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Why You Should Consider Studying Medicine Abroad

Published on
May 11, 2024

Applying to medical school anywhere is a challenging process. If studying abroad is on your checklist then you should remember that most universities have a cut-off on the number of international student places they are willing to accept. This makes the competition for final medical offers extremely high. On the flip side though, the benefits of studying medicine abroad are numerous, from international recognition of your degree, to multi-cultural study environments with peers from around the world. International med school can be a great way to see the world, meet new people, and start a career in medicine!

However, we believe that there are important things that you need to before applying abroad. We hope that this article introduces these to you in a way that gives you an opportunity to make the right, informed decision.

Study Medicine In The UK

Medicine in the UK is available at an undergraduate level, allowing you to start your medical education straight after finishing high school. It is home to some of the best medical schools in the world like Oxford and Cambridge, but also 33 other universities that offer a range of healthcare degrees such as Dentistry, Nursing, and of course - medicine.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, otherwise referred to as the UCAS is the main undergraduate application service in the UK. You can only apply to four medical universities in the UK through UCAS, hence it is vital that you review the medical programmes of each university thoroughly before picking the right UK medical school for you.

Entry Requirements to study Medicine in the UK

  • Subject qualifications for Physics, Biology, and Chemistry satisfied - usually 3 As at A-level or equivalent
  • English language proficiency test -  IELTS with a minimum score of 7.0 (or equivalent English test - check the medical school’s website to see which tests they accept)
  • UCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test)* 
  • BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test)*
  • A Medical Interview

*Note: Programme specific ​​requirements differ between different medical schools, so make sure to double check the requirements on the particular school’s website.

University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) and BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)

The majority of universities in the UK use the UCAT, including Abderdeen, Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Manchester. 

The following universities use the BMAT in their admissions process:

  • Oxford
  • Cambridge
  • UCL
  • Imperial
  • Brighton and Sussex
  • Leeds
  • Lancaster

It is important to double check if the universities you’re applying to use the UKCAT or the BMAT.

Medical Interview 

While most universities conduct medical interviews through Skype or telephone interviews, some universities ask that international applicants travel to the UK if offered an interview.

Study Medicine In The USA

Thinking of studying Medicine in the USA? Unlike in the UK and Australia, the only available pathway to studying Medicine in the USA is completing a four-year pre-med degree in subjects such as Biology, Chemistry or Neuroscience which will then allow you to study medicine as a postgraduate. Your pre-med degree is designed to prepare you for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which is required to get into medical school in the USA.

Entry Requirements To Study Medicine In The USA:

  • A prerequisite of a 4-year pre-medical degree in Biology, Chemistry, or Neurosciences* 
  • A strong MCAT score 
  • A medical interview - usually in the MMI format 

*Note: ​​Requirements differ between different medical schools, so make sure to double check requirements with the particular school themselves.

Pre-Med Degree

Before applying to any medical school in the USA, you are required to have completed a four-year bachelor's degree, fulfilling all of the prerequisite classes needed for the medical schools they apply to. The subject prerequisites vary depending on the medical school, but usually include the basic science courses like biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Some schools may also have humanities or math prerequisites. Therefore, researching the particular conditions of each medical school before you start your undergraduate degree is essential in order to choose your classes appropriately.

MCAT - Medical College Admission Test

The MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) is a multiple choice exam that is required by most US and Canadian medical schools in order to be eligible to apply for a graduate course in medicine.

The test will determine your critical thinking skills, your ability to problem solve and write clearly, as well as measure your knowledge of various scientific concepts. Securing your admission to a good medical school in the USA is largely dependent on receiving a good score on the MCAT. While the MCAT has a similar objective and criteria as the GAMSAT, the MCAT can be sat multiple times in a year. 

Medical Interview Structure Overseas

Once you have completed your bachelors degree and received a good MCAT score, your next step is to actually apply. As an international student, you will likely be at a disadvantage in the selection process compared to local students. Publicly funded colleges in the US are required to direct some or all of their state funds towards students who are residents of the school's state. By applying to private universities you can avoid this issue but, of course, these will be more expensive. 

