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Applying to medicine, bad IGCSE results.

Hello,
I'm an international student looking into applying to a medical school in the UK, however my IGCSE results aren't the best.

I have:-
A* - Physics
A* - Computer Science
A* - English
A - Biology
A - Chemistry
C - Math

These are my IGCSE results. Retaking math may be difficult, as I've already taken it once before.

I plan on doing my A level composite exams in October November 2023, and am applying for 2024 intake. I have already achieved an A in A level Biology.

I wanted to know which universities would consider my application?

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Original post by po111
Hello,
I'm an international student looking into applying to a medical school in the UK, however my IGCSE results aren't the best.

I have:-
A* - Physics
A* - Computer Science
A* - English
A - Biology
A - Chemistry
C - Math

These are my IGCSE results. Retaking math may be difficult, as I've already taken it once before.

I plan on doing my A level composite exams in October November 2023, and am applying for 2024 intake. I have already achieved an A in A level Biology.

I wanted to know which universities would consider my application?


all require grade 6 (B) in maths and English at complete minimum.
Original post by .765346777543
all require grade 6 (B) in maths and English at complete minimum.

This is not completely incorrect - Cambridge has no formal GCSE requirements and Imperial doesn't have any maths GCSE requirements. Some may just accept a C or above in either/both, although many do require a B as you note.

Original post by po111
Hello,
I'm an international student looking into applying to a medical school in the UK, however my IGCSE results aren't the best.

I have:-
A* - Physics
A* - Computer Science
A* - English
A - Biology
A - Chemistry
C - Math

These are my IGCSE results. Retaking math may be difficult, as I've already taken it once before.

I plan on doing my A level composite exams in October November 2023, and am applying for 2024 intake. I have already achieved an A in A level Biology.

I wanted to know which universities would consider my application?

As above, you probably want to seriously look at retaking GCSE Maths to get a B, as without that your options may be much more limited. Beyond that you would probably want to aim for the less GCSE heavy medical schools (e.g. Imperial, Cambridge, etc) that don't score GCSEs and/or just have minimum requirements (although as noted you need to meet those minimum requirements).

I'd also note that as you've done an A-level early - most if not all medical schools will expect to see you take a full set of 3 A-levels in one sitting. So if you have done an A-level early you will need to plan on taking 3 full A-levels over 2 years as normal, regardless of any early A-levels. Otherwise if you just take 2 A-levels now (and maybe resit GCSE Maths) they will not be satisfied you have completed a full academic workload and are adequately prepared for the course.
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 3
Original post by artful_lounger
This is not completely incorrect - Cambridge has no formal GCSE requirements and Imperial doesn't have any maths GCSE requirements. Some may just accept a C or above in either/both, although many do require a B as you note.


As above, you probably want to seriously look at retaking GCSE Maths to get a B, as without that your options may be much more limited. Beyond that you would probably want to aim for the less GCSE heavy medical schools (e.g. Imperial, Cambridge, etc) that don't score GCSEs and/or just have minimum requirements (although as noted you need to meet those minimum requirements).

I'd also note that as you've done an A-level early - most if not all medical schools will expect to see you take a full set of 3 A-levels in one sitting. So if you have done an A-level early you will need to plan on taking 3 full A-levels over 2 years as normal, regardless of any early A-levels. Otherwise if you just take 2 A-levels now (and maybe resit GCSE Maths) they will not be satisfied you have completed a full academic workload and are adequately prepared for the course.


I've already completed my A levels once, but I am resitting them for Physics and Chemistry. I took all of my AS exams in october november of 2021, but due to covid shutting schools down in my entire country on and off throughout the entire year, my school was only able to provide us with practical practice a week before the exams took place, so my grades suffered. I had achieved straight As in every component except for the practical exams, so I decided to only take Biology A2 in May June of 2022. My Physics and Chemistry practical grades were too low to salvage, and so that is why I am resitting them in october november of this year.

