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Gap year before applying to medicine

I am currently in Year 12. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my performance in my mocks wasn't up to par. Despite believing in my capability to achieve top grades, my teachers lack evidence of my potential at A/A* grades.

Additionally, my GCSE results were also impacted by circumstances beyond my control, despite performing well in GCSE mocks (all 9s, but my actual result was nowhere near). My aspirations for top universities (Oxbridge) seem very uncertain at the moment.

Considering these challenges, I'm contemplating taking a gap year. This would alleviate the pressure of UCAT preparation and allow me to focus on achieving top grades, which I believe would strengthen my academic record. During this gap year, I'm considering the possibility of resitting my GCSEs to further bolster my application for medicine.

However, this decision would mean delaying my university application until October 2026, with a prospective start in 2027!

One of the reasons behind this choice is the difficulty I'm facing with my school's predictions, as they understandably lack sufficient evidence of my potential due to the disruptions I've experienced hence giving me a really hard time and this is doing nothing but impacting my mental health.

When I tell them about the gap year at least they will stop bugging me as they are forcing me to drop Physics ( I am doing bio, chem, physics and psychology) I want to drop psychology but they wouldn't let me as I have got an A* but in physics I have done quite bad (but that's because I didn't put any effort due circumstances)

What are your takes?
Original post by sufidreamphil
I am currently in Year 12. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my performance in my mocks wasn't up to par. Despite believing in my capability to achieve top grades, my teachers lack evidence of my potential at A/A* grades.

Additionally, my GCSE results were also impacted by circumstances beyond my control, despite performing well in GCSE mocks (all 9s, but my actual result was nowhere near). My aspirations for top universities (Oxbridge) seem very uncertain at the moment.

Considering these challenges, I'm contemplating taking a gap year. This would alleviate the pressure of UCAT preparation and allow me to focus on achieving top grades, which I believe would strengthen my academic record. During this gap year, I'm considering the possibility of resitting my GCSEs to further bolster my application for medicine.

However, this decision would mean delaying my university application until October 2026, with a prospective start in 2027!

One of the reasons behind this choice is the difficulty I'm facing with my school's predictions, as they understandably lack sufficient evidence of my potential due to the disruptions I've experienced hence giving me a really hard time and this is doing nothing but impacting my mental health.

When I tell them about the gap year at least they will stop bugging me as they are forcing me to drop Physics ( I am doing bio, chem, physics and psychology) I want to drop psychology but they wouldn't let me as I have got an A* but in physics I have done quite bad (but that's because I didn't put any effort due circumstances)

What are your takes?

Multiple things I think need to be pointed out here.

Firstly, there is no such thing as a "top university" for medicine. The GMC considers all medical schools equal, and all medical schools need to meet the same stringent criteria to be accredited by the GMC. The only employer offering graduate medical training posts is the NHS which takes this same stance and to ensure there is no bias, blinds recruiters from your medical school so they can't know where you studied. Stop thinking about things in such terms as it's unhelpful and really a bit juvenile honestly.

Secondly, there is literally no reason to take physics if you are doing badly in it, especially when the subject you are otherwise doing well in you are on track to get an A* in? Medical schools don't care what your third subject is except Cambridge, and you would just be shooting yourself in the foot by forcing yourself to continue physics. Doing physics would be actively making your own life harder and making it so you are less likely to get into medicine, not more likely.

Thirdly, in terms of GCSEs, not all medical schools even score GCSEs. Even with poor GCSEs you would be as good an applicant as anyone else applying to medical schools with only minimum requirements for GCSEs (e.g. Imperial, UCL), provided you met those requirements. Equally the medical schools that score GCSEs I suspect will take issue with retakes for them anyway. So you should not focus on GCSE heavy medical schools (e.g. Oxford, Cardiff) and focus on those that either score them but that you would still maximise your points in their shortlisting methodology, or the aforementioned medical schools with only minimum requirements.

Finally you've not stated what your A-level predictions are which limits how far people can advise whether to apply this year or in a gap year, but alluded to a prediction of A* in psychology. If you are predicted As in chemistry and biology there is no reason not to apply this year (for deferred entry if you still wanted to do a gap year). If you aren't predicted As in both then it depends on what your predictions are as that may limit where you can apply but you may still be able to apply to some medical schools - and you may as well do so in that case to have at least one additional application cycle to try applying.

You need to spend some serious time learning how medical schools actually shortlist applicants, and I think more to the point about the profession itself. Your logic behind this seems to be assuming you need top grades at GCSE for all medical school (you don't) that you need A-level Physics (you don't) or that you should only bother doing medicine if you go to a "prestigious" university for it (which makes no sense in the context of the profession as outlined above). Which reveals some significant errors in judgment which have led you to this proposal which may well be completely unnecessary and counterproductive even.

At the end of the day medicine is about applying tactically to get into any medical school. Once you do that you are on the conveyor belt to a foundation post (at least, at present) and thus starting your medical career. Focus on the most efficient and minimalist route to achieving that goal - getting into any medical school.
(edited 1 month ago)
That is extremely helpful. Thank you so much.

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