UK Medical School Entry Requirements
Hong Kong IB and A-Level students applying to study medicine in the UK at one of the top medical schools should have at least 36 points and 666 in Higher Level (HL) or AAA. University of Cambridge requires at least 40 points and 776 in HL or A*A*A. University of Oxford, UCL (University College London), King’s College London, University of Edinburgh, Cardiff University, University of Manchester expect 766, while Oxford, UCL, King’s, Lancaster, Queen’s University Belfast, Imperial, Exeter, and Plymouth expect A*AA. Most of the med schools require Chemistry and Biology, however some medical programmes require Chemistry and at least one other science subject like Biology, Mathematics, or Physics. Newcastle, Imperial, Sheffield, and Queen Mary will accept Biology. Most med schools will not accept General Studies, the Extended Project Qualification, or when Human Biology is paired with Biology or when Maths is paired with Further Maths.
UK medical schools begin holding their open days as early April (Anglia Ruskin, Buckingham, Cardiff, Plymouth, and St Andrews) and as late as November (Buckingham, Edge Hill, Keele, and Lincoln), but most are in June and July. Some of the open days are medicine specific (Oxford), while some are university wide (Cambridge). Some have virtual open days (Brighton and Sussex, Kent). Registration begins to open in February and is required by all universities.
Recommended Reading List
When choosing a University, College, or Medical School, applicants should make choices based on their passions and interests, and find professors who are leaders in these fields. This will make a huge impact on the Personal Statement and Interviews. For inspiration, med school applicants should read as many of these books as possible on the Oxford Medicine School Introductory Reading List and the list of other universities and colleges:
- Bad Doctor
- Bad Science
- Blood of the Isles
- Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
- Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science
- Conversations with Neil’s Brain
- Do No Harm
- Elegance in Science, I Contain Multitudes: Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
- Emperor of all Maladies: a Biography of Cancer
- Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology
- Essential Cell Biology
- How We Live
- How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter Knife’s Edge
- Lady Doctor
- Learning Medicine
- Life at the Extremes
- Logic of Life
- Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
- Microbe Hunters, One in Three
- Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine
- This is Going to Hurt
- When Breath Becomes Air
- Your Life in My Hands
When writing your medical school personal statement, you need to give the selection committee excellent reasons why they should choose you above all the other applicants. They want to know what makes you special, so you should describe in great detail all the amazing things that you have done that you believe will make you a great doctor. You should include medical related internships, volunteer work, courses, clubs, and books that you have read; and explain how these have developed your empathy, honesty, integrity, ethics, motivation, determination, diligence, communication, team working, critical thinking, problem solving, and intellectual curiosity. If you do not know what these words mean, then you really need to find out as soon as possible.
We highly recommend that all applicants take one of the first aid courses offered by Hong Kong St John Ambulance or Hong Kong Red Cross and begin volunteering once a week with the Hong Kong St John Ambulance Brigade or Hong Kong Red Cross Volunteering for Humanity. If you cannot arrange a medical related internship at a hospital or clinic, you may consider taking one of the summer programmes for secondary or high school students that are run by the universities. In Hong Kong, HKU and CUHK have excellent programmes. The US also has many outstanding courses that will help improve any personal statement: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, NYU, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Washington in St Louis, Duke, Washington, Pittsburgh, Michigan, and Northwestern. Most of the courses held on the campuses of Oxford and Cambridge are privately run and do not have any official endorsement by the universities. Cambridge does have one endorsed course, as do these other UK universities: Kings, Imperial, UCL, Sunderland, Manchester, St Andrews, Exeter, Glasgow, Warwick, Bristol, Cardiff, and Swansea. If these courses are not available, you may consider the free online courses offer by edX: Harvard, HKU, Stanford, MIT, Penn, Columbia, Brown, and Imperial; especially the ones about Ethics and Medicine, which will be very helpful for the BMAT Thinking Skills Section and Essay and UCAT Situational Judgement Section. Certificates for successful edX course completion are awarded for a low course fee.
Finally and most importantly, you should target the universities and professors, who are the leaders in the field of medicine that you wish to study, by reading all of their publications, visiting their websites, watching their youtube videos, listening to their podcasts, and emailing your questions to them directly.
In our opinion, the interview is by far the most important factor. Many students are invited for the interview, but on average, less than 20% are offered a place. To improve your chances as a UK medical school applicant, you should start thinking like a doctor today. You should always ask yourself, “What would a doctor do in this situation?” If you are not sure, you should read as many books on the IST UK Medical School Reading List and books about the UK Medical School Interviews. You should also visit the General Medical Council website, especially the Ethical Guidance section, and the Medical Council of Hong Kong’s Code of Professional Conduct. In addition, you should also ask all of the doctors you know for advice. Most will be happy to share their knowledge and experience. Furthermore, you should immerse yourself in the readings, videos, and podcasts of the professors, who will be interviewing you.