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What A-levels do you need to become a doctor?

An aspiring medic? If you’re planning to study medicine at university, make sure your A-level line-up keeps your options open when it comes to applying to medical schools…

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If you want to study medicine, then it’s crucial that you pick the right A-levels. Entry requirements do vary, but to get a medical degree you must study chemistry at A-level. 

There are also certain other essential qualifications you should be looking at depending on the particular university you want to go to. For example, some unis require you to have a biology A-Level too.

Your grades in these subjects are usually going to have to be high as well  medicine is highly competitive. These will vary depending on the uni, but generally you need to be looking at AAA or AAB. 


Note, this is going to be very similar for other medicine-related subjects such as veterinary medicine, dentistry or nursing; but it’s best to check out our course pages on these specific subjects.
 

A-level subjects to study medicine

What A-levels are essential to study medicine?

As mentioned, chemistry is a must-have. 

Other must-haves depend on the uni, but it makes sense to assume you’ll need to have studied another science. Here’s a good idea of what might work:
  • chemistry, biology and either maths or physics (or both) will keep all the medical schools open to you
  • if you don’t take maths or physics but do take chemistry and biology, it will keep open the vast majority
  • if you don’t take biology, but do take chemistry and one from maths or physics, fewer medical schools will accept you

Read more: medicine entry requirements: five things you should know 
 

What A-levels are useful to have to study medicine?

Critical thinking will help with section three of the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT), but it is better to take this as a fifth AS-level rather than as a replacement for biology, maths or physics. Read more about the BMAT and other admissions tests, below.

Take a look at individual medicine courses here on Which? University to find out the most popular subjects students studied before taking their degree in medicine.


See where your A-levels will take you before it’s too late, try our A-Level explorer tool
 

Alternative qualifications to study medicine

If you are studying Scottish Highers or International Baccalaureate, there will be different requirements.  

The Welsh Baccalaureate is slightly more divisive – it might be a good idea to speak to the university you want to apply to, to see what their stance is. 

Medicine subject guide: read example modules, student comments and more
 

Examples of university entry requirements for medicine

Below are a range of Bachelor of Medicine courses offered by different universities and the A-level requirements they ask for, for September 2018 entrants (as of January 2018).

You should always check back on the entry requirements of your chosen university when you come to apply, but this gives you a good idea of what to expect. You will generally have to achieve the highest grades to study medicine.

University of Birmingham: 'A*AA at A-level, including chemistry and biology. Predicted AAA at A-level. AAAAA in Scottish Highers and AAB in Advanced Highers including chemistry and biology.'

University of Cambridge: 'A*A*A at A-level. Applicants must have A-level passes in chemistry and two of biology/human biology, physics, mathematics. The success rate for students offering three or more science/mathematics A-levels has often been higher than those without.'

Lancaster University: 'Each applicant will be considered on their own merits. Offers will be made taking into consideration the mix of reformed and unreformed A levels taken and whether or not applicants have had the opportunity to take a fourth AS subject or an EPQ. The offers will be in the range AAAB to A*AA, including both biology and chemistry at A-level. All entry requirements have been taken from the Medical Schools Council website.'


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    A doctor’s words of wisdom for applicants

    Make sure you have some work experience in the medical field to show that you know what you're getting yourself into. 

    Don't forget extracurricular activities to show that you're a wonderful, well-rounded human being too.

    Interviews were painful, so if you're the type of person who gets nervous for these, prep well! Jodie Nguyen | Doctor

    Read our full #CareerGoals interview with doctor Jodie


    Watch now: How to choose your A-levels

     

    Admissions tests for medicine

    UKCAT, BMAT and GAMSAT are admissions tests you might be required to take to successfully apply to a medicine course at a university. As we've mentioned above, medicine is a highly competitive subject so admissions teams will use these results to help distinguish between the strongest candidates.

    Different universities will ask for different tests, so make sure you know which one you'll need to take.

    Where could your A-levels take you?

    Enter your A-level choices below to find out

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