What to Consider when Choosing your Medical School?
There are many things to consider when applying to medical school. Here are our 5 top things to consider - of course this list is not exhaustive, but there important points here worth considering.
1. Probability - where will you get in?
One of the most important things to consider when choosing which medical school to apply to is to ask yourself: “Where am I most likely to get in?” After 5 or 6 years you will become a doctor regardless of where you go, so it is best to choose a university where you definitely fit the selection criteria. Play to your strengths!
Look carefully at every medical school’s requirement for GCSE, A level, BMAT or UKCAT score (see 2), work experience etc. for interview selection and only apply where you meet all the criteria.
Many medical schools have a cut off BMAT or UKCAT score, or rank students by grades or UCAS points. Therefore it can help to compare your scores to those of previous cohorts to see where you stand. For UKCAT, you can find out which decile you are in for your cohort to get an idea of how good your score is: https://www.ukcat.ac.uk/sjtace/sjtace-results/test-statistics/
You most likely will choose at least one medical school that requires UKCAT, but think about whether you want to apply somewhere that looks at BMAT (i.e. Leeds, Imperial, UCL, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton and Sussex, Lancaster). If you know that your UKCAT score is high then choose universities that put a priority on this; similarly if your score is not good then its not the end of the world - some universities put less weighting on it and some do not look at it at all (e.g. Buckingham, or Cardiff only look at UKCAT in borderline cases)! You will not know your BMAT score until after your UCAS application is sent off, so before applying to BMAT requiring universities, look at practice papers and get an idea of how you will find the BMAT.
3. Interview structure
It can help to look at the university’s style of interview (group, MMI, panel) and interview success rate. If there is a certain style you prefer then you might be more inclined to choose that university.
4. Course structure
Look at the course structure- how many years is it? Is there an option to intercalate or is it mandatory? Look at the style of learning – Problem-Based Learning (PBL)/Case-Based learning versus Lectures and traditional teaching methods. Both have their own advantages - PBL might be better for students who prefer independent studying and are good at working in groups. Furthermore, medical schools may have slightly different syllabus (systems-based vs organ-based), and some use prosection to teach anatomy but others use dissection. This comes down to personal preference.
Do you want to be close to home or far away? Do you want a city (e.g. London) or campus (e.g. Nottingham) or collegiate university (e.g. Oxbridge, Durham). Both can have their benefits and drawbacks! But also, look at where hospital placements during the clinical phases might be. For example, at Nottingham you might be placed in other cities or towns such as Lincoln, Boston, Mansfield and nearby accommodation is given. In contrast, at St George’s, all hospital placements are within an hour’s journey so a daily commute is required.
Remember that as well as attending medical school you are attending university as a whole so it can help to look at general aspects such as the university’s facilities, accommodation, societies, nightlife etc.
For any help or advice in choosing a medical school, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and our tutors can help you where possible.