When applying, you will be able to choose a maximum of 4 Medical Schools for your UCAS application. It is vitally important that you choose your options properly.
The importance of choosing wisely
Every year, many Medical Applicants are rejected because they didn’t apply to Medical Schools that favoured their strengths. It is important not to get arrogant. Apply only to Medical Schools where you have a good chance of getting in. Use your brain and not your heart to decide upon your options.
Applying to a place that you like?
Many people will tell you to apply to a Medical School where you will be happy for the next 5/6 years, and a place that you like the look of. Whilst this isn’t bad advice, I disagree with it. For starters, it is highly likely that you will end up enjoying your time wherever you go. Not only this, but going to a ‘dream’ Medical School with pre-conceived, 18-year-old ideas is highly likely to end in disappointment.
Instead, it is much more important to consider the entry requirements. If you meet the entry requirements – fantastic, go for it. If not, you will end up a doctor wherever you go and in the grand scheme of things, it is only 5/6 years of your life. You don’t want to apply to places which you love but don’t meet the entry requirements for, as that will end in bitter disappointment. Trust me on that – I did that when I first applied and it ended up with me having to go through the whole application process again.
Much more important to consider are the entry requirements for where you apply. If you have 10 A’s at GCSE and the Medical School asked for 10 A*s at GCSE, don’t apply there. It sounds so very obvious, but so many Medical Applicants ignore things like this. Having all A*s at A-Level will not compensate for poor GCSEs if they fail to meet the entry requirements. It sounds harsh, but it’s unfortunately true (and is true for all requirements – you need to meet them all, no matter how much you may exceed them in one department).
Applying to your strengths
No matter where you look for advice, everyone will tell you to apply to your strengths. This is vitally important and requires you to study the entry requirements in detail. There is no excuse for not doing so either – go online to websites for Medical Schools and you will find the requirements there.
Some Medical Schools place emphasis on the UKCAT – if your UKCAT is strong, apply there. Other may place emphasis on the personal statement – if you’ve got a good statement, apply there. You get the idea. Again, it sounds obvious but so many applicants apply with their hearts rather than logically and end up upset.
League tables are completely pointless. There is no need to look at them when making your decision. They are constantly changing and are irrelevant. No matter where you end up, you will become a doctor. In fact, for your first job, the Medical School that you went to is hidden from your application. That is how irrelevant is it.
I meet all requirements but still can’t decide. What do I do?
This is such a fantastic problem to have.
In this case, apply to the places that you like the look of. If you’re not sure how to decide, go to open days and see what you like there. Here are some things you may wish to consider:
- The city.
- The teaching style – is it traditional or Problem-Based?
- The interview style. Some Medical Schools have traditional panel interviews, other Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs), others group interviews. Apply to the ones where you feel you have the best chance of succeeding in.
- The exam style.
- The size of the Medical School.
- The type of university – do you want it to be campus based?
- The ‘feel’ of the Medical School (you’ll need to go to the open day for this).
There are probably loads of other things you could consider. Notice, however, how ‘league tables’ does not appear in my list above. I would also be wary of reviews from current students at open days – it is likely they will be biased.