I do understand that my circumstances **severely** limit my options as many schools have strict resit policies, and the unis that I've found so far that I'd be eligible for are Exeter, Newcastle, and Bristol if I resit math.
Reply 4
Bump

Original post by po111
I've already completed my A levels once, but I am resitting them for Physics and Chemistry. I took all of my AS exams in october november of 2021, but due to covid shutting schools down in my entire country on and off throughout the entire year, my school was only able to provide us with practical practice a week before the exams took place, so my grades suffered. I had achieved straight As in every component except for the practical exams, so I decided to only take Biology A2 in May June of 2022. My Physics and Chemistry practical grades were too low to salvage, and so that is why I am resitting them in october november of this year.

I do understand that my circumstances **severely** limit my options as many schools have strict resit policies, and the unis that I've found so far that I'd be eligible for are Exeter, Newcastle, and Bristol if I resit math.
Original post by po111
I've already completed my A levels once, but I am resitting them for Physics and Chemistry. I took all of my AS exams in october november of 2021, but due to covid shutting schools down in my entire country on and off throughout the entire year, my school was only able to provide us with practical practice a week before the exams took place, so my grades suffered. I had achieved straight As in every component except for the practical exams, so I decided to only take Biology A2 in May June of 2022. My Physics and Chemistry practical grades were too low to salvage, and so that is why I am resitting them in october november of this year.

I do understand that my circumstances **severely** limit my options as many schools have strict resit policies, and the unis that I've found so far that I'd be eligible for are Exeter, Newcastle, and Bristol if I resit math.

Some medical schools require you resit all 3 A-levels together to be considered if resitting. Also in this case you aren't actually resitting by the sound of it, you're taking your A-levels over more than 2 years - which is probably a bigger problem than if you had taken them all and then had to resit. Because again - it means the medical schools don't know that you can cope with a full academic workload in the standard time to complete it.

You need to not look at medical school resit policies, but at their policies for taking A-levels over more than 2 years in this case.

Original post by po111
Bump

There is no need to bump your thread 40 minutes after the last post...
Reply 6
Original post by artful_lounger
Some medical schools require you resit all 3 A-levels together to be considered if resitting. Also in this case you aren't actually resitting by the sound of it, you're taking your A-levels over more than 2 years - which is probably a bigger problem than if you had taken them all and then had to resit. Because again - it means the medical schools don't know that you can cope with a full academic workload in the standard time to complete it.

You need to not look at medical school resit policies, but at their policies for taking A-levels over more than 2 years in this case.


There is no need to bump your thread 40 minutes after the last post...


Might have been a slight communication error, but what I mean is that I already took my A2 in Physics and Chemistry in October November 2022, but my Bio was taken in May June 2022. I got an A in bio, but bad grades in my Physics and Chemistry A2. Therefore I am going to be retaking them as composite exams later this year, i.e. o/n 2023.
Original post by po111
Might have been a slight communication error, but what I mean is that I already took my A2 in Physics and Chemistry in October November 2022, but my Bio was taken in May June 2022. I got an A in bio, but bad grades in my Physics and Chemistry A2. Therefore I am going to be retaking them as composite exams later this year, i.e. o/n 2023.


Taking the physics and chemistry exams in the November sitting is still in more than the expected 2 year time frame, assuming you started them in the fall 2020 and would take the A2 exams in the summer 2022? If you didn't start them till later you circle back to the problem of not taking them all in one sitting anyway.

So even if taken within the normal 2 year timeframe, then you have two issues still: the resits and the fact that you didn't take a full set of 3 A-levels in one sitting either...medical schools might be fine with one or the other but are you sure they will be happy with both? If memory serves at least some medical schools state to consider resits all exams must have been taking in one sitting originally I believe?

I would recommend directly contacting the medical schools you are considering applying to and ask if they will consider someone in your situation (and explain very clearly which exams you took when and which you are resitting etc) so you have absolute clarity on the matter. You will also need to be clear which years you took them in so they can see if any COVID no-detriment policies apply.

