Medicine subject requirements

Signpost

Please read the whole of this page before finalising your choices. Credit: Nick Page

Before making an application for Medicine we advise you to think carefully about your school subject choices:

  1. Make sure that you meet the MINIMUM subject requirements
    We cannot consider you if you don't meet the minimum subject requirements.
  2. Read about choosing subjects to make a COMPETITIVE application
    Your chances of success are much higher if you have a stronger subject profile.

The minimum subject requirements

We can only consider an application for Medicine if you meet the minimum subject requirements laid down by the University.

A level

You must take at least three A levels. To meet the minimum requirements for Medicine, you must take A level Chemistry, and you must take one further subject from the following list: Biology (or Human Biology), Mathematics, Physics.

We recommend that you go beyond the minimum requirements and that your third A level should also be from the list of Biology (or Human Biology), Mathematics, Physics. Please read the information about choosing subjects to make a COMPETITIVE application.

Grade requirements: The standard A level offer for Medicine is A*, A*, and A. For students applying from October 2017 onwards, there are no GCSE requirements for Medicine.

International Baccalaureate

To meet the minimum requirements for Medicine, you must take Higher Level Chemistry, and one further Higher Level subject subject from Biology, Mathematics, Physics.

  • The IB curriculum has six subject groups:
    • IB Groups 1-3: Choose subjects according to your interests.
    • IB Group 4 (Sciences): Remember that Chemistry is a required subject.
    • IB Group 5 (Mathematics): We recommend that you take Higher Level Mathematics. If not, you must take Standard Level Mathematics as IB Mathematical Studies would not be sufficient.
    • IB Group 6 (the arts): We recommend that you choose a second science subject from Biology or Physics, rather than taking an essay subject.

Where students to not meet the minimum subject requirements in their IB curriculum, we are happy for them to take additional stand-alone IB certificates in specific subjects, or to take an A level examination as appropriate.

Although the minimum requirements refer to two Higher Level subjects, we recommend that your third Higher Level subject should also be from the list of Biology, Mathematics, Physics. Please read the information about choosing subjects to make a COMPETITIVE application.

Grade requirements: The standard IB offer for Medicine requires grades 7, 7, 6 in the relevant Higher Level subjects plus an overall score of 40, including the Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay components.

Scottish qualifications

To meet the minimum subject requirements for Medicine, Advanced Highers must be achieved in Chemistry and one further subject from the following list: Biology, Mathematics, Physics

We recommend that your third Advanced Higher should also be from the list of Biology, Mathematics, Physics. Please read the information about choosing subjects to make a COMPETITIVE application.

Grade requirements: We typically make offers on three Advanced Higher qualifications, requiring A, A, A. If your school does not offer three Advanced Higher qualifications, we advise you to email us for further information.

Welsh qualifications

You must take at least three A levels. To meet the minimum requirements for Medicine, you must take A level Chemistry and one further subject from the following list: Biology (or Human Biology), Mathematics, Physics. For students taking the Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma, the subject requirements are based on achievement in A  Levels within the qualification rather than the overall Baccalaureate award.

We recommend that you go beyond the minimum requirements and that your third A level should also be from the list of Biology (or Human Biology), Mathematics, Physics. Please read the information about choosing subjects to make a COMPETITIVE application.

Grade requirements: We typically make offers on three A levels within the Advanced Diploma. The standard offer is A*, A*, and A for Medicine.

Other qualifications

At King's our applicants come from countries and examination systems all around the world, and we have considerable expertise in assessing non-UK applications. Our grade requirements in a range of qualification systems are listed on our entrance requirements page.

For Medicine, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that the science and mathematics subjects you have taken cover a syllabus appropriate for the course: applicants taking non-UK examinations are required to demonstrate a level of understanding in science and mathematics roughly equivalent to those applying with A levels.

If you are concerned about the content of your syllabus, you may wish to compare the content of your syllabus to A level syllabuses available online:

Making a competitive application for Medicine

Small intestine

The best applicants have excellent knowledge and skills in science / maths subjects. Credit: adrigu

The Cambridge Medicine course is heavily science-based. You are expected to start at Cambridge with a sound basis of knowledge and skills derived from your studies in Chemistry and (depending on your choices) Biology, Maths and Physics. You should be ready to apply that knowledge to new scenarios and problems, whether at a micro level (e.g. molecular models) or on a larger scale (e.g. whole body problems and systems).

You will be expected to deal with and understand a lot of new concepts, and will also need a lot of the skills that your science /maths subjects develop: observational skills, lateral thinking, and an ability to hypothesize and to think through scientific problems. Above all, you need a genuine interest in the science behind Medicine.

Bearing in mind the scientific emphasis of the course, making a strong application is about giving yourself a thorough grounding in science/maths:

  • Where possible, we recommend that applicants for Medicine go beyond the MINIMUM subject requirements, and take Chemistry and two further subjects out of Biology (or Human Biology), Maths and Physics to A level, IB Higher Level or equivalent.
  • Remember that we will look carefully at your achievements in science and maths subjects (it is worth giving them particular focus and aiming to score as highly as possible in your exams), and we also take into account any further study you have done in the area of science / maths subjects.

At King's, although we are pleased to consider any student for the Medicine course who meets our MINIMUM subject requirements and is predicted to achieve at the level of our grade requirements, it is important to be aware that competition for Medicine is high: most applicants to Cambridge University have a more thorough grounding in science / mathematics than the minimum requirements demand (this is the same for all Colleges).

FACT:

  • In the last three years, 98% of applicants for Medicine at Cambridge University were taking Chemistry and two further subjects out of Biology (or Human Biology), Maths and Physics to A level, IB Higher Level, or equivalent.

If you're coming to this information shortly before making your application, we realise that it may be too late to change your subject choices if you meet the minimum requirements but are perhaps taking less than three science or maths subjects in your final year of school. We know that you may have chosen your subjects before you decided to apply for Medicine! In this case, it would be worth paying particular attention to our advice about developing your academic interests, and perhaps have a look at some of the topics covered in the example A level syllabuses linked above. We consider every application individually and take into account each student's personal and educational background.

ACCEPTANCE STATISTICS: 

  • Of the 98% of applicants to Cambridge University who offered three or more science/mathematics A levels (or equivalent), 30% were successful in obtaining a place.
  • Of the 2% of applicants who offered only two science/mathematics subjects to A Level (or equivalent), just 6% were successful in gaining a place.

What further subject preferences are there?

As you will have read above, all students must take Chemistry. Beyond the advice to take two further subjects out of Biology, Maths and Physics, we have no preference for any particular school subjects. A good grounding in Biology can be particularly helpful for Medicine, but those who have not taken Biology are not discouraged, neither are students who have taken an Arts subject in addition to their science / maths subjects. 

To find out more about studying and applying for Medicine at King's, please read the King's Medicine page

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