Did not get the grades for medicine? - You may need to resit your A-levels

Not getting the grades that you need despite having offers from medical school is very distressing. This is compounded by the fact that other students who have made the grade will likely be celebrating, along with the school. It may be the first time in your career so far that you have not been successful in an application. This may mean you may need to resit some A-levels but don’t let that put you off.

If you have offers, ring up the medical schools and see if they will take you with your grades. Our own experience from Blue Peanut research from our own students is that they have not (so far) gone below AAB. However, these students also reported exceptional interview performance so perhaps this is the case why the medical school accepted lower grades.

If you had extenuating circumstances, for example a severe illness or bereavement, whilst you were sitting your exams and it may have affected your performance, then contact the medical school and inform them of this. You will likely have to provide some evidence, such as a medical report from your GP.

  • Some medical schools will only accept resit candidates if there are extenuating circumstances.

  • Others will accept resit examinations on an equal footing with first time applicants.

  • Some will add extra conditions for resit applications, for example higher entry requirements.

  • They may only allow applications from students that have marginally missed the initial offer (for example if you have grades ABB on your first attempt)

  • There may be a limited time period in which you are permitted to resit

  • The medical school may ask you to resit all three subjects

If you have the grades, but no offers, then you can try going through UCAS clearing. You will likely be called for interview. If you need interview training you can contact us and we may be able to arrange some Skype sessions for you to help you prepare. We have been able in previous years to successfuly help students through interviews at medical school following UCAS clearing applications.
If your grades are simply not high enough to meet entry requirements for medicine, then the next step may be for you to resit. You may also need to resit any entrance examinations, such as UCAT if your score was not high enough the first time.

Do some research to see which medical schools permit resit applications and whether you meet the requirements for a new application. You can use the year to also focus on work experience and enhancing your revised application.
You will likely need to apply again through UCAS with a revised personal statement. Mention why you needed to resit in the statement, and ensure your referee gives you a positive supporting statement. We can help you write your revised statement from scratch if needed - click here for details.

We would advise caution with using the strategy of accepting your fifth choice with a view to transferring to medicine as a postgraduate. Not only is there a financial impact for several years of study (on a degree programme that you may really not want to do) but also there is usually no concrete guarantee of transfer to a medical programme part way through or at the end.

Good luck!

Click here to look at our medical school interview course
Click here to look at Interview Training 1:1 over Skype

What skills and attributes are needed to become a doctor?

What skills and attributes are needed to become a doctor?

Many people aspire to the noble cause of this well regarded, meaningful career. Medicine opens the door to a rewarding, highly remunerated career. Once qualified there are a huge range of careers open to you such as working with children as a pediatrician, treating patients with mental health problems as a psychiatrist or performing operations as a surgeon.

But do you have what it takes to work in medicine? What skills do you need to be a doctor? This article looks at the academic and personal attributes required.


To qualify as a medical doctor, the minimum academic requirements are as follows:

  • Five GCSEs at grades A or A*/ 7-9 or equivalent. These must include English, maths and science.

  • 4 A levels- three at grades AAA or AAB including biology, chemistry, maths and or physics plus another academic subject.

  • A medical degree from an approved institution- this course takes five years but may be completed in four if this is your second undergraduate degree.

Getting in to medical school

In addition to the qualifications above, you need to demonstrate your commitment and that you have the right personal as well as academic skills. These are assessed by way of an interview, clinical aptitude test (UKCAT/BMAT) and completion of a range of extra-curricular activities.

Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

This is used to assess your personal qualities such as cultural sensitivity, maturity, teamwork, empathy, reliability and communication skills. See here for further details.

Some universities give more weighting than others to the UKAT score and personal statement than to academic results. Equally, each university will have a quota for overseas students or RUK (rest of the UK applying to a Scottish university for example).

Also, each university will have its own teaching style- some may offer a theory-based curriculum whilst others may be more practical oriented. Do make sure you research the programs on offer to select the best one for you.

Post graduate training

There are two years of foundation training, followed by three to seven years of specialist training, depending upon the route that you have chosen.

You must also pass a DBS Check.

Personal attributes

Core skills required include clear communication skills, team working, management and leadership. Also, you may have to connect emotionally with patients who need to provide intimate details of their health or make life and death decisions on the spot. The ability to empathize with patients and their families and show sensitivity is of paramount importance. Effective time management skills whilst being adaptable and flexible where required are also essential. Medicine is a continually evolving field- so a commitment to lifelong learning is crucial. Finally, patients don’t stop being ill at 5pm- be prepared to work on after the end of your shift if necessary, even if your own social life is affected.

