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There are 33 Medical Schools in the UK – but you’re only able to apply to four. So how do you choose the best ones?

With five or six years of study ahead of you, it’s important you look for a place where you can excel and enjoy your path to becoming a Doctor. This guide to choosing a Medical School will give you all the tools you need to choose the best four places to apply to.

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What Are The Different Medicine Course Types?

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. Our guide to Traditional Courses explains this in more detail.
  • Integrated Courses describe the approach that combines classroom and clinical environments from the start, and teaches by topic rather than discipline. Our Integrated Courses guide outlines what to expect from this type of course.

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

What Admission Test do I Need?

You’ll have to sit either the UCAT or BMAT as part of the admissions process. You may prefer to focus on one of these tests, which means you’ll need to look only at UCAT universities or BMAT universities.

If you’re taking the UCAT, you’ll get your score before you have to send in your UCAS application. This puts you at an advantage because you can use your score to strategically select the right universities. For example, if you scored highly, you could choose a Med School that ranks applicants by score and invites the top performers to interview – and if you didn’t do too well, you could choose ones that focus on other factors as well.

If you’re taking the BMAT, you won’t get your score until after the UCAS deadline. This means you’ll need to choose universities that treat your score differently, just in case you over- or under-perform.

How Important Are My Grades?

Grades are very important to study Medicine. The GCSE requirements and A-levels that you need depend on each university, but there are some common traits:

  • You’ll need 7s, 8s, and 9s at GCSE
  • You’ll probably need AAB at A-level
  • If you study Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, you’ll be able to apply to most Med Schools

You can compare the entry requirements of every Med School in the UK with our our Comparison Tool.

Should I Consider Location?

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.

Do I choose Oxford or Cambridge for Medicine?

You can pick only one of Oxford or Cambridge, but not both. They both teach Traditional Courses, and are six-year courses. 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 more places to study Medicine

Should I Choose an Intercalated Medical Degree?

An Intercalated Degree means you get a BSc (or a near equivalent), usually between your third and fifth year. At some universities, like UCL and Imperial, this is compulsory. At others, it depends on your preference (and your grades).

You can see which universities offer this as optional or compulsory options in our Med School Comparison Tool.

Should I Choose a Foundation Year?

Foundation Courses are designed to prepare you for a medical education. They can be a useful way into Medicine if you didn’t get the grades required, or studied the ‘wrong’ subjects, or if you didn’t receive an offer the first time. It’s worth looking at this – or at Graduate Entry Medicine – if you’re worried about not getting in to Med School with the traditional pathway.

How to Choose a Medical School

Our tips for choosing the right Medical School:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. When you’ve narrowed it down, visit your favourites and get a feel for the places. Try to speak to someone who goes to the university to see if you can picture yourself studying there.
  5. Select your four Medical Schools that you plan on applying to.
See Your Odds At Every Med School

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