The University of Oxford ’s Medicine undergraduate degree is considered to be one of the best in the world. Indeed, according to the Times Higher Education survey, it is currently ranked number one globally and has held this position for the past seven years.
Getting a place at any medical school is tough, but for Oxford, it is especially challenging. Indeed, the percentage of successful applicants is currently just 9%. University of Oxford Medical students develops a more in-depth knowledge of medical science compared to those at other universities in the UK. This is because of the distinct structure of the course, which is six years compared to the typical five for most UK medical degrees and is essentially two degrees in one.
Indeed, in addition to earning a medical degree that will allow you to work as a Doctor in the UK, you will also earn a BA in Medical Science. You even get to graduate twice – once after the first three years and the completion of your pre-clinical degree, and again after you have completed your clinical training and are qualified to work as a doctor. If you have ambitions of not just being a doctor, but being one of the very best in your profession, an Oxford medical degree will be an excellent foundation for your future career. With only a select few accepted, how can you become one of the select few that gain a place at the University of Oxford to study medicine?
If you want to study Medicine at Oxford University, you need to have an exceptional academic record. That means great GCSEs (very few applicants with less than 8 A*s at GCSE are called to interview) and predicted A-Levels of at least A*AA or IB Higher Levels of 766. The admissions team will be looking at your grades within the context of your school to see whether you are over or underperforming at GCSE level, but in general, to be successful you need to be achieving the very highest possible grades.
You also must be studying Chemistry and at least one of Maths, Physics and Biology at A-Level or Higher Level. It is not essential to take Biology, but it is a helpful subject to take as it can be good preparation for the first year of your course. Chemistry, Biology and Maths is a useful subject combination, for instance. It is not essential to take more than 3 A-Levels, but if it is within your abilities, do consider it as your fellow applicants will also be the brightest of your age and it can help to set you apart from other applicants. If you are uncertain if your high school curriculum will satisfy Oxford University’s Medicine entry requirements, check their website or contact admissions directly.
Like many other universities, Oxford requires you to take the BMAT as part of your application. The BMAT, or the BioMedical Admissions Test, is accepted by many universities including Oxford and tests your aptitude for a Medicine degree. There are August and October dates available, but Oxford will only accept the BMAT taken on the October test date. Ensure you are registered by the 1st October.
The test comprises of three sections, testing a broad range of skills including problem-solving, data analysis, your scientific knowledge and ability to apply it, and your written communication. Your BMAT score, along with your GCSEs (if available) are two of the key factors used when deciding who should be shortlisted. There is no actual cut off point, but the average applicant should be working towards a 6 in parts 1 and 2 of the BMAT. Preparation is essential.
To start, look at the BMAT website. This contains practice papers with explained answers and past papers. There is also a free section 2 assumed knowledge guide, available to all BMAT test-takers. Use this specification to identify which topics you need to work on. The level of knowledge required is GCSE level Science and Mathematics, but you need to ensure there are no gaps in your knowledge and you know the material in-depth so you can answer questions that ask you to apply it to more complex questions. Section 3 often asks you to explore ethical situations you may face as a doctor. One key tip is to learn the four pillars of medical ethics, what they mean and how they can be applied to ethical dilemmas.
The best tip is to practice, practice, practice! Don’t wait to take a past paper until you feel ready; they are one of the best ways to get to grips with the format of the BMAT and the types of questions you will be asked. Good luck!
As part of your application, you will also have to write a personal statement of up to 4000 characters (approx. 1 page). Medicine is a very demanding career and the admissions teams at whichever universities you have applied to want to see that you have really thought this through and have caring work experience.
Look for opportunities to work at your local hospital or GP surgery, or perhaps you can volunteer at a care home near you. Many of these spots can get filled up quickly so start looking early. Read around your subject. There are lots of popular non-fiction books relating to medicine at the moment; Phantoms in the Brain, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, and This Is Going To Hurt are all good books to familiarise yourself with. Look at BBC Health and The Lancet as well to keep up to date with medical news. You need to make a compelling case about why you want to become a doctor and how you are prepared to face the many challenges that medical school, and then life as a doctor, will present.
You must submit your application by October 15th at 6pm UK time. This is the deadline not just for Oxford, but for all medical school applications in the UK. No late applications will be accepted.
About a quarter of applicants will be shortlisted and called to interview. You will find out if you have been successful around the end of November. If you have been invited to interview, well done! You have made it over the first hurdle.
The interview is a crucial part of your application. You have made it this far because the Oxford admissions team think you have the right profile on paper, but now they want to see how you respond in the interview. There will be more than one interview, typically two at each college and each candidate will be interviewed at two colleges. Interviews are usually held in mid-December. Your preparation for the BMAT and for writing your personal statement is a good foundation for your interview, but here are a few more tips to help:
Think out loud. It is okay to be uncertain about the answer – the interview is meant to be challenging – but ensure that you articulate your thinking process and if you have questions, ask them
Expect pictures. It is common for candidates to be presented with an X-Ray or a microscopic slide and asked questions about it. Don’t try and overcomplicate it – they are not asking for a diagnosis – but begin with the basics and go from there
Practice interpreting graphs. You will possibly be given a graph and asked questions, so again start with the basics (axes, type of data, type of graph) and go from there
Read medical articles. You may also be given a short article to read before your interview, which you will then be asked questions on. If you read scientific and medical news regularly, and practice identifying the key points, possible issues and broader themes, you will find this type of interview much easier
Try not to get freaked out. Easier said than done! However, your interviewers really are not trying to trick you and you should try and ignore what others say about their interviews. Focus on turning up on time, and in the right location (this will suddenly be a lot more complicated once you are in Oxford in the midst of interviewing season) and do your best
Good luck! If you want more advice on applying to the University of Oxford for Medicine, take a look at our YouTube channel.