by Charlie, who was told by John at the Post Office that medical schools don’t accept A-level resits. Never mind, better luck next time, find something else to do.
However, let me make it clear now that THIS IS NOT THE CASE! If you have the desire to study Medicine, there are still a great many option available to you. This blog will expel some of the myths surrounding this topic, and give some clear and practical advice for applicants who have not met their required grades and are considering resitting.
First, it is important to note that this blog is for applicants who would be required to resit their A-levels WITHOUT mitigating circumstances. While each school of medicine will judge what constitutes mitigating circumstances, a few examples are listed below. If one of these applies to you, or if some other major event has led to you not achieving the grades you were anticipating, then your chances of being accepted without disadvantage at almost all UK medical schools are high. You may wish to contact the medical school on question directly, as they will be able to give more information on your specific circumstances.
- Close family bereavement before or during study
- Debilitating illness
- Change of school or system, or other educational disruption
- Adverse domestic circumstances
Further, resitting individual exams within the 2-year period of study will generally not inhibit entry to any medical school in the UK. The exception here is if many resits are required, as this may indicate that the applicant is not going to be able to keep apace with the requirements of a medical degree.
Further, this blog is only true for applicants applying to undergraduate medicine, i.e. A100 courses, not postgraduate A101 courses.
Where are my chances highest?
Disclaimer: Each medical school has its own academic entry requirements, and so each has its own policy on A-level resits. We have compiled information from every medical school in the UK, both from their websites and from calling the admissions offices, to provide you with details of their medicine resit policy as of November 2018. While we are confident in the accuracy of this information, it is important to note that this is a dynamic environment, and schools can and frequently do update their selection process information. You are advised to confirm before applying.
There are currently five medical schools in the UK who accept applicants from applicants who have resat one year of their A-levels without any disadvantage. This means that the grades achieved by these resit applicants are considered equally with students who did not resit their A-levels, and therefore these schools may increase the likelihood that these applicants will receive an offer. Note that this does not cover applicants who have been forced to resit two or more years of study. These schools are:
- Aston Medical School
- University of Exeter Medical School
- Lancaster University Medical School
- University of Sheffield Medical School
- Southampton Medical School
On top of these 5 schools, there are a further 10 who will accept applications from those who have resat one year of their studies, provided certain criteria are met, or may otherwise disadvantage resit applicants in the admissions process. These schools are:
- Brighton and Sussex - If you have retaken your AS year, you can apply provided you are predicted AAA or above in your third year. If you are retaking your A2, they will accept an application if you are predicted to achieve AAA or above in the resit year, or if you have already completed your third year and achieved AAA or above.
- University of Bristol - One resit in any one subject is accepted.
- Hull York Medical School - Provided applicants did not achieve lower than BBB in their first sitting, resit results are accepted without discrimination. Any lower than this and evidence of extenuating circumstances will be required.
- Keele University School of Medicine - Applicants who have resat their A-levels can only apply with achieved grades, not predicted grades. They will then be considered against other applicants.
- King’s College London - Resits are acceptable. However, non-re-sit applicants are considered as more competitive applications.
- University of Liverpool - Resits are accepted but the offer may be conditional on higher A-level grades than the typical offer (e.g. minimum A*AA, rather than AAA). Applicants must have scored a minimum of ABB in their first sitting and must reflect on this in their personal statement. For help on this, why not use our Personal Statement Service!
- University of Manchester – While Manchester do welcome applications from those re-sitting, applicants may only re-sit one of either Year 12 or Year 13. Grades A*AA are required for resitting applicants, with an A* in one of the science subjects.
- Norwich Medical School - Any applicant resitting all or part of an A level is required to include their original grade on the UCAS application form. A level resits will only be considered if a minimum of ABB or A*A*C was achieved in the first sitting.
- University of Plymouth, Peninsula Medical School - Applications from re-sit applicants are welcome providing a minimum of ABB has been achieved at the first attempt.
- Queen’s University Belfast - Resit candidates are only considered if they previously held an offer from Queen’s at the first attempt and made it their conditional firm choice. In addition, they must have achieved A*AB/AAA at A-level or AAB at A-level plus A in a fourth AS-level at first attempt. The offer for repeat candidates is currently either A*AA or AAA at A-level plus A in a fourth AS level. Only two attempts at A-levels are allowed.
Where are my chances lowest?
Of the 33 medical schools currently offering medical degrees in the UK, 19 of them will not accept applications from applicants who have had to resit a year of their a-levels, without extenuating circumstances. These therefore represent schools that applicants without these circumstances should avoid applying for, to ensure they do not waste an application. These schools are:
- University of Aberdeen
- Bart’s and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Queen Mary University of London)
- University of Birmingham
- Buckingham Medical School
- University of Cambridge
- Cardiff University
- University of Dundee
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Glasgow
- Imperial College London
- University of Leeds
- University of Leicester
- Newcastle University
- University of Nottingham
- University of Oxford
- University of St Andrews
- St George’s Hospital Medical School
- University of Central Lancashire
- University College London
What about applying as a graduate, instead?
If you have missed your grades and do not want to resit a year, there is always the option of undertaking a different degree and then applying to Medicine as a graduate. While this is an attractive option in many ways, as it shows you are capable of studying at degree level and gives you more time to fill your CV with medical work experience, it should be noted that some medical schools require graduate applicants to have obtained certain A-level grades, too. For more information on standing out as a graduate applicant, see our other blog.
Sources of information
|University||Source of information||Date gathered|
|University of Aberdeen||Phone call with the admission office||12/11/2018|
|Aston Medical School||University website||07/01/2018|
|Barts and the London
|University of Birmingham||University website||07/11/2018|
|Brighton and Sussex
|University of Bristol||University website||07/01/2018|
|Buckingham Medical School||Phone call with admission office||07/11/2108|
|University of Cambridge||University website||07/11/2018|
|Cardiff University||University website||07/01/2018|
|University of Dundee||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Edinburgh||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Exeter||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Glasgow||07/11/2018|
|Hull York||University website||07/11/2018|
|Imperial College London||University website||07/11/2018|
|Keele University||Phone call to the admissions office||12/11/2018|
|King's College London||University website||07/11/2018|
|Lancaster University||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Leeds||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Leicester||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Liverpool||University website||07/11/2018|
University of Manchester
|Newcastle University||University website||07/11/2018|
|Norwich Medical School||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Nottingham||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Oxford||University website||07/11/2018|
|Plymouth University||University website||07/11/2018|
|Queen's University||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of Sheffield||University website||07/11/2018|
|Southampton Medical School||University website||07/11/2018|
|University of St Andrews||University website||07/11/2018|
|St George's||University website||07/11/2018|
University of Central Lancashire
|University College London||Phone call to the admission office||12/11/2018|
We hope you find this blog post useful and don't hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions or need more advice.