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.

Last Updated: 19th October 2018

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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

3
4
5

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. 

Oxford Medicine Grade Requirements (A-Levels, IB, Advanced Highers, BTEC, Others)
Oxford Medicine Grade Requirements (A-Levels, IB, Advanced Highers, BTEC, Others)

For applicants applying to Medicine, Oxford ask for:

cambridge-medicine-entry-requirements
cambridge-medicine-entry-requirements

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. 

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UK Medical School A-Level Requirements (A - Z)

Below are the current A-Level grade requirements for every medical school in the UK, including subject requirements and available contextual/alternate offers. 

Medical SchoolA-Level Grade RequirementsA-Level Subject RequirementsContextual/Alternate Offer?
University of AberdeenAAAChemistry, plus one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics and 1 other subjectNA
Anglia Ruskin UniversityAAAChemistry or Biology, plus one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Mathematics and 1 other subjectNA
Aston UniversityA*AAChemistry and Biology (A* in one), plus 1 other subjectAAB (A in Chemistry and Biology)
Bangor UniversityAAABiology and one of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Statistics or Economics and 1 other subject AAB
University of BirminghamA*AABiology and Chemistry1 – 2 grades lower
Brighton & Sussex Medical SchoolAAABiology and Chemistry NA
University of BristolAAAChemistry and one of Biology, Physics, Mathematics or Further MathematicsAAB (A in Chemistry and B in Biology, Physics or Mathematics)
Brunel University LondonAABA in Chemistry or Biology A in one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics or MathematicsNA
University of CambridgeA*A*AChemistry and two of Biology, Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics or Further MathematicsNA
Cardiff UniversityAAAChemistry and BiologyNA
University of DundeeAAAChemistry, plus one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics and 1 other subjectABB
Edge Hill UniversityAAAChemistry and Biology plus 1 other subjectIf A* is achieved in Chemistry or Biology, the third subject can be a B (e.g. A*AB)
University of EdinburghA*AAA* in Chemistry, plus one of Biology, Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics or Further MathematicsAAA
University of ExeterAAAChemistry and BiologyAAC (A in Chemistry and Biology)
University of GlasgowAAAChemistry, plus one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics NA
Hull York Medical SchoolAAAChemistry and Biology plus 1 other subjectAAB (A in Chemistry and Biology)
Imperial College LondonAAA – A*AAChemistry and Biology plus 1 other subjectNA
Keele UniversityA*AAChemistry or Biology, plus one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Statistics, Economics or Psychology and 1 other subjectAAA + EPQ
Kent & Medway Medical SchoolAABChemistry or Biology, plus one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology or Computer Science and 1 other subjectNA
King’s College LondonA*AAChemistry and BiologyNA
Lancaster UniversityAAAAny 2 of Chemistry, Biology and PsychologyAABB or AAB + EPQ
University of LeedsAAAChemistry and BiologyABB (Chemistry and Biology with an A in either)
University of LeicesterA*AAChemistry or Biology, plus one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics or Psychology and 1 other subjectAAAB or AAB – AAA
University of LiverpoolUniversity of LiverpoolAAAChemistry, plus one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics and 1 other subjectIf A* is achieved in Chemistry and A achieved in science or maths, the third subject can be a B (e.g. A*AB)
University of LincolnAAAChemistry and BiologyAAB
University of ManchesterAAAChemistry or Biology, plus one of Chemistry, Biology, Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics or Psychology and 1 other subjectNA
Newcastle UniversityAAANABBB
University of NottinghamAAAChemistry and BiologyAAB (A in Chemistry or Biology)
Norwich Medical School (University of East Anglia)AAAChemistry or BiologyNA
University of OxfordA*AAChemistry, plus one of Biology, Physics, Mathematics or Further Mathematics and 1 other subjectNA
University of PlymouthA*AABiology and one of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics or Psychology and 1 other subjectAAB (A in Biology and one of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics or Psychology)
Queen Mary University of LondonA*AAChemistry or Biology and one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, or Mathematics and 1 other subjectNA
Queen’s University BelfastA*AAChemistry and either Biology or Mathematics, Physics and AS Biology at Grade BAAA + A at AS (including A-Level in Chemistry and one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics
University of SheffieldAAAChemistry or Biology and one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, or Mathematics and 1 other subjectAAB (Chemistry or Biology and one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, or Mathematics) or AAB (Chemistry or Biology) + A in EPQ
University of SouthamptonAAABiology and one of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology, Environmental Studies or Geography and 1 other subjectAAB (A in Biology and one of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology, Environmental Studies or Geography)
University of St. AndrewsAAAChemistry, plus one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics and 1 other subjectAAB (Chemistry, plus one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics)
St. George’s University of LondonA*AA – AAAChemistry and BiologyABB (Chemistry and Biology)
University of SunderlandAAAChemistry or Biology and one of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, or Mathematics and 1 other subjectNA
University College LondonA*AAChemistry and Biology with either at A*1 or 2 grades lower (with Chemistry and Biology)
Warwick Medical SchoolA-Levels are not considered at Warwick Medical School as they only offer a Graduate degree.NANA

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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