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Subject focus: studying Medicine in the UK

A guide to studying medicine in the UK for Nigerian students

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Admission to a course in medicine in the UK is highly competitive. Medical schools receive thousands of applications before the 15th of October deadline each year and interview only a few hundred between December and February. A limited number of offers are made and even fewer students get admitted. In order to gain access to a UK medical study programme Nigerian students must meet the academic requirements usually outlined in the section on entrance requirements and BMAT or another test depending on the school. Hotcourses Abroad explores key stages of an application and major success factors when applying to study medicine in Britain.


What do I need to qualify?

 

Each medical school lists the non-UK equivalent grades that it will accept from international applicants. There are two ways to find this information: on the UCAS website and on the individual medical schools websites. We recommend contacting UK NARIC who can help identify the non-UK equivalent grades and define whether you can be potentially accepted on a preferred course.

 

What are the university requirements in England, Scotland and Wales?

 

Medical schools in the UK are often part of a university and have strong links to medical practises and local hospitals. To choose a course in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you can look at the map of the UK Medical Schools Council. There are nuances when applying to each specific course in medicine in the UK but generally medical schools are looking for students who meet the criteria detailed below.

 

Undergraduate

 

Most of the UK undergraduate programmes in medicine (MBBS/BSc) will last 5-6 years and have the following requirements:

  • Three As at A-level, including chemistry or biology
  • GCSE or equivalent with the following subjects at GCSE level at grades AAABB or above (in any order): Biology (or Human Biology), Chemistry, English Language, Mathematics (or Additional Mathematics or Statistics), Physics
  • IB of 38 or IELTS score of no less than 6.5 across all four categories - reading, writing, speaking and listening – with an overall 7.0 score as the academic standard usually required for undergraduate medicine
  • All candidates applying to the six-year course must take the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) in the year of application in order to be considered for an interview
  • There is also a requirement to undergo health assessment, vaccinations and blood tests for the medical school details of which can be found on each institution’s website

Remember that the admissions department will also look at the following characteristics beyond the scores you present:

  • Motivation and understanding of medicine as a career
  • Community activities
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Extracurricular interests

 

Postgraduate

 

Most graduate programmes in the UK are 8-9 years long and will need the following criteria met:

  • BSc or PhD in a biological subject such as: Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Physiology, Bioengineering, Biomedical Science, Pharmacology
  • Full degree transcript
  • The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) - used as part of the selection process by a number of UK medical and dental schools to help choose top applicants
  • The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) - a subject-specific admissions test taken by applicants to certain medicine, veterinary medicine and other related courses
  • The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test GAMSAT
  • Successful career record is required for graduate medicine and work experience of one day a week for six months in a hospital, care home, hospice or other caring environment
  • Health assessment, vaccinations and blood tests       

 

How competitive is it?

 

The admission ratio to medical schools in the UK is at quite high, at least 10 applicants per spot. There are 33 undergraduate medical schools in the UK, all members of the Medical Schools Council. Each school admits a limited number of international non-EU students (up to 7.5% of the total entry). Postgraduate programmes have higher requirements and ask to demonstrate some career record and medical experience.

 

What will I gain?

 

Upon an undergraduate degree completion in medicine, you will receive your MBBS degree, which is a primary medical qualification (PMQ). PMQ entitles you to provisional registration with the General Medical Council, subject only to its acceptance that there are no Fitness to Practise concerns that need consideration. Graduates from medical schools enter diverse careers, including medical practice, biomedical research, the pharmaceutical industry, scientific journalism and healthcare management. Areas of expertise fall into the following general categories: Anaesthetics, General Practice, Medicine, Pathology, Psychiatry, Radiology, and Surgery.

 

How can I prepare?

 

Prior and during the interview process medical schools will assess your overall commitment, perseverance and initiative. The exact requirements differ between medical schools and courses. You are advised to check details with UCAS and the admissions department for the institution you wish to apply to. BMAT and IELTS will require solid preparation for achieving top scores.

 

Deadlines

 

The deadline for applying to study medicine in the UK in autumn 2016 is 15 October 2015. UCAS website has all current and future deadline information. Most medical schools will invite applicants for interviews between December and February and make offers after all their interviews are completed. Nigerian students are advised to start preparing a few years in advance which allows you to reach the required equivalent GSCE level results and test scores.

 

Good luck!

 

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About Author

Elena Sikorsky is an entrepreneur in e-commerce and digital marketing. She has degrees in Entrepreneurial Management and PR and Broadcast Journalism. Elena is a contributing writer on culture, art, education, fashion, business and travel in British and international media.

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