get into medical school with "BAD" grades

Updated: Dec 27, 2018

Don't have "perfect grades" but want to apply to medical school? Students around the world have been told time and time again that they require top grades to get into medical school. Yet, every year, top universities accept students without perfect grades. What can you do to boost your application if you don't have a string of A*s?


Medical schools understand that some deserving applicants may not have achieved all A*s at GCSEs and A levels due to difficult personal circumstances, and some may have had a bad day during their exams. When reviewing the applications of students with imperfect grades, medical schools will be looking for commitment and drive.

Students who do not have perfect grades should seek as much work experience as possible, many successful applicants would have taken a gap year and worked in a clinical environment as a healthcare assistant. Working in a clinical environment allows you to develop a deep understanding of the characteristics you will need to hone to become a doctor, and will make you comfortable working with patients.

Sacrificing your time to work in hospitals or clinics also demonstrates that you are serious about pursuing a medical career and will be seen as a particular strength during your interview. The experiences you have will be invaluable for your medical school interview as many of the questions will centre around examples of teamwork, leadership and good communication that you have witnessed.


Volunteering is another great way of showing admissions panels that you are committed to working with people and have made an effort to develop your interpersonal skills. Volunteering can take on many forms - you could volunteer in a care home, charity shop, hospital or you could even organise your own charity event!

Charities and care organisations are always crying out for volunteers. If you are struggling to to find something appropriate, contact our helpful team of advisors today - we may be able to point you in the right direction.


If you have played sports to a high level, universities will make allowances for your academic transcript. Applicants who have played a sport at the national or international level and have managed to have reasonable grades are seen to be dedicated, disciplined and highly capable of time management. Universities are also on the lookout for students who are able to contribute to their sports clubs.


Have you been a leader of a society at school or outside of school? Have you formed a special interest club yourself? Universities are likely to look at this favourably as it demonstrates initiative, organisational ability as well as strong leadership. Many students forget about the clubs and societies they have been part of when putting together their medical school application - it is worth spending some time going through old certificates or asking your family to help you make a list of achievements.


Bear in mind that many medical schools give equal weighting to both academic results and BMAT/UKCAT scores. Oxford University ranks their candidates based equally on their GCSEs and BMAT score. If you have weaker academic grades, prepare early and thoroughly for the entrance exams to score the maximum number of points available.

Apex Medicine has a wealth of resources for medical school applicants to ensure success. Sign up to Apex Medicine for exclusive access to these resources.


The Extended Project Qualification is a qualification offered by schools in England and Wales and is equivalent to half an A level. It requires students to undertake self-directed research on a topic of their choice and produce a research report. Medical schools such as UCL view the EPQ favourably because it not only fosters research skills, but may form an interesting topic of discussion during the interview. If you are not taking an EPQ, it may be worthwhile considering doing research in your own time, especially if applying to UCL.

Medicine with a Foundation Year

Many medical schools now recognise that students who are bright and well-suited to a medical career may not have achieved their academic potential due to adverse educational and social situations.

These medical schools offer motivated students a supportive environment to ease them into undergraduate medicine. Peninsula Medical School offers a BMBS Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery with Foundation (Year 0) that is aimed specifically at students who have not achieved stellar grades.

Others, such as the University of Leicester and Kings College London offer widening participation programmes aimed at students from a non-selective state school who live in an underprivileged area.


Do not be disheartened if you do not have "perfect" grades. Medical schools are most interested in recruiting enthusiastic, committed students who are well rounded.

If you would like a review of your application or would simply like impartial advice about the feasibility of your application, contact us today at or +447542543317.

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