4 Methods for Choosing a Medical School
With 34 different medical schools in the UK, compared to the hundreds of options available for other courses, some might believe that it’s straightforward to narrow down your four options, but is it? Here are just some of the ways that you can narrow down your choices.
Method 1: UKCAT Score
After scoring 2970 on the UKCAT, I decided that my best chance of getting into university lay in choosing those with the highest UKCAT requirements. These could be found simply by looking at entry requirements on the university website.
I then drew up a spreadsheet comparing universities and came out with four: Newcastle, St Andrews, Hull-York and Nottingham. These medical schools (In the 2013/14 UCAS application cycle) required at least a UKCAT score of 2800 to be able to apply, but because of the high minimum requirement, then had a low ratio of applications to interviews. Having received an interview for three of these, I feel that carrying out this strategy is a useful tool to enable you to achieve an interview.
Method 2: GCSE Grades
Last week I spoke to a peer from Manchester medical school, who felt he struggled in his GCSEs and believed that that would affect his ability to go on to study medicine. He achieved 1 A* and 3 As at GCSE.
However, he chose universities that focused primarily on A-Levels (at which he eventually got A*AA) and extracurricular activities (of which he had many). He applied for Manchester, Keele, Liverpool and Hull-York and was accepted for three interviews.
Method 3: Interview Type
A friend from college is currently studying at Cambridge and decided to make his medical school application choices based on the type of interview each medical school offered.
He favoured panel interviews because he had a lot of doctors in the family, as well as having worked as a researcher in his local hospital, so he felt that he had a lot of experience conversing with health professionals. He applied for Cambridge, King’s College London, Manchester and Nottingham and was invited for all four interviews.
Method 4: Course Structure
I had a discussion recently with a postgraduate colleague at the University of St Andrews. He explained that when he applied for medicine he felt that a knowledge and passion about the structure of the course was really important when he achieved an interview, as to change from a previous degree from medicine inevitably raises questions about the integrity of the individual’s desire to do medicine.
He explained that he chose courses that were traditional or had a compulsory additional year aided his ability to eventually receive an offer. He applied for Glasgow, Dundee, St Andrews and Aberdeen and got all four interviews.
Of course, there are a plethora of other factors which your decision is heavily influenced by, such as the location of the university, your extracurricular activities, and the feel you get about the university when you visit on an open day, but primarily, I feel that it is important to be sensible about your chances of gaining an offer from each university, and that playing to your strengths is key.
Words: Ben Fox