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What A Levels Do I Need to Study Medicine at University  

Another blog post which we received a lot of feedback and questions from was ” Want to be a Doctor?” way back in 2012. Once again, we have taken the most popular questions and put them in one all together in one place for you.

So here we go:

What A levels do I need to study Medicine at university?

A question that many of you have asked, and so one we shall start with here. A subject based firmly in the sciences, it shouldn’t be a surprise for you to find out that you will need a combination of two or three good science A Levels. Chemistry is nearly always mandatory, but Biology and Physics are also highly desirable. Maths and Further Maths A Level are also highly recommended.

What sort of A Level grades will I need?

Medicine is a very popular course, and the standard is very high. Expect to be asked for As and even A*s as standard at A Level. Some applicants do more than three A Levels as well to increase their chances. It’s not mandatory but it can increase your chances of going to one of the top medical schools in the country.

What sort of GCSEs do I need?

Medical schools like their applicants to have very good GCSEs and show skill across a variety of subjects. They prefer students with a good number of A*s and A*in their GCSEs. Good grades in the sciences, Maths and English Literature are looked upon very favourably.

I didn’t do as well as I thought I was going to in my GCSEs, does that mean I won’t get on a medicine degree course?

No. You could, if you wanted to, choose to resit some of your GCSEs. DLD College London offer a number of GCSE courses to allow you to bump up your grades. You could also just get your head down, work really hard at A Level, and do some stellar medicine related extra-curricular work to impress.

What is the BMAT?

The Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is subject specific admissions test that prospective medicine  students take. It’s a two hour exam with three sections – Aptitude and Skills, Scientific Knowledge and Application, and a Writing Task. You can’t really revise for it, as it tests skills and knowledge that you should probably have anyway if you want to study medicine. There are more details here.

What is the UKCAT?

The UK Clinical Aptitude test (UKCAT) is used by universities as part of their selection process to help then choose between the best students. The UKCAT test a wide range of behavioural attributes and mental abilities which are thought to be essential for people entering medicine. As such, it’s another test that you can’t really revise for. However, it is recommended that you have a look at some past papers and practise so you know what you’re going to come up against. You can find more information at the UKCAT website.

How do I know if my university requires the BMAT / UKCAT?

The list changes every year, so your best bet is to contact any universities you’re applying to and ask them if they need you take them.

What is the deadline for applying to university?

If you want to go to university to study medicine in 2015, you must apply byOctober 15th 2014. This is much earlier than any other university course.

Do I need work experience?

While it is not mandatory, you really should get some, yes. Work experience is very important for a few reasons. Firstly it will help you understand what it is like working in the medical world, and will help better inform your decision to study a medical course at university. Secondly, it will look really good on your personal statement, and give you something interesting and exciting to talk about at your interview. A medical degree is a long and arduous course, and it is not for everyone. Universities want to see that their students are dedicated, show initiative, are committed, show perseverance and hard work. A good amount of work experience will help show that you’ve got what it takes to see the course through.

How do I get work experience? Do I just phone up a hospital or a doctor’s surgery?

Essentially, yes! It’s the best and most direct way to go about it. If you’re calling a hospital or a big medical firm, ask to speak to their Human Resources department. If you are speaking to a smaller doctor’s surgery or a care home, ask to speak to the manager. Work experience is a highly coveted position at these places, and positions are like gold dust, so do not be too quick to turn any that you are offered down because they are not quite what you are looking for. Take what you can get, when you get it, you never know, it may open up whole new avenues for you to explore.

How important is my personal statement?

Incredibly, in a word. A personal statement for a medical student is probably more important than any other subject. As we’ve mentioned, competition for places is tough and you will need to stand out from the crowd. Start writing your personal statement early, practise it, add to it, refine it and get it perfect. Talk about why you want to study medicine, what inspired you to study medicine, what work experience you have and why you want to go to that particular university.

What sort of books can I read to get me ready?

There a thousands, and it all depends on what sort of medicine you want to study, but here aresome to get you started:

Getting into Medical School – Simon Horner

The Essential Guide to becoming a doctor – Adrian Blundell

So you want to be a doctor? – Adrian Blundell

Learning Medicine: How to become and remain a good doctor – Peter Richards

Passing the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) and BMAT – Taylor, Hutton and Hutton

That’s it. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. If you have any specific questions regarding entrance requirements or what individual universities require, you will do better to contact them directly. Don’t be shy, they are really happy to help.

Good luck!