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Applying to university

Tips on getting into Medicine

Medicine students past and present have helped us come up with some top tips for applying to study Medicine.

Medical team performing surgery

Make sure Medicine is for you

It’s very difficult to really know what you’ll want to do, but there are some aspects of a medical career you should be aware of:

  • Long hours – both while studying and on the job
  • Unusual shift patterns – it certainly isn’t 9-to-5, and you won’t be immune to this while studying either as students have their fair share of night shifts too
  • Responsibility – bear in mind that you'll be responsible for people’s lives

Choose the right A Levels

The entry requirements for Medicine are fairly strict so make sure you maximise your chances of admittance via subject selection. Use our course chooser to find out entry requirements. Most, if not all, courses specify at least two sciences. One must be chemistry and either physics or maths. You should only apply if you meet the specified entry requirements.

If you’re too far down the road and won’t meet the entry requirements, there are other options. For example, Medicine with a foundation year is a six-year course specifically designed to bring students up to speed with their science, before embarking on a normal degree.

Think about Medicine admissions tests

Medical school applicants have to take one of a number of admissions tests.

Make sure you’re prepared and that you’ve done the correct test for the right university. Note that an increasing number of universities consider the BMAT in place of the UKCAT, despite this traditionally being just Cambridge and Oxford.

Research universities and their attached hospitals

Each university and their attached hospitals will tend to have their own areas of strength, with some hospitals being specialist centres for specific diseases. It might be worth narrowing your choices to medical areas that interest you. If you look into the process closely, this will come across well down the line.

Try to get a variety of work experiences

You might shadow a doctor for a week or two, work at a care home, volunteer with St John Ambulance or even try a bit of medical research. All medical schools look for evidence of work experience when considering candidates – it shows a passion for your career as well as a high level of commitment, and exposes you to the realities of the profession.

Optimise your UCAS personal statement

Many universities make it clear what they’d like you to address in your personal statement. Have a good look through their selection criteria and make sure you address them. Keep your statement Medicine-relevant and team up with your referee to make sure their supporting statement also engages with the selection criteria.

Prepare for interviews

Give yourself the best chance of success at this stage of the process and do plenty of research into the kind of questions that are often asked, while coming up with some original answers. No admissions tutor wants to hear the standard "I want to save lives", noble though it is. Have a good idea of your future career path to demonstrate your knowledge of the profession. And remember: if in doubt, business dress!

Make good use of your time

Medicine generally has an earlier application deadline than other courses, so start preparing as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of success.

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