This person wanted to remain anonymous. They didn’t get the AS grades to apply for medicine and decided to wait until they had finished their A levels to apply….

I performed badly in my AS exams and understandably my predicted grades were not good enough for medicine. When it came to applying to university, I had to make a big decision from one of three choices:
1.Apply for medicine anyway and hope for the best.
2.Apply for a medically related degree and go through the graduate route.
3.Don’t apply this year and focus completely on getting the right grades.

After a lot of consideration, I decided to not apply that year. It was a bit of a gamble because if I didn’t make the grades then I would have lost a year for nothing. But fortunately I managed to get AAA in year 13 and applied for medicine in my gap year.

Looking back, it was definitely worth it because not only do I have an offer for medicine, I also have the benefits of a well-spent gap year. My work experience was quite good, so I didn’t feel the need to loads more. I managed to get a job in finance and earn a bit of money. You don’t have to do a medically related job in your gap year, but it is important to carry on with voluntary work to show that you are still dedicated.

One thing that is definitely worth doing is reviewing your personal statement and improving it over time. Get someone who knows something about medical applications to go through your PS and pick out the weaknesses. Then go away and turn those weaknesses into strengths. Medicine is becoming an increasingly competitive course and to get multiple interviews, your PS has to be irresistible.

I would also suggest going to as many open days as possible so that you really get a feel for the place. I got an offer from a medical school but after visiting it, I realised I didn’t like the place at all. I applied with the attitude that as long as I have an offer for medicine, I don’t care where I go. That was na?ve. You are going to spend five years minimum in that uni, so if you don’t like the place, you won’t enjoy it.

Also, do not consider a gap year as a waste of a year. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do things you would never otherwise do. A well-spent gap year gives you an experience of real life. If you can afford to go travelling, I would recommend it. Valuable attributes like independence, maturity, teamwork and adaptability improve greatly.