In short, getting in to medical school is not for the faint hearted but it offers a rewarding career to those with the necessary skills and aptitudes to succeed in this competitive field.

Is medicine right for me?

Is a career in medicine right for me?

A career in medicine opens the door to a huge range of interesting and rewarding careers from working as a General Practitioner in the community to specialising in one of the many medical fields in hospitals, teaching and research. In this article, we provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not this is the career for you.

Is there much demand for doctors?

Yes, due to a growing and ageing population, overall employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 13 percent faster from 2016 to 2026 than the average for all occupations.

Do you have what it takes to be a medic?

An interest in lifelong learning and providing quality healthcare along with the ability to handle life and death decisions on the spot is essential. Clear communication skills and the capacity to work as a team with colleagues from a wide range of disciplines is also required. Patients may need to disclose private details of their health so you must be able to connect well emotionally with them. A good medic has to plan and organise their time effectively whilst being adaptable and flexible where necessary. Finally, resilience and the willingness to continue working after your shift has finished if necessary are also important.

What does a doctor do?

The role of a doctor typically includes duties such as patient contact, administrative roles, charting, teaching, meetings and community outreach activities. In a typical day, a doctor may see around 20 patients with a huge range of conditions from a simple rash to a life-threatening heart condition. Careful questioning and a sound knowledge of patients’ medical history and lifestyle is required in order to accurately diagnose any conditions they may have and ensure effective treatment.

What skills and training do you need?

To work in medicine, you must have an approved medical degree- this takes five years, (four if this is your second undergraduate degree.) Following this, there are two years of post-graduate foundation training, followed by three to seven years of specialist training. A DBS check is also required.

How do you get into medical school?

To get into medical school is highly competitive, with high grades in four subjects at A level or equivalent required. Three of these must be in science and maths. Many medical schools also

require you to take an exam called UCAT, UKCAT or BMAT. These stand for UK Clinical Aptitude Test or Biomedical Admissions Aptitude Tests. There is also A Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). Thorough preparation for the exam and interview is essential. Relevant work experience and completion of extra-curricular activities which demonstrate your commitment to the role are also important. Further information on all of these aspects may be found in the relevant blogs.

In short, working in medicine is not a career decision to be taken lightly. However, it promises a rewarding career for those who have the skills, attributes and determination to succeed in this highly respected profession.

Is dentistry right for me?

Is dentistry right for me?

With the huge range of medical careers to select from, it can be hard to know which path to take. In this article, we aim to equip you with all that you need to know about the field of dentistry so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this career is for you.

Is there much demand for dentists?

Yes- always! Recent government statistics indicate that whilst oral health is improving in England, a survey of 5-year olds showed that just under a quarter have tooth decay with the problem being particularly prevalent in disadvantaged socio-economic areas. Children with tooth decay can suffer from problems with eating, sleeping, communication and socialising. At least 60,000 days were missed from school during 2017 for hospital extractions alone. Amongst adults, a significant positive association has been found between the loss of bone supporting teeth due to periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, a career in dentistry offers the opportunity to make a really positive impact upon people’s lives.

What does a dentist do?

In a typical day, a dentist may see 20 patients with a staff meeting beforehand to review the patients’ dental and medical history. Dentists carry out check-ups to evaluate your oral health, diagnose conditions and carry out preventative and restorative work where necessary. Tasks may range from a general check-up and offering advice on cleaning technique to carrying out fillings or root canal treatment where anaesthetic injections and drilling to remove decayed matter may be required. Keeping accurate records is really important as is the ability to carry out x-rays and identify other conditions that may be linked to oral health.

Where do dentists work?

Dentists may work in the NHS or in private clinics. Most work as general dental practitioners (GDPs), usually in a high street dental practice. They are self-employed contractors, mixing NHS and private work. Salaries range between £50,000 and £110,000. For dentists working wholly in private practice, earnings may reach more than £140,000.

Training and qualifications

Like all medical careers, dentistry is considered to be a calling with extensive training and qualifications required. High grades at A level or equivalent in science subjects, including biology and chemistry are needed along with a degree in dentistry from an approved institution. This can take five years to complete. Some universities require you to sit a UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). Thorough preparation for these exams is essential if you are to succeed as competition for places is fierce.

