The outcome that all Medical Applicants fear, you’ve applied to Medicine, but you haven’t received any offers.

As you well know, Medicine is extremely competitive and unfortunately, quite a few people will be in your shoes. That’s not to say, however, that there’s no chance you’ll be starting Medical School though!

Clearing is the last option for students who remain unplaced in the UCAS cycle (for the non-admissions nerds out there, this means you haven’t gotten any offers, or you’ve rejected them). And even though Medicine is very competitive, in the past years, we have seen some Medical Schools go into Clearing.

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Wait, what’s Clearing?

Clearing is for students who didn’t get any offers from their original 5 UCAS choices, or who rejected those offers to apply to more university courses. Universities with empty spaces can advertise in Clearing to these students.

You might be thinking that Medicine is so oversubscribed that there just won’t be any empty spaces, so there’s no point looking at Clearing. You wouldn’t be wrong, but some Med Schools specifically hold places back for Clearing to hoover up strong candidates who’ve been unlucky with other schools. It’s an admissions strategy that works for them, but it does mean that, unlike other courses, Medicine in Clearing isn’t just looking for bums on seats.

Can I apply through Clearing?

Anyone who isn’t holding an offer and has paid the multiple application fee on UCAS (unless you only applied to one course originally, don’t worry, you have) is technically eligible for Clearing. To go into Clearing for Medicine, you will need to reject all your offers, including ‘backup’ Biomed-type offers.

But as said above, Medicine Clearing is still very competitive and unlike other courses desperate to get you in, Med Schools in Clearing will often have extra eligibility requirements – read on!

How do I know I’m eligible for a Clearing offer?

Medical Schools are just as competitive in Clearing as they are through regular entry. Requirements will differ between schools but some things are fairly standard:

No re-applicants from the same cycle:

Historically, Medical Schools in Clearing haven’t accepted applications from students who have applied and interviewed previously in the same cycle, as the assumption is that you would not pass the Clearing Interview.

Academic requirements:

Med Schools do not lower their academic standards in Clearing, so forget all the stories you’ve heard of a friend of a friend getting into an A*AA course with BBD – it won’t have been Medicine. You’ll be applying with results in hand, so check they meet the school’s academic requirements (A-levels, GCSEs or equivalent) or you’ll be wasting everyone’s time.

UCAT and BMAT:

Yeah, sorry, no getting away from these! In the interests of fairness, most Medical Schools will keep their UCAT and BMAT cutoffs the same as for standard entry and you will need to meet them. St George’s (SGUL), which is known for being in Clearing, handily puts theirs on their website so you can check before applying, as may other schools. And you can’t retake the tests for Clearing – you’re stuck with the score you achieved this cycle. You also can’t apply to a Medical School through Clearing if you haven’t already taken the entrance exam it requires.

Interviews:

No getting away from this either! Schools will still Interview you in Clearing, and if you don’t pass the Interview, they will not make you an offer.

Widening participation:

Some schools will put their Foundation Courses in Clearing and these will still have the same WP criteria for entry, such as being on free school meals. They may also be limited to students in a specific geographical area.

Cash reserves:

While Buckingham Medical School has basically always been in Clearing, it’s a private university and you’d have to self-fund your fees.

When do I go into Clearing?

Once A level results come out in August, you’ll be able to start contacting universities as soon as you know you have your results. You can then add a Clearing choice on Track from 2pm that day, but you must NEVER do this until you have a verbal or written offer from a university. As Medicine courses in Clearing still Interview, this would typically be a week later after your Interview.

If and only if you have your grades already, ‘Early Clearing’ opens in early July. Remember, universities can only make unconditional offers through Clearing, so they won’t accept applications until you have achieved grades.

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Should I apply through clearing?

This is a tricky one. In general, if you meet the academic requirements to apply, there’s no downside to having a go at Clearing for Medicine. After all, best-case scenario, you do get a place and suddenly this is a successful application cycle!

However, it’s really important not to assume you’ll get an offer in Clearing. SGUL had over 1500 applications for about 50 medicine Clearing places in 2020. You should never reject a Medicine offer to try and get a ‘better’ school in Clearing, since you’re really unlikely to succeed and you’ll end up kicking yourself. If you’re aiming for Medicine via Clearing, you need to have a solid plan B in case it doesn’t work.

Which Medical Schools offer clearing?

It’s impossible to say which Medical Schools will go into Clearing before they do – sadly we here at 6med haven’t yet mastered the art of seeing the future. There were 3 Medical Schools in Clearing in 2021.

st-georges-medical-school
St.George's Hospital - Photo © Peter Trimming (cc-by-sa/2.0)

St George’s (SGUL) was in Clearing for students who achieved non-degree results, but that doesn’t mean they still had Medicine places available on results day, unfortunately. Last year SGUL filled all their places before results day and didn’t accept any school leavers through Clearing. They were in Clearing for graduates for a few days in 2021 but have since filled all their spaces as they have a 25% cap on the number of graduates on the A100 course.

buckingham-university-medical-school
University of Buckingham - Photo © Nigel Cox (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Buckingham University was also in Clearing for Medicine, but as previously mentioned, they are a private university and you have to self-fund the fees.

uclan-medical-school
University of Central Lancashire - Photo © JThomas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Finally, the University of Central Lancashire was in Clearing for their Medicine with a Foundation Year course, but they only accepted UK students who live in the North-West of England or International students.

You can easily search for courses in Clearing on UCAS’s website here, but be wary! Searching for “Medicine” will often bring up unrelated courses like Medical Sciences that don’t lead to professional registration as a doctor. It can often be more reliable to check on universities’ websites or by phoning or emailing admissions teams directly.

