9.4 Plan B (if things don't go right)

What do I do if I don’t get an offer?

Applying to medical school is a competitive process, and this means that many candidates are unsuccessful. Indeed, many people who would otherwise have made excellent doctors are rejected every single year – some unfairly so.

There are a few things that you may want to consider:

  • Do you still want to do medicine? Perhaps other careers would suit you better, so reflect on your abilities and options
  • Why did you not succeed this time? Consider your realistic chances of getting into medical school. Assess the reasons on why you were unsuccessful this time (A-level grades, references, interview, admission tests). Get further advice and help from advisors who can give a realistic assessment of your chances.

Your options

  • Clearing: Medical schools have been known to reconsider borderline applicants if spaces are unfilled, so get on telephone straight away and talk to the schools.

  • Re-apply: Refresh yourself, take a gap year (link) and re-apply next year with a stronger application.
  • Graduate entry: Take another course (perhaps your non-medicine insurance choice) and then apply via a graduate scheme.
  • Change tactics: Change subjects completely and reapply.

What do I do if I miss my offer?

Medical schools will make an offer, that guarantees the applicant a place if they achieve the necessary exam grades.

  • Phone the school: If you just missed your offer, phone the medical school up and explain the situation. If the school made too few offers then you just might have a chance.
  • Explain the extenuating situation: If there are circumstances that impacted on your exam performance (recent bereavement, illness etc.) make sure you have evidence (doctor’s note from before the exams, death certificate, letter from someone in authority) then present them to your school to write a letter of support.
  • Re-marking exams: A good number of grades are changed every year after re-marking. Contact your school in the first place. Notify your medical school that you are doing so, and they may keep your place reserved until the re-marks are back.
  • Resitting exams: Medical schools often need extensively documented extenuating circumstances for a valid re-sit (as A-levels would take more than 2 years).

  • Graduate degree: If you still wish to pursue medicine, despite the above, then perhaps doing another degree in the meantime (in clearing), and then doing graduate medicine is an option for you.

Clare – Cardiff University
“I’d start off by saying don’t panic. Some fantastic students every year slip through the net – either by not getting an offer or by falling short of the grades they need to get in. Many options are open to you at this stage. If you still firmly feel that medicine is right for you then you can plan a gap year filled with experiences and opportunities that allow you to travel the world, to gain new knowledge and insight and prepare you for the years ahead. Perhaps you’d like to do something different and think about graduate entry medicine or a different subject altogether. There are actions you can take on the day too, like phoning up the medical school you were hoping to go to and seeing if you are still acceptable to them, you can go in for some remarks, or phone around clearing.
It can be a knock to your confidence and your future plans, but in the grand scheme of things life still goes on and despite not be what you’d hoped, it can be turned into a wonderful opportunity – to do something different or to change tactic before re-applying. Whatever you decide you will be well supported by your school and those that know you who are experienced in offering advice and helping you to make the right decision for you. "

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