The process of applying for medicine

Medicine has long been one of the most popular degree subjects for students to apply for, making the application process highly competitive.

Unlike other degree subjects there is also a slightly difference application process that you’ll need to be prepared for well in advance if you want to be successful.

Allowing yourself plenty of time to make the right choices and complete the application form is the key being accepted to study Medicine.

As well as the application form applying to study Medicine also involves attending an interview and the majority of medical schools also ask applicants to take an admissions test as part of the application process.

How many medical schools can I apply to?

If you’re applying for a non-medical degree subject you’ll have the option to apply for up to five universities.

However, you only have four options if you want to study Medicine and it’s important to be sure that you’re making the right choice. After all, you’ll be studying Medicine for five or six years so you need to ensure you choose the course that is right for you.

The UCAS website will have a list of all medical schools, further information about their course, and a link to their website so you can do additional research before making your choices.

Important application dates

Unlike the majority of other degree subjects, if you’re applying for Medicine there are earlier application deadline dates involved.

For students wanting to start their Medicine degree in 2016 the application deadline date was 15 October 2015.

For students wanting to start their Medicine degree in September 2017 the application deadline date will be in mid-October 2016.

What do the application forms involve?

All applications to study Medicine need to be made via the UCAS website and there are six sections to the application form:

  • Registration and personal details– your name, age, contact information etc.
  • Choices– your four medical school choices
  • Education– you’ll need to include all of your education including A levels, GCSEs, key skills, and other qualifications
  • Employment history– it’s important to show that you bring something else other than your academic achievements to the table
  • Personal statement– this could be the difference between you being successful and someone else getting a place instead of you, so read our tips on crafting the perfect personal statement for a Medicine degree
  • References– your head teacher, lecturer, or employer are the most likely candidates to write your reference. You cannot use family or friends.

Take your time when filling in the application forms. Forms generally take longer to complete than you think they will so leave yourself with plenty of time and don’t rush.

Top tips for a successful Medicine application

  • Start your application early – you can never have too much time!
  • Take your time – you may want to complete your application in more than one sitting
  • Triple-check your spelling and grammar
  • Don’t lie, exaggerate the truth, and/or plagiarise other people’s applications
  • Ask other people to read your application to ensure it makes sense and you haven’t missed anything
  • Be prepared to discuss in your interview anything you mention in your application – see our point above about not lying!

What happens after I’ve submitted my application?

Once you have completed your application on the UCAS website copies will be sent to the medical schools you wish to be considered for.

You’ll then need to take either the BMAT or UKCAT admissions test and take part in an interview so the medical schools can assess you fully.

If you are made an offer after this you’ll be asked whether you would like to hold it or not. You can only hold a maximum of two offers, so think carefully about which universities you’d really like to attend.

What do the admissions tests involve?

The majority of medical schools use an admissions test to assess potential students. This is to ensure that as well as having the academic ability you also have aptitude and the correct attitude for a career in medicine.

Medical schools usually use either the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or UK Clinical Admissions Test (UKCAT) to assess applicants.

The BMAT takes two hours and consists of three sections:

  • Section 1 – multiple choice questions lasting one hour and testing your general skills for example, problem solving and data analysis.
  • Section 2 – multiple choice and short answer questions lasting 30 minutes.
  • Section 3 – a short stimulus essay with a choice of answering one of four questions.

The UKCAT takes two hours and is a computer based exam. All questions are multiple choice and divided into the below sections:

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Decision analysis

Further information, detailed advice, and practice tests for both forms of aptitude test can be found online. Depending on the assessment method used you might find you need to take a different test for each medical school you apply to.

What does the interview for medical schools involve?

As well as taking an aptitude test most medical schools will also want to interview you. This is to find out what motivates you and your reasons behind wanting to study Medicine.

Questions are usually about topics including your teamwork abilities, your medical knowledge (including current affairs), your work experience, and your future career plans.