When you miss the mark on your medicine application, it can be tough to not give up. If you worked hard and still fell short, your first instinct may be that medicine just isn’t for you and that it was never meant to be. However, this doesn’t have to be the end if you don’t want it to be. If you really believe that medicine is the right path for you, you have the option to try again in the next admissions cycle or explore different avenues of medicine.
Whether you’ve already made the decision to have another go at your application or you’re unsure of what the right path is for you, we’ve developed this guide to help anyone who may be going through this process to understand what they need to do and how they can ensure success. It’s not an easy process, but it will be worth it when you’re holding that offer letter in your hands, so let’s get straight into it, starting with the big question…
Can you Reapply to Medical School?
Yes, you absolutely can! However, it’s not as simple as you may assume. Each medical school is different in its admissions process and the same is true of their reapplication processes. Some have limits to the number of times you can apply while others will not accept students who previously studied or withdrew from a medicine course.
The first thing that is super important to bear in mind is that not all medical schools in the UK accept reapplications, and those that do may have limitations and conditions that prevent you from reapplying. There are certainly more medical schools that do accept reapplications than not but you still need to know where you can and can’t apply:
Which Medical Schools Accept Reapplications?
The following table shows all of the medical schools that accept reapplications, along with any conditions that may affect your suitability:
|University of Aberdeen||None|
|Barts Medical School (Queen Mary)||Bart’s does not accept applications from students who have previously withdrawn from a medicine degree.|
|University of Birmingham||Birmingham does not consider applicants who were rejected at the interview stage in a previous exam cycle.|
|University of Bristol||None|
|University of Buckingham||Buckingham does not consider applicants who were previously enrolled on a medicine course.|
|University of Cambridge||Cambridge does not explicitly state any limitations but recommends that those wishing to reapply request feedback from their previous application.|
|University of East Anglia (UEA)||East Anglia only allows reapplications for two consecutive years.|
|Edge Hill University||Edge Hill does not offer deferred places, so anyone unable to study on the year they applied will need to reapply.|
|University of Glasgow||None|
|Hull York Medical School||None|
|Kent and Medway Medical School||None|
|King’s College London (KCL)||None|
|Lancaster University||Lancaster does not accept any applicants who were previously rejected at the interview stage.|
|University of Leeds||None|
|University of Leicester||Leicester does not consider applicants who did not attend their previous interview without cause or applicants who scored below 10% of the required interview score.|
|University of Lincoln||Lincoln allow a maximum of three interviews. After your second attempt, you must wait three years before reapplying. Lincoln also does not allow applicants who had previously studied medicine or applicants with serious reservations noted in their previous applications.|
|University of Liverpool||None|
|University of Manchester||Manchester only allow one reapplication per student, you must notify them of your reapplication before submission.|
|University of Nottingham||Nottingham allow a maximum of three interviews. After your second attempt, you must wait three years before reapplying. Lincoln also does not allow applicants who had previously studied medicine or applicants with serious reservations noted in their previous applications.|
|University of Oxford||Although not prohibited, Oxford recommends not to apply to the same college as your previous attempt as it will be harder to be admitted.|
|University of Southampton||None|
|University of St. Andrews||None|
|St. George’s, University of London||Unsuccessful applicants of St. George’s can only apply for a course different to one they had previously applied for. The admissions team must be informed of your previous admissions attempt or any previous studies.|
|University of Sunderland:||Sunderland has stated that reapplications will be treated as if they were the first, meaning there is no consideration for previous failed attempts.|
|University College London (UCL)||None|
Of the universities that aren’t included in the list, only a few of them have explicitly stated that they don’t accept reapplications:
The remaining universities do not explicitly state if they accept reapplications or not, so be sure to contact them directly if you are considering reapplying to the following medical schools:
As for the universities that do accept reapplications, there are a few other questions you may have concerning the reapplication process:
How many times can I reapply to medical school?
Unless explicitly stated by the university, there isn’t a specific limit on how many times you can apply for a medicine course. However, excessive reapplication at the same university will likely not increase your chances of success and may impact your personal and professional life if you continue to dedicate time to reapplications for more than two or three years.
Do I need to resit my admissions tests when I reapply?
Yes. None of your results from previous exam cycles are considered during your new application, so you will need to resit the BMAT, UCAT or any other admissions test that is required.