The medical interview process for US medical schools is similar to Australian and UK admissions. If you receive an interview offer from your preferred university you will be required to undertake an MMI interview as it is the most preferred format, however a few universities do adopt the traditional panel interview format.

GAMSAT Acceptance In The USA

The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the American University of the Caribbean are the only two universities in the USA which accept the GAMSAT for applications into Medicine.

The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev provides a dual international degree with part of the degree undertaken in the USA and the rest in Israel. Admission to the course requires a 4-year pre-med degree in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics with an excellent GAMSAT score. 

Timeline for Application in US Medical Schools

Admission Process US Medical Schools
Frequency MCAT-Multiple times between January - September
Documents Transcripts, LORs and a finalised list of prefered schools.
Application May
Submission of Additional Documents Primary and *Secondary Application to be submitted by September
Interview Offers September to March
University Offers
After Thanksgiving with fill-ups or delayed interviews

Study Medicine In Ireland 

Ireland is one of the few European countries which offers an undergraduate-entry program and a graduate-entry course into medicine. Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork and the National University of Ireland in Galway all offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs for international students to study medicine in Ireland.

Entry Requirements To Study Medicine In Ireland:

Irish medical school undergraduate entry requirements vary between universities. However, all medical schools require that you sit the Health Professions Admissions Test and receive a minimum of 480 points, and most schools require a minimum of Leaving Certificate H4 in Science subjects. 

Institute Requirements HPAT Requirements
University College Dublin
  • Subject qualifications for Physics, Biology, and Chemistry satisfied.
  • Subject qualifications for English, Mathematics and third language satisfied.
HPAT Required
Trinity College Dublin
  • Subject qualifications for Physics, Biology, and Chemistry satisfied.
  • Subject qualifications for English, Mathematics and third language satisfied.
HPAT Required
University College Cork 
  • Subject qualifications for Physics, Biology, and Chemistry satisfied.
  • Subject qualifications for English, Mathematics and third language satisfied.
HPAT Required
National University of Ireland, Galway 
  • Subject qualifications for Physics, Biology, and Chemistry satisfied.
  • Subject qualifications for English, Mathematics and third language satisfied.
HPAT Required
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • Subject qualifications for Physics, Biology, and Chemistry satisfied.
  • Subject qualifications for English, Mathematics and third language satisfied.
HPAT Required

HPAT - Health Professions Admissions Test

The HPAT-Ireland is an admissions test similar to the UCAT that you’ll need to take if you want to study Medicine in Ireland. The HPAT assesses your skills in areas such as problem solving and abstract and logical reasoning. The HPAT format is multiple choice, lasting two and a half hours. The exam is split into three sections:

  • Section 1: Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving
  • Section 2: Interpersonal Understanding 
  • Section 3: Non-Verbal Reasoning 

Complete Admissions Office

To study medicine in Ireland you have to register with the Complete Admissions Office (CAO) as all Irish medical school applications are processed by the CAO. Online applications cost €40 but you may receive a discount of €25 if you submit your application early. Registering with the CAO includes filling out your personal details, paying the application fee and creating a password. Medicine in particular is under the ‘restricted’ course section which means that you’ll need to apply to CAO early – so ensure that you know the deadlines in advance of your applications.

After you have completed your registration you will receive your CAO number. Upon receiving this you can then enter your qualifications and school details. The CAO requires you to post them A4 photocopies (these won’t be returned so do not send originals) of your exam qualifications. You will receive instructions on the posting process when you complete your application.

We hope our article on Studying Medicine Abroad was insightful and helps you through your medical application process. 

Here’s a list of FREE RESOURCES available on Fraser's website to get you started on preferencing medical schools for undergraduate courses.

If you are looking to sit the UCAT for your applications check out our resources for UCAT study or enroll in our UCAT Strategy Weekend program that will allow you to undertake a practice test and obtain a personalised report from a senior UCAT mentor.