Schools that have been in Clearing

Med Schools that were in UCAS Clearing 2020:

Med Schools that were in UCAS Clearing 2019 (note that this was pre-COVID and the surge of applicants):

Remember, however, that a school having been in Clearing does not guarantee that it will or won’t be in Clearing in the current year. If you’re interested in a particular school, it pays to check on their website or get in touch with them, and some schools, such as Imperial and UCL, state that they will never enter Clearing for any course.

Some schools also have Clearing newsletters or “expression of interest” forms where you can sign up to hear if they have Medicine places in Clearing on results day, so it’s worth checking websites for these.

How many Clearing places are there?

The number of Clearing places available really depends on each Medical School. SGUL typically keeps around 50 places in reserve but most schools will only have 5-10 places in Clearing and may get hundreds or thousands of Medical applicants.

If you want to know how many places a specific school has in Clearing, your best bet is likely to contact admissions or make a Freedom of Information request to the university.

How do I apply for Clearing?

You will automatically be in Clearing if you’re not holding any offers on results day, or if you self-release into Clearing by rejecting your offers. You’ll get a Clearing number and be able to add one Clearing choice at a time on UCAS track – but remember that you should only do this when they’ve made you an offer, and it doesn’t mean you can’t apply to multiple courses!

To apply to specific courses in Clearing, first check university websites as some, like SGUL, operate digital-only Clearing where you complete an online form and wait to hear if you’ve been invited to Interview. Otherwise, phone the university’s Clearing line ASAP.

Lines are often really busy so plan in advance and enlist everyone in your house to use their phones to call up different universities. You might be on hold for ages, so you need more than one phone! Universities will only talk to you over the phone for confidentiality reasons, however, so you can’t ask parents, carers or friends to answer for you. Clearing Interview slots are often limited and phoning quickly can mean you don’t miss out.

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What should I expect when I’m in Clearing?

If you’re applying to Clearing on Results Day, expect a really busy time once you have your results! You’ll be phoning up universities and filling in their forms to apply to Clearing – make sure you have all the information you’ll need to hand, like your results including GCSEs, UCAT or BMAT score, Clearing number and contact details. Over the summer, you’ll have been checking university websites to see if they plan to go into Clearing and any phone numbers or forms you’ll need so you should be able to start phoning up ASAP once you know you have your grades.

Once you’ve phoned up or applied online and have confirmation that the university has received your application, you’ll need to wait to hear if you have an Interview. Typically, you’ll hear back in 24 – 48hrs. As such, if you’re reading this before results day and anticipating going into Clearing, make sure to practice your Interview skills in case you get an Interview: failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

Should you be selected for Interview, the university will send you more information. The Interview will have a quick turnaround so keep the days after results day free so you can make your slot. With COVID, Interviews will likely be online (either pre-recorded or not) but in previous years, candidates were given a few days’ notice to get to the university!

When you’ve done your Interview, you’ll hear back from the Med School within a few days and hopefully, it’ll be good news! Then, they’ll let you know about any DBS or health checks you need to do and get you sorted with accommodation and the other hundred and one things you’ll need as a medical student.

What are the alternatives to Clearing?

If you don’t want to go through Clearing, or are thinking about what your backup plan is, there are four main alternative options if you’re a school leaver:

1

Take a gap year and reapply to Medicine

This is almost always your best option unless there’s a serious reason you won’t be eligible for UK Medical courses, like being unlikely to get the A-level grades on a resit. Around 20 Med Schools accept resat A-levels and you can focus on your application without worrying about school, helping you to target any areas of weakness. Plus, you can use your gap year to work in healthcare and get even more work experience and some Med Schools like Leicester favour applicants with achieved grades. While this can be disheartening, one year isn’t that long when you consider the length of a career in Medicine and it’s a great opportunity to improve your application.

2

Begin another degree to transfer to Medicine or then pursue Graduate Entry Medicine

These options can’t, in good faith, be generally recommended because they will be more expensive and more competitive than taking a gap year – you’re effectively postponing the competition for a few years and spending your student loans in the process. However, if you feel that the required grades at A-level or equivalent aren’t going to happen, or there’s some other reason you don’t feel a gap year would allow you to meet medical entry requirements, these can be a way to show your academic ability and gain skills before applying. But getting a first or 2.1, or high enough grades to transfer, is easier said than done!

3

Study Medicine abroad

With Medicine, it’s usually best to study where you want to work to avoid tricky exams further down the line when you want to come home. And you won’t be eligible for loans. However, if you can afford it and feel that a gap year and reapplication isn’t an option for your personal reasons, or it hasn’t worked out before, it can be worth considering medical courses taught in English abroad. You can check out some of these courses here.

4

There are lots of amazing allied healthcare professions with their own pros and cons compared to Medicine if you’re thinking of other options. If this is you, make sure that you’ve considered your decision carefully and are properly happy with your chosen alternative career or degree – it will be much harder to come back to Medicine later as a graduate.

All in all, Clearing for Medicine is a slim chance of getting into Medical School, but it’s better than nothing and there’s a lot you can do to boost your chances. If you’re applying through Clearing, good luck! We’ve got our fingers crossed for you.

Reapplying for Medicine next year? Give yourself the best chance of Med School Offer Success.

The 6med Complete Bundle puts all of our bundles together. You’ll get a place on five of our Crash Courses, Personal Statement re-drafts, mock interviews, Personal Statement, BMAT, UCAT and Interview Online Courses, access to BMAT & UCAT.Ninja™, BMAT essay marking and all of our critically acclaimed workbooks as e-books. To find out more, click the button below. This massive bundle is quite literally all you need for your Medicine application…

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By Cate Goldwater Breheny 

2021-11-05T12:08:06+00:00Deciding to Apply|Comments Off on Guide To Applying To Medicine Through Clearing

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