Welcome to the Graduate Entry Medicine section! We hope this will help you to learn more about Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) and navigate the application process. 

What is GEM?

In certain countries such as the US, studying medicine as a graduate is the only way to become a doctor (See our article on Becoming a Doctor in the USA here). However, in the UK, it is possible to apply to an undergraduate medical course during your A-Levels.

 Undergraduate medical courses are 5 or 6 years long, whereas GEM courses are accelerated versions of the course, designed to be completed in 4 years. Undergraduate courses are open to both undergraduates and postgraduates, with GEM courses being open exclusively to graduates.

The main reasons graduates wishing to study medicine apply to GEM courses are due to their shorter length compared to undergraduate courses, as well as more funding being available. However, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, GEM is more competitive than undergraduate medicine due to fewer places being available. Secondly, it is also more intense that undergraduate courses due to the accelerated nature, however, the accelerated nature is attractive to many given they have spent at least 3 years at university. 

Where can you study GEM?

The following universities offer GEM courses:

        University of Birmingham Medical School

        University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine

        Cardiff University School of Medicine

        King’s College London School of Medical Education

        University of Liverpool School of Medicine

        Newcastle University Medical School

        University of Nottingham Medical School

        University of Oxford Medical School

        Queen Mary University, Barts and the London School of Medicine

        University of Sheffield Medical School

        University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine

        ScotGEM (University of Dundee and University of St Andrews)

        St George’s, University of London

        Swansea University Medical School

        University of Warwick Medical School

 Please note, some of these medical schools have specific degree and/or A-Level requirements. These requirements can be found on their websites as well as on this page from the Medical Schools Council. Please always check with the universities directly as courses and requirements are always subject to change. 

How to Apply

Make a list of all of the medical schools that you can and want to apply to. Consider degree/A-Levels requirements; teaching style; living costs in the area; schools/childcare; admissions statistics and interview methods (information available here). Note: (1) some applicants choose to apply to a mixture of GEM and undergraduate courses to increase their chances of receiving an offer, (2) you can only apply to four medical schools in each cycle.

Which admissions tests do your chosen medical schools require? Narrow your list down further if there are some tests you do not wish to do. Book the tests and prepare for them. Revise your final list of schools based on test scores if necessary. Tests to consider include UCAT, GAMSAT and BMAT.

When applying as an undergraduate, your school takes the lead on writing and attaching your reference onto your application. As a graduate, applying independently, it is your responsibility to find a suitable referee and ensure they complete your reference on UCAS. Ideally, your academic reference should be from someone at your university, such as a personal tutor or lecturer. However, if you are unable to obtain a reference from your university, a reference from an employer or work experience supervisor may also be accepted – check this with each medical school you apply to. 

Students can find this part of the application process difficult – click here for some guidance.

Your application is to be submitted through UCAS, for the 2020/21 application cycle, the deadline is 15th October. It is usually this date every year. 

Check out our section on preparing for interviews, it is always good practice to keep up to date with medical topics in the news as well as learn more about the institutions you have applied to.

If your application is successful, then celebrate and prepare to become a medical student! However, if your application is unsuccessful, reflect on the process and prepare to reapply. Many medical students, particularly graduates find that it can take a few cycles of applying to receive an offer. Often, not receiving an interview or offer is a reflection of the competitive nature of the application rather than of you as an applicant. So do not be disheartened!


The UCAT is the most widely used clinical aptitude test. A summary of the test can be found below, and more information can be found here or on the UCAT website.

       2-hour, multiple choice exam

       Sections include: Abstract Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Decision Making and Situational Judgement

       Results are available immediately after test

       Testing usually between July and Early October


The GAMSAT is used by 7 medical schools currently in the UK, including to test graduates for UG medicine. A summary of the test can be found below, and the latest information can be found on the GAMSAT website.

        5.5-hour, written exam

        Sections include: Reasoning in Humanities and Social Sciences, Written Communication, Reasoning in Biological and Physical Sciences

        2 testing dates: September and March


The BMAT is used by 7 medical schools currently in the UK. A summary of the test can be found below and the latest information can be found on the BMAT website.

        2-hour, written exam

        3 Sections: Aptitude and Skills, Scientific Knowledge and Applications, Writing Task

        Two test dates: early September and late October/early November


Financing medicine as a second degree requires a mixture of self-funding, loans from Student Finance and NHS funding. In your first year, you are required to fund £3,465 of your £9,250 tuition fees, and the remaining portion is eligible for student finance. In years two, three and four, the NHS will pay the first £3,715 of your £9,250 tuition fees, with the rest eligible for student finance.

 If you choose to study an undergraduate course as a graduate student, in years one through to four you will need to self-fund your fees. In years five (and six) the NHS will pay your tuition fees.

With regards to maintenance, this can differ for each student based on previous borrowing, means-testing and personal circumstances. However, most students are usually entitled to a reduced maintenance loan, as well as an NHS Bursary. 

Further Information

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Content on this page is accurate at the time of publishing and will be reviewed and updated as required.

Published: 15 May 2020
Author: Gursh Hayer, Graduate Lead @BecomingaDr  
E-mail: Gursh@becomingadr.org

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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.