Can I use the same personal statement in my reapplication?
According to UCAS, there are no rules against reusing your personal statement when reapplying for medicine (or any other subject). However, in most cases, it is not recommended to do this as you should be doing everything possible to improve your application. Even if you have received feedback stating that your personal statement was strong, you should still aim to make improvements to your statement to better reflect yourself as an applicant.
So now that we’ve established that you’re able to reapply for medical school under most circumstances, it’s time to consider if it’s the right decision for you.
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Should I Reapply to Medical School?
This is a question that doesn’t have an objective answer, as everyone’s circumstances are different. Some people may be in a position where they should definitely reapply, while others may need to consider their options more carefully. Either way, there are a few things you should understand before deciding:
Is it Bad to Reapply to Medical School?
Absolutely not! For the last ten years, UCAS has recorded that thousands of applications they received were from people who had previously applied for medicine (or medical adjacent courses). This number has only grown in recent years, with 5,710 reapplications recorded for 2022 entry.
UCAS Medicine First-Time Applications vs Reapplications (2013 - 2022)
|Year of Entry||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022|
This data shows that while reapplications were rising at a similar level to applications as a whole, 2022 marked a sudden, disproportionate increase in medicine applications at the same time that first-time applications dropped. It remains to be seen if this trend continues into 2023.
As we already know, some universities do not accept reapplications and some have limitations that may make the process harder, but the majority of applicants shouldn’t face any kind of negative bias against them when going through the process of reapplication. In a worst-case scenario, you will need to be ready to explain why your previous application was unsuccessful and how you’ve worked to improve yourself as a viable candidate.
Is it Worth Reapplying to Medical School?
Once again, this isn’t an easy question to answer as there a several factors that need to be considered. Firstly, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to put in the work necessary to improve your application and ensure that you make yourself a candidate that deserves an offer.
If you did well with your personal statement and admissions test, it may be tempting to just submit the same statement as last time and not worry about preparation. However, just because you were close last time it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get to that same stage on your second try. Standards of personal statements can change and your ability to complete admissions tests well will fade if you don’t properly practice. Therefore, if you don’t intend on putting the work in to succeed then it may not be worth going through the process at all. You’re very unlikely to see a different result if you do the same thing as last time!
However, there are factors out of your control that could make reapplying a bad idea, right? We’ve already established that more and more people are reapplying each year, but are any of them actually successful? While there are no official statistics available regarding the offer status of applicants, various sources have stated that more people find success on their second go than you may think. With the extra year of work and experience supporting them, as well as the lack of negative bias at most medical schools, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a good amount of applicants find success! And if you’re worried about the ever-increasing amount of competition, that’s where hard work and additional support/resources will be important.
Even with the extra work you put in, the last thing that may be difficult to overcome is the self-doubt. “I didn’t get in last time, so why would this time be any different?” you may ask yourself. The answer is that this time around, you are fully aware of the challenges you face and the work you need to do to overcome them. It’s incredibly easy to make a mistake on your first attempt as you’ve likely never had firsthand experience of a process like this, but this time you do! Use what you learnt from last time to perfect your application and boost your confidence!
To circle back to the question, yes, it is definitely worth reapplying for medical school if you have the determination and drive to work for your success.
How Can I Improve my Medical School Application?
By this point, you have now decided or are leaning towards reapplying for medicine! So the next step is to determine exactly how you can ensure your success by fine-tuning your application at every step of the process.
Get Feedback from your Application
If your application has been rejected, you should always request to get feedback on your application, even if you haven’t thought about reapplying yet. Most medical schools should provide you with some sort of explanation as to why your application was rejected, although you will have to request to receive it as it doesn’t come automatically in most cases.
This feedback, no matter how basic it may be, will be the foundation for your next application, as you will know what areas you need to improve and how you could go about doing so. Even if you’re not reapplying, the insight into what went wrong will still be useful to increase your chances of success in your future endeavours.
Rethink your Medical School Choices
When reapplying, you don’t have to stick with the same options as last time. There are multiple reasons why you may want to consider choosing at least a couple of different medical schools to apply to:
- One of your original choices may not accept reapplications.
- You may wish to apply to a medical school with lower entry standards, such as a lower admissions test threshold/average score or a lower grade requirement.
- A university you applied for may have fallen in the medical school rankings.
