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Advice on How to Apply for Medical School

I am sometimes asked by friends for advice on entry to medical school. Entry to medical school is very competitive with around 11 people applying for each place in 2013 - and it seems to be getting more competitive. All medical schools have slightly different methods of selecting medical students but the selection process usually involves: 
1. Academic achievements (i.e. GSCE, AS Level, A Level grades)
2. UKCAT or BMAT score
3. Personal statement
4. Interview
The first thing to say is that the academic achievements are the most important. If you don’t get the required grades, then you won’t get an offer no matter how spectacular your personal statement or work experience might be. For example, the medical course at Imperial College London requires 3 grade A results at A level. Hence, it’s important to have good GSCE and AS results when you come to apply so that you get an offer from a medical school on the assumption you will perform well at A level.
Most universities also have an assessment exam – usually UKCAT or BMAT. You can improve your performance by preparing for the exam (there are various guide books available) or going on a course. You generally have to perform well in this exam to get called for an interview and get an offer.
With regards to the personal statement and interview, you need to be able to talk plausibly and convincingly about your work experience, your reasons for applying for medicine, and your understanding of what being a doctor involves. Any kind of work experience in a healthcare environment will suffice – for example in a GP surgery, hospital, pharmacy or nursing home. You need to be able to reflect on what you learned during your work experience rather than just give a factual account.
Some medical school student societies run courses for people who want to apply for medical school. There may be a course in your local medical school. It would also be worthwhile signing up with a national medical student society such as Medsin to receive their newsletter – see http://medsin.org/about
You can also find various articles about careers in medicine at http://careers.bmj.com/
There are also some websites that provide advice on applying for a place at medical school:
Finally, the student BMJ also offers advice but a subscription is required to access the articles.

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