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Update on medical school admissions, 6th August 2021

Once again as results week approaches it is medical school admissions that are grabbing the headlines with stories of universities that are facing oversubscribed courses, students being incentivised to defer and even being asked to move medical school at the last minute. As was to be expected there are no places for home or international students in Clearing at UK medical schools this year.

If you have a place for this year- congratulations. It does seem that at most university medical schools that everyone who has met their offers will be able to join in the usual way.

For the most up to date information on medical school entry this year please see this useful article from our Dukes Education partners at The Medic Portal.

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How will Medical School entry in 2020 be affected by Covid 19 and Coronavirus?

How will medical schools look at calculated grades this year?

The following was announced by UCAS on Tuesday 5th May 2020.

The Medical Schools Council have confirmed that “medical schools will treat the grades awarded to you this year in the same way as qualifications awarded in any other year.”

All medical schools are obliged to fulfill and conform to the UCAS rules in relation to applications. So,“if you meet the conditions of your offer you will have a place at medical school.”

The Medical Schools Council have stated that the “impact of these issues on medical admissions is unclear but medical schools are actively engaging in these discussions and are working hard to develop solutions that are fair to applicants.”

It is advised that all students check with medical schools they have gained an offer with via each school's website.

What will happen if I miss my offer this year?
If your assessed grades miss your offer, you can opt to sit any subjects you missed in the autumn (details of these exams have not been published yet).

What if too many students meet their offers this year due to predicted grades? There is a chance that, with the assessed grades, more candidates will meet their offer than there are places available. If this happens, Medical schools have a few options:

  • Increase the number of places – this is unlikely as they probably do not have the resources to be able to do this
  • Look at all those who achieved their offer then go back to their performance in other selection measures, such as UCAT, BMAT, interview, and possibly even GCSEs to select the strongest offer holders
  • If they have to then cut the numbers down, they may ask some applicants to defer by a year and start in 2021
  • If you do start this September, there is a chance that some/all of the learning initially will be online. This will depend on the progress made in controlling Covid-19
  • Remember, the NHS needs even more doctors than usual, so even if you don’t get there this year, it is worth having another go next year.
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How will Covid-19 affect those applying to medical school this autumn for 2021 entry?

  • Be strategic with which schools you apply to as there may be some knock-on effect on next year’s A Levels. If your GCSEs are good, apply for Medical schools that put a lot of weight on GCSE grades; if you do not score very well on UCAT, apply for those that had lower cut off scores for this year’s applicants
  • It is likely that the Medical schools will put more weight on performance in UCAT/BMAT as they are aware of the interruption in year 12 learning, so do lots of preparation work for whichever test you are doing. The better you perform on the selection test, the more likely you are to be selected for interview. This year, many medical schools had high cut-off scores for UCAT – it is expected that next year will be the same, or possibly even higher
  • UCAT – bookings for this usually start in May, but the window will not open in May this year. There are a few options being considered for UCAT: push the start date for UCAT bookings and tests back, so there will be a shorter time window for candidates to sit this; convert the test to remote access so that candidates can sit it at home (this would need strict security measures)
  • BMAT – currently, it is thought there will be no change to this, so there will be sittings in September and November. If it has to change, the most likely option is that all candidates will sit BMAT on November 4th (the second sitting)
  • UCAS deadline – there is a very small chance that the deadline for medical applicants may be changed to a later date this year; however, this is unlikely
  • Work experience – the medical schools understand that the current situation is making it even harder than usual to get hospital/GP work experience, so there are various options you can explore:
  • Any work experience you have where you can show that you worked with people, eg, shop, café, childcare, volunteering, can be used. Ensure that you emphasise the skills this work experience developed that are relevant to working as a doctor
  • Virtual work experience – Brighton medical school has developed a virtual work experience platform online.
  • Talk to any doctors/medical students you know to find out what life as a doctor/medical student is really like – ask family and friends for contacts
  • Continue to read lots of medicine-related books.
  • Make sure your personal statement has lots of evidence to show your determination and potential to be a doctor, and what you have done to ensure that you are as well informed as possible about what this career entails
  • Keep up to date with the news about Covid-19 and all other medical issues. At interview, there will definitely be questions about Covid-19; these may be to do with current affairs (different countries had different approaches to the pandemic – were some countries more successful in keeping it under control than others and what can we learn from this?), ethics (who should be treated in intensive care/given a ventilator, and which patients should be given palliative care as they are unlikely to recover), data (what can we learn from the numbers, are the numbers accurate), stress management (the effects of lockdown on mental health – have lessons been learnt?

MOST IMPORTANTLY – keep working hard for the A Level grades; prepare for UCAT/BMAT as well as you can and keep up to date with developments in medicine

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