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You can only apply for Medicine at four universities through UCAS, but there are 43 Medical Schools in the UK! Find out how to choose the best Med Schools for you, so you can boost your chances of getting shortlisted for interviews.

Discover The Pathways To Medicine

The first thing you need to understand is the range of pathways to becoming a Doctor. The most common route is to apply for a 5-year or 6-year Medicine course at university, to begin straight after college/sixth form. However, with applications at a record high level and competition becoming fiercer each year, more aspiring medics are now thinking about alternative pathways.

Some other routes to Medicine include:

  • Doing a Foundation Medicine Course first – this is typically available to those from widening participation backgrounds, or international students
  • Starting a related degree course and then applying to transfer to Medicine – but beware that opportunities to do this are rare
  • Studying and completing a related degree course, like biomedical science, and then applying for Graduate Entry Medicine afterwards
  • Studying abroad, where entry requirements are different and you can get a more international education

No matter which 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 at a small number of Med Schools.
  • Integrated Courses combine classroom and clinical environments from the start, and you’re taught by topic rather than by discipline. In these courses, you’ll find that 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 allow you to take a year out to gain a BSc or MSc in a related subject. Depending on 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 them.

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, while others will look at your A-Level or IB grades more closely
  • Some won’t consider your grade for a subject like General Studies
  • Some won’t consider you if you’ve had to resit your A-Levels

It’s also vital to understand admissions tests, because these are often more important than the rest of your application. You’ll have to sit either the UCAT or the BMAT (or both) depending on which Med Schools you decide to apply for – and you need to know how your UCAT/BMAT score will be used by universities when it comes to shortlisting applicants.

Get To Know Each Med School’s Shortlisting Policy

You need to understand how different Med Schools shortlist applications, so that you’ll know what they’re looking for. Once you’ve met the entry requirements, they will shortlist in a number of ways:

  • Some will rank candidates by their UCAT score or BMAT score – and then invite the top scorers to interview
  • Some will assign you points based on your UCAT/BMAT score, academic grades and other factors – then rank candidates by their total points and invite the people with the most points to interview
  • Some will use your Personal Statement to shortlist, whereas other Med Schools may not even read it
  • They might expect you to have a lot of work experience – some may be happy with a reflection diary at the moment, because the pandemic has stopped everything apart from 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 on Med School websites. Review this in detail before making any decisions.

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

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Don’t Forget Location

For many people, the location of the Medical School is as important as the course itself. You may be happier at a campus university, or you may thrive more in a city setting. If you choose a Med School in an area where you can see yourself living happily for 5/6 years, this will be good for your wellbeing and help you to focus on your studies.

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

Choosing Between Oxford And Cambridge

You can apply to either Oxford or Cambridge – not both.

They both teach Traditional Courses, use intercalated degrees and require the BMAT for entry.

However, Cambridge requires A*A*A* at A-Level and Oxford requires A*AA. Cambridge also has more places for Medicine available than Oxford does – around 313 vs 200.

Find out more about Oxbridge Medicine here.

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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