Personal skills

As for all medical professions, a genuine interest in providing quality healthcare in this field and a lifelong love of learning to keep up with new developments is crucial. You must be trustworthy and comfortable with close personal interaction, easy to talk to and able to put patients at ease. You have to work with a range of people from different specialisms and make important decisions regarding your patients’ welfare so clear communication, leadership and team working skills are essential.

Is veterinary medicine right for me?

Is veterinary medicine right for me?

If you love science and have a genuine interest in the welfare of animals, then you may wish to consider becoming a veterinarian. A degree in veterinary medicine opens the door to an exciting and interesting career. In this article, we aim to provide you with all that you need to know in order to make an informed decision about whether or not this is the career path for you.

What does a vet do?

A vet has to examine animals to diagnose their health problems, treat and dress wounds or perform surgery. Testing and vaccination against diseases is also required along with operating medical equipment such as x-ray machines. A vet will also advise animal owners about general care, medical conditions, treatments and prescribe medication.

In a typical day, a vet may deal with a variety of patients ranging from a cat which has been kept in for observations after being in an accident to applying worm treatments or vaccinations to a dog. As for any branch of medicine, accurate diagnosis and effective treatments are required.

Is there much demand for vets?

Yes- at the moment there is a shortage of UK qualified vets with surgeons from overseas filling the skills gap. 45 % of households own a pet in the UK according to the most recent statistics, with dogs and cats being the most popular although you do have to be prepared to deal with large farm animals or more unusual pets such as snakes.

Some vets may work in or run their own small independent business whilst others prefer to join a large corporate practice where specialisms in particular areas may be possible for example with small pets, farm or zoo animals.

Personal skills

Apart from a love of animals and a genuine interest in their wellbeing, clear communication skills are important along with empathy for their owners. For many people a pet is like a member of a family and you may have to deal with stressful situations where a high degree of sensitivity is required. Attention to detail is important as well as physical stamina to cope with being on your feet all day and handling large animals. For operations, a high degree of technical skill is essential.

Qualifications and training

To be a vet, you need an approved degree in veterinary medicine. This usually takes five years to complete. The course is rigorous with many practical and theory assessments including dissections of dead animals. There are seven places where you can study veterinary medicine in the UK. Competition is fierce for places. You need strong grades at GCSE including English, maths and science, A levels in science subjects and some experience of working with animals. Some universities also require you to take the BMAT exam beforehand.

In short, veterinary medicine offers a great career if you have the skills and determination to succeed. However, do make sure you have relevant work experience and research courses and entry requirements carefully.

Reapplying to Medicine – How to Maximise Your Chances of Getting a Place

Reapplying to Medicine

Not getting a medical school place can be disheartening and distressing, not just for the student, but also parents and family.

There are several reasons why students do not succeed in applications. Our own research with local schools does also indicate that a substantial number of students that have an offer do not unfortunately get the required grades.

The next steps for you are to work out how to improve your chances of getting in with a repeat application. If you meet the entry requirements but failed to secure an interview or an offer, you should look at places through UCAS clearing.

If you have only slightly missed your offer, ring the medical school and see if they will still accept you. We have some experience this may be more likely if you had outstanding performance in interview or some other unique attribute which the medical school (or university) determined would add extra value to your application.

We recently went to a university training session for doctors who train medical students and were informed a grade of AAB is sufficient evidence of academic ability for a medicine course. However, competition drives the entry requirements up.

Reapplying to Medical School – Review and reflect on your personal statement

This is especially critical if you were not called for interview. We have found that there are common things that medical schools look for in personal statements.

Here is the Blue Peanut list of what medical schools look for on the personal statement and this is the order we recommend you structure your statement: -

  • Motivation for a career in medicine

  • Your research into the demanding nature and requirements for a career in medicine

  • Demonstration of the caring as well as scientific side of medicine, perhaps through suitable work experience.

  • Evidence of participation in activities, which demonstrate teamwork, leadership, communication and other skills essential for being a doctor

  • Your participation in a suitable range of extracurricular activities and interests

  • The presence of awards or achievements outside normal academia

We have further details on how to write personal statements in our blog. We also cover how to write personal statements in our getintomedicine.live conference. Get your statement reviewed by your sixth form tutor or careers adviser.

