Applying to a medical school in the UK can be a real obstacle course. Don’t give up on your dream so easily! With all our advice, discover how to put together your medicine application for university and learn how to stand out for studying medicine in the UK.
How to apply for a medical degree in the UK?
Do you want to go to medical school in the UK, but don’t know where to start? Learning how to apply for graduate entry into medicine at UCAS is essential. The selection of applicants is done upon receipt of the entry application for the first year. Follow the suggested steps to learn how to apply for medicine at a university in the UK.
Register on UCAS
To apply for an undergraduate medicine course, you must register on the UCAS platform. UCAS medicine application has similar steps as regular university submission.
For medicine courses, the closing dates for registration arrive very early. The medicine application deadline is October 15th of the year preceding the start of the school year. The deadline for compiling your application is very short and you will be asked to anticipate very widely.
UCAS Application for Medicine
At UCAS, you will only be able to apply for a total of four medical degree courses. To complete and submit your UCAS application for the medicine course, you will need to prepare:
- Personal Statement for Medical School
- UCAS Reference letter
- Submit your Tariff Points
- Invitation to an interview
Keep in mind only 4 medical schools that can apply in the UK.
After studying your application, you may be called for an interview by one of the universities to which you have applied. These interviews can last between 15 minutes and an hour and will go over the important points of your cover letter, your experiences and your interests.
Some prestigious universities will also be able to ask you questions about scientific news or even give you “Case scenarios” to ensure that you have the human qualities required to become a caregiver.
Recommended for reading:
- Writing a Winning Medical Personal Statement
- How to write a personal statement
- Personal statement examples
- UCAS reference letter guide
- Personal Statement Example for Medical School
- The Best Cambridge Colleges For Medicine
Take the entrance exams
If the university makes you an offer, it will likely be conditional on you getting a good enough score on an English test like TOEFL or IELTS. Medical schools require a good command of the English language to follow the courses.
You must register and pass the UCAT test before creating a UCAS application form which will include your scores after passing the test. 25 medical universities require this test.
You will need to register for the BMAT test before creating the application form. However, you will only take this exam after you submit your application, which will take place in early November. Then your scores will automatically be sent to the medical schools that were filled in on the application form. 7 medical universities require this test.
Pre-registration also applies to this test in the same way as the UCAT test since you must pass it before applying for UCAS. But the deadline for applying for this test is shorter than the UCAT test. Only 7 UK medical universities require this test.
Medicine application deadline
UCAS application deadline for medicine is 18:00 (UK time) on 15th October. Make sure you prepare the reference letter, medicine personal statement, and other documents on time to complete the UCAS medicine application before the deadline.
Are GCSE and A-Levels required for medicine?
When it comes to securing a place, med schools also consider your GCSE grades. The entry requirements for medical schools vary slightly, but certain subjects are considered essential. Let’s start with your GCSE grades.
Getting into medical schools is a very competitive process, so even your GCSE grades must be the best possible. However, your GCSEs are still just as important as your A-level grades.
The majority of medical colleges assess prospective students based on the whole picture. You stand a much better chance, wherever you are looking to study medicine, of being accepted onto the course if you have a strong academic history overall.
Your chances of being accepted onto a course if you have a strong academic history, regardless of where you wish to study medicine, are much better.
In addition, you must have at least a B in a science subject. If a medical school has stipulated this in its entry requirements, whether it is Chemistry, Physics, or Biology is less important. These details can be found on the school’s website. At the University of Bath, for example, GCSEs in Science and Additional Science must be graded AA or GCSEs in Biology, Physics, and Chemistry must be graded AAB in any order.
If you are looking to apply at Edinburgh University, keep in mind admission tutors will not accept GCSEs in subjects such as Applied Science and Additional Applied Science.
A-levels for Medical School
To qualify for a medical degree, you have to achieve at least AAA at A-level in hard science subjects like biology and chemistry, with physics or mathematics being the next best choices.
Biology – The majority of medical schools require biology at least at the AS level. A2 biology is recommended for most medical students, even if it isn’t formally required. Depending on your other A2 subjects, such as if you already have an A2 in human biology, you may be able to take it.
Chemistry – The majority of medical schools in the UK require students to take chemistry at AS level. However, most employers expect you to have a full A-level in chemistry. You must have biology at A2 at the medical schools that don’t require A2 chemistry.
Maths – Along with biology and chemistry, math A-levels are always useful. Mathematics or further mathematics will be accepted only one of the two.
Other Subjects – The majority of subjects are accepted as a third A-Level choice (alongside chemistry and biology), but physics stands out. Some medical schools require you to have a third A-Level in Maths or another ‘hard science’ or similar subject.
According to reports, 4 A-Levels are the new benchmark for applying to UK medical schools due to the increasing competition.
You’re likely to get an interview if you have three A-levels at A2, including Chemistry and Biology.
A four-year degree that includes Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics, and one other subject of your choice is the most reliable option in situations of extreme oversubscription and high standards.
