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You can only apply to four Medicine courses through UCAS, but there are 43 Medical Schools in the UK! Find out how to shortlist the best Med Schools to boost your chances of getting shortlisted for an interview.

Discover The Pathways To Medicine

The first thing you need to discover is the pathways to becoming a Doctor. The most common route is to apply to a five or six-year Medicine course straight after college. However, with applications at their highest level and competition becoming fiercer, more aspiring Medics are thinking about alternative pathways.

Some other routes to Medicine include:

  • Starting with a Foundation Course – typically for those from widening participation backgrounds or for international students
  • Starting a related course and applying to transfer to Medicine – but beware that this is rare, and there aren’t many opportunities
  • Studying a related course, like biomedical science, and then applying for Graduate Entry Medicine
  • Studying abroad, where entry requirements are different and you can get a more international education

No matter what pathway you choose, the next thing you need to think about is how you’ll learn Medicine.

Understand The Different Types Of Medicine Courses

There are two different types of courses:

  • Traditional Courses are when you’re taught in the classroom for the first few pre-clinical years, then move to a clinical setting in year three or four. This is only found in a handful of Med Schools.
  • Integrated Courses describe the approach that combines classroom and clinical environments from the start, and teaches by topic rather than discipline. In these courses, you’ll find the teaching is either problem-based, case-based or enquiry-based – or perhaps a mix. Make sure you know what these teaching styles are, and think about what would suit you best.
  • Intercalated Courses let you take a year out to gain a BSc or MSc in a related subject. Depending not the course, this could be optional or compulsory – but it’s not offered by every Med School

Take our quiz to find out which type would suit you best.

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Compare Entry Requirements

Another key factor in choosing a Medical School is understanding their entry requirements. While academic requirements are consistently high across the board, there are some nuances in how universities view these entry requirements.

For example:

  • Some Med Schools specify that you need to have studied Biology in years 12 and 13, but others don’t
  • Some will place more importance on your GCSE grades, others will look at A-Level or IB grades more closely
  • Some won’t consider your grade for a subject like General Studies
  • Some won’t accept you if you’ve had to resit your A-Levels

It’s also vital to understand admissions tests, as this is often more important than the rest of your application. You’ll either have to sit the UCAT test, or the BMAT – and you also need to know how these scores will be used by each university when it comes to shortlisting applicants.

Review Each Medical School’s Shortlisting Policy

You need to know how a Med School will shortlist applications, so you know what they’re looking for. Once you’ve met their entry requirements, they will shortlist in a number of ways:

  • Some will rank you by your UCAT score or BMAT score and invite the top scorers to interview
  • Some will give you points for your scores, academic grades, and other factors and then arrange you by your points total and then invite the ones with the most points to interview
  • Some will use your Personal Statement to shortlist, whereas other Med Schools may not even read it
  • Some may expect you to have a lot of work experience – others may be happy with a reflection diary, because the pandemic has stopped everything except Remote Volunteering programmes
  • Some will ask you to fill in their own document – usually called a roles and responsibilities form – and use this information as part of their shortlisting process

The good news is that both entry requirements and shortlisting information are publicly available. You can get this information from each Medical School’s website and review this in detail.

We also include this in our Med School Comparison Tool, which we update regularly. This tool lets you compare up to four schools at once and see all this key information at a glance.

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Compare Medical Schools

Compare entry requirements, admissions tests and interview info at-a-glance

Comparison Tool

Don’t Forget Location

For many people, the location of the Medical School is as important as the course itself. You may simply be happier at a campus university – or you may thrive more in a city setting. Choosing somewhere you’d be happy to live for five or six years will help you to focus on your studies and is good for your own wellbeing.

It’s also worth factoring in links to hospitals and practical considerations around placements. For example, some Med Schools might need you to travel or relocate for placements, whereas others may have links with hospitals on their doorstep.

Choosing Between Oxford And Cambridge

You can only apply to Oxford or Cambridge, not both.

They both teach Traditional Courses and take six years to complete, but there are some differences in how they select students:

  • Cambridge requires A*A*A* at A-Level, and Oxford requires A*AA
  • Both require BMAT, but while Cambridge takes this into account alongside other elements of your application, Oxford will use your BMAT and GCSE performance to rank applicants and shortlist the top candidates.
  • Cambridge has almost twice as many places for Medicine

Tips For Choosing A Medical School

  • Read through the entry requirements, course structure and teaching style of each Medical School. You can use our school-by-school pages for more detail on each one.
  • Make a shortlist that takes into account which course structure you prefer, and whether you want a city, campus or collegiate setting. Also think about location, cost and extra-curricular opportunities.
  • You won't get your BMAT score before you apply - but review the same for BMAT unis once you have a sense of how you're likely to perform.
  • Compare your shortlist using our Medical School Comparison Tool and take note of things like the number of applications to places offered, success rate, and how each school uses the admissions tests.
  • When you've got your UCAT score, check how each UCAT uni handles this - and make sure you haven't fallen below any cut-off scores.
  • Try to visit your shortlisted schools - or attend virtual events if you can't be there in-person. Speak to existing Medical Students about their experiences. See if you can picture yourself there for five or six years.
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