Can I Apply To 5 UK Medical Schools?

Some advice on what you should put as your 5th UCAS choice, the advantages of doing this and situations in which you may leave it blank.

August 2021
Iqra Ali

Can I Apply To 5 UK Medical Schools?

Unfortunately, this is not possible. When applying to a UK medical school through UCAS, the system only allows students to pick 4 universities that they wish to study at. This is due to the competitive nature of the course.

This leaves you with a final choice waiting to be filled. But, if your desire to study Medicine is so strong, surely you should just keep it blank? Wrong! Take advantage of the 5th choice available to you! Below are reasons why you should take advantage of this choice, as well as some options that you can consider and why they may be useful.

Why make a 5th UCAS choice when applying for Medicine?

1. It is a backup plan.

For most people, their 5th UCAS choice will have a lower grade requirement than their Medicine offer(s). If worst comes to worst and you do not achieve your grades for medical school, you will at least have your other offer in the bag.

2. You can always come back to Medicine later.

Some students decide they would much rather take their time and return to such an intense degree as a mature applicant; therefore, their backup plan comes in handy as their undergraduate degree.

3. If you get a medicine offer, you are able to decline your backup offer.

Having a backup offer does not mean you are forced to do it at all! It is just an alternative choice that is sitting there for you, and you are able to decline this offer quite easily once you hear back from all of your other universities.

4. Most universities you apply to will understand your situation.

Universities you apply to for your 5th choice will infer that you have applied to medical schools from your personal statement, and will therefore assume you are applying to them as a 5th choice. But don’t fret, in most cases, this is unlikely to disadvantage you and you won’t even be required to write an alternative personal statement! In fact, the majority of universities like this since they will appreciate your hard work and the amazing grades that come with it. Saying this, a very small number of universities will ask for an alternative personal statement that is more tailored towards the course you are applying for (that is not Medicine).

5. No interviews or admissions tests are required.

For most other courses no interview or admissions test is required (unlike Medicine!). Because of this, you are likely to receive an offer earlier which can provide you with a lot of reassurance. Additionally, it reduces the stress of the application process (due to there being fewer entry requirements to meet).

What course should I apply to as my 5th UCAS choice?

There are a huge range of courses to choose from. You may prefer to choose a science-based course, particularly if you think you may end up reapplying as a graduate, as this is a requirement for some universities. However, this is not the same for all universities and some graduate entry Medicine courses will accept non-science degrees such as Spanish or Economics.

If you want to keep your options more open, I would recommend the following degrees to consider as your 5th choice:

Of course, this list is not exhaustive and different universities will have slightly different names for similar courses stated above. My advice is to research the structure of these degrees to get some idea of what they are like. Degrees like Optometry and Nursing also have clinical/patient-based learning that is very similar to Medicine, so if you end up pursuing these degrees and reapplying to medical school later, then you will be much better equipped with previous experiences, which medical schools like.

Is it possible to select a degree that can allow me to transfer to Medicine?

Currently, there are some universities that allow transfers into medicine if you are studying a specific degree at their university. While this is not entirely impossible, it is extremely competitive and mostly not recommended. There is also no guarantee that you be offered a place via this route. However, an advantage of choosing this pathway is that if you transfer you will probably enter Year 2 of Medicine directly (rather than having to begin from Year 1). This is favourable as it means you don’t have to complete any additional years to obtain a Medicine degree (which is a very long course in itself).

Can I leave my 5th UCAS choice blank?

It is totally up to you. If you are so set on Medicine that you would not consider doing anything else then by all means go for it! You may prefer to take a gap year and reapply the following admissions cycle if you do not receive/meet your offers. A gap year is a great way to gain more experience by volunteering or is also a great opportunity to save some money for university by getting a part-time job.

Equally, you don’t necessarily have to take a gap year if you have left the fifth choice blank and have not received a place for medical school. There are still ways to get onto a course (Medicine or other) through UCAS clearing (though this can be more challenging). Many students change their minds or do not meet their offer which leaves available spaces for other applicants to take up after results day. Check out our blog post ‘Does Medicine Have Clearing?’ for more information regarding this.

All the best to you if you are applying to medical school! I hope the above has been useful in helping you make a better decision about your 5th UCAS choice.

Author: Iqra Ali

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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