What to say to a pupil who wants to study medicine

Where to apply

There are 5 medical schools in Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews. Pupils will be able to apply to 4 of these medical schools through UCAS – and they can use their fifth choice for a “back up” choice if they wish. Each one has their own admissions policies and procedures and the same application may be considered differently at one medical school than another. There’s more information under where you can study. Remember that the deadline for applying to medicine is earlier than other subjects and that they may need support with UCAS earlier too.


They must aim for an absolute minimum of AAAAB in their Highers in one sitting (in S5) and these must include Chemistry and Biology (these can be taken in S6 if need be, but AAAAB must be achieved in S5). Realistically, academic scoring is lowered if an applicant achieves less than AAAAA but a couple of medical schools MAY consider on AAABB for students with contextual factors – and all except Glasgow will consider any applicant on AAAAB (although their academic scoring will be lower and therefore their chances of an offer may be lower). AAAAA should be a target BUT applicants are considered on the published minimum – and AAAAA still provides no guarantee of an offer. However, if they have AAABB and are LEAPS eligible (see below) or have some other marker of deprivation they may still be considered by some of the universities – although the chances of securing a place are low, as ground needs to be made up in other aspects of the application. For more detail on entry requirements you can look at the Universities’ websites and our pages on where you can study.


The United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test must be taken before an application to any of the medical schools in Scotland can be made. This is also true of most medical Schools in the rest of the UK except Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Imperial College London, Lancaster, Leeds and UCL which use a similar test called the BMAT. The UKCAT is taken in private test centres, usually run by Pearson Vue, and the applicant must pay a fee although bursaries are available. Direct pupils to the UKCAT website for more information and access to the practice tests. They should complete these in timed conditions before sitting the actual exam.

Further support

Depending on where you are there are different groups offering support for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to study medicine. In the Edinburgh / Lothians area pupils should be made aware of LEAPS (Lothians Equal Access Program for Schools) and check their eligibility. Pathways to the Professions is run by the University of Edinburgh’s Widening Participation team and provides events and one to one support for pupils interested in Medicine and studying at any of the 46 state schools in Edinburgh and the Lothians (LEAPS eligible or not – with extra support given to LEAPs eligible pupils). In other areas, Reach: Scotland which is a collaborative project managed by the University of Edinburgh, the University of Aberdeen, the University of Glasgow, the University of Dundee and St Andrews University, provides similar support with branches for each of the universities. These organisations provide an incredible amount of help and pupils from selected low progression state secondary schools in S4 or above should be signed up if they want to study medicine. They can check if their school is eligible for Reach by contacting their nearest university from the list above.