A Guide to the Medical Application Process

If you want to become a doctor, you probably already know how competitive Medicine courses are. Unlike other university applications, the medical application process involves additional steps that you may never have experienced before. The whole process can feel a bit daunting.

However, with the right preparation and expert support, applying to study Medicine should be a straightforward and rewarding process. This guide walks you through the stages of applying to a medical degree programme. It also includes top tips to help you optimise your medical application, including how to write your personal statement, which additional tests you’ll need to take, and how to prepare for an interview. 

The Profs’ Head of Consulting, Joseph Robbins, also shares his insider knowledge based on over five years of advising medical students and helping them get into top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh. 

Read on to learn how to maximise your chances of getting into medical school. We’ve also got a guide on pursuing Medicine from GCSE and A levels to your degree and employment.

Want to skip to the good part? Reach out to our expert Medical admissions team and/or our dedicated Medicine tutors. With us in your corner, there’s no reason not to aim for the top.

6-Step Medical Application Process

The university admissions process for Medicine can be broken down into 6 stages. It’s important that you complete each of these stages with as much attention as the next to give your application the best chance of success.

Step 1: Check your eligibility

Becoming a doctor is a huge undertaking and carries a lot of responsibility. For that reason, the process of becoming a doctor requires scrupulous attention. The process begins much earlier than most other career paths and lasts far longer, with the average medical degree course typically taking 5 years to complete. You will need to take this into account before it comes to applying to medical school and make sure you’re willing to be hard-working, dedicated and self-motivated throughout your academic career. 

Before starting your university application for Medicine, make sure you check that you are eligible to apply. The entry requirements for most medical degree programmes not only specify the grades you need to achieve but also the specific subjects in which you need to achieve them. For example, taking Chemistry and Biology at A level will keep most medical schools open to you, and taking Maths or Physics in addition to those is recommended to keep all options open. Depending on where you are in your studies, ensure that you are taking the right GCSEs (or equivalent) in order to then study the required A levels (or equivalent) for your intended course.

Step 2: Choose a medical school

Choosing a medical school is a big decision and it’s important to spend plenty of time considering the universities available to you. There are 43 medical schools in the UK to choose from, but you can only put down 4 Medicine courses on your UCAS application. Make sure you do your research, attend open days and get a feel for each university and its course before making your final choices. 

Joe’s tip: It goes without saying that the higher the ranking of the university, the higher the entry requirements tend to be. You should always aim high and strive to get into the best university and highest quality medical education available to you based on your predicted grades. That being said, it’s also important to consider where you’d be most happy spending your time, when you’re studying and in your free time. You’ll most likely be spending at least 5 years of your life there, so make sure it’s the best fit for you all-round.

Which universities are the best for Medicine?

In the UK and international league tables, medical schools can rank quite differently. Some of the top universities in the general UK league tables do not offer Medicine courses, while others are known for specialising in Medicine. There are also a handful of high-ranking medical schools that are graduate-entry only, so keep that in mind when choosing which universities to apply to.

According to the Complete University Guide (2024), here are the top UK universities and their entry requirements for Medicine.

RankingUniversityEntry Requirements (A levels)
1University of CambridgeA*A*A
2University of OxfordA*AA
3University of GlasgowAAA
4Imperial College LondonAAA
5University College London (UCL)A*AA
6University of BristolAAA
7Queen’s University BelfastA*AA
8University of Edinburgh A*AA
9University of DundeeAAA
10University of Leicester A*AA

Step 3: Write your personal statement

Your medical personal statement is your chance to highlight the skills and qualities you have that would make you a great medical professional. In such a highly competitive degree subject, it is your first chance to really stand out and highlight what makes you a unique candidate.

Ultimately, what you include and how you structure your personal statement is up to you, but we recommend that you cover the following areas:

  • Your motivations for studying Medicine and why you want to become a doctor (or other medical professional)
  • The skills you have that make you a great candidate for Medicine (for example, great communication, prioritisation and organisational skills)
  • Work experience you have undertaken and why this makes you want to pursue a medical degree
  • Volunteering you have completed and why this has inspired you to study Medicine at university
  • Wider reading and studying you have done to enrich your understanding of the field
  • Any extracurricular activities relating to your career ambitions and the course

For more advanced tips on improving your personal statement, read this helpful blog from the Profs’ admissions experts.

How do you get work experience in the medical industry?

Undertaking work experience in the medical industry is a great way to stand out in your personal statement and in your interview (later in the application process). However, it takes time to find and complete work experience.

To secure work experience, you should contact personal connections, such as your family friends, neighbours, older students already studying Medicine, parents of school friends, or extended family. If you don’t have any existing connections, there are a few options for finding work experience:

  • Visit local charity shops or GP surgeries, hand in your CV and enquire about placements.
  • Use Google to find the necessary contact information for nearby labs, charities or care homes.
  • Sign up to volunteer websites and fill in as many application forms as possible.
  • Pay to go on an international volunteering trip.

