29th September 2022

When you submit your UCAS application, you have five university choices available – but only four of these can be for Medicine. This means that if you’re applying for Medicine, you have a fifth choice that you can use however you wish. Here are four possible ways to make use of your fifth UCAS choice.

Option 1: Leave it blank

If you’re determined to study Medicine, and confident that you’ll get into Medical School, you might be tempted to leave your fifth choice blank. It’s certainly possible to do this, but it perhaps isn’t the wisest option.

Getting into Medicine is becoming more and more competitive each year. Of course it’s important to be optimistic and confident in your application – but it’s also important to consider that you aren’t guaranteed to get a place.

Be realistic and have a think about what you would do next if you don’t receive any offers for Medicine and you didn’t select a fifth UCAS choice. Would you take a gap year and reapply for Medicine next year? If you’re considering this, make sure you know the pros and cons. Would you try to get into another university course through UCAS clearing? If you’re thinking about leaving your fifth choice blank, you should have a back-up plan in place regardless.


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Option 2: Fill it with an unrelated course

In the event that you don’t get into Med School this year, is there another course that you could picture yourself doing instead? Whether you have a passion for French, History or Economics, don’t be afraid to put a completely unrelated subject down as your fifth choice – as long as you’ve thought about it seriously and would be willing to study this instead of Medicine. After all, there’s no point selecting a fifth choice that you have no real intention of using!

Don’t worry about the fact that your Personal Statement is geared towards Medicine. Your fifth choice university shouldn’t hold this against you. If you aren’t sure, check with the university directly. Most courses are nowhere near as selective as Medicine (because they don’t have a strict limit on the number of places available) and will be happy to offer you a place as long as you meet their grade requirements. On this note, your fifth choice should ideally have lower grade requirements than your Medicine choices.

Additionally, to apply for Graduate Entry Medicine at certain universities, you don’t always need to have a science degree. So if you go down the path of doing an unrelated degree and find that you still really want to pursue Medicine, there might still be an opportunity for you to do this later.

Option 3: Fill it with a similar course to Medicine

It’s important to remember that an Undergraduate degree isn’t the only pathway to Medicine. For your fifth UCAS choice, you might want to choose a related degree (such as Biomedical Science) with a view to possibly applying for Graduate Entry Medicine later. Of course, you might end up enjoying the course so much that you decide to forgo Medicine and pursue another science-related career instead.

There are also certain courses where it is possible to transfer to Medicine during your degree, if you’re one of the highest achieving students. However, bear in mind that these opportunities are rare and very competitive.

When you’re choosing a related course for your fifth choice, it’s wise to avoid Dentistry – because this can be just as competitive as Medicine!

Option 4: Fill it with an Allied Health course

Remember that being a Doctor isn’t the only way of working in healthcare, and there are a wide range of Allied Health careers that you might find just as fulfilling.

If you don’t get into Med School this year, think about whether you would like to pursue an alternative career in healthcare. You could put an Allied Health course as your fifth UCAS course such as Podiatry or Paramedic Science.


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