How to choose the right medical schools for your UCAS application
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.
Know what your
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.
Check the rankings
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.
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.
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.
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