How to get into Medical School: For Graduate Medicine

20 December 2019
20 December 2019 Dr. P. Baptiste

By Aisha Bello.

Completing a degree, Masters or PhD can be a lot of effort and the last thing you want is the stress of applying to medical school. Graduating in Biomedical Science, I can understand the stress of applying for graduate medicine, especially if it’s you’re second time applying. The medical schools that offer grad medicine have about 25-93 spaces (with a few exceptions such as Warwick with 193 spaces for 2018 entry) as well as entrance exams such as the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT), the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) and the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT). Bare in mind that the figures for the number of spaces mentioned above were for 2018 entry and these can vary each year.

Here is a short guide to getting into medical school as a graduate.

Medical School Admission Requirements: The Entry Exams

Medical School Admission Requirements: The Entry Exams

There are three entrance exams you can take to get into medical school. These are the BMAT, UCAT and GAMSAT. If you applied to medical school after A-levels then you would have come across the UCAT and BMAT. Oxford is the only university offering a Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) course that uses the BMAT. Now although it is an option, taking the BMAT for only one university may not be advisable if you want to have more options and it is less cost-effective. The UCAT is required for the following universities:

  • Warwick
  • Queen Mary’s (Barts)
  • King’s College London
  • Southampton
  • Birmingham
  • Newcastle
  • Sheffield

I would therefore advise sitting the UCAT as this will allow you to apply to more medical schools. I would also advise applying to Warwick because they have more spaces overall and it will increase your chances of getting into medical school. Whereas when I was applying last year, King’s College London only had 25 places but they have 28 spaces for 2020 entry.

The GAMSAT is only taken by graduates. The universities that require it are:

  • St. George’s
  • Southampton
  • Swansea
  • Cardiff
  • Plymouth
  • Exeter
  • Liverpool
  • Nottingham

The exam is very expensive at £262, and is 6 hours and 45 minutes long (including 1 hour and 15 minutes break time). I personally decided not to sit the GAMSAT due to the expense and I wasn’t sure if I would do well in it. Also because revision material for the GAMSAT books costs extra so consider this as a factor when applying! However, I would still consider it as one of the ways to get into medical school because there are good number of med schools that use it. Also some GAMSAT universities have quite a few spaces such as St. George’s which has roughly 70 spaces, although this may vary each year. For the GAMSAT be aware that each university’s cut off varies from year to year, for St. George’s the cut off for 2019 and 2018 was 58 whereas in 2017 it was 57.

GEM versus Undergraduate Medicine

The bonus of applying as a graduate is being able to apply to GEM and undergraduate courses. As mentioned earlier, there are less GEM spaces but when applying to undergraduate medicine, there are more spaces and graduate applicants tend to be favoured due to having more qualifications and experience. The only thing to consider if applying to undergraduate medicine is that as a graduate you will not be entitled to a student loan, so you will have the fund it yourself. This may put some people off because undergraduate medicine is 5 years rather than GEM which is 4 years. If feasible for you I would strongly advise applying to 2 undergraduate universities and 2 graduate universities.

Transferring as a Graduate

It’s A level results day and you haven’t secured a place to study medicine, so you’re considering studying an alternative degree such as Biomedical Science and reapplying after completion of your degree. Some universities offer students in their final year the opportunity to have an interview and transfer onto their graduate medicine programmes. I studied at St. George’s University; they offered students an interview if you achieved an average of 67% at the end of the second year which would enable you to transfer to the 3rd year of medicine, at the time of writing. At Birmingham they allow the people with the highest averages in the cohort to be entitled to interviews (hyperlink added). However, with these transfer interviews they only take 15-20 spaces so it is extremely competitive but still an option.

My Story

My name is Aisha Bello and I am from Nigeria and Zimbabwe. I studied Biomedical Sciences at St. George’s University. Unfortunately I obtained an average of 64% in my second year, therefore I was not eligible for the transfer interview. I was gutted but I still wanted to apply, so I sat the UCAT and BMAT in the summer after 2nd year. I sat the UCAT during August rather than later to avoid the stress of revising for the UCAT and writing my research proposal which was due in the beginning of October. I decided to sit the BMAT as I wanted to apply to BMAT universities such as University College London (UCL). After receiving 4 rejections prior interview, I wasn’t sure what to do. I applied for to do a Masters in Clinical Pharmacology at King’s and looked at options of studying medicine abroad. This is when I came across the 5 year undergraduate Queen Mary’s MBBS programme in Malta. Since I had nothing to lose I applied for it. In the same week, I received an offer for the Masters programme and an interview for the MBBS programme in Malta. I decided not to respond to the Masters offer until I had received an outcome from the interview. I got the offer to study medicine in Malta and I felt relieved. Everyone’s route into medicine is different, so don’t feel disheartened if you get rejected, there is no harm in applying again!

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