What to do if you have low GCSE Grades, but want to go to Medical School?
As GCSEs will be your first formal grading of relevance to medical schools, it can feel very disheartening if you didn’t get the grades you were hoping for - but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the road. Here’s what to we recommend:
1. Check each university’s GCSE grade requirements
This information is all available on our website where we have compiled a list of al UK Medical Universities and their GCSE requirements (as of Spring 2020). GCSEs are not always heavily weighted in comparison to A Level grades and UCAT scores etc by medical schools, so firstly make a list of the places where you will be able to apply to - and make sure to take note of those you can’t. You may be surprised by the number of options still available to you.
There are several universities that place a lower emphasis on GCSE grades in sciences and maths. These include:
Anglia Ruskin University
University of Buckingham
Hull York Medical School
Remember, scoring a B or above in these subjects may expand your options even more. Make sure that you check each and every university’s requirements! If it is not clear on their website, or if you have any mitigating circumstances - give them a phone. Most universities are more than happy to discuss grades over the phone. Do NOT apply to universities without checking this - you may end up with a preventable rejection pre-interview.
If it is sadly the case that you truly don’t meet the threshold, then remember that there are other ways to work in a medical field. Carefully consider alternative career paths, and also which academic subjects come most naturally to you - selecting these at A Level will give you a better chance of achieving good grades if the sciences don’t come naturally to you, and you may well find yourself following a different route which is better suited to you in the long run.
2. Consider changing your A Level choices
Play to your strengths! Medical schools vary in which A Levels they ask for so, again, check their requirements. Often, Biology and Chemistry are both required, but some universities may accept only one of these. When choosing your non-science A Levels, choose a subject that you enjoy and are most likely to achieve high grades in - if your GCSE result in that subject has disappointed you, we would recommend considering an alternative. Just make sure that it still qualifies as ‘academic’ in their guidelines.
There are several universities that place a lower emphasis on GCSE grades in sciences and maths. These include: Anglia Ruskin University, University of Buckingham, Hull York Medical School & Plymouth University.
3. Reflect - how can you do better in your A Levels?
Is there anything you can think of that distracted you or prevented you from working as hard as you could have? Where it’s possible, identify and avoid these factors - for example, if you know you have a tendency to ‘binge watch’ TV shows, limit yourself to a set number of hours per day during the revision period. Also think about when you started revision - was it early enough?
A Levels are very information-dense, so it is difficult to learn everything you need to know by the means of ‘cramming’. Start as early as is feasible to help to secure information in your long term memory. If you didn’t do particularly well in a subject that you’ll be studying at A Level, then we’d also recommend revising it and getting a head start before term starts again so you don’t feel on the back foot.
4. Try different revision techniques
Everyone has a different way of learning that works best for them, so try a few different things and see what works. We also cannot recommend past papers highly enough for revision purposes as, not only will it help to cement the information that you have learned, but it will also give you an idea of what to expect from the examination and how certain questions should be answered. Good performance in A Levels is a combination of knowledge and technique!
Written by the BecomeAMedic Team
Make sure YOU don't fall into the same trap as others - to find out more about how we can help you maximise your chances of gaining an offer to study Medicine.
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