Joe’s tip: Before you start your work experience, check what kind of work experience the course you want to apply for requires. If possible, aim to get a range of experience, including at least one week in a primary healthcare setting, such as a GP surgery, and another couple of weeks in a secondary healthcare setting, such as a hospital. You’ll need to start early and plan your time well, as you will largely be limited to school holidays, some weekends, and after school. 

Once you secure one placement, ensure you make a good impression by dressing the part and getting stuck in. You should also try to make additional connections while on your placement, as this may help you to line up further placements in the future.

Step 4: Complete your UCAS application

All medical applications must go through UCAS and the basic process for this is the same as applying for other subjects.

The key stages of a UCAS application are:

  • Register with UCAS
  • Fill out your personal details
  • Add your education history
  • Add your work experience or employment history
  • Select your course choices
  • Write your personal statement
  • Register for and sit the required admissions tests (see step 5)
  • Request your reference
  • Submit your application
  • Pay your application fee

For more information on what is involved in the UCAS application process, read our helpful article.

What is the deadline for medical applications?

All applications for Medicine need to be submitted by the 15th October. The deadline for medical applications is earlier than the general UCAS application deadline and is the same as the deadline for Oxbridge applications.

Step 5: Prepare for the UCAT and/or BMAT admissions test

Historically, UK universities have required applicants to study either the UCAT or the BMAT when applying to study Medicine, Biomedical Science and related medical degrees. Both the BMAT and UCAT tests are designed to assess your academic suitability for a medical degree.

However, the BMAT is discontinued as of 2024. It has been confirmed that no UK medical school will be using an alternative admissions test, hence the standard UCAT will be required by all universities. 

What is the UCAT?

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is an admissions test used by most UK universities for medical and dental degree courses. The UCAT is used along with the other stages of your medical application, including your UCAS personal statement and academic qualifications, to determine whether you should be offered a place. 

Typically, the UCAT must be sat between July and September. It’s best to begin your UCAT preparation and sit the admissions test as early as possible, as your result must be included in your final UCAS application. The deadline for medical applications is the 15th October.

Read this article on the UCAT for more information.

Which universities require the UCAT and/or BMAT?

As of 2024, all UK universities require the UCAT for any medical degree. The only exception to this is a handful of private UK universities. 

So, if you’re hoping to study Medicine at university, get to grips with the UCAT! We have expert UCAT tutors with tried and tested methods of success at the ready to assist you. Just reach out.

What UCAT scores are required by the top universities?

Each university requires different scores for entry and the average score of successful applicants often changes from year to year. Universities will take into account your UCAT results as part of your wider application. 

The table below shows the UCAT scores applicants to the top 10 universities should aim for (this is estimated for universities that have newly switched to the UCAT and do not yet have UCAT data or choose not to state cut-off scores outright).

RankingUniversityEstimated competitive scores
1University of Cambridge2760+
2University of Oxford2760+
3University of Glasgow2690+
4Imperial College London2760+
5University College London (UCL)2690+
6University of Bristol2910+
7Queen’s University Belfast2691+
8University of Edinburgh 2470+
9University of Dundee2691+
10University of Leicester 2250+

Note that as well as taking the UCAT, there may be additional tests that international students need to take to ensure they meet universities’ English language requirements. Make sure you check the individual course pages for more information on this before applying.

The Profs’ tutors can provide expert support on the UCAT and medical admissions process for both UK and international students. Reach out to our friendly team if you’re in need of support.

Step 6: Prepare for your interview

The final stage of the medical application process is an interview. You will only have to attend an interview if you pass the initial application process and are shortlisted by your chosen universities. 

Read this guide on how to prepare for the Medicine interview for more information.

How many applicants get shortlisted for a Medicine interview?

The number of applicants shortlisted for an interview differs between universities. Places at the top universities are more competitive and, therefore, fewer people tend to get shortlisted for an interview. 

For example, only 23% of Medicine applicants to Oxford University (ranked #2) are shortlisted for an interview, compared to 48% of applicants to the University of Leicester (ranked #10).

What are the different types of medical interview?

There are two types of interviews used by medical schools: MMIs (Multiple Mini Interviews) and traditional panel interviews. The goal of any medical interview is to assess your suitability to study Medicine and whether you would make a good doctor or medical professional. However, each type of interview is different and requires tailored preparation to maximise your chances of success. 

Don’t forget to read this guide on how to prepare for the Medicine interview for more information. 

We also have an article comparing panel interviews to MMIs.

Traditional panel interviews

What are traditional panel interviews?

Traditional interviews may be more familiar to you as they follow a typical interview format, but they still require plenty of preparation. In a traditional medical interview, a panel of medical professionals will ask you questions about why you want to study Medicine and become a doctor. They will also ask you questions about the work experience you have, the skills you have, and your commitment to the subject area.

Joe’s tip: Unlike an MMI, traditional panel interviews will involve being asked questions specifically relating to your personal statement and other elements of your application. Always be prepared for the standard questions in traditional interviews, like ‘Why this university?’, ‘Why medicine?’, and ‘Tell us about this point in your personal statement’. It’s also a good idea to include specific areas of interest in your personal statement, as this may lead to your interview being tailored towards these topics, rather than ones you are less familiar with.