Blue Peanut doctors can also help you write your personal statement – from scratch if needed. Please click here to have look.

Click here for our getintomedicine.live conference.

Reapplying to Medical School – University Entrance Exams

The UCAT (formerly the UKCAT) and the BMAT are where a lot of students struggle. Contrary to what the writers of these examinations say, you must prepare for these examinations properly.

We have UCAT courses that run each summer season to help you prepare for these exams. They are filled with expert tips on how to approach the domains of the exam and come with a set of challenging questions for you to continue your revision. Click here to look at our UCAT courses.

If you do not perform well in an entrance exam, you should consider medical schools that don’t use that particular exam in their application process or perhaps look at medical schools that put less weight on the examination score.

Reapplying to Medical School – Work Experience

If you do need to take a year out, use some of the time to get some work experience. Some medical schools are asking for ‘certificates’ of work experience in which they ask how long the placement was for and what you did.

You school should be able to help secure work experience placements. These do not have to be in a healthcare setting (but it is better if they are) – a care setting such as a care home would also be fine. Think about some voluntary work for a local charitable organisation.

Reapplying to Medical School – Interview

You may have feedback from medical schools indicating poor interview performance. Again we would take the advice that is sometimes given, that you can’t prepare for these, with a pinch of salt. The topics covered in such interviews are vast. In addition, they also test your communication skills which for some students is the first time they have undertaken an oral assessment of this nature.

Some schools may have interview training sessions for students, but these may be generic rather than focused on medical school applications.

Come to our medical school interview course. We will equip you with the knowledge needed for such interviews and help you refine your communication skills. Over 98% of students get offers following training from our course. Click here to learn more.

What GCSEs, IGCSEs, Scottish Standard Grade Subjects and Grades Do I Need to get into a UK Medical School?

What GCSEs, IGCSEs, Scottish Standard Grade Subjects and Grades Do I Need to get into a UK Medical School?

For many people, the dream of becoming a doctor starts at a young age. Knowing that you want to pursue such a specialised and specific path means that it is very important to choose your secondary school subjects carefully to ensure you meet the requirements to get into the UK medical school of your choice. 

Medical School Interview Questions - MMI Circuits

Here are some more FREE MMI stations for you to practice. You may wish to work in pairs for this activity with one student being the examiner and the other the applicant. This is a timed exercise. You have 7 minutes per station with a 2-minute break per station.

  • The examiner reads the question to the student. The station is a total of 7 minutes including the time the examiner takes to ask the question.

  • The questions have a degree of vagueness about them. This is deliberate as to allow a spectrum of responses from candidates.

  • The student may wish the examiner to repeat the question, or pause for thought. We would advise no extra time is allowed for this. This would therefore reduce the time the student has to respond.

  • The examiner is permitted to define terms or help clarify instructions should the candidate be uncertain.

  • At 7 minutes, the examiner must stop. A pause of 1 minute should pass before proceeding to the next question.

  • No feedback should be provided during the MMI interview.

Station 1

You are a doctor working in a busy accident and emergency department. A patient is booked in to see you. You have no records of his past history and no reason documented for his attendance. It transpires he is deaf and blind. How would you proceed?

Station 2

Medicine has a caring side as well as a scientific one. Tell me a situation, perhaps that you have seen in your work experience, where the caring side took precedence over the medical side?

Station 3

You are working on a medical ward in a busy NHS hospital. A tourist who is on holiday here in the UK is admitted critically ill and needing an urgent transplant. Without this the patient will not survive. The transplant is refused by the local NHS because the patient is not a UK resident. What are your views on this decision?

Station 4

One of the desirable qualities of a doctor is to show empathy towards patients. Why do you think this might be the case?

Station 5

You are the doctor on a busy medical ward. You have been asked to administer the first dose of a new antibiotic to a patient in case he has any adverse side effects. You administer the antibiotic, and all appears well. You then realise you have given the antibiotic to the wrong patient. What do you do?

Station 6

Unfortunately, it is an established fact that some students will not complete the first year at medical school and drop out of the course. How do we know you will not be one of them?

Station 7

The BMA is holding its doctors strike tomorrow. You are a junior doctor and have agreed with your fellow junior doctors to not come in to work tomorrow. You consultant rings you in the evening and asks you to come in tomorrow on the day of the strike as he is on his own on the ward. He also mentions your reference may not be ‘as excellent as it would be’ if you do not come in. How do you respond?

