How To Study Medicine With Low Grades

Published on 22/02/2022 in
How to study medicine with low grades

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail."


Medicine is a demanding course. It requires dedication, motivation, and self-discipline to earn the Dr title. If you didn’t get the A-levels grades you expected, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream of becoming a doctor.

All of us have received bad grades or failed at some point in our life. Should this stop us from achieving our goals?

Of course not!

There are plenty of opportunities for prospective medical students with low GCSE grades or A-levels.

Keep reading and learn everything you need to know about different routes into medicine and how you can still become a doctor despite low grades.

How to study medicine with low grades: Complete Guide

The need to help others and constantly improve your skills to provide the best healthcare services possible is way more important than your A-Levels or GCSE. On the other hand, your exams’ results show your ambition and dedication to the medical profession.

However, we are all humans, and as such, we make mistakes or fail sometimes. In those cases, the most important thing is to find a way to become better and still achieve your goals.

Getting into medical school with bad grades is challenging but not impossible. Here are 6 options for you if you don’t get the required grades for medicine.

1. Medical school clearing

One uncommon route to medical school is Clearing. We say unusual because it is extremely rare to find medicine courses listed on the UCAS Clearing page.
In fact, there weren’t any clearing opportunities because of the record number of students applying to study medicine in the UK last year (2021). But still, if you are lucky enough, you may be one of the few people who manage to go through the clearing process.

When results day comes, and you didn’t receive any offers, you can use Clearing. You will have to follow these steps:

  • See available courses.
  • Call universities with free places left and ask them if they are willing to accept you in their programme.
  • Add your clearing choice, but only after you have permission from the university you contacted.

Yet, we would like to tell you that medical school clearing is scarce, and we don’t recommend counting on it.

2. Retake your exams and reapply to medical school

Retaking exams is another option for getting into medicine with bad grades. However, this route has many pros and cons, and as always, we are here to spill the tea.

Some of you may not have the grades required for medicine in the UK. Retaking your exams to enhance your grades may be a viable alternative. Therefore, you can reapply with higher grades and hopefully get admitted.

However, there are some cons that we feel obligated to share with you:

  • You will have to take a gap year or more in order to study and sit the exams again.
  • There is always a risk of getting the same or even lower grades.
  • Some medical schools in the UK don’t allow you to reapply.
  • You will have to face a bigger competition - other UK students who meet the requirements from the first attempt and those who decide to reapply just like you.

A few months ago, the UK Medical School Council released official data showing a 3% increase in reapplying candidates and an overall tendency to increase the number of students applying for the first time.

In 2021 only ~33.11% of all applicants get accepted into medical universities.

If you still decide to try this option, don’t forget to check which universities allow reapplications.

Study medicine in Europe with low grades

3. Study medicine in Europe

In recent years more and more students don’t want to waste time and stress out over taking gap years, reapplying through UCAS, or applying for Foundation year. Instead, they choose to pursue careers as doctors in Europe.

Studying medicine in Europe in English has become the number one and most reliable option for students who didn’t get the perfect AAA. Why?

Rather than waiting for another year and hoping for better results, hundreds of prospective medical students start their journey at European medical schools right after result day.

Yes, you read that right. You can apply for a medical school abroad that offers an English programme straight after the result day. Educational institutions in Europe usually have few different intakes throughout the year.

You can check our comprehensive database of 100+ Best Medical Schools in Europe. Our team has handpicked all universities to make sure they are listed in WHO and recognised by Medical Councils worldwide.

You probably wonder how students succeed in studying medicine abroad with low grades. Universities in Europe have more flexible entry requirements for medicine, unlike those in the UK.

The admission requirements vary from school to school, but in most cases, you will have to:

  • Present English proficiency certificate (for non-native speakers)
  • Sit a simple entrance exam in Biology and Chemistry and/or Physics and Mathematics
  • Present your high school diploma or its equivalent in your home country’s high-school system
  • Attend an online interview to motivate your desire to become a physician
  • Have a passport

Another plus of studying abroad is affordable tuition fees and living expenses. In countries like Georgia, the annual price for the medicine programme starts from €3,500. If you choose to pursue an MD degree in Europe, you will benefit from:

  • Globally recognised degree
  • High-quality medical education
  • A wide variety of medical schools to choose from
  • Less competition for entry
  • Unlike in the UK, where you can apply for only 4 universities, in Europe, the number is unlimited. You can apply to as many medical schools as you want.
  • You can even apply to study medicine without an entrance exam. The choice is all yours.

You can book a FREE consultation with one of our expert student advisors for more information. They will help you better understand the European educational system and explore your options abroad.

4. 3 or 4-year graduate entry medicine

Some applicants choose to go with their 5th option on the UCAS application, which is often similar to medicine, such as biomedical science, pharmacology, or biochemistry.

After completing such a course, you can apply for graduate entry medicine.

The accelerated programme is usually 4 years, and after successful completion, you will earn a Dr title. Graduate entry is one of the alternative ways to get into medicine.

Once more, Europe has a lot to offer. The best medical schools that offer 3 or 4-year graduate entry medicine courses are:

Here the admission requirements are only:

  1. University transcript
  2. Passport
  3. English language proficiency

The degree that you are going to obtain will be globally recognised. So, you will be able to work as a doctor in whatever country you like.

The most significant benefit is that if you choose to apply for a fast-track medicine programme in Europe, you will face less competition compared to the UK. This is because you will compete only against other international applicants.

Our team has helped hundreds of nurses, biomedical scientists, and pharmacists obtain their MD degrees successfully.

5. Gateway to medicine

Some universities in the UK offer the so-called gateway programme. It is designed to help students from underrepresented groups who want to pursue a career in medicine. They have lower entry requirements, and the duration is 1 year. In other words, they are some kind of preparatory course for students who can later progress to a regular medicine course.

You can research universities with such courses and see if you meet the requirements.

6. Foundation Year/ Preparatory Courses

Other higher institutions offer Foundation year courses. They are designed to prepare students for the 5-year medicine course who:

  • Did not study science subjects at A-level
  • Did not get excellent results at A-level

If you would like to take on the fantastic journey of studying abroad, European medical schools also have Pre-medical programmes.

Final words

As you see, getting low GCSE grades or missing science A-levels can’t and would not stop you from pursuing your dream.

Research your options and choose the best one based on your preferences.

However, if you want to explore different countries and benefit from Europe’s countless opportunities, our team is only one FREE call away.

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Article written by Medlink Students
We specialise in guaranteeing students' admission into top medical universities in Europe. Trusted by 1000s of students every year, we provide support from your initial enquiry until graduation, and beyond. Contact us now to learn how we can help YOU.
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