Entry Requirements for UK Medical Schools
Medicine is usually a five-year degree programme, but it can also be a six-year degree program. A bachelor’s degree in medicine can have different abbreviations, such as MBBS or MBChB. Medical school entry requirements are:
- International Baccalaureate: 37 points with chemistry and other science subjects.
- A-level: AAA including chemistry and one other science, such as math, physics, biology or psychology.
- IELTS: 7.5 overall
Prepare for Medical School Interviews
Being invited for an interview is an achievement in itself due to the volume of applications institutions receive, so you must already have made a good impression.
Compose yourself well, speak clearly, and show that you’re prepared. Admissions staff view interviews as a good opportunity to assess applicants’ communicative skills and aptitude while expanding on their qualifications and medical school personal statement.
Admission staff usually consider 3 types of med interviews:
Traditional Medical School Interviews
The admission staff representative will discuss key hot topics and current affairs related to the NHS, including medical ethics and advances. You will also be asked about your own life, your motivation, your hobbies and passions, as well as how you have dealt with problems and challenges. Ask questions such as “tell me about a time when you worked with a team to accomplish a critical goal” or “tell me about a time when you coped under immense pressure”.
Preparation begins with writing down key moments from your work experience, school/college life, and also key moments in your personal life.
Oxbridge medicine interview
The focus of Oxbridge medical courses is more on research projects. Their interviews are therefore more focused on assessing your cognitive abilities and thinking skills. As a result, they’ll want to see how you handle sensitive ethical issues and more general areas of medicine.
MMI medicine interview
An MMI interview involves facing several interviewers in a relatively short amount of time. Each of them will either give you a task or ask you a question. You will be assessed on your ability to tackle problems interdisciplinary. As well as keeping you on your toes, it assesses your ability to adapt. During the interview process, you will be presented with a scenario that requires you to demonstrate problem-solving skills or role play.
How is the selection made by Medical Admission?
The selection in medicine is tough: only 10% of applicants are admitted.
Students who already have a scientific degree have a chance of obtaining an equivalence to enter medicine in the UK. Those who have obtained a diploma in a non-scientific field can first take the Access to Medicine Course to get up to speed.
If the academic level plays an important role, medical schools also attach great importance to professional, personal and voluntary experiences. Thus, students who have taken a gap year to travel, volunteer or work will be able to stand out more easily to obtain an interview.
Choosing a medical school
The medical field is highly competitive, so students are allowed to select 4 medical schools on their UCAS applications, with a 5th choice for another course just in case. It’s estimated that 90% of students don’t get into medical school, and you can expect that you won’t always get your first choice, depending on where you live.
Medical degrees are awarded by institutions governed by the General Medical Council (GMC), and accredited honours are listed as UK Primary Medical Qualifications (PMQs).
When choosing a medical school, what should you consider?
Consider the specifications of each institution offering a relevant qualification when weighing up your ideal medical school. Medical school admission criteria are often considerably higher than those for a shorter-term BSc or BA, so you should also consider your learning style in addition to your grades.
Types of medical school courses
Every university, medical faculty, and medical school has its syllabus and regulations for courses in medicine that are supervised by the GMC, which sets standards for undergraduate medical education.
There are different methods of teaching used in each course. Your learning style and the kind, of course, you would like to take should be carefully considered.
Make sure you get a copy of the school’s syllabus and find out what type of courses they offer before applying. You need to make sure the course structure and teaching style are suitable for you. You will be at medical university for at least 5 years. It’s important to make a good choice.
Medical school programmes generally follow six approaches, check with Med school which one is available:
- Traditional pre-clinical and clinical course
- Integrated based course
- Problem-based learning (PBL)
- Case-based learning (CBL)
- Inquiry-based learning (EBL)
- Multi-learning course.
Research a location thoroughly before choosing a medical school. The best way to get a feel for the city at this stage is to take a trip around it.
Many people dream of living far away from their families. Some people prefer those close family ties. Consider the implications of moving far away from your family.
Around 7% of medical university students chose to stay at home in 2013. According to a recent study by UCAS, 25% of students are considering staying local in the future.
Cost of living
In London, a monthly transport pass costs £150, whereas in Cardiff it costs just £53.50. Accommodation in London is 60% higher than in most other cities. Include all expenses, such as transportation, accommodation, and other day-to-day expenses. The cost of living is of the key factors when choosing a university and location.
Fees for studying medical school in the UK are very high. We dedicated an entire section of this guide to medical school fees. Click here for the section.
What are the best medical colleges in the UK?
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- King’s College London
Read our full guide: The Best Medicine Universities In The UK 2023
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford has been the top university for medicine in the last decade
BMAT testing is required for students applying to Oxford to study medicine
A standard medicine course at Oxford gives students a comprehensive understanding of medical science and the skills to apply it clinically.
