A-Levels for medicine
For the majority of medical schools, in fact, all of them, chemistry is the core requirement. Some of them require biology as well, which I know most of you think that biology's the most crucial A-level for doing medicine, but it's not. When you're thinking about some of your other A-Levels, you need to make sensible choices, so when you're going for your medical degree interview, chances are they're going to ask you about your A-Level choices. If you've picked biology, chemistry, and dance, they're going to ask you why as a doctor do you think dance is important? And if you can't answer that question sensibly, then maybe we shouldn't be picking dance as an A-Level or French or music or art or history or politics or economics or anything that doesn't directly relate to being a doctor or medicine; because they're going to ask you about it when you go to your medical school interviews. And anything that just looks a little bit weird, well, you're going to be competing against people that are going to be doing four A-Levels; biology, chemistry, physics, and maths. The other thing you need to be careful of when you're picking your A-Levels is that some places will say that you have to have three science and maths is included a science for this course, but you can't have maths and further maths as two of your A-Levels. Or you can't have biology and human biology because they're too similar. The other thing is that psychology doesn't count as a science in this instance. I know it's generally taught by science teachers, but it's not going to count as science.
Katie is a true inspiration, I asked her to write about how initially failing to get into medical school made her more determined to become a doctor. Here is her story…
Medical school is renowned for its competitiveness. Those who become doctors are seen as successful and accomplished. So what do you do when they reject you? My message to you: find strength in your failures and use it to grow.
My first mistake, when applying to medical school, was my poor academic record. The A-Levels I achieved were far from the string of A’s most candidates possess. Medicine requires you to demonstrate your academic ability, and on paper, I did not look like the ideal candidate. So there are two choices, resit your A-Levels or do another degree to prove you are capable. I decided a degree was more appropriate as fewer schools accepted resit candidates.
My second mistake was not looking at my application objectively. I wanted to be a doctor so much that I poured my heart out in my personal statement. I quickly received rejections as I didn’t meet the basic requirements. Each medical school essentially has a tick-box list of what they are looking for. However much you would love to do medicine, however passionate you sound, it will all be for nothing if you do not meet the basic requirements. The key areas are academics, work experience, the personal statement and entrance exams.
Whilst working on my academic record, I had a lot of time to dedicate to other endeavours. Volunteering and caring for patients, organising events, and taking on an additional job allowed me to build my experience in the care environment. Firstly, this made me absolutely sure I wanted to do medicine. Many people like the idea of being a doctor, however, I have met many students who really didn’t know what the work would entail and then realising too late that medicine wasn’t for them. Secondly, it gave me the experiences to write about in my personal statement, to demonstrate that I was the candidate they were looking for.
The personal statement is your chance to stand out and validate your claim for that all important place. Reading Tomorrow’s Doctors and the General Medical Councils’ guidelines will give you a good overview of the qualities they are looking for. You should also look at your chosen universities – perhaps they have a specific goal in mind for their graduates such as becoming a champion for mental health. Think of how you can look like their perfect candidate. How can you link what you have learnt and experienced to the university mission statement?
Finally, there are entrance exams, my third mistake. There is a common misconception that you cannot revise for these, it is not true! Practice makes perfect. Use well reviewed resources such as books and online programs so you are prepared. I didn’t revise the first time and my results were average. The following year with practice, I increased my score to a competitive one.
Those who have tried and failed have at least tried. By learning from my mistakes, I finally gained a place at medical school and I learnt so much more in the process. I hope this small insight inspires you to not be disheartened by failure but to embrace it, to grow as a person and become your best self.
Katie, aged 28.
Studies: Medicine at King’s College London, Year 2.
A-Levels: A Psychology, C Biology
AS levels: D Maths, E Chemistry
Degree: 2.i Applied Biomedical Sciences
If you are thinking about applying for medicine, there is quite a bit more to think about than other degrees.
The first thing you need to know is that only four of your five choices on your UCAS application form can be for medicine. The reason behind this is to protect you, the entry requirements for medicine are high.Click here to read more...
Only four of your five choices, on your UCAS application form can be for medicine. This is to protect you from ending up with no offers at the end but, what should you put as your fifth choice?
You have four options when it comes to your fifth choice on your UCAS application form.
Getting the right work experience when you're considering applying for medicine is absolutely vital for your personal statement and your interviews, but what is the right work experience and how can you find it?
The aim of work experience is twofold. Click here to read more...
As well as your A-Level results, if you want to get into the majority of medical schools then you will need to sit another exam as well. This is the UKCAT, or the UK Clinical Aptitude Test. the UKCAT may be in a format that you're not necessarily very familiar with, because it's a two hour exam, that you sit on the computer, so unlike the handwritten ones that you're doing for your A-Levels.. Click here to read more...
There are eight U.K. universities which require the BMAT (Biomedical Aptitude Test) as well as A-Levels if you want to apply for medicine.
The BMAT is a two-hour test that you do on paper. And there are three different sections to it. You can sit this once a year and you can either sit this in September or October. Click here to read more...
but aren't medicine
So many students I meet want to be doctors because they want to help people. But there are many different ways that you can help people that don't involve being a doctor. Being a doctor doesn't pay very well, it's very stressful, and it has very long hours. There are loads of medically related degrees that you might not have considered. Click here to read more...
If you didn't get any offers in medicine, or if on results day, you didn't get the grades that you need to take up your place in medicine, then do not despair.
There are five different things you can think about doing if you don't get your place to study medicine. It's a little bit different from other degrees because you can't go through clearing, you can't really go through adjustment. Click here to read more...