Medical School Admission – myths vs reality

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When you are looking for information on medical admissions – how it works, when to apply, what to do and what not to do… you will come across a lot of misinformation that has been doing the rounds for so long that nobody is quite sure anymore whether the information is right or wrong. We’ve put together some of the more common myths along with the right facts for each.

Weighing a new born after delivery in Tanzania Myths Surrounding Choice Of Subject

  • You have to do Physics and Biology at A Level to study medicine
  • You need to do Chemistry to A2
  • You have to do maths if you want to get admission to med school
  • You need more than 3 A levels
  • You need to have done a science degree to get into graduate medicine
  • Doing all science streams at A Level will give you the competitive edge

As you can see there are several myths and variations of the myths when it comes to subjects and grades that will get you admission into medical school.

The truth is, for some courses you will require a science degree but there are quite a few graduate programs that will accept any degree. Check out the admission requirements for each medical school individually and you will find that no matter what you’ve studied or what grades you’ve got, there will be quite a list of med schools that you will qualify to apply to.  

Myths Surrounding Grades

  • If you get outstanding grades, you will not be immediately accepted by any medical school that you apply to.
  • Medical schools do not allow you to re-sit modules

This is not true at all. Year after year, lots of students with the most amazing grades find their application rejected by all of the top med schools. This is because med school authorities look for more than just academic grades. They look for students who show a true passion and zeal for medicine. There are plenty of little things that the school authorities will look at that go beyond the words you’ve written in your application. They will want to see if you’ve done a medical placement or spent time as a volunteer at any healthcare establishment or if you’ve done any doctor shadowing to get a feel of the profession. These are the things that count. An applicant with mediocre grades but who has had experience with any of the above will always be given preference to applicants with fantastic grades but none of the above.

Moreover, most medical schools have no problem with you re-sitting individual modules during years 12 and 13. The only stipulation is that you complete the A levels within 2 years.

Myths Surrounding Work Experience

  • The longer your work experience, the better. It does not matter where you gained that experience.

When the admissions authorities look at the work experience section, they do not look for how the ‘quantity’ of work experience. To them what matters is the quality. They will look for what you learnt from your work experience rather than how many weeks or months you spent at any particular work. You could learn more from a 2 week medical placement in a developing country than you would over a 2 month volunteering stint at a neighbourhood healthcare facility.   

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