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Medicine Applications: How to Make Your 5th UCAS Choice

As we all know, as a medical school applicant, you’re only allowed to allocate 4 out of 5 of your UCAS choices to medical schools. The real question comes with what you do with your 5th choice – so what options do you have available to you? In this article, I’ll discuss how to make the most of that empty spot in your UCAS application.

Option 1: Leave the space blank

Of course, this may seem like the obvious choice, given the fact that you may be so sure that you want to pursue a career in medicine that nothing else seems to appeal to you.

Don’t feel that you need to fill in the 5th choice; there are many students that waste an application for another course that they don’t actually want to do.

Option 2: Fill it with an unrelated course application

Despite your desire to do medicine, there may have been other courses and career paths that you have considered throughout your time at school/college. I would like to stress at this point that the university you apply for will understand (from your medicine-directed personal statement) that your primary desire is to do medicine. However, this is NOT a deterrent for the universities.

In fact, most universities will be encouraged that such a high-performing individual is applying for their course. Many of my peers had offers for courses ranging from Economics to French, but if you choose this option, I would encourage you to choose a course that offers lower grades than your medicine course applications. In addition, if you apply for the same university but for a course other than medicine, this has no effect on the outcome of your application.

Option 3: Fill it with a similar course to Medicine

From my experience, there are several courses that can either provide a good platform from which to apply for medicine at postgraduate level, or which provide an opportunity during the course to apply for a medicine place. Of the postgraduate students I have spoken to, the clear majority studied either a Biochemistry or Pharmacology degree at undergraduate level, both courses showing a desire to undertake a career in the sciences. However, if you do eventually undertake these courses and apply for medicine following this, be prepared to justify your course change.

With regards to access courses for medicine, the one I have heard most about is the University of Bradford, which offers a course known as the Certificate of Foundation Studies in Clinical Sciences/Medicine. This is a year-long course which, at the end of the year, allows participants to apply for the MBChB programme at the University of Leeds. My 5th choice was one offered by the University of Leicester, known as the Biological Sciences (Physiology with Pharmacology) course. This allowed you to apply to the Medicine programme at the university if you achieved a certain score in the first year of the Biological Sciences degree.

Regardless of the choice you make, I would like to emphasise that your choice will not affect your application for medicine, so take your time and make the right one!

Words: Ben Fox

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