“What are your five UCAS choices?” As October approaches, this question becomes the most common topic among Year 13 students. For those considering medicine as a degree, they would then explain to their friends that they don’t have a fifth choice, because they are only allowed to pick four medical schools. Yet, do they really have no choice?
When I applied to medical school, a lot of my friends kept the fifth choice blank, because they were certain that medicine was what they were after. Whilst this choice is backed by a good intention (persevering with things you want the most and not simply giving up because it is difficult), I would strongly recommend making a fifth UCAS choice.
Let me detail the reasons below:
- Usually, the fifth choice of degree (i.e. not medicine) has a lower grade requirement. If, unfortunately, you missed your medicine offer by a bit, you still have this degree.
- It prevents over-reliance on your UCAT and BMAT results, which, let’s face it, could sometimes go wrong.
- You can always do medicine as a graduate degree after studying some medical-related degrees. You may even find yourself thinking with a more mature mindset and in a more creative, multi-dimensional way, which is highly desirable in the medical field nowadays.
- The fifth choice usually gives out offers way earlier than the medicine offers, as they do not require interviews. Speaking from my past experience, having an offer at hand is a big boost of confidence. Furthermore, it gives a sense of security.
- For most universities, it is not required to write a separate personal statement, as most of them understand the situation that you face. So, another way of thinking is: I have spent so long trying to perfect my personal statement, why not use it to apply to something else, just to give myself another shot at a university place?
Tempted by the fifth UCAS choice now? If so, let me give you a list of the possible medical-related courses that are most popular among students:
- Biomedical sciences
- human physiology
- Medical physics
- Medicinal chemistry
- Public health
Note 1: I don’t particularly suggest applying to dentistry or pharmacy, as they are also extremely competitive. So it will be harder to get an offer for these courses.
Note 2: The names of the courses will be slightly different depending on the university, but they generally teach similar concepts / topics. However, it is important to check the structure of the course on the university’s website before you apply.
If you still don’t see the benefits of the fifth UCAS choice, and would prefer taking a gap year if unfortunately you didn’t get a medicine offer, that will also be brilliant. Whatever the path you take, it is important to remember that not getting a medicine offer is not the end of the world. There are many paths awaiting you (as detailed in our team’s “Road to medicine” articles). Never give up!