Making an application to study medicine can be daunting. This page aims to make the process easy to understand. It lays out the initial parts of an application in the order that you need to consider them, taking you from qualifications while at school or college to applying for financial support through bodies such as Student Finance. The second part of the application stage will require attending interviews at a medical school for shortlisted candidates. More information can be found on the interviews page.
The application procedures for international students are the same as those described on this page, however, international students will have additional things to consider. To find out more, please see our international applicants page.
Medical schools are able to set their own entry requirements. Generally, the minimum entry requirements to standard entry medicine are three As at A level or equivalent qualifications. One subject, sometimes two, must be in a lab-based science (this means chemistry or biology) and some medical schools also require maths or physics at A level. Grades at GCSE or equivalent are usually considered as part of the application, but medical schools place varying emphasis on them.
The UCAS website has a list of all medical degrees available in the UK, along with minimum entry requirements. More detailed information can be found in Entry requirements for UK medical schools: 2018. To understand more about the different types of medicine courses available, visit our course types page.
Remember that admissions criteria for medical schools can change every year, so always check the websites of the medical schools you are interested in before you make your application. These websites will have the most up-to-date information and you will learn more about the medical schools themselves. A list of UK medical schools, with links to their websites, can be found on our medical schools page.
Grades may be lowered for certain people according to their circumstances. This is called ‘contextual admissions’. To find out if a course offers this, and whether you qualify, see the entry requirements section on the course’s webpage. Look for information relating to ‘widening participation’ or ‘widening access’.
Applicants will be required to show an understanding of what a career in medicine involves. To assess this, many medical schools include work experience among their criteria for application.
It is important to remember that work experience can take many forms. It can be a voluntary opportunity or a paid job. While shadowing a doctor can be useful, medical schools recognise that this is not attainable for everyone. They see volunteering in a residential care home as just as good a source of experience. If you have a weekend job in a shop, then this can be a good source too.
The important thing to remember is that work experience is only as valuable as the way you talk about it in your interview. While you will be expected to show some understanding of what it is like to be a doctor, part of this will be showing that you know what it is like to work, particularly with the public. Just like in a normal job interview you may be asked things like, ‘Can you provide an example of how you have worked as part of a team?’ If you have had a job in a restaurant, for instance, then you will be able to use this experience to answer the question.
To get work experience, prepare a short CV and hand this in to places in your area which relate to healthcare, saying that you are willing to volunteer. These places could be care homes, hospices, general practice surgeries, and of course hospitals. If you have no luck with this then do not worry. Other useful activities might include reading medical journals or following news about the National Health Service. These things will emphasise a candidate’s interest in a medical career and willingness to research. If you know any doctors then arranging time to speak with one will provide you with material to use in the interview, as well as demonstrate motivation and initiative. All healthcare professionals can be a valuable source of information and experience, not just doctors. After all, doctors work as part of large teams involving many healthcare professions, so demonstrating that you have a sense of those professions and how they work together will help you in both your personal statement and interview.
- Work experience guidelines for applicants to medicine
- Step into the NHS
- Volunteering opportunities in a range of settings can be found through Do-it
- A toolkit on how NHS organisations can implement more work experience opportunities
- British Medical Association - How to become a doctor
In addition to high academic achievement, medical schools will look for certain skills and attributes which they believe make an ideal candidate for medicine. Medical schools will look for evidence of these attributes in your personal statement, which is part of your UCAS application. The following points in the dropdown bar have been agreed by the medical schools as the skills and attributes they are looking for.
Skills and attributes of an ideal candidate to medicine
- Motivation to study medicine and genuine interest in the medical profession
- Insight into your own strengths and weaknesses
- The ability to reflect on your own work
- Personal organisation
- Academic ability
- Problem solving
- Dealing with uncertainty
- Manage risk and deal effectively with problems
- Ability to take responsibility for your own actions
- Insight into your own health
- Effective communication, including reading, writing, listening and speaking
- Ability to treat people with respect
- Resilience and the ability to deal with difficult situations
- Empathy and the ability to care for others
Keep these in mind while writing your personal statement. Rather than simply stating that you embody these attributes, give examples of how you have demonstrated them in the past, for instance while on work experience or through extracurricular activities.
Medical schools vary in how they assess personal statements. Some score them while others do not. They commonly use personal statements as a basis for conversation during interview, so it is a good idea to write things which you would be prepared to expand on if asked.
For more on these attributes, see the Statement on the core values and attributes needed to study medicine.
Each medical school uses an admissions test as part of its entry requirements. There are four admissions tests. Medical schools each state on their websites which test they use. You might sit different combinations of these tests according to the medical schools you intend to include in your application.
UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT)
The majority of medical schools use the UKCAT. An applicant registers for and sits the UKCAT before the UCAS application is made, noting his or her score in the application. Registration typically opens in May and closes in September. Testing takes place from July until October, ahead of the final deadline for UCAS applications to medicine, which is 15 October every year. See the UKCAT website for exact dates and to register.
BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)
Some medical schools use the BMAT, which focuses more on academic aptitude. An applicant must register for the BMAT before the application is made, but the test is only taken after the application. This will be at the end of the calendar year, after the UCAS deadline has passed. The applicant’s score is sent automatically to the relevant medical schools which have been applied for. Registration opens in September and closes in October. Testing usually takes place in November. See the BMAT website for details.
Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT)
This test is used for the Graduate Entry Medicine courses and for a number of the Standard Entry Medicine courses where the applicant is a graduate. As with the UKCAT, an applicant must register for and sit the GAMSAT before making the UCAS application. Registration is in August while the test is sat in September. More can be found on the GAMSAT website.
Situational Judgement Test for Admission to Clinical Education (SJTace)
The application – deadline and finance
Applications to study medicine are handled through UCAS. Applicants are able to apply to up to four medical courses. If you are in college or sixth-form then you should be guided through the process by teachers.
There is a very high number of applications to medicine each year and the process takes longer than for most other courses. For this reason, application must be made just under one year in advance. The deadline is always 15 October, to begin the course in September of the following year. The next available time to begin a medical degree is September 2019.
Completed 2019 entry applications can be submitted to UCAS from September 2018 and will close on 15 October 2018. Exact dates will be announced in May 2018.
UK applicants can apply for student loans through Student Finance. Some students may also be eligible for grants or NHS bursary support. It is best to apply for student finance as soon as you have made your UCAS application. For more information, refer to the following websites according to where you currently live:
- England: Student Finance England
- Scotland: Student Awards Agency Scotland
- Wales: Student Finance Wales
- Northern Ireland: Student Finance Northern Ireland
Universities may also offer their own bursaries or scholarships. It is best to research what is available on the websites of the medical schools in which you are interested. If you are from outside of the UK, and would like to know more about fees and funding, visit our international applicants page.