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Questions about GEM courses.

Hello everyone/anyone

I am new here so not to certain how this works! I am looking to apply for some GEM courses next year (2025 - to start in 2026). I have some questions about the requirements which I haven't been able to find the answer to and was wondering if anyone could help me:

1) I had a leave of absence during my degree (it was a long time, three years, due to depression; in fact, this is what inspired me to pursue medicine) and I came across a university that didn't accept degrees if there had been a leave of absence (I think it was Manchester?). I wanted to know, is this standard practice? because I am kind of stuffed if it is!

2) I also wanted to know about a-level resits, do unis look down on them? I got ABC in my original a-levels (Sociology, Psychology, History with a B in AS Biology and and an A in AS Citizenship) and am looking to do Chemistry this summer and then Biology and Maths next summer. Will universities looked down on the ones I plan to sit because they're not my original ones? Or will they not even class a resits as I have never sat them before (except AS biology)?

3) How does referencing for work experience work? I am planning on signing up to an agency for healthcare assistant roles, as well as doing volunteering work. I've realised that that could mean working in different departments and not necessarily being in 'one' place or under 'one' manager all the time, and that this might make it difficult to get references as there may not be someone who knows me well enough to provide the reference? Can the agency provide a reference? Or should I just get references along the way from whoever is in charge?

Also my stats are:
GSCES - 2A*s, 7As, 1B, 1 Distinction
A Levels - ABC + AB at AS
Degree - 1st class (got the best grade and dissertation result in my cohort)
Could anyone assess how reasonable my chances are for grad med, and if there is anything extra I should be doing to improve those chances?

Apologies for the length, I hope someone finds the time to answer and thank them very much in advance for doing so!
Original post by Onamission1
Hello everyone/anyone

I am new here so not to certain how this works! I am looking to apply for some GEM courses next year (2025 - to start in 2026). I have some questions about the requirements which I haven't been able to find the answer to and was wondering if anyone could help me:

1) I had a leave of absence during my degree (it was a long time, three years, due to depression; in fact, this is what inspired me to pursue medicine) and I came across a university that didn't accept degrees if there had been a leave of absence (I think it was Manchester?). I wanted to know, is this standard practice? because I am kind of stuffed if it is!

2) I also wanted to know about a-level resits, do unis look down on them? I got ABC in my original a-levels (Sociology, Psychology, History with a B in AS Biology and and an A in AS Citizenship) and am looking to do Chemistry this summer and then Biology and Maths next summer. Will universities looked down on the ones I plan to sit because they're not my original ones? Or will they not even class a resits as I have never sat them before (except AS biology)?

3) How does referencing for work experience work? I am planning on signing up to an agency for healthcare assistant roles, as well as doing volunteering work. I've realised that that could mean working in different departments and not necessarily being in 'one' place or under 'one' manager all the time, and that this might make it difficult to get references as there may not be someone who knows me well enough to provide the reference? Can the agency provide a reference? Or should I just get references along the way from whoever is in charge?

Also my stats are:
GSCES - 2A*s, 7As, 1B, 1 Distinction
A Levels - ABC + AB at AS
Degree - 1st class (got the best grade and dissertation result in my cohort)
Could anyone assess how reasonable my chances are for grad med, and if there is anything extra I should be doing to improve those chances?

Apologies for the length, I hope someone finds the time to answer and thank them very much in advance for doing so!

Hi there,

Thought I'd chime in as a 2024 applicant because I was in a similar situation to you on point (1). For me it was resit years, not a leave of absence. I got interviews with all my choices and so taking longer to finish my degree didn't automatically disqualify me as a candidate. I was worried about that too, but as far as I know, courses will explictly say whether or not they need you to have completed the degree within the years it would 'ordinarily take' to finish your degree. I think there are only a couple of such courses, and they tend to require a science undergrad, which meant they weren't options for me to begin with.

For (2) it depends on the uni. The vast majority don't care about whether the are resits or not, and for many of them, they just want to see that you can academically cope with science, which is why many allow substantial modules of undergrad chemistry in lieu of an A Level.

Following the theme of the previous answers, (3) depends on the uni. Many do a work experience questionnaire which will vary in terms of how much detail they need for their reference and how many hours they need. If you are aiming for Warwick, it might be an idea to reach out to them before the application deadline, explain what type of work you've done and ask how you would go about getting the reference and who would be most appropriate person to give you a reference. I didn't apply to Warwick, but I will say that I've heard that people more often struggle with getting the reference off of their employer than they do with Warwick ultimately accepting it. As long as you have experience with at least two different organisations, and there's someone there who agrees to give you a reference, you should be set for Warwick and they are the most stringent about WEX requirements.
Reply 2
Original post by philo_pastry
Hi there,

Thought I'd chime in as a 2024 applicant because I was in a similar situation to you on point (1). For me it was resit years, not a leave of absence. I got interviews with all my choices and so taking longer to finish my degree didn't automatically disqualify me as a candidate. I was worried about that too, but as far as I know, courses will explictly say whether or not they need you to have completed the degree within the years it would 'ordinarily take' to finish your degree. I think there are only a couple of such courses, and they tend to require a science undergrad, which meant they weren't options for me to begin with.

