Deciding on a UK Medical School: Tips & Techniques for Graduate Entrants

Factors to consider when deciding on a UK medical school as a graduate entrant and some advice on how to apply strategically.

June 2021
Carolina Williams (Blogger)
UCL - 2nd Year

How can you go by applying to study Medicine as a graduate applicant?

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Whilst there are of course similarities, the application to Medicine as a graduate student shows some differences compared to the undergraduate route. This article aims to highlight some considerations regarding Medicine applications for graduate students.

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What are some important factors to consider when choosing where to apply for Medicine as a graduate entrant?

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1. Personal preferences

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It is useful to think about your preferences when considering your application. Ultimately, you would like to study to be a doctor at the end of the day, but your happiness and ability to thrive in the particular city/area and university of your choice are also important.

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It may be important to consider your preferences particularly in terms of a. where you would like to study; the geographical location, b. where you would like to study; the university, c. which (type of) Medicine course attracts you, d.your plan for juggling Medicine application with final year university commitments (or other commitments if you are already graduated but currently working for example) โ€“ including which entrance exam(s) best suit you and your timetable, and how much time you are able to dedicate to your Medicine application alongside your other commitments.

โ€Note โ€“ d. may be a more minor point; you totally can and will juggle your Medicine application alongside your studies and/or work commitments. But I wanted to include this point as I found it useful to consider ahead of time in order to plan my Medicine application around my university studies and try to optimise both areas as best as possible without burning out. For example, I aimed to complete as many aspects of the application as possible before I began my final year. Such as organising and undergoing work experience and writing my personal statement.

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2. Undergraduate and graduate Medicine courses

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As a graduate applicant, you are able to apply to both undergraduate Medicine courses (alongside undergraduate students) and/or graduate Medicine courses (specifically for graduate students).

The following link highlights the major graduate courses available in the UK: https://www.themedicportal.com/application-guide/graduate-entry-medicine/.

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What are some of the differences between graduate and undergraduate courses?

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Check out this link for further information: https://www.medschools.ac.uk/studying-medicine/making-an-application/entry-requirements?type=graduate-entry-medicine

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How does funding differ for those taking an undergraduate Medicine course vs. those taking a graduate Medicine course?

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The funding situation for either type of course (graduate or undergraduate) may be subject to change and individual circumstance (eligibility and bursary availability for example). I found that contacting Student Finance England (note โ€“ depending on if you are in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland there is a specific government loan body) and informing myself about the funding availability and the funding process for each year of the Medicine course was useful. Their helpline and website are helpful resources for enabling you to understand funding for your particular position. Here is the link for the Student Finance England website where you may browse the information regarding student loans: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance.

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Generallyโ€ฆ

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Funding an undergraduate Medicine course as a graduate student โ€“ government loans to date do not offer tuition funding for graduate students undergoing a second undergraduate degree. Maintenance fees are available for eligible students via an application process (very similar to the maintenance fee application process for an undergraduate degree).

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Funding a graduate Medicine course as a graduate student โ€“ government loans to date do offer tuition (partial) and maintenance funding for graduate students undergoing a graduate degree.

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In both cases, NHS bursaries, especially in final (undergraduate Medicine courses) and later/post first year (graduate Medicine courses) of the Medicine course, may be available.

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Check out this link for further information and links to government loan bodies for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: https://www.medschools.ac.uk/studying-medicine/outreach-and-support/financing-your-studies.

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3. The entrance exam(s) you decide to take

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The three main entrance exams for graduate students include โ€“ BMAT, UCAT and GAMSAT. Some universities do not require an entrance exam sitting in order to apply to their graduate programme. Again, the medic portal link (https://www.themedicportal.com/application-guide/graduate-entry-medicine) includes the entrance exam requirements for each graduate university.

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The entrance exam(s) you sit will likely depend on a. which universities you would like to apply to, b. if/how you will be able to revise and sit the exam alongside your current commitments, c. your strengths and preferences.

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For example, you may have already sat the UCAT and know you find it particularly difficult. If you would not be able to dedicate as much time as you would like to, to study for this exam in order to boost your score, alongside your studying/work commitments, you may prefer to sit an alternative exam(s) or consider how you will incorporate your UCAT studying well ahead of time and with plenty of support. Alternatively, if your dream university requires a UCAT entrance exam sitting, and you have more time to dedicate to the UCAT, you may feel more confident in sitting the exam and to obtain a strong score.

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Different universities require different entrance exam sittings, and these may be subject to change, so ensure you aware of which exam each university you are interested in applying for is asking you to sit.

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How to apply tactically?

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Here are some steps that I found useful when applying to study Medicine as a graduate student (Note โ€“ these points helped me; I hope you can find inspiration from this information but feel free to incorporate your own also! This is your unique journey into medical school).

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1. Where would you like to study? For me, this included the universities that I was attracted to because of the course and location, heard positive feedback about, had previously visited etc. (for now, I would urge you to avoid looking at competition ratios too much; think about where you would truly see yourself studying Medicine)

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2. Would you like to apply to graduate and/or undergraduate Medicine courses? Take into consideration funding implications, look at the course structure (they can be quite different, with graduate courses often being exposed to clinical placements earlier for example), think about all of the differences between and considerations of graduate and undergraduate courses. Bear in mind that graduate courses can be more competitive than undergraduate courses; I was advised to apply for at least one or two undergraduate courses in order to increase the chances of succeeding in my application. However, this is down to personal preference and circumstance, by no means feel obliged to do this. If you would prefer to apply only to graduate courses this is of course still possible!

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3. Which entrance exam(s) will you sit? As stated above, this will depend upon the universities you have chosen to apply for and your decision to apply to graduate and/or undergraduate Medicine courses. Remember your university (or current) commitments as this may impact the time you can comfortably commit to prepare for and sit these exams. It may also be worth sitting more than one entrance exam to further optimise your chances*.

*Depending on the entrance exam, you may have the test results before or after sending the UCAS application. For example, I sat both the UCAT and the BMAT exams. I was aware of my UCAT score, having sat this prior to finalising my application, so if I wanted to, I was able to adjust my application accordingly. The BMAT exam was carried out after sending my application, therefore I was unable to make changes according to the strength of my result. Check out this link for further information about the GAMSAT exam and booking your test date: https://gamsat.acer.org/.

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4. Check your application - can you make it stronger? Are you content with your choices and are you optimising your chances as best as possible? A helpful tip I found was to contact admissions offices or to check the university websites to familiarise myself with their student selection process. The process varies between different universities, and you could alter your university choices to suit your strengths. For example, if there are two universities you are deciding between, one holding the UCAT score at a higher weighting in the selection process compared to the other university which holds the personal statement with a higher weighting to call to interview, perhaps you could choose according to which part of your application is stronger or you would like to showcase to the university more?

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Final Remarks

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I hope this post has helped you to understand a little more about the process of applying to Medicine as a graduate student. I have tried to highlight some main points that I personally found useful to help strengthen my graduate Medicine application. Ultimately, do what you can and to your best ability; persevere with your application if studying Medicine is your passion. Best of luck!

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Author: Carolina Williams

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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