So, if you remember I am a mother, I am 31 years old, I want to quit my job to become a doctor; and I just got divorced.

Even though I would love to study medicine in Cambridge (like my brother), Oxford, or Harvard. I must be strategic in choosing the medical school I will apply to. I need to consider my personal situation. This morning, I wake up, planning on filtering UK medical schools down to four choices. In the UK, you can only apply for four medical schools. There are two stages of the selection process. The first would be that I need a Bachelors with the correct grade (a first or a 2.1; it becomes difficult with a 2.2) plus I need to take an exam and score above the cut-off. The second stage will be an interview to assess my motivation.

At this point in my journey, if this is really what I want to do with my life, there are only four criteria I will consider:

Conundrum of choosing a medical school

  1. Exams used for entry selection

The GAMSAT, the UKCAT, and the BMAT represent the different exams used by the 34 medical schools in the UK to select students for the next stage, which is the interview. I have been studying for the GAMSAT and the UKCAT over the past couple of months, waking up at 5 am… ok waking at up at 6 am (to be more honest) and squeezing in an hour of study. Over that period, I have noticed one thing: I perform better at GAMSAT than UKCAT or BMAT. So the first thing I did was eliminate the med schools using BMAT and favored all the ones using the GAMSAT.

2. The cut-off score

This is the second most important criteria. I need a lower cut-off score because my chances of getting through to the next phase will dramatically increase. I look at the evolution of the cut-off score for each university using the GAMSAT over the last five years. Most of them tend to remain stable, the others are eliminated. I don’t want to apply the year there is a big jump in the cut-off score. I cannot waste a choice, I only have four.

3. The competition ratio

The competition ratio is often associated with the cut-off score. Usually the lower the competition ratio, the lower the cut-off score. However, the competition ratio for Cambridge Graduate Entry Program is low, but my chances of getting in there are next to zero. I am not being defeatist, I am realistically looking at my best options. That is why I would look at the competition ratio after the cut-off score and choose the universities with a combination of low cut-off scores and low competition ratios.

4. The interview style

Once the statistics mentioned above have been calculated, it is time to consider the hurdle of step number two: i.e. the interview. If everything goes according to plan, getting an interview is absolutely doable. Now, this step is about self-knowledge. I know I can be very good at the traditional interview style. When I looked at the different interview styles, I listed the three formats:

a) Traditional interview. It’s like a conversation, with questions like “why medicine”, “why applying with us.”, “strengths and weaknesses”. You see what I mean.

b) Multiple mini-interview. This one is like a speed dating interview. I will have 5 minutes to convince the juror. The questions can be similar to the traditional interview. But I know I suck at speed dating. Tried it once and hated it!

c) Oxbridge style (well, I didn’t do the research, I’m not gonna apply)

I will obviously put a priority on medical schools with a traditional interview style.


You might ask: what about the curriculum?

I don’t really care about the curriculum. I just assume they are all similar. I will adapt to whatever comes my way.

You might also ask: what about the city where you will study?

I put a lot of emphasis on London, since I would like to stay close to Lina (my daughter) and with me being divorced now, I can’t see Cole (my ex-husband) moving out with me.

But I must ask myself: what is most important?

The important thing is getting into med school.

The rest will fall into place.


Thanks to Markesia Barron for editing the post. You can follow her on Twitter  @markesiabarron

15 thoughts on “How to choose a medical school?”

  1. oh wow, so much to consider! well, i wish you all the best with your applications. I am 34 studying also, but i am a stay at home mum, and doing an online course to get me into childcare, im studying my diploma. Good luck with everything and make sure you keep updateing us as to how it all goes. I am now following you on twitter, fb and insta! good luck xx

  2. I love that you included an awesome graphic in this post! Choosing a medical school is no easy task but congrats to you for making it this far! Thats fantastic!

  3. Wow what a lot of things to think about and put in place! Well done on making such a huge change in your life! Good luck and really hope you find the right medical school for you 🙂

  4. If you have to choose between two schools with a reasonable chance of getting into both choose the one with the name that will open more doors. That may be the difference between getting the residency, fellowship or position that you really want and having to take the second choice.

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