To be honest though, I think there are more factors than your GCSE grades here which may be a barrier to you applying to medicine successfully.
(edited 10 months ago)
Reply 8
Original post by artful_lounger
Taking the physics and chemistry exams in the November sitting is still in more than the expected 2 year time frame, assuming you started them in the fall 2020 and would take the A2 exams in the summer 2022? If you didn't start them till later you circle back to the problem of not taking them all in one sitting anyway.

So even if taken within the normal 2 year timeframe, then you have two issues still: the resits and the fact that you didn't take a full set of 3 A-levels in one sitting either...medical schools might be fine with one or the other but are you sure they will be happy with both? If memory serves at least some medical schools state to consider resits all exams must have been taking in one sitting originally I believe?

I would recommend directly contacting the medical schools you are considering applying to and ask if they will consider someone in your situation (and explain very clearly which exams you took when and which you are resitting etc) so you have absolute clarity on the matter. You will also need to be clear which years you took them in so they can see if any COVID no-detriment policies apply.

To be honest though, I think there are more factors than your GCSE grades here which may be a barrier to you applying to medicine successfully.


I didn't start my A levels in 2020. My IGCSE exams were in October of 2020, AS exams were in October of 2021, A2 Bio in May June 2022 and A2 Physics and Chemistry in October of 2022. The only exam I took in summer was Bio.

Thank you for your help, however. I will contact the universities I'm interested in. Also I wasn't aware that there were any COVID no-detriment policies, would they be more considerate regarding my circumstances if they were made aware of COVID having a large impact on my studies (as stated above)?
Original post by po111
I didn't start my A levels in 2020. My IGCSE exams were in October of 2020, AS exams were in October of 2021, A2 Bio in May June 2022 and A2 Physics and Chemistry in October of 2022. The only exam I took in summer was Bio.

Thank you for your help, however. I will contact the universities I'm interested in. Also I wasn't aware that there were any COVID no-detriment policies, would they be more considerate regarding my circumstances if they were made aware of COVID having a large impact on my studies (as stated above)?

So you did A-level Biology in one year and physics and chemistry in two years? In that case at least you did them all within the 2 year period but again, they normally want to see you take all 3 sets of A-level exams (in your case the A2 exams) in one sitting.

There were no-detriment policies for students who sat exams during COVID, although I think these mostly centered around the TAG/CAG results and then for those who took the exam which had been cancelled after receiving TAG/CAG results, that exam not being seen as a resit (instead seen as a first sitting). But they may make other considerations for IAL students.
Reply 10
Original post by artful_lounger
So you did A-level Biology in one year and physics and chemistry in two years? In that case at least you did them all within the 2 year period but again, they normally want to see you take all 3 sets of A-level exams (in your case the A2 exams) in one sitting.

There were no-detriment policies for students who sat exams during COVID, although I think these mostly centered around the TAG/CAG results and then for those who took the exam which had been cancelled after receiving TAG/CAG results, that exam not being seen as a resit (instead seen as a first sitting). But they may make other considerations for IAL students.


Do unis care how many times you retake GCSEs? or is it only A levels
Original post by po111
Do unis care how many times you retake GCSEs? or is it only A levels


Harder to say, it's generally less of an issue for GCSE retakes. Particularly for unis with only minimum requirements, it's essentially a tick box exercise to see that you have GCSE English language and Maths at a certain grade as a measure of literacy/numeracy. So they don't tend to care much how long it takes you to get there...

If you were retaking other GCSEs to try and bring up your overall GCSE grade profile that may be considered, although probably more in the context if you retook some multiple times with only marginal improvement.
Reply 12
Original post by artful_lounger
Harder to say, it's generally less of an issue for GCSE retakes. Particularly for unis with only minimum requirements, it's essentially a tick box exercise to see that you have GCSE English language and Maths at a certain grade as a measure of literacy/numeracy. So they don't tend to care much how long it takes you to get there...

