Can you get a place at medical school through clearing?

August 11, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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With A-level Results Day almost upon us for another year, is clearing for medical school entry possible?

Getting ready to begin observation for the day The answer is yes! But compared to other degree disciplines, clearing for medical schools is a much smaller operation – generally only around 100 or less of the 10,000 places on offer are filled in this way. While this might seem fairly disheartening for all you would-be doctors out there, it would be foolish to ignore this option if you are serious about getting into medical school.

In order to secure a place, it’s important to have your wits about you – it doesn’t take long before these coveted clearing spaces are snapped up; many are only available for an hour, if that.

Clearing for medical courses does not work in the same way as it does for many other disciplines. Most, if not all medical schools only accept those who have already applied to that particular university. This is due to the different selection processes and interview styles that each institution has – they can’t be sure that students who they have not interviewed will meet their criteria.

It’s pretty easy to dismiss taking the clearing root for medical school. The rarity and scarcity at which it is available makes a lot of potential medical students discount it as an option; waving the white flag before the battle is over. However clearing is unpredictable, and there are many reasons why it may become available. No university or school can ever really accurately predict just how many students are going to apply, how many they are going to accept and how many offers will be turned away. It’s a bit of a roulette wheel, but the odds favour the house. That’s not to say that keeping a keen eye out for them is a bad move though! When they do appear, chances are they are only going to last an hour or two, so you really want to be on top of things. Regularly check UCAS, the university website, call clearing services; anything that might put you one step ahead of your competition.

A student taking a patient's blood pressure in a Tanzanian hospital. The majority of medical schools on the other hand, don’t show much flexibility when it comes to narrowly missing out on their entry grades. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and only in exceptional circumstances do they move it. A-Level results day can be a nerve-racking experience that can certainly influence the direction your life takes, but if you do just miss those grades there are other options.

If you have your heart set on medical school and can’t get in through clearing, there is always the option to wait a year. Get as much work experience as possible – shadow doctors in hospitals and clinics, both at home and overseas. Volunteer or work with those in need – universities are impressed by long term commitment to a caring profession, as it shows dedication, a key requirement for any would-be medic. Finally, travel. Find out about other cultures, learn a language and meet local people. An interest and understanding of people from different backrounds is a real pluspoint on any university application.

A year of valuable experiences should really help your UCAS application to stand out second time around. With any luck, a place might open up for you. It can be done, but it is anything but a guarantee; fierce competition means that you need to be on top of your game.

Gap Medics offer medical work experience placements overseas to students who are looking to boost their application to medical school. A level results day is one of our busiest times, as people contemplate taking a gap year and reapplying. If you are interested in getting a real insight into life as a doctor, getting some impressive experience to help your application shine, all whilst having the adventure of a lifetime, call us on (0)191 603 1111 or email