The AFP Application Process

First Published: 5 June 2020
Updated: 6 June 2020 

Written by Lieze @BecomingaDr AFP Team

I’m Lieze, a recent Imperial College graduate who is starting her Haematology AFP in Brighton, in August 2020. All through medical school I have been heavily involved with medical education, organising tutorials, mock exams and the like, and currently am a Module Lead for Becoming a Dr’s upcoming AFP course.

The AFP Application Process

Over the last few years, the Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) has become increasingly popular amongst finals years. Currently, around 30% of final years apply for an AFP, even though they make up only 5% of Foundation Year posts! You might therefore be curious about how the application system works. This blog is the first in a series of articles where we’ll be taking you through the AFP application process.

The Application Process

The general format of the application process is as follows:

In this article, we’ll talk about each of these one by one.

  1. Oriel Application

The different AFP posts are available to view on Oriel from mid-August, although the application process doesn’t start until the end of September. During the application window you can apply for:

  1. The Foundation Programme
  2. The Academic Foundation Programme
  3. Foundation Priority Programme
  4. Psychiatry Foundation Fellowship

You must complete your Foundation Programme (FP) application before you can submit your AFP application. AFP programmes are divided into different areas, known as Academic Units of Application, similar to deaneries in the Foundation Programme. You can apply to a maximum of two Academic Units of Application (AUoAs), instead of ranking all deaneries as in the FP application. Before applying, look at the programmes each AUoAs offer and their method of recruitment to see which would best fit you. For both these applications you will be asked to rank the jobs offered within your chosen AUoAs that you want to apply for. You do not have to rank every job available. Once submitted, you cannot change your rankings.

Will applying to AFP affect my other applications?

No, not until the offers stage. You can apply to all the above categories without any detriment to your other applications

           2. Longlisting

This part of the process is not applicable for most areas. Examples of areas that longlist are London, Wales and Yorkshire & Humber. Longlisting means these areas will have an initial selection using the decile score awarded by your university. If you are below a certain decile your application is automatically rejected. Although this is unfortunate, you can often see the decile cut offs from previous years to see where you stand.

As part of your Foundation application there are a maximum of 43 points for your university decile. If you are in the top 10% of your year, your score is 43. If in the second decile, 42; the third, 41 etc. Cut-off scores vary year on year, an example for London can be seen in the table below. Applicants are notified of the longlisting stage outcome a few days after the AFP application deadline.


Decile cut off score









Decile cut off score for the London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex AUoA

              3. Shortlisting

There are a variety of methods and scoring systems to shortlist candidates. Here we briefly describe the main methods used.

Educational Achievements

Within your initial AFP application on Oriel you can list up to 32 additional educational achievements, including prizes, presentations, posters, publications and any additional degrees. AUoAs will review these achievements and assign you a score.

White Space Questions

These questions are like a mini personal statement, with written answers to pre-set questions. Questions are specific to which area you apply, normally released around 6 weeks before the application deadline.

All areas will ask for your educational achievements, but not all areas require white space questions.

Candidates with the highest shortlisting scores are then invited for an interview. For more info on the shortlisting process and how you can maximise your score, keep your eyes out for more info from Becoming a Dr over the next few weeks.


         4. Interviews

Interviews normally take place between November to January – exact dates should be available on Oriel from mid-August. The format of the interview varies widely, though the majority of AUoAs will have at least two panel interviews. Common interview scenarios include discussing your application and research, critical appraisal of a reach paper, communication skills or a clinical scenario.

After the interviews each candidate will be assigned an “AFP match ranking score” within their AUoA. This consists of your decile, interview score and shortlisting score. Each AUoA will decide the weightings of these factors

The SJT does not contribute to your match ranking score, however a “satisfactory” SJT score is required to be eligible for an offer.

         5. Offer cascade

In mid-January, the candidates with the highest “AFP match ranking score” will be offered an AFP. You have 48 hours to accept the offer, after this they assume you have rejected your offer. However, if you accept an AFP offer and then later reject it, you will be withdrawn from the application process, including from Foundation Programme allocations.

After this first round of offers a cascade system kicks in. This means that any offers that were rejected in the first round, are then re-offered to other applicants. There are four offer rounds in total, one round each week.

Once you accept an AFP offer your other applications will be withdrawn, including the Foundation Programme. Unsuccessful AFP applicants are automatically included in the Foundation Programme allocation process.

General Timeline

This timeline is based off the UK Foundation Programme 2021 Applicants Handbook. To find the exact dates relevant to your application year, search the UK Foundation Programme Handbook for your equivalent year.

20th July – 2nd Sept 2020

Eligibility applications, i.e. if your medical school is outside the UK or you qualified before August 2018

10th August 2020

AFPs available to view on Oriel

12th October 2020

Oriel registration opens

19th Oct – 4th Nov 2020

Oriel applications open for FP, AFP, FPP and PFF

4th Nov 2020 – 8th Jan 2021

AFP recruiting process

7th-19th Dec 2020

First SJT date (remote assessments)

18th-23rd Jan 2021

Second SJT date (remote assessments)

13th-15 Jan 2021

First round of AFP offers, 3 subsequent rounds, each one week apart

17th-19th Feb 2021

FPP offers released (48 hours to respond)

11th March 2021

FP deanery allocations

Useful Resources


Hopefully you’ve now got a better idea of the overall process for applying to the Academic Foundation Programme. Be aware this is simply an overview! Keep your eyes peeled for more articles like this one, where we’ll be going into more depth about each aspect of the application process.

We have several exciting upcoming activities coming up to support YOU prepare for YOUR AFP applications! These include:

  • The rest of our AFP blog series, covering the application process and what you can do to make a competitive application
  • An online panel discussion featuring our team of AFP doctors with a Q&As on preparing for your AFP applications
  • The official launch of the Becoming an AFP doctor programme, featuring an innovative series of e-modules to help you get your AFP jobs
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Elliot is a St George’s graduate currently working as an F1 Doctor in East London. As the first in his family to apply to university, Elliot is well aware of the barriers that can be faced in trying to get to medical school. He is passionate about widening access to medicine for underrepresented groups.
 He was the representative for St George’s on the BMA Medical Students Committee, and has done lots of work with local schools and colleges to raise awareness of medicine as a career, as well as working on admissions policies with the widening participation team St George’s. Elliot is part of the @BecomingaDr outreach team and National Health Careers Conference Team.