Shadowing a DoctorAugust 16, 2012
Medicine is one of the most competitive professions there is. As a result, places for medical school are highly sought after. While different medical schools have different requirements, nearly all require good grades at A-level or equivalent. Usually this means high grades in science subjects, such as chemistry or biology, but also candidates need a good standard of English.
Some medical schools are stricter than others are when it comes to grades, but there is no easy route. Not only do all medical schools require high grades, but also candidates need to show some commitment to the profession prior to applying, such as having taken part in medical work experience.
For most students in the UK, the most common route into medical school is following the completion of A-levels. Different medical schools are like universities in that they expect certain A-level grades before they will offer a place. For most medical schools, A-level results need to be good. Some require minimum grades of AAB at A-level, and many require three A grades, although there are a few schools that will accept candidates with ABB grades, as long as they can show relevant commitment, such as having taken part in work experience.
Medical schools also expect good grades at GCSE, as these demonstrate a candidate has received a good all-round academic education. However, if GCSE grades are poor, good AS-level results and perhaps an explanation as to the student did so poorly such as illness or bereavement may result in some dispensation.
Good A-level grades are not the only route into medical school. Medical schools are very keen to attract students from a wide range of backgrounds. The medical profession has long been seen as elitist and not inclusive enough, so many medical schools are trying to address this by encouraging mature students.
Many of these mature students may not have achieved high grades at school. However, Access courses in medicine can be taken at further education colleges that often provide an acceptable qualification, as can being able to demonstrate you important skills or experience gained through work.
Graduates and overseas students
Some medical school students may also already have a degree or have come from abroad to study medicine in the UK. Usually, medical school courses for those with an undergraduate degree tend to be more intensive, and often undergraduates have to sit an entrance examination and require at least a higher second-class degree. For overseas students wishing to study medicine in the UK, internationally recognised qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate are accepted by most medical schools.
Whatever route is taken, all candidates to medical school need to demonstrate a commitment and dedication to the profession. For this reason, many medical schools don’t accept candidates who are already studying a degree and wish to transfer. However, the exact requirements for each medical school do differ, and details can be found by contacting UCAS (University and Colleges Admission Service) or the admissions department at each individual medical school.