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Careers Centre

Medicine as a second degree

Sector Overview

Which medical degrees to apply for

The University of St Andrews and the UK in general is seeing more and more graduates applying to medicine, mainly to the 4 year Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) courses, but also to the standard 5 or 6 year medicine courses. The GEM is still an undergraduate degree, not a postgraduate, so you apply through UCAS. Medschoolonline features a list of all the courses.

The University of St Andrews is offering the 4 year ScotGEM graduate entry programme from 2018 entry.

A bursary of £4,000 per year will be made available to all ScotGEM students (Home, EU and RUK) from autumn 2018; this optional grant will be payable to students who agree to work in Scotland’s NHS for a certain time period. For each £4,000 claimed, there will be a commitment to one year of service to NHS Scotland. Further details.

Before Applying

Most medicine courses you will need to sit a UK Clinical Admissions Test (UKCAT) or in a few cases a Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) or BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test).  Information on which tests applied to an institution will be on their website. These tests were introduced to assist universities make a more informed choice from amongst the highly qualified applicants.

Medical Roles

If you have the passion to improve people’s lives and the determination to reach the highest standards, you will have a wide range of career opportunities open to you. You can follow a path to one of many specialties, from working in a hospital as a surgeon to being based in the community as a GP. Within the practice of medicine itself, there are over 60 different specialties; your medical training will give you the opportunity to discover which appeals to you most. Other areas of work include the armed forces, industry, academic medicine and full-time research. Explore different medical pathways and training routes the NHS website.


Why study medicine?

Your reasons will be unique to you but could include:

How competitive is it?


How to apply

Applications to medical schools are made through UCAS which opens for applications in mid-June and has a closing date of 15 October for entry the following autumn. Visit the UCAS website for more information. Medschoolonline has useful application information.

UCAS form advice


Admission tests

All information is accurate at the time of writing (November 2017). It is important that students check the relevant websites for updates and changes to costs and deadlines for registering and sitting all admissions tests. If you are unsure which tests you need to sit, contact the admissions department at the medical school you are interested in applying to in order to check their requirements.

There are currently three admissions tests in use by different medical schools- details below. Check with the medical school you are interested in applying to in order to find out if they require you to sit an entrance exam.

UKCAT - UK Clinical Aptitude Test

The UKCAT is a two-hour computer-based test.  It consists of five separately timed subtests which assess a range of mental abilities identified by university medical and dental schools as important.  Each subtest contains a number of items in a multiple-choice format.

Candidates either sit the standard UKCAT or the UKCATSEN (Special Educational Needs) if they are entitled to additional time due to a documented medical condition or disability. 

The majority of medical schools use this test, which is designed to be a test of aptitude for medicine rather than a test of academic achievement.


GAMSAT – Graduate  Medical Schools Admissions Test

GAMSAT is developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in conjunction with the Consortium of Graduate Medical Schools to assist in the selection of students to participate in the graduate-entry programs in Australia, Ireland and the UK. It is designed to assess the capacity to undertake high-level intellectual studies in the medical and health professional programs. Download the GAMSAT Information booklet


BMAT – Biomedical Admissions Test

The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is an admissions test for applicants to Medicine, Biomedical Science and Dentistry courses at certain universities. The exam is only valid for one year therefore you must sit it the year you are applying.



Preparation is the key to success, make sure you have researched the individual school's website to find out the format of the interview.

The structure varies from university to university but they are all looking for similar things in an applicant.

The interviews are either a panel interview or a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). The MMI consists of a series of short mini interviews which test candidates' ability to think on their feet.



Financial support/funding

This is continually changing. Keep up-to-date by referring to the NHS website.

Further information


How to gain experience

Relevant work experience and extracurricular activities are important to most medical schools. A mix of medically related and non-medically related experiences are recommended. For non-medical related try to choose ones that show your leadership qualities and ability to take responsibility. In all activities, if you can show a commitment over a stretch of time rather than a short burst this will reflect on your dedication to this vocation.

Graduate applicant

As a graduate applicant it will be expected that you have more in-depth experience than a school leaver. Your experiences should be over a longer length of time and in them you should have held a degree of responsibility.

Medical School Council's guidelines on work experience for applicants to medical school

Clinical experience - work in a caring role and research experience are all looked upon favourably by admission teams. Clinical experience can be difficult to arrange due to confidentiality but shadowing or even just speaking to a healthcare professional can be beneficial.

Research Experience - it is not essential in the UK as it is for some US medical schools but it still can add an extra dimension to your application as it shows you have an interest in the scientific side of medicine. If there is a research team on St Andrews which interest you  could apply to the Laidlaw Undergraduate Internship Programme.


Keep a record of your experiences; especially useful is a reflection journal which records how you felt and developed from your experiences. Also, if there are articles in the media concerning health or medical matters which interest you keep a copy of them. These resources will provide useful backup information in your personal statement and interviews.


Types of experience


If unsuccessful

Many St Andrews graduates are unsuccessful with their first application but after a year gaining extra relevant experience the success rate for second applications is high. These websites contain helpful information for you to assess your future options.

It may be worth considering alternative careers.


Key Links and Resources

Careers Centre resources


General medical careers information

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines



Internships in the US - Healthcare

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is simply designed to serve as a starting point.

General information