What Are The A-level Requirements For Medicine?

What A-levels do you need to be a doctor and study Medicine in the UK? Find out which A-level subjects you need for Medicine and how many you should take to improve your chances of receiving an offer.

Author: Rob Needleman

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What A-levels do I need to reach my goal of becoming a doctor?

It might be a daunting prospect having to choose subjects that could guide your future career. Fortunately, most medical schools have clear information on what they require.

To help make the process less daunting, we have gone through how many A-level subjects you should take, which subjects you should choose, and what Cambridge and Oxford say they prefer for students applying to Medicine. 

How Many A-level Subjects Do You Need For Medicine?

Choosing the number of A-level subjects to take is a balance between meeting the Medicine A-level entry requirements and achieving high grades to compete with your fellow applicants.  

Students take at least three A-levels (not including resits), and most medical school offers will be a minimum of AAA. Taking four A-levels may be a way to demonstrate your academic ability, but don’t take on more than three if the extra A-level will impinge on how well you can perform. Ultimately, your grades are far more important than taking more A-levels than is necessary.

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What do Oxford and Cambridge say about how many A-levels you should take?

Oxford and Cambridge state that there is no requirement to offer more than three A-levels, and it is recognised that not all schools are able to accommodate students taking four A-levels. They go on to suggest that excelling in three relevant to the degree you are applying to is almost always preferable to performing well, but not as highly in more than three A-levels. 

Let’s look at how many A-level subjects students apply with, using the A-level admissions statistics for Oxford Medicine applicants. The data comes from a Freedom of Information Request on the 2019 UCAS Cycle.

Oxford Medicine A-level Admissions Statistics


It is important to remember that the average success rate for Oxford Medicine is 9%. As only 9% of Oxford applicants are successful, this means that not all students who applied with 4 or more A*s gained a place, showing how competitive it is to get into Oxford Medicine.

Fortunately, your A-levels are just one part of your entire application, so although it will help, you don’t need to apply to Oxford or Cambridge with 5 A*s to secure a place. Going back to what Oxbridge say about the number of A-levels needed, although they say 3, you can see from the Medicine applicants that applying with 4 will help you compete with the cohort.

Of course, you should still always prioritise achieving higher grades over taking more than 3 A-levels. 

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What A-levels Are Needed For Medicine?

There is a variety of subjects you can take for your A-Levels, but only a few are really going to help you get your medicine offer, so you need to choose carefully. 

Taking A-level Chemistry is a must for Medicine. You may be surprised that it is not Biology that is required by all medical schools as some will only require Chemistry. However, most medical schools will state that your second A-level should be either Biology, Physics or Maths.

Not taking Biology will have a negative impact on your learning at the start of your Medicine degree, and you are likely to be quizzed on Biology-related questions during your Interview. Since medicine and Biology are so intrinsically linked, you will likely already have an interest in the subject if you wish to study medicine at university. So studying Biology at A-Levels will be a fairly obvious choice to make. 


For applicants applying to Medicine, Cambridge ask for:

Cambridge mention that 95% of applicants for Medicine offered three or more science/mathematics A-levels and, of these, 23% were successful in obtaining a place. Of the 4% of applicants who offered only two science/mathematics A-levels, just 3% were successful in gaining a place.

Which A-Level subjects are not needed for Medicine?

Critical Thinking and General Studies are two A-levels that may not be considered full A-levels by medical schools, although they may be helpful additions to your A-level study if compulsory at your school. BTECs may not be looked on as full A-level subjects by some medical schools too. 

Do You Need Maths for Medicine?

Mathematics is always a useful subject to study and is almost always accepted as an additional A-Level alongside the three sciences. However, it is rarely a requirement for medical schools, so if you aren’t interested in studying it over a different subject that is relevant to medicine, you shouldn’t have any trouble being eligible for offers. 

Final Words

The main thing when applying is to work as hard as you can, for the best grades that you can, and that will stand you in good stead to do well in the application process. A touch of realism is critical – if you aren’t predicted the grades the course is asking for, then you should seriously consider whether or not it is suitable for you, or what you could do to bring your grades up. 

Although there is a vast array of information about Medicine A-level entry requirements, the message is clear, Chemistry is compulsory, and Biology, Physics and Maths should be your other three choices if you feel you can achieve high grades on four A-levels. If not, then Oxford and Cambridge say that they mostly prefer students who achieve high grades on three relevant subjects, rather than perform less well on four.

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