Not getting into Medical School feels absolutely horrible. I know from bitter experience. All the work – A-Levels, GCSEs, work experience, UKCAT, BMAT, volunteering…it all feels like it’s gone to waste. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.
The good news is that you can still study Medicine. Many applicants get rejected first time and are later successful. If you still want to do Medicine, it’s important not to lose hope.
What to do if you get four rejections
Getting four rejections does not feel good. In my case, all rejections came before interview. I therefore felt very unwanted by any Medical School. At time of writing, however, I am pleased to say that I just passed my second year of Medical School with distinction. Rejection means very little for when you actually get to Medical School.
Here’s my advice for what to do.
1) Consider why you got rejected
Medical School applications are extremely competitive. There is no denying of that. However, more often than not, the rejection probably came from a deficiency in your application. Consider the following:
- Did you meet the minimum GCSE/A-Level requirements?
- Was there a UKCAT/BMAT cut off? Did you meet it?
- Did you meet the minimum non-academic requirements?
- How did the interview go, if you had one?
- How wisely did you apply?
The last bullet point is key, and highlights why many applicants are rejected. Perhaps you applied to a Medical School that places a lot of emphasis on personal statement, but your personal statement was only average. Or maybe the Medical School liked seeing high UKCATs, but yours was good instead of excellent.
All of this is stuff to consider.
2) Contact Medical Schools for feedback
Once you yourself have an idea of what went wrong, actually email the Medical Schools themselves to get feedback. Many will be more than happy to give you some, and it could be helpful. Compare what they say to the list that you came up with, and see if there’s anything else they added.
3) Concentrate on your A-Levels/IB
This, in my opinion, is the most important thing. Following rejection, it is likely that your motivation will be down the drain. You’ll see all of your friends be getting ready to go to university, while you’ll feel as though you’ve been left behind. However, it is very important to not let this impact your A-Level revision.
Remember, if you want to reapply for Medicine through the undergraduate route, you’ll need a least AAA at A-Level. Your position will be even worse if you fail to score that. Take some time to yourself to let yourself heal after the pain of rejection, but then come back strongly. Remember that it is still possible to do Medicine, but it depends on these grades.
4) Consider what to do in your gap year
You can do literally anything you want to in your gap year. However, make sure to actually do some work too – admissions tutors will hardly be impressed if you’ve done nothing at all. Have a look at the work experience/volunteering page for advice. Otherwise, you could consider going travelling or getting a job to fund your studies at Medical School.
5) Work on what went wrong
There is no point in getting feedback from Medical Schools if you’re not willing to improve those deficiencies in your application. Make sure you improve them, if possible.
6) Should I do another degree instead of Medicine?
If you decide that you no longer want to study Medicine, there is nothing wrong with that. You can consider taking your 5th option or applying through UCAS extra if you want to. However, I wouldn’t do this for a sake of simply going to university as a stepping stone before applying for Graduate Entry Medicine (see below). Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) is even more competitive than the normal route.
What to do if you miss the A-Level grades
If you’ve missed your A-Level grades, it can be devastating. However, once again, it is not the end of the world. There are still routes into Medicine – it just won’t be as easy.
1) Did you score at least AAA?
If you missed an offer that was higher than AAA (e.g. an A*A*A offer) and find yourself unplaced but still scored AAA at least, consider taking a gap year and reapplying. You will need to make sure that you apply only to the Medical Schools that accept AAA, however. If you scored less than AAA, however, you will need to consider other options.
2) Consider retaking
You could consider retaking some of your A-Level exams. However, it is important to realise that not many Medical Schools accept A-Levels done over 3 years (i.e. retakes). Of the ones that do accept them too, you will often need extenuating circumstances. Make sure you do your research before applying.
3) Think about Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM)
GEM is another route into Medicine. I am not fully clued up about it, but it is where you do another degree beforehand and then apply for Medicine. Some GEM Medical Schools don’t look at A-level grades closely so this could be a route to consider if you fail to make the grades. I would only consider it in that case – not if you have the grades but didn’t get an offer. There are several reasons why:
- GEM is even more competitive than the undergraduate route.
- You will need to fund a fair portion of GEM yourself, so it will be expensive.
- The future of GEM is uncertain. (Although, given the shortage of NHS staff, maybe this won’t be such an issue)
4) Think about studying abroad
Another option is to look at European Medical Schools where the entry requirements are lower than Medical Schools in the UK. Many will teach Medicine in English, although you will still need to learn the language for clinical years. Whether or not you’ll be able to practise in the UK is something I am not sure about, and something which I am even more unsure of since Brexit.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.