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Hardest GEM universities

Graduate entry medicine (GEM) is a route offered to applicants who want to apply to medical school in the UK and already hold a previous degree. Typically, GEM courses are accelerated and so are only 4 years rather than the undergraduate 5 or 6 year programs. The program is geared towards individuals who are mature and want to move into medicine for their career, and so the programs are usually open to applicants with any previous degrees with no pre-requisite requirements for courses, with the exception of a few medical schools outlined below. That means that you can apply to graduate medicine whether you studied biomedical sciences, music, or law in your undergraduate degree. The course will have a mixture of ages, with some students joining the program right after their undergrad, while others spent time in an alternative career not even related to medicine.

GEM programs are great for people who may not have gotten accepted into medical school their first try, or are determined to change careers later in life. The UK currently only has 16 graduate medicine programs, as not every medical school offers one. Because of this, graduate medicine can be more competitive than undergraduate programs are, as there are far fewer spaces available. Usually, GEM programs will ask their applicants for a previous degree and a specific entry exam (UCAT, BMAT, or GAMSAT). Different programs will have different requirements for the previous degree type, the grade achieved in that degree, the entry exam, and the score achieved in that exam, and relevant work experience. There are some things you can do to best increase your chances and stand out as a graduate applicant, outlinedhere.

When applying for GEM programs, it's crucial to be fully aware of all you need to increase your chances of receiving an offer, and then apply strategically. This article will answer the question, what are the hardest GEM universities to get into? To answer this question, we will be broadly looking at the entrance requirements as well as available statistics on competition ratios for each GEM school.

Medical schoolEntry requirementsCompetition
University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine2.1 degree in any disciplineAAA at a-levelC Maths & English GCSENo admissions testOn average, 15 applicants per place.In 2021:591 applicants46 offers
Cardiff University School of Medicine2.1 Honours degreeBBB/ABC at a-level9 GCSE's with 6/BUCAT (no minimum score)10 places per feeder programme.On average, 4 applicants per placeIn 2019:60 applicants18 interviews15 offers
University of Chester Medical School2.1 BSc or 2.2 Masters/PHDNo A-level or GCSE requirementsUCATNo data available
King's College London School of Medical Education2.1 in bioscience subjectNo a-level or GCSE requirementsUCAT (average 2946)On average, 193.4 applicants per placeIn 2021:1547 applicants9 offers8 acceptancesIn 2019:1404 applicants45 offers29 acceptances
Newcastle University Medical School2.1 Honours or masters or HCP with post-registration qualificationNo A-level or GCSE requirementsUCAT (average 3106)On average, 35 applicants per placeIn 2021:1034 applicants97 interview48 offers
University of Nottingham Medical School2.2 minimumNo A-level or GCSE requirementsGAMSATOn average, 7 applicants per placeIn 2021:
1061 applicants154 offers115 firm accepts
University of Oxford Medical School2.1 in applied/experimental science degreeAAB at A-levelBMATOn average, 6 applicants per placeIn 2021:230 applicants92 interviewed36 offers
Queen Mary University, Barts and the London School of Medicine2.1 Honours in any subject (previous year no one with 2.1 received offer, only 1st)A-level and GCSE requirements depend on degree subjectUCAT (2940 lowest previous year)On average, 21 applicants per placeIn 2022:1117 applicants112 interviewed52 offers39 places available in 2023
University of Sheffield Medical School2.1 Honours in life scienceBBB at A-level4/C at GCSEUCATOn average, 18 applicants per place250-350 applicants each year15 offers
University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine2.1 Honours degreeNo A-level requirements4/C at GCSEUCAT (average 3060)On average, 19 applicants per placeIn 2021:1575 applicants81 offers
ScotGEM (University of Dundee and University of St Andrews)2.1 Honours degreeB in A-level chemistry5/B in GCSE MathsGAMSAT (57 cut off)On average, 5.6 applicants per placeIn 2022:396 applicants182 interviews70 places
St George's, University of London2.1 Honours degree or post-graduate degree + 2.2 HonoursNo a-level or GCSE requirementsGAMSAT (56 cut off in 2023)On average, 12 applicants per placeIn 2022:1145 applicants274 interviews95 offers
Swansea University Medical School2.1 Bachelors or 2.2 Bachelors with higher degreeNo a-level requirementsC at GCSE Maths & EnglishGAMSATOn average, 8 applicants per placeIn 2019:961 applicants332 interviews136 offers
University of Warwick Medical School2.1 Honours degreeNo a-level or GCSE requirementsUCAT (2860 average)On average, 9 applicants per placeIn 2022:1758 applicants479 interviews248 offers
Three Counties Medical School, University of Worcester2.1 Honours or 2.2 with masters or PHDNo a-level requirementsC in GCSE Maths & EnglishUCAT (2500 average)CASPer if interviewedNo data, new medical school
Ulster University School of Medicine2.1 Honours or masters with 60% overall passNo a-level requirementsB/C in GCSE english/MathsGAMSAT (54 cutoff)In 2021:Number of applicants unavailable250 interviewed74 offers