For more information on how to prepare for a traditional panel interview, read our helpful guide.

Which universities use traditional panel interviews?

The following universities typically use traditional panel interviews in their application process:

  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Oxford
  • Queen Mary University
  • Glasgow University
  • Swansea University
  • Southampton University 

If you’re applying to any of the universities above and need some support, get in touch with our team of experienced consultants. 

MMIs (Multiple Mini Interviews)

What are MMIs?

The type of Medicine interview used by most universities is the MMI (Multiple Mini Interviews). MMIs are very different from traditional panel interviews and involve being put through several short assessments known as ‘stations’. Each station usually lasts 10 minutes or less and most universities will have around 10 stations. MMIs will typically take around 2 hours in total.

Before each station, you’ll be presented with a topic and given some time to prepare an answer. You’ll either be asked a question by an interviewer or have to engage in a role-play scenario with an actor whilst an interviewer watches. Though you won’t know the specific questions or topics to prepare for in advance, there is plenty of preparation you can do to maximise your chances of success. 

Read our helpful guide to preparing for an MMI for insider tips. We also have an article comparing panel interviews to MMIs.

Which universities use MMIs?

The following universities typically use MMIs in their application process:

  • Aberdeen
  • Aston
  • Brighton and Sussex
  • Buckingham
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Hull York
  • Keele
  • King’s College London
  • Lancaster
  • Leicester 
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • St George’s 
  • UCL
  • UCLan
  • Anglia Ruskin
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Brunel
  • Edge Hill
  • Exeter
  • Imperial College London
  • Kent & Medway
  • Sheffield
  • Leeds
  • Manchester
  • Norwich
  • Plymouth
  • St Andrews
  • Sunderland
  • Dundee
  • Warwick

If you’re applying to any of the universities above and need some support, get in touch with our team of experienced consultants

How can we help?

The medical application process is a new and unfamiliar experience for all students, but with the right preparation and support, you’ll have nothing to worry about. For one-to-one guidance on your medical application from a professional admissions tutor, get in touch with the Profs’ team today. 95% of our students get into their first and second-choice universities, why not join them?

FAQs

What should a medical personal statement include?

Your medical personal statement is your chance to highlight the skills or qualities you have that would make you a great doctor. What you include and how you structure your Medicine personal statement is up to you, but we advise that you cover the following areas:

  • Your motivation for studying Medicine and why you want to be a doctor
  • The skills you have that make you a great candidate for Medicine (for example, great communication, prioritisation and organisational skills)
  • Work experience you have undertaken and why this makes you want to pursue a medical degree
  • Volunteering you have completed and why this has inspired you to study Medicine at university
  • Wider reading and studying that you have done to enrich your understanding of the field
  • Any extracurricular activities relating to your career ambitions and the course

Which admissions tests do you need to take to get into medical school?

Since 2024, all medical schools in the UK require applicants to take the UCAT for undergraduate admissions.

What are the average scores for the UCAT and BMAT?

The average score achieved by students sitting the UCAT in 2021 was 2499. Scores of 2850 or above were in the top 10% of overall candidate scores.

An average BMAT score is around 5.0. In 2021, just over 30% of students scored 5.0-6.0 in Section 1 of the BMAT, while around 25% of students scored 5.0-6.0 in Section 2. Just over 5% of students scored over 6.0 in these sections. However, the BMAT has been discontinued. 

When is the deadline for medical applications?

The deadline for medical applications is the 15th October. This is the same deadline as Oxbridge applications and stays the same every year. This means that by October 15th, you must have submitted your UCAS application (including your reference) and registered to take – or have already taken – the required admissions test for your course. 

Can I apply for Medicine after completing my undergraduate degree?

There are some graduate-only medical schools and Medicine courses that you can apply for after completing an undergraduate degree. Graduate Medicine courses are typically accelerated, so they usually take four years to complete instead of the five or six year undergraduate entry courses. The entry requirements for graduate Medicine differ depending on which course and university you’re applying to, so make sure you check the individual entry requirements before you start your preparations.

What is the GAMSAT and do I need to take it?

If you’re applying for a graduate-only medical school or a graduate-entry Medicine course, you may be required to sit the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT). Universities including Exeter, St Andrews, Swansea, and Cardiff require you to take the GAMSAT as part of their graduate-entry admissions process. Graduate-entry medical schools that don’t require the GAMSAT may still require you to sit the UCAT instead. Make sure you check which test you’re required to sit before applying.

How much does an undergraduate university application cost?

There is an application fee for all applications made through UCAS. For 2024 entry, the application fee £27.50 for 5 university choices. This will increase to £28.50 for 2025 entry. You are only allowed to apply to four medical schools in one year, but UCAS allows you up to five choices, so most medical students apply to a non-Medicine science course to make the most of their fifth choice.