How to choose the right medical schools for your UCAS application
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There are 33 medical schools in the UK accredited by the General Medical Council (GMC). However, you can only apply to four of them through your UCAS application. Don’t know where to start? Check out the best tips to help your decision making below.
  1. Know what your strengths are
Getting into medical school is quite a tough process, thus you need to think strategically when applying in order to maximise your chances of success. If you are not the best writer and you struggle writing an impressive personal statement, maybe avoid applying to universities such as Nottingham (which scores your personal statement) or Cardiff (which uses personal statements to assess candidates on non-academic criteria). Instead, consider universities such as Brighton & Sussex (which does not use personal statements at all for UK applicants) or Exeter (where personal statements are only used to check for extenuating circumstances). 

If you are a very hard-working student and have excellent grades, consider universities that rely heavily on academics such as Imperial College London, Barts and the London (Queen Mary) or Dundee.
Another thing to keep in mind is your UCAT score. Most universities assess candidates on a 50:50 weighting of both academics and UCAT. For some universities, there is a UCAT cut-off score, so it is always wise to see the cut-off of previous years and check where your score stands before applying. 

  1. Check the rankings
Universities at the top of the rankings (such as Oxbridge, UCL, Imperial) tend to be quite competitive, therefore, I would advise you to apply to two top universities and two others further down the rankings. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams, if you want to apply to Oxbridge go for it! However, it is important to play it safe and have two other options just in case things do not go the way you planned them to.

  1. Check the course structure
Medical schools in the UK offer three different course structures, traditional, integrated and problem-based learning (PBL) courses. Oxbridge universities have a traditional medical course, where students have little/none clinical exposure during the first two or three years of their degree and three clinical years later on. An integrated course provides lectures and parallel clinical placements for students, whereas a PBL course offers small-group tutorials where students discuss a particular clinical case and make their own learning points. If you learn better while working in a team, a PBL course (offered by Manchester University) may be the right for you. If you like to pair your scientific and clinical learning, you should consider a university that offers an integrated course such as Edinburgh, Leeds or Liverpool.


  1. Consider the location
Some universities are found in big cities, such as UCL, Imperial and Manchester University, whereas others have a quieter, less busy location such as Durham or the University of East Anglia. You will never get bored if you live in a big city, as there is always something different to do. However, the commute may be quite long, which can leave you drained. A smaller, quieter university may not always have exciting events happening, but it may provide a greater sense of community. In addition, you may want to be close to family and friends, so these are all things to be taken into consideration.

  1. Attend open days
After you have done your research and have shortlisted a few universities you are interested in, there is no better way to see whether you actually like a particular place or not until you have a visit. Open days are a great way to learn more about your course, interact with existing students and check out the campus. If you are unable to attend an open day, always reach out to the university and they will put you in touch with other students who can help answer your questions.



                                                                                                            Written by: Elena Brachimi

                                                                                                2nd year medic at Glasgow University

Originally published 20 July 2020 , updated 20/07/2020

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Daria Romanyuc


Very insightful post!

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