Why There Could Be Fewer Medical School Places

Thinking of applying to medical school? Competition for 2023 and 2024 entry may be increased. This is due to an interplay of several different factors. This article will discuss the reasons for the increased competition and what you can do to best optimise your application and increase your chances of receiving an offer.

Why The Extra Competition?

Due to Covid, several applicants may have deferred University entry after meeting grade requirements but not having enough places in the medical schools – including both home and international students – leading to a reduction in the number of places available for students applying this year. Some students, including those who achieved above their predicted grades or those who had not previously considered medicine may now be contemplating applying to medical school which has now led to a higher number of applications being made, especially now we are (hopefully) entering this post-COVID era. There is also a consistently high cohort of students reapplying to medical school – who often have taken further steps to optimise their application including undertaking work experience or resitting the UCAT, BMAT or GAMSAT, again increasing the competition for medical school places.

29,710 people applied for the 7,500 medical school places in England last year and this number is expected to remain high.

However, please remember that applying for medical school has always been competitive – so try not to be disheartened by these figures.

How Does This Affect My Application?

With increased numbers of applicants, the reduced number of places available due to deferring and the restoration of the government cap on medical school places, entry to medical school is going to be more competitive for 2023 and 2024 entry.

This is important to take into consideration when applying, and entry requirements should be taken into account when choosing which medical schools to apply to. It may be useful to look at UCAT/BMAT/GAMSAT score thresholds from previous years to see how your application will compare to previous applicants. However, also remember to take these with a pinch of salt and aim for higher scores than previous years in order to be in with a good chance of a successful application.

If you receive an interview – congratulations! You’ve jumped the first hurdle, so well done. On receiving an interview you should do as much as you can to prepare for the interview and make yourself stand out as a strong candidate. Preparation for this will be further covered in sessions and articles, but largely should include making sure you are aware of the format that the interview will be (eg MMI, panel, group), carefully reading and studying any preparatory materials given, practicing common questions/scenarios and making sure you are up to date with medical and NHS news.

How Can I Optimise My Application?

There are many ways in which your medical school application can be optimised, and you can increase your chance of securing an offer at medical school:

  • Ensure you have researched the entry requirements for any medical schools you are interested in, and make sure you meet the minimum entry requirements for GCSEs, A-Levels and degree classification if graduate entry. Apply strategically to universities based on this, ensuring you are likely to be accepted for interview on the basis of your grades. If you’d like to find out how your A-Level knowledge will be useful at university, make sure to take a look at our article.
  • Revise consistently and strategically for the UCAT, BMAT and/or GAMSAT, and work hard to secure a strong score. Once you receive your score apply strategically for medical schools which you stand a strong chance of receiving an interview
  • Use your personal statement to demonstrate your interest in medicine and your attributes that will aid you as a doctor. This may be by way of work experience placements, volunteering and extra-curricular activities.
  • Prepare well for interviews in order to stand out as a strong candidate – do mock questions, review popular topics and ensure good interview etiquette. Put your best foot forward and go into interviews with a calm and clear mind (as calm as you can be!).
  • And last but certainly not least – utilise us as FutureDoc! We can help you along every step of the way during your application – helping with any entrance examinations (e.g. UCAT, BMAT, GAMSAT), optimising your personal statement and running mock interviews to help improve your performance. We have a multitude of resources that our students are able to use, and run cycle-dependent teaching sessions every month to ensure our applicants have the best chance of getting into medical school. Due to this we have a very high success rate of getting students into medical school each year, so you are in good hands!

Re-Application

Not everyone will be successful in their application to medical school. Everyone’s journey is different – and being rejected is not an indication that you will not receive a place in the future or that you will not have a successful career in medicine, so please try not to be disheartened. Take rejection as an opportunity to further optimise your application by focus on any weaknesses that are identified and coming back even stronger the next cycle. There are also other options including applying to study medicine abroad, or doing a different degree (e.g. Biomedical Science, Pharmacy, Biology, Nursing) and applying for Graduate Entry Medicine. We at FutureDoc are well versed in helping students re-applying to medical school and will be able to support you along this path if needed also.

If you want help getting into your dream university then also be sure to check out our Elite Coaching Programme. As part of this programme, you will get in-depth help with the entire application process from whatever stage you join at till you get into the medical school of your choice. This is done through 1-on-1 mentoring and the founder of the course, Dr Ashley Hilton is always available for any questions. You can find out more about the Elite Programme here.

Written by Nadine Thomas

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