Admissions for entry in 2020
The Medical Schools Council realises that the decision to cancel formal examinations across the UK has caused a degree of anxiety for applicants to medicine. We would like to reassure applicants that medical schools will treat the grades awarded to you this year in the same way as qualifications awarded in any other year. Graduate entry schools are also monitoring the situation in relation to the cancellation of final examinations associated with undergraduate degrees.
Furthermore, all medical schools will be following the rules set by UCAS in relation to applications. If you meet the conditions of your offer you will have a place at medical school.
There are a number of issues that the education sector as a whole is yet to resolve. These include how appeals against calculated grades will work across the UK and when students will be able to sit exams if they are unhappy with their calculated grade. The impact of these issues on medical admissions is unclear but medical schools are actively engaging in these discussions and are working hard to develop solutions that are fair to applicants. As we get further information we will share this with you. You should also continue to check the website of the medical school you hold an offer with.
Admissions for entry in 2021
UCAT: On 1 June, UCAT provided an update for candidates sitting the 2020 UCAT. They have announced that candidates will have the choice of sitting the UCAT either at home using Pearson VUE's online proctoring service (OnVUE) or (as in the past) at a Pearson VUE Test Centre. Please see the UCAT website for details and updates.
BMAT: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BMAT September test session will not go ahead this year. However, BMAT have advised that they will be running the November test session, which will take place on the 4 November 2020. Please see the BMAT website for details and updates.
GAMSAT: To respond to the situation created by the global COVID-19 pandemic, GAMSAT is now being administered online through remote proctoring in May/June 2020. Registrations for the GAMSAT September 2020, which were scheduled to open in mid-May, will not open until late June. Please see the GAMSAT website for details and updates.
Gaining relevant experience to study medicine
We understand that it is a difficult time to try and gain relevant experience in healthcare. The NHS is focusing on dealing with the pandemic, outreach programs have been put on hold, and most paid employment opportunities have been stopped too. In these circumstances, first time applicants to medicine will all be in the same situation. All medical schools are aware that the opportunities open to you have been affected and will take this into account. Consequently, medical schools will have to adapt their expectations to the situation applicants find themselves in.
You should make sure to check the medical school's website for updates on work experience. Additionally, you should keep in mind that clinical work experience is not generally a requirement for applying to medical school in any year.
The Medical Schools Council has published guidance for gaining relevant experience during the pandemic. The guidance includes practical tips on how to gain relevant experience in healthcare, including recommendations on:
- Keeping a reflective diary on what is happening in the news
- Making use of online resources which provide an insight into the health sector
- Volunteering in your spare time, if you are able to
Preparing for online interviews
Due to the pandemic and the need to physically distance, many medical schools will not be able to hold their normal interview days. Even though the rules around physical distancing are gradually relaxing, there is concern that there may be peaks and local surges in infection rates. It is also anticipated that this might get worse over the winter months.
In response, many medical schools are proactively planning to run their panel interviews or multiple mini interviews (MMIs) online instead. Some medical schools are considering using asynchronous interviews too in which candidates record themselves answering set questions and then submit the video. Many medical schools have run online interviews for some candidates (e.g. those overseas) for several years already, so this is not a totally new concept.
Please read our guidance for candidates taking online interviews in advance of any interview you may have.
Resources for students
For those considering studying medicine, there are some free online resources available that will give you a taste of what working in healthcare is all about.
- Brighton and Sussex Medical School has created a free virtual work experience course which explores several different medical specialities
- The Royal College of General Practitioners has created an interactive platform called Observe GP which highlights the many different aspects of working in primary care
- The NHS Health Careers website provides insight into different careers and specialties within the health sector
- The University of Glasgow has created a free course on studying medicine and applying for medical school
- The King's Fund offer a free online course which provides insight into how the health system in England really works
- The Guardian's science pages can provide a background on topics relevant to health
- The Telegraph's health pages can provide a background in health related topics
- Open access material is available on the BMJ's website
- TED Talks on science or health related topics can provide good background material
- The Royal Society of Medicine provides podcasts on health topics