How to choose A-levels for medicine

We look at which A-levels you should choose if you want to apply for medicine and if there is any scope for humanities based A-levels.

Almost all medical schools insist on A-level chemistry, so this is a must. Some may offer you a choice between chemistry, biology and perhaps physics. So the simple answer here is that if you wish to maximise your choice of medical schools, you should choose chemistry AND biology. Your choice of third A-level really depends on your choice of medical schools, but a safe bet would be to choose another science based subject. Many universities do not consider maths and further maths to be counted as two subjects, so further maths is out. Some do permit psychology as a third subject but this is not as widespread.

In addition, critical thinking, citizen studies and global perspectives are out. Some medical schools also restrict other combinations, such as perhaps physical education combined with a science, so this is something you need to consider.

These are the A-levels I would choose to maximise your chances:-

Chemistry AND Biology, then Maths or Physics

We have had students in the past ask us for advice on which medical schools to choose if the third subject is more unusual, such as Art or Music. There are some medical schools that do appear to encourage such applications and others that do not. We do understand there are students there that are particularly gifted in certain non-science subjects.

You will need to do your research here and contact the relevant medical schools. We say this as one of our former students contacted a medical school with such an enquiry and was bluntly told the application would go ‘straight in the bin’. Not a very empathetic response, but we then knew that particular medical school would not be one to apply for.

Your next step would be to show on your application how your third subject added value. There are subjects such as art in medicine (think of all those anatomy drawings) and history of medicine. Some medical schools offer some of these subjects as an intercalated year leading to a further undergraduate degree. Many medical schools have a music band and some are strong in certain sports. You would need to do your research and try and locate those medical schools that may already resonate in some way in what you offer.

And finally, bear in mind that you will likely need a grade A or A* in whatever subjects you choose, so make you have the academic ability to attain those grades in whatever you choose. You should speak to your teachers about this for guidance.