For parents

Don't worry, parents and carers, we haven't left you out! We appreciate how important you are in the application process, to help encourage and support your child to fulfil their potential.

Here's some general information that we thought might interest you:

Key terms
  • Personal statement: A section on the UCAS form where applicants write about themselves and tries to convince the admissions team to pick them! The statement tends to focus on motivation for medicine, as well as giving an idea about personal qualities and attributes, extra-curricular interests and any work experience gained.
  • AS-level results: You generally need to have good AS-level grades to apply for medicine, especially as these grades help form the final A-level grade. Some places consider them more than others.
  • UKCAT: A test, separate from A-levels, that don't have any scientific content. Instead, they check that the candidates selected have the most appropriate mental abilities, attitudes and professional behaviour. Most medical schools require candidates to take the UKCAT or a similar test before applying.
  • Open days: They provide the opportunity to look around universities and ask any questions you may have.
  • UCAS: The organisation that deals with the university application process. Applicants can apply to four medical schools and one other course.
  • UCAS Track: This is where applicants can keep an eye on the progress of a UCAS application -- and this is where they find out if they have been successful!
  • Offers: Offers can be conditional or unconditional. A conditional offer means the applicant has a place on the course if they meet certain requirements (usually A-level or IB grades). An unconditional offer means they have already met the requirements and are guaranteed a place if they accept it!
  • Choosing universities: If an applicant receives offers from more than one university, they need to make a firm choice and an insurance choice. Normally the insurance choice will be a less demanding offer (lower grades). This gives a backup: if they don't meet the grades for their firm choice, but they do get the grades for their insurance choice, they can still go to university.
  • Interviews: Interviews are given to the top candidates to help decide between them. It's a chance for the applicant to show off their skills and make the most of their time with the interviewers.
  • Results: If an applicant has an offer and meets the grades, that's great -- they can go to that university. gap years aren’t uncommon for medics. Gap years are a great opportunity for students to earn some money, gain more medical experience or go travelling before applying again in the following round of applications.
Applications timeline

Applying to study medicine can be a lengthy process with a lot of time spent waiting to hear news. This can often be a stressful time for applicants!

You can check specific dates with UCAS and the universities, but here is a very rough guide to timings. Be reassured: just because you haven't heard anything yet, this doesn't mean you've failed!

  • Mid-September – This is when the applications open via the track system on UCAS.
  • Mid-October – This is the closing date for all medicine applications.
  • Interviews – When you hear about interviews depends completely on the university. Some are a lot more prompt than others. The earliest you can expect to hear by is the start of December but you could be waiting until as late as the end of March to hear about interviews.
  • Offers – Again, offers depend on the university. If you have an early interview, it doesn't guarantee an early offer. Some universities will make an offer just a few weeks after interview. Others will wait until they have interviewed all candidates before making a decision.
  • Mid-August – A-level results day. This is when applicants find out if they have the grades for their firm or insurance offer.

Don’t panic! Each university is different, but they will let you know when they have made their decision. You have done all you can do, so relax!

How you can help

There are many ways you can help your future medic while they're going through the complicated process of applying to medicine and these are just a few:

  • Proof read the applicant's personal statement! By having a read through, you can help pick out any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
  • When it comes to choosing to the right universities, it’s always good for applicants to go on Open Days to see the universities first and find out whether the course and environment match up to the expectations on that long check list! So. even if you just act as a taxi service, go and see as many places as possible.
  • Making big decisions like choosing universities is really tough, especially if you’ve only ever lived at home. Act as the chair in that inevitable pros and cons discussion to cut down the long list of options, and see how long you can remain impartial!
  • Strong communication skills are a must in interviews so, even if you don’t feel like you’re up-to-date on medical terminology, you could always be a mock interviewer to get your son or daughter used to answering questions under pressure.
  • They may be looking for interview practice to help improve their communication skills. You could always be a mock interviewer to get them used to answering questions under pressure.
  • Encouragement and support from key people, such as parents or carers, is particularly important in such a competitive application process! It might sound obvious, but it does help to be clued up on ‘crunch times’ in the process, as above, just so you’re around to provide extra tea and biscuits, and handy words of advice, when it’s really needed.
  • As part of their application to the universities students need to apply to Student Finance for funding to cover tuition fees and the cost of living. For this they will need to know your household income and Student Finance will also need to be posted proof of this. If you fish out that dusty folder of documents so it’s ready when required, it can definitely help speed up the lengthy application process and ease the nerves as your son or daughter moves towards university life.
What applicants need to do
  • Make sure they know the UCAS deadlines
  • Visit university and college open days
  • Check entry requirements on each university's website, then double-check, then check again
  • Write several drafts of their personal statement
  • Apply and understand student finance