If you were retaking other GCSEs to try and bring up your overall GCSE grade profile that may be considered, although probably more in the context if you retook some multiple times with only marginal improvement.


Alright thanks. Seems like the best thing for me to do is do maths a 3rd time and get an A*.
(edited 10 months ago)
Original post by po111
Alright thanks. Seems like the best thing for me to do is do maths a 3rd time and get an A*.


If you're only applying to medical schools with minimum GCSE requirements that don't score GCSEs otherwise, that's really unnecessary as they won't award "bonus points" on exceeding the requirement - they just want to see you tick the box that you meet that requirement of a 6 or above (a B usually in the letter grade awards).

I think with how few GCSEs you have (relative to UK students) you wouldn't be competitive for those that do score GCSEs formally as you are taking fewer GCSEs than normal (typically they will score your top 8 GCSEs or so - with fewer than that you would never be able to achieve the maximum points for that section). Thus I would recommend focusing on those with just minimum GCSE requirements anyway.
Reply 14
Original post by artful_lounger
If you're only applying to medical schools with minimum GCSE requirements that don't score GCSEs otherwise, that's really unnecessary as they won't award "bonus points" on exceeding the requirement - they just want to see you tick the box that you meet that requirement of a 6 or above (a B usually in the letter grade awards).

I think with how few GCSEs you have (relative to UK students) you wouldn't be competitive for those that do score GCSEs formally as you are taking fewer GCSEs than normal (typically they will score your top 8 GCSEs or so - with fewer than that you would never be able to achieve the maximum points for that section). Thus I would recommend focusing on those with just minimum GCSE requirements anyway.


Yeah I've been focusing on schools like Leeds and Exeter than just have numeracy and literacy requirements. I thought that if I could get an A* it may make up for me resitting twice, but since you informed me of this I'll just aim for the minimum (B).

Also yeah, most IGCSE students from my country are at a huge disadvantage when applying to GCSE-heavy schools, as in my case and the case of all of my classmates we were only able to take a maximum of 6 subjects.

Could you let me know of any unis to avoid or any to look out for? Keeping in mind their resit policies, I've found that Leeds (if I retake maths and get a B), Exeter, Newcastle, Bristol, Southampton, etc. etc. would work for me, as they are generally less focused on GCSE grades and focus more on UCAT, and also have relatively lenient policies on resits.
Original post by po111
Yeah I've been focusing on schools like Leeds and Exeter than just have numeracy and literacy requirements. I thought that if I could get an A* it may make up for me resitting twice, but since you informed me of this I'll just aim for the minimum (B).

Also yeah, most IGCSE students from my country are at a huge disadvantage when applying to GCSE-heavy schools, as in my case and the case of all of my classmates we were only able to take a maximum of 6 subjects.

Could you let me know of any unis to avoid or any to look out for? Keeping in mind their resit policies, I've found that Leeds (if I retake maths and get a B), Exeter, Newcastle, Bristol, Southampton, etc. etc. would work for me, as they are generally less focused on GCSE grades and focus more on UCAT, and also have relatively lenient policies on resits.

The GCSE heavy ones I know of are:

Aston
Birmingham
Cardiff
Dundee
HYMS (smaller emphasis on GCSEs but they are scored)
KCL
KMMS
Leicester
Lincoln (smaller emphasis on GCSEs but they are scored)
Nottincham (smaller emphasis on GCSEs but they are scored)
QUB

This was for last year though, not sure if any have changed their shortlisting methodologies since then. For example, Oxford was historically one of the most, if not the most, GCSE heavy medical schools - but over COVID they dropped GCSEs entirely from their shortlisting and have indicated they don't plan to use them again currently even "post-COVID".