Some universities have specific focus on extracurricular experience, and working on those may help you increase your chances of receiving an interview:

-University of Nottingham heavily favours applicants with health and social care experience

-University of Warwick preferentially selects students who have completed a minimum of 70 hours of work experience in health and social care

-University of Cambridge and Oxford University favour applicants with previous research experience and publications

The competition ratios give us an insight into the hardest GEM universities to get into. These ratios look at the number of applicants per place. Most of this data is from the 2021 or 2022 cycle and therefore ratios may vary from year to year. Three medical schools did not have the sufficient data to calculate the number of applicants per place (Ulster, Chester, and Three counties), therefore they will be excluded from discussion. The five highest competition ratios are:

  1. KCL - 193.4 applicants per place
  2. Newcastle - 35 applicants per place
  3. QMUL - 21 applicants per place
  4. Southampton - 19 applicants per place
  5. Sheffield - 18 applicants per place

Despite Cambridge not being in the top five highest competition ratios at 15 applicants per place, it will be considered within the discussion of hardest GEM universities to get into, alongside these five. The Sheffield GEM programme is only open to applicants fitting within certain criteria, so not everyone can apply.

Degree requirements

Taking a deeper look at the entry requirements will help us answer the question. KCL and Sheffield require a 2.1 Honours degree in a bioscience / life science subject whereas Cambridge, Southampton, and QMUL require 2.1 Honours in any subject. Despite this requirement, at QMUL, no one got in with a 2.1 in the previous year, therefore a first is likely needed.

A-level requirements

KCL, Newcastle,and Southampton have no A-level requirements. QMUL only has A-level requirements depending on your degree subject. Sheffield requires BBB or ABC at A-level, with Cambridge having the highest requirement of AAA at A-level.

GCSE requirements

KCL and Newcastle have no GCSE requirements. QMUL's GCSE requirements depend on your degree subject. Southampton requires 4 C's in sciences and English. Cambridge requires a C in English and Maths GCSE. Sheffield requires a C in GCSE English.

Aptitude exam requirements

Cambridge is the only university without an aptitude exam requirement. The rest require the UCAT to be sat. The highest average UCAT score for applicants was 3106 for Newcastle, with Southampton a close second at 3060 average. Sheffield did not have the data available.

Overall, the hardest GEM universities to get into considering both entry requirements and competition ratios are KCL, Newcastle, QMUL, Southampton, Sheffield and Cambridge. The hardest GEM university is KCL with an astonishing ratio of 193.4 applicants per place in 2021.This could be an anomalous year as the ratio in 2019 was 31.2 applicants per place. Newcastle is possibly the second hardest to get into due to the high competitiveness, as well as having the highest average UCAT score. Cambridge comes third despite having no aptitude exam due to its high academic requirements and rigorous interview process. It is important to understand that despite the difficulty of achieving an offer from these GEM universities, as long as you meet the entrance requirements, with the right help, anyone can get in. FutureDoc offers a 1-on-1coaching program with medical students who have been through the application process and successfully entered graduate medical programs to best be able to help guide you through your application journey.

Written by Hiba Al-Bahrani