For (2) it depends on the uni. The vast majority don't care about whether the are resits or not, and for many of them, they just want to see that you can academically cope with science, which is why many allow substantial modules of undergrad chemistry in lieu of an A Level.

Following the theme of the previous answers, (3) depends on the uni. Many do a work experience questionnaire which will vary in terms of how much detail they need for their reference and how many hours they need. If you are aiming for Warwick, it might be an idea to reach out to them before the application deadline, explain what type of work you've done and ask how you would go about getting the reference and who would be most appropriate person to give you a reference. I didn't apply to Warwick, but I will say that I've heard that people more often struggle with getting the reference off of their employer than they do with Warwick ultimately accepting it. As long as you have experience with at least two different organisations, and there's someone there who agrees to give you a reference, you should be set for Warwick and they are the most stringent about WEX requirements.

Thank you so much for your reply, I very much appreciate it! It has put me at ease regarding many of my concerns 😀

Congrats on your success, have you had the interviews yet? May I ask, if you're ok with answering, what your stats were and which unis you applied to?

Thanks again!
Original post by Onamission1
Thank you so much for your reply, I very much appreciate it! It has put me at ease regarding many of my concerns 😀

Congrats on your success, have you had the interviews yet? May I ask, if you're ok with answering, what your stats were and which unis you applied to?

Thanks again!

Thank you! Pretty surprised about the success to be honest!

I applied to ScotGEM, Nottingham and Swansea, and then Aberdeen as my one undergrad/A100 choice. Just found out today that I was accepted to Aberdeen (which is a great choice if you don't mind doing A100 and have a UCAT on the weaker side, because they seem to value an undergrad degree quite highly in their ranking of applicants).

I had my Aberdeen interview back in December, and I just had my ScotGEM interview this week. UCAT: 2470, GAMSAT: 58 weighted, 60 unweighted.

GAMSAT unis are a lot more forgiving as far as A Levels go, and they are also the unis which are more open to accepting non-science grads (sorry, I don't know what your undergrad degree was in). The trade off is the GAMSAT is the more punishing exam, both in terms of cost, exam time and how much you have to revise.
Reply 4
Just adding to the warwick point. They want 70 hours of work experience within the last 3 years. 20 in one and 50 in another. Any work experience counts so HCA/carer etc. Proof of work experience was my rota sheets plus reference from manager. I only had one work experience, they still accepted it but I got in at the beginning of covid so they might've been more leanient.

Also warwick doesn't care about ur a-levels at all. So you don't even need to pay for retakes with them.
(edited 4 months ago)
Reply 5
Original post by philo_pastry
Thank you! Pretty surprised about the success to be honest!

I applied to ScotGEM, Nottingham and Swansea, and then Aberdeen as my one undergrad/A100 choice. Just found out today that I was accepted to Aberdeen (which is a great choice if you don't mind doing A100 and have a UCAT on the weaker side, because they seem to value an undergrad degree quite highly in their ranking of applicants).

I had my Aberdeen interview back in December, and I just had my ScotGEM interview this week. UCAT: 2470, GAMSAT: 58 weighted, 60 unweighted.

GAMSAT unis are a lot more forgiving as far as A Levels go, and they are also the unis which are more open to accepting non-science grads (sorry, I don't know what your undergrad degree was in). The trade off is the GAMSAT is the more punishing exam, both in terms of cost, exam time and how much you have to revise.

All down to your hardwork I'm sure!

Unfortunately I would only be able to do GEM courses as I wouldn't be able to fund A100. I intend to just go for UCAT universities because, as you say, the GAMSAT is a lot tougher for many reasons. But I think if I don't make it first time around, which I know many don't, I may consider the GAMSAT for the next application.

And yes my degree was in sociology so non-science, which does limit the options slightly. That's partly why I am planning on doing the science a-levels, and also just for myself because I want to (I'm weird like that!).
Reply 6
Original post by sxasx
Just adding to the warwick point. They want 70 hours of work experience within the last 3 years. 20 in one and 50 in another. Any work experience counts so HCA/carer etc. Proof of work experience was my rota sheets plus reference from manager. I only had one work experience, they still accepted it but I got in at the beginning of covid so they might've been more leanient.

Also warwick doesn't care about ur a-levels at all. So you don't even need to pay for retakes with them.

Thanks for this! Warwick is going to be one of the unis I apply for, and I know they have the toughest work experience requirements. I am going to apply for some HCA jobs soon and intend to do so through an agency. I was just concerned that I may struggle to get references through an agency, particularly if I work in different places or different wards etc.

Regarding the A-Levels, to be honest I'm mainly doing them because it's something I want to do for myself as I wish I had tried harder the first time around. Also I believe there are a couple of unis who do look at them for the non-science grads so may provide me with a couple more options. And I suppose, assuming I don't completely flop them (which is very possible lol), I will be able to talk about them as evidence of my ability to study.

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