- Your personal preferences for location or teaching style may have changed.
No matter the reason, mixing up your chosen universities could give you a much better chance at an offer for at least one.
Take Part in Extra Work Experience
Since you were unable to attend university this year, you will now have almost a full year to wait before you can reapply. There are lots of ways to use this time wisely, with one of the most impactful being work experience. You should’ve taken part in work experience last time as well, but now is your chance to get an advantage over the competition with additional placements. Aim for a variety of different types of work experience in order to provide even more meaningful content for your personal statement and seek to learn as much as you can from each placement you attend.
Rewrite or Edit your Personal Statement
Your personal statement may have been successful in the first stage of the application process previously, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was up to the standard of successful applicants. Your statement is used throughout many parts of the application process, from the review of your admissions test results to your interview and the final decision. Your personal statement may have been the factor that caused the admissions team to reject your application, so you should definitely seek to improve it in some way.
In some cases, your statement may need to be rewritten from the ground up. Not everyone gets it right the first time but that doesn’t mean you’re bad at writing. Writing a personal statement requires skills separate from most forms of writing you will be used to at this stage, and it can be difficult to teach yourself those skills. To give yourself a better understanding of how to write a personal statement, you should seek out additional resources that explain the process better. This could include free guides and example statements, or you could seek out more in-depth resources, such as intensive courses or workbooks.
It may be that your personal statement is already very good, so you shouldn’t seek to fix what isn’t broken. However, there are almost always small tweaks you could make to make things even better. Of course, it would impossible to find the perfect combination of words but dodgy grammar or unnatural pacing can negatively impact the reading experience. We would recommend looking up some personal statement tips and analysing your work to see if it has all of the features and techniques suggested.
Most importantly, you need to ensure someone non-biased has read your statement before you submit it. When you’re spending hours staring at the same piece of writing, it’s hard to stay objective when assessing it. Giving it to a fresh pair of eyes, whether it’s a peer, mentor or even an essay redrafting service, will give you a new perspective on your work, as well as plenty of actionable feedback.
Properly Prepare for your Admissions Tests
Whether it’s the UCAT, BMAT or GAMSAT or any other test you’re required to sit, you should ensure that you prepare seriously for it, as if it were the first time you were sitting it (it may well be in some cases!). If you got a good score last time, you may enter this admissions cycle with a sense of confidence, or over-confidence perhaps. Think about why it was you did well last time. Did you spend hours upon hours revising last time? If so, while you may not need to do quite as much (depending on how much of the knowledge you’ve retained), it’s still important to spend a good amount of time working through practice questions and mock exams. Don’t rely on luck or “natural ability” to get you through. Even if it work last time, that’s not the attitude that successful applicants have when it comes to the admissions process.
What about if you didn’t do well in the admissions test last time? Again, think back to how you prepared for the test and how it may have affected your performance. Did you only spend a few hours or less preparing? Then the answer is obvious; plan your preparation and dedicate a lot more time to it! If you’re struggling to do this by yourself, there is plenty of additional support available for both the UCAT and BMAT. Question banks are a must-have but intensive and online courses can also be extremely beneficial as they provide a structured curriculum developed by experts!
Much of this is also true if you did spend a lot of time preparing for your exams. Remember that spending a long time on something doesn’t always equate to success. It may be that you weren’t focusing your attention on the correct places, so you should be sure to do more research into how to create an effective UCAT or BMAT preparation plan.
Practice for your Interviews
This one seems obvious but it’s something that many people don’t do enough of. Interview practice is the most difficult thing to organise as you need to have at least one other person available who can give insightful feedback on your performance (potentially even more for MMI practice). Missing out on this may have been the cause for your rejection before, so you should aim to take part in at least one mock interview before the real thing.
If it really isn’t possible to find someone you know who can work with you, then there are other options available. Specifically, interview tuition (such as 6med’s Super Sensei tuition) would be ideal to help you boost your confidence in time for the big day. Not only will you be able to have mock interviews with an expert tutor who has firsthand experience in successfully completing admissions interviews, but they will also be able to teach you the techniques that successful applicants use to impress their interviewers.
Beyond mock interviews, it is still very helpful to research effective interview techniques or even be guided through everything you need to know within an expert course. Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to go into your interviews with a sense of confidence and understanding.