I'd probably suggest just avoiding all of the ones on that list as even those where GCSEs are a smaller part of the shortlisting scoring, you will probably lose too many points to be competitive. Best to just focus on the ones where your GCSEs are a non-factor - particularly with the various issues otherwise regarding retakes/taking subjects over more than 2 years/not taking a full set of 3 subject exams in one go/etc.
Reply 16
Original post by po111
Yeah I've been focusing on schools like Leeds and Exeter than just have numeracy and literacy requirements. I thought that if I could get an A* it may make up for me resitting twice, but since you informed me of this I'll just aim for the minimum (B).

Also yeah, most IGCSE students from my country are at a huge disadvantage when applying to GCSE-heavy schools, as in my case and the case of all of my classmates we were only able to take a maximum of 6 subjects.

Could you let me know of any unis to avoid or any to look out for? Keeping in mind their resit policies, I've found that Leeds (if I retake maths and get a B), Exeter, Newcastle, Bristol, Southampton, etc. etc. would work for me, as they are generally less focused on GCSE grades and focus more on UCAT, and also have relatively lenient policies on resits.

Leeds is massively GCSE heavy for UK applicants, but I don't know if they score internationals differently

Original post by artful_lounger
The GCSE heavy ones I know of are:

Aston
Birmingham
Cardiff
Dundee
HYMS (smaller emphasis on GCSEs but they are scored)
KCL
KMMS
Leicester
Lincoln (smaller emphasis on GCSEs but they are scored)
Nottincham (smaller emphasis on GCSEs but they are scored)
QUB

This was for last year though, not sure if any have changed their shortlisting methodologies since then. For example, Oxford was historically one of the most, if not the most, GCSE heavy medical schools - but over COVID they dropped GCSEs entirely from their shortlisting and have indicated they don't plan to use them again currently even "post-COVID".

I'd probably suggest just avoiding all of the ones on that list as even those where GCSEs are a smaller part of the shortlisting scoring, you will probably lose too many points to be competitive. Best to just focus on the ones where your GCSEs are a non-factor - particularly with the various issues otherwise regarding retakes/taking subjects over more than 2 years/not taking a full set of 3 subject exams in one go/etc.

PRSOM
I never cease to be amazed at your knowledge of medicine applications!

You need to add Leeds and Edinburgh as scoring GCSE, plus those with high minimum requirements, eg Manchester need 7 x As, UEA need 6 x As.
Birmingham do not use GCSEs for internationals, just UCAT and PS review
(edited 10 months ago)
Original post by GANFYD
Leeds is massively GCSE heavy for UK applicants, but I don't know if they score internationals differently


PRSOM
I never cease to be amazed at your knowledge of medicine applications!

You need to add Leeds and Edinburgh as scoring GCSE, plus those with high minimum requirements, eg Manchester need 7 x As, UEA need 6 x As.
Birmingham do not use GCSEs for internationals, just UCAT and PS review

Ah thank you, but it's really all thanks to @_Rusty_ who does all the leg work finding out all the info and posting it for people, I've just picked up stuff from the bits they put together! :biggrin:

Good to know about those ones I missed (and exceptions!) though. Didn't know the minimum requirements for Manchester and UEA were so relatively steep :O
(edited 10 months ago)
Original post by artful_lounger
Ah thank you, but it's really all thanks to @_Rusty_ who does all the leg work finding out all the info and posting it for people, I've just picked up stuff from the bits they put together! :biggrin:

Good to know about those ones I missed (and exceptions!) though. Didn't know the minimum requirements for Manchester and UEA were so relatively steep :O

Oh absolutely not lol

Thanks for the comment but i know barely anything - you’re incredible
Original post by _Rusty_
Oh absolutely not lol

Thanks for the comment but i know barely anything - you’re incredible

Thank you! But really everything I pick up is from people like you and GANFYD who are the life of the medicine forum and put everything together (and then hold it together!) :biggrin: You definitely earn the kudos!

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