Station 8

Your local NHS has decided not to fund any future fertility treatments. It gives the reason that the country is overpopulated and there is no need to fund this treatment which it considers of low priority. Do you agree with this decision?

Station 9

We appreciate you have a choice of medical schools in your application. Why have you chosen to apply in particular to our medical school?

Station 10

We use a variety of learning methods to teach out students at this medical school. One of these is problem based learning. Do you think you are ready for this type of learning?

End of MMI Circuit

(c) 2018 Blue Peanut Medical Education



Medical School Interview Questions - Free full MMI Circuit

Blue Peanut has released a full example MMI Interview based on current medical school interview trends. This session is best undertaken in pairs, with one person acting as the examiner, and the second the candidate. The questions do not involve any role play or practical tasks.

  • The examiner reads the question to the student. The station is a total of 7 minutes including the time the examiner takes to ask the question.

  • The questions have a degree of vagueness about them. This is deliberate as to allow a spectrum of responses from candidates.

  • The student may wish the examiner to repeat the question, or pause for thought. We would advise no extra time is allowed for this. This would therefore reduce the time the student has to respond.

  • The examiner is permitted to define terms or help clarify instructions should the candidate be uncertain.

  • Station 6 has a list that the candidate needs to read. This is allowed for in the time permitted. You may wish to print this list separately to show the candidate.

  • At 7 minutes, the examiner must stop. A pause of 1 minute should pass before proceeding to the next question.

  • No feedback should be provided during the MMI interview.

Station 1

In 2016 the United Kingdom held a referendum in which the majority of the electorate voted to leave the European Union. This may result in the restriction of free movement of medical supplies including pharmaceuticals. How will this affect the patient at your local NHS hospital?

Station 2

You are a junior doctor working a busy casualty department. There has been a major road traffic accident and the paramedics bring in three casualties. They are followed by the press. The first is a policeman; he has wounds to his legs but is talking to you. The second appears to be the criminal wearing a balaclava; he is unconscious. The third appears to be a pregnant lady; she is crying and telling you she is worried about her baby. Who would you choose to see?

Station 3

I can see you have been on work experience. Tell me about some of the qualities that a good medical student would exhibit that you observed.

Station 4

You are a medical student attached to a respiratory ward at your local hospital. One of the doctors is smoking behind the reception desk, with the porter, in full view of the patients. Outline how you would proceed from here?

Station 5

I assume you have read our medical school prospectus and had a look at our website. Tell me your views regarding the teaching methods we use at our medical school.

Station 6

You are a passenger who is the sole survivor of a train crash. The train is in the middle of nowhere and it is getting dark. You decide to start walking down the track to the next station. You have a look through the wreckage and find the following items. Which three items will you choose to take with you? (The candidate is to be shown the list printed separately)

  1. A box of matches

  2. A mobile phone. There appears to be no signal at the crash site.

  3. A bag containing crisps and a bottle of pop

  4. Some antibiotic tablets

  5. A Swiss army knife – it has basic tools

  6. A torch. It does appear to be working

  7. Some blankets with ‘first class’ written on them

  8. A pack of cigarettes

  9. A wallet containing £100 in cash. There appears to be no ID.

  10. Some toiletries

Station 7

You are a GP who is arriving at a nursing home to see some patients. Unfortunately you run over the resident’s pet dog in the car park. No one has apparently seen you do this and there is no CCTV. The animal is lifeless. What do you do?

Station 8

You are at the airport with your friends. You are all about to travel abroad for a holiday which you have been planning for several months. As you waiting at check in one of your friends receives a phone call. He looks very distressed and tells you the local hospital was on the phone. His dad has been admitted to intensive care. What do you do?

Station 9

Your local clinical commissioning group has just appointed a new medical director. Is it important that doctors demonstrate leadership and can you give examples of where you showed leadership?

Station 10

You are working as a health care assistant in a GP practice in a deprived area of the country. Several of the parents are refusing permission for you to vaccinate their babies. They are worried about the negative side effects of vaccines. The local council proposes we do not allow children who have not been vaccinated a place in the local schools. What are your views on this proposal?

End of MMI Circuit

(c) 2018 Blue Peanut Medical Education

Learn how to approach these stations and others that are used on medical school interviews from doctors who teach at medical school. Have a look at our one day medical school interview course after which over 98% of students obtain an offer - CLICK HERE