Make Yourself as Competitive as Possible
With the number of medicine applicants growing each year, the chances of success for an average applicant are getting worse each admissions cycle. It may be that even though you worked hard on each aspect of the application, you narrowly missed the mark and didn’t get your offer. To put it bluntly, the universities likely saw that other applications were more competitive and more viable than yours, even though yours was still good.
With how competitive it now is to gain a place at medical school, the only option is to do everything you can to make your application as appealing as possible. Good grades, or even exceptional grades, are no longer a mark of distinction but a requirement for all applicants, so the success of your application relies on everything else. All of the tips above are necessary components to your application that you will have to engineer to be as high-quality as possible to stand out from the competition. If you’re able to do all of that, then it will be evidence to the world that you really are one of the best!
What can I do Besides Reapplying?
After reading all this, you may find the idea of reapplying less appealing than you did before, or you may just want to think about the other available options. Not attending medical school right now isn’t the end of the world and you will still have options to do so as a graduate or a mature student. If reapplying to medical school right now isn’t a viable option, there are other options instead:
Apply for a Different Course
While you may have had a realisation that medicine isn’t for you, you may still want to take part in higher education. This is, of course, absolutely possible, providing you’re applying for something your current qualification would be valid for. Some would consider this as reapplying, but we’ve decided to treat it as a separate option as you won’t be applying for the same course.
With that being said though, it doesn’t mean you can’t apply for something similar. It may be that your change in direction isn’t a complete U-turn, as there are plenty of medicine-adjacent courses available that you may have more success in. Just a couple of examples are Veterinary Medicine and Medical Biosciences, both of which have similarities with medicine while still being unique.
The further you stray from medicine though, the more difficult you may find it to be viable for a place. There are plenty of degrees that don’t require qualifications in specific subjects, but courses at more prestige universities like Oxford or Cambridge will be just as competitive as most medical schools, especially in popular subjects like Law and Economics. Be sure to do your research and understand the requirements for the subjects you’re considering to ensure you would have a good chance of being accepted.
Enter the Workforce
Since your application was rejected, you may decide that you don’t want to wait around to try again and would rather get straight to work. It’s important to bear in mind that by going this route, you won’t have the chance to become a medical professional in the traditional sense (unless you later can attend medical school). Nurses, doctors and other medical roles all require some form of medical qualification, so you won’t be getting a job in a hospital any time soon.
If you’re looking to work close to the medical field, there are still lots of options available. Care and hospice in particular are industries with a lower barrier to entry and very high demand for employees, so this may be a good starting point for your career. Of course, you can also work outside of medicine, at which point your opportunities are endless! In ten years, you may find that this was the best decision you ever made!
Take a Gap Year
Sometimes, it can help to take some time off after a bad experience. You may not be thinking clearly or you may just have no idea what lies ahead of you. Either way, you won’t be in the best place to make a decision that will determine your future path. Taking a gap year will be the perfect chance to consider your options, explore new interests and get yourself in a better place than you were before.
The stereotypical gap year is to go travelling, of course. And while it would be great to drop everything for a year and “find yourself” across the globe, most people don’t actually have the luxury to do this. A more realistic idea would be to find some work, aim to move out and potentially learn some new skills or begin studying for a reapplication in one or two years. There are a million ways your life could go from this point so there’s no point in us trying to list them off here!
That brings us to the end of this guide. Our intention here was to help guide you through all the essential information to come to your own conclusion about your application. Whether you’ve decided to have another go, move on to something else or are still unsure about what you want, we hope that we have highlighted all of the information that you need to make an informed decision!
If you’ve decided to reapply, remember that you should try to utilise the best resources available to guarantee your success. You can fully guarantee your place in medical school with the 6med Complete Bundle, which provides support for your Personal Statement, UCAT, BMAT and Interview! If you somehow do not get your place at medical school, you’ll be able to use our resources for your application, free of charge! Learn more about our guarantee or explore all of the resources included in the bundle.
Ready to give your Medicine application another go?
Get full, comprehensive support for your medical school application with 6med’s Complete Bundle. Access everything you need for success as soon as you sign up.
Ready to give your medicine application another go?
Our Complete Bundle provides support for your Personal Statement, UCAT, BMAT and Interview, everything you need for a successful application.
Ready for your place in medical school? Then this bundle is for you…