A bachelor’s degree in medical sciences is earned after three years of preclinical study. It is during the final three years of the program that students put their skills into practice by working alongside doctors. A research project is also required of all students in this course, which encourages them to learn more about medical science and develop laboratory skills.
Medical studies are also offered as a four-year graduate programme at Oxford.
Professor Sir Roger Bannister, a neurologist and Olympian who specialized in research on nervous system responses, is one of the school’s notable alumni.
The University of Cambridge
There are two types of medical courses offered by the University of Cambridge: standard and graduate.
BMAT scores are required before an application can be accepted at Cambridge.
Medical school students at the University of Cambridge can take courses in medicine and medicine-related subjects in the school of clinical medicine, the faculty of biology, and the department of physiology, development, and neuroscience.
Undergraduate courses involve both theoretical and practical work in outpatient clinics, general practices, and hospitals.
Academic medicine graduate and PhD programs are designed for students who wish to pursue a career in academia.
Cambridge has one of the oldest medical schools in the world. Medicine courses date back to 1540.
Recommended reading: The Best Cambridge Colleges
Imperial College London
A BSc in medicine or a BSc in medical biosciences are two undergraduate courses offered by Imperial College London.
One of the largest medical faculties in Europe, Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine has campuses throughout London as well as numerous partnerships with hospitals and clinics.
As part of the six-year BSc medicine course, students are exposed to patient care, case studies, lectures, and tutorials. Those interested in clinical academic medicine can develop skills in research techniques through the course.
A three-phase approach is taken by the school. The first phase of the program covers the foundations of health, disease, and clinical practice, as well as the opportunity to conduct clinical research. Phase two involves learning module content on top of a research project. In the final phase, students apply all the skills they have learned in real-life situations.
Students who have completed their undergraduate studies in medicine and wish to continue their education at Imperial College may also apply for master’s programmes and scholarships.
Research on bowel cancer, pandemic solutions, and hay fever at Imperial has contributed significantly to the advancement of medicine.
Read about Imperial College London acceptance rates
Undergraduate medicine at UCL, like many other UK universities, lasts six years.
London’s Royal Free and Whittington Hospitals offer tutorials and clinical experiences to students.
A BSc in medicine course includes the study of clinical science in its first two years. Students begin learning clinical skills in their third and fourth years. Preparation for practice and specialization are the final two years of the program.
Many alumni from the university have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their work on auto-immune diseases, adrenaline and the immune system since the university began offering medical courses in 1834.
King’s College London
Five-year medicine MBBS programme, a graduate programme, and a sport and exercise medical sciences programme are available at King’s College. All medicine courses are focused on practical learning. All courses are split into 3 stages.
Many of London’s largest hospitals have partnerships with King’s College London: Guy’s Hospital, King’s College Hospital, and St Thomas’ Hospital. Located on Guy’s and Denmark Hill campuses are the Institutes of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, and the Dental Institute.
It is possible to extend a five-year program into a six-year program if students elect the optional intercalated degree.
There are three stages to the course. During stage one, you will learn foundational skills in biomedical and population sciences, as well as clinical practice skills. Stage two focuses on patient care in clinical settings, including the human life cycle and pathological processes. In the third stage, students specialize and develop workplace skills. During this stage, students can study abroad, gaining a broader understanding of medicine around the world
Duration of medical studies in the UK
Undergraduate medicine degrees are available in the UK, typically over five or six years. In addition to work placements and practical sessions, these programmes equip students with a broad knowledge of medicine. Further study can then lead to specialisation.
The number of years of medical studies in the UK:
- Preliminary phase (Medical Foundation) for one year
- General medicine studies: 6 years
- Specialisation internship: 3 to 6 years
Study fees for UK Medical Schools
As expected, the cost of studying medicine in the UK will be very high compared to studying in another field or studying medicine in another country. However, it should be noted that the cost of study varies from university to university.
However, the lowest amount you can think of would only be for your first year, that’s £10,000. It’s exactly what you’ll need at the start, at the lowest estimate, knowing that some medical school courses can be over £50,000.
As it usually takes four to six years, you will need to be prepared to save more to complete your education.
However, you should contact the university of your choice and inquire about the cost of study for international students to determine the exact value for you, depending on your level of study and what you wish to study.
What you can do if not been accepted
There is a lot of competition for places at UK medical schools due to oversubscription. Consider your options if you miss out.
Depending on your grades and subjects studied, ask your teachers and career advisors what options you have in higher education. Within the medical profession, there may be a career that is just as rewarding and interesting, and that is the right fit for you.
Ask for constructive feedback from the medical schools to which you applied. Look at alternative medical schools to the ones you originally applied to, review your personal statement, and continue to get work experience.
You can get into medical school without taking the UCAT or BMAT, but your choices are limited. International students can only apply to the University of Buckingham Medical School or the University of Central Lancashire Medical School without taking either test.
Due to the high level of competition in medicine, UCAS allows students to choose 4 medical schools with a fifth choice for another course in case one is not accepted.