How to apply for medicine in the UK as an Irish student

How to apply for medicine in the UK as an Irish student

8 months ago by Tom

UK medical schools have an excellent reputation internationally and many Irish students travel to the UK to study each year. Applications to UK universities are made through UCAS (like the UK version of the CAO).

Irish students applying to study medicine in the UK in 2024 can start their UCAS application over the summer before 6th year (applications open on 16 May 2023). They must submit their UCAS application by 16 October 2023, and need to sit UCAT between  10 July and 28 September 2023. These students will enter medicine in the UK in September 2024.

Students who have completed 6th year and would like to study medicine in the UK will also be applying for entry in September 2024, as applications for September 2023 entry closed in October 2022.


What is the difference between entry into medicine in Ireland and the UK?

Entry to medicine in Ireland consists of two criteria: Leaving Cert and HPAT. In contrast, UK medical school applications aim to provide universities with a broad view of your personality, skills, experiences and achievements. Each medical school has its own specific entry requirements, but in general, the criteria are: a skills-based test (such as UCAT), academic grades, personal statement and interview.

Applying for medicine in the UK may seem more complicated than applying to study medicine in Ireland but don’t let this intimidate you! This blog outlines important points to consider when applying to study medicine in the UK.


What are the main criteria for entry into medicine in the UK?

Your application to study medicine consists of several components:


  • UCAT

Most UK medical schools require you to score well in the UCAT. The UCAT is a two-hour long computer based, multiple choice test. The UCAT is similar to HPAT as both test qualities which are desirable in a health professional. However, UCAT tests different skills to HPAT, including Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Decision Making and Situational Judgement. Furthermore, while you generally need to be in the top 15-20% of candidates sitting HPAT to gain entry into medicine in Ireland, you do not necessarily need to score as highly in UCAT to gain entry into medicine in the UK. Therefore, students who don’t achieve sufficient scores in HPAT may do well in the UCAT.

Students normally sit UCAT in a testing centre. There are test centres throughout Ireland so you can select a centre near you when booking your test. You will receive your UCAT result immediately after you finish the test, and this result will be shared with the universities you have applied to on the application deadline. You can find out more about UCAT on the UCAT official website.

Like HPAT, preparing for UCAT will improve your score. You should start preparing as soon as you can to give yourself the best chance of success. If you have received a low HPAT score, then you could start preparation for UCAT in the Summer after finishing your Leaving Cert. MedEntry offers a UCAT preparation course which provides resources such as video guides, practice questions, and full-length exams to help you master the skills tested by UCAT. For more information, visit the MedEntry UK UCAT website.


  • Leaving Cert

Your Leaving Cert grades form part of the entry requirements needed to study medicine at a UK university.

UK universities require you to submit predicted grades if you will not have received your results by the UCAS application closing date (16th October 2023 for medicine). Your teachers will determine these predicted grades and your nominated referee will add them to your application. Once you receive your actual Leaving Cert results, they will be sent to the universities that you have applied to.

If you sat your Leaving cert in 2023 or earlier then you will be able to add your actual results to your application before the closing date.


  • Personal Statement

You will also need to write a personal statement as part of your application. This allows you to tell the university why you want to study medicine. It is an opportunity to showcase your personal qualities, awards and extra-curricular activities that would make you suited to a career in medicine. Make sure to include relevant work experience and volunteer work which shows your commitment to becoming a doctor and your passion for medicine.

If your exam results are slightly below the requirements, you may still be offered a place if the university’s admissions team are extremely impressed by your personal statement. An excellent personal statement can enhance your application greatly! MedEntry offers a personal statement review service.


  • Interview

You will be invited to attend an interview if your application is successful in the first stage of the admissions process (generally because you have performed sufficiently well in UCAT). Interviews are your chance to show what sets you apart from the crowd! An interview is not just a ‘chat’, it is a highly pressured and formal environment that requires you to speak eloquently on a variety of challenging topics. There are different styles of interview which universities can use and each covers different question types.

Like UCAT and HPAT, there are many strategies you can use to improve your interview performance. MedEntry offers an Interview Guide and interview tutoring to help you perform at your best.


What are the other requirements for entry into medicine in the UK?

  • Work Experience

Medical schools in the UK require applicants to show that they understand what a career in medicine involves.  It is essential that you have completed some work experience, either observing in a healthcare setting or working with people who are disadvantaged. You can then use this in your interview/personal statement to show what you have learnt.

Work experience is a great opportunity to make your application stand out but don’t worry if you are struggling to find something that seems impressive - medical schools understand that finding opportunities can be challenging, particularly with COVID restrictions. Check out this link for work experience examples and tips:


  • BMAT

A few UK Medical Schools require you to sit the BMAT instead of UCAT. BMAT is a two-hour long test which examines your scientific knowledge and thinking skills. For more information, visit the official BMAT website.


How should I apply to study medicine in the UK?

You can register with UCAS on their website and start your application. This link ( provides a step by step guide to filling out a UCAS application. You can select up to four Medical Schools on your UCAS application form. You have a fifth slot to apply for a different course.


What are the important dates for entry into medicine in the UK?

Following are important dates for September 2024 entry:

16th May 2023

UCAS Undergraduate application opens

16th May 2023

UCAT Registration opens

 20th June 2023

Booking for UCAT opens

21st September 2023

UCAT Registration closes

10 July - 28 September 2023

UCAT testing period

5th September 2023

Applicants can send their applications to UCAS

16th October 2023

Applications for most medicine courses close at 6pm UK time


How do offers to study medicine in the UK work?

If you are offered a place in medicine, it may be conditional or unconditional. A conditional offer is where you have not yet received your Leaving Cert results, so to accept your place you will need to achieve a specified grade requirement. An unconditional offer is usually for applicants who have already received their exam results and have met the grade requirement.


Do Irish students pay as international students to study in the UK after Brexit?

According to the UCAS official site, Irish nationals can live and study in the UK and be eligible for home fee status.  Irish nationals’ right to study and access benefits and services is preserved on a reciprocal basis under the Common Travel Area arrangement.  However, Irish students no longer receive free fees when studying in a Scottish university and will now pay the same home fees that apply in England and Wales.


So, as you can see, there are a few more things to keep in mind when applying to study medicine in the UK compared to applying to study in Ireland. However, if you do not perform sufficiently well in HPAT, this is an important alternative route into medicine. Also, some students prefer to study medicine in the UK than Ireland, for a variety of reasons. If you are interested in applying to study medicine in the UK, it is important to stay organised and keep track of deadlines to avoid missing your chance to apply! It is also vital to start preparing for UCAT as early as possible, to maximise your chances of securing a place in medicine.



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