Becoming a Doctor is a very long, challenging process which will require you to have lots of qualifications. So, what A-Levels will you need to become a Doctor? And why will these A-Level subjects be necessary for a career in Medicine?
This article is going to go through the different A-Levels that are required and preferred by University Medicine courses, and will therefore enable you to move forward on the long road to becoming a Doctor.
The short answer to this question is that in order to become a Doctor, you will need a Medical degree, so you will need the A-Levels which are required by Universities to get onto the Medicine courses. This means you will need to have a selection of the following A-Level qualifications:
- A-Level Chemistry
- A-Level Biology
- A-Level Physics
- A-Level Maths
- An A-Level Humanities subject (for example History/Geography/Modern Foreign Language)
If you would like to look at specific entry requirements for Medicine at University, this useful website lists the Medicine courses at a number of different Universities and their entry requirements.
Read on to find out more about why you should be taking these A-Levels, as this article will expand on each A-Level subject, and the reasons why you should study them as a Prospective Doctor.
What A-Levels Do You Need to Study Medicine at University?
Most Universities require you to have A-Level Chemistry, as well as either A-Level Biology, A-Level Maths or A-Level Physics and one other academic subject. Your best options in most cases if you wanted to become a doctor would be to take Chemistry, Biology, and either Physics or Maths (or both!). It is also perhaps worth noting that some Universities accept Psychology as one of your Sciences.
However, some Universities like it if you have an A-Level in another academic subject which is not so scientific, such as a Humanities subject. These subjects can include History, Geography, or a Language (such as Spanish, French or English). Therefore, if another science subject isn’t for you, a Humanities subject may be a good subject to choose.
When you are choosing your A-Levels, you should make sure that you don’t choose any subjects which overlap. For example, although Universities value both Maths and Further Maths, often it is the case that they consider them too similar to make you an offer based on your grades in both.
Ultimately, the most important thing to consider when choosing your A-Levels in order to become a Doctor, is that you should try to have at least 2 science subjects, but for the third choice, it is much better to choose A-Levels that you are interested in and will be the most motivated to study hard in. Becoming a Doctor is a very challenging task, and it is important that you demonstrate your academic abilities though the means of your exams, and your (hopefully) very impressive grades. Therefore, your choice of A-Levels should be partly based on the subjects which you know you will be able to succeed in.
What Makes A-Level Chemistry Well Suited to a Prospective Doctor?
To be honest, A-Level Chemistry is a must have if you want to become a Doctor. It is required by most medical schools, and will therefore open many doors for you if combined with the right other A-Levels. There are very few Medical schools which will accept applicants who have not studied Chemistry at A-Level.
If you would like to find out how particular Chemistry topics might be useful to you as a Doctor, this helpful article goes into some depth about how you may be able to use your knowledge of Chemistry concepts in your career as a Doctor.
Like most subjects, the jump from GCSE Chemistry to A-Level Chemistry is significant. Therefore, it is essential that you are an organised, motivated, hardworking student in order for you to be successful in this subject. If you would like to find out more about the gap between GCSE and A-Level Chemistry, check out this really useful article.
If you are already studying A-Level Chemistry, but are struggling with the workload, you may want to have a read of this helpful article about how to achieve a top grade in this A-Level. As I said before, it is incredibly important that you work hard to achieve the best grade of your ability if you want to become a Doctor, especially because it can be so competitive.
There are a number of links between Chemistry and Biology, and therefore, it is important that you have a developed knowledge of both of these subjects, especially as the GCSEs will not enable you to get a good enough foundation of information for a Medicine degree and a career as a Doctor.
What Makes A-Level Biology Well Suited to a Prospective Doctor?
For many Universities, A-Level Biology is another one of those essential A-Level subjects. It seems like stating the obvious, but if you want to be a Doctor, you will be required to have a hugely in-depth, detailed knowledge of Science generally and, more specifically, the body. Although you will not get this incredibly detailed knowledge from the A-Level, it can act as the basis for your understanding of topics that you will need to cover at University.
As with Chemistry GCSEs and A-Levels, A-Level Biology is significantly more difficult than GCSE Biology, and therefore taking this A-Level will enable you to develop your understanding of the subject, which will prepare you well for your University course. If you would like to get some more information on how much more challenging A-Level Biology is in comparison with the GCSE, check out this useful article.
Like every subject that you would take at A-Level, your aim should be to achieve the highest grade possible (especially if your goal is to become a doctor!), and therefore it is important that you work hard from the start of this course. If you want to read more about how you can achieve a high grade in A-Level Biology, take a look at this helpful article which explains how to achieve the grade you want in your A-Level Biology exams.
What Makes A-Level Physics Well Suited to a Prospective Doctor?
Many University Medicine courses value students who have a wide range of scientific knowledge. Therefore, taking Physics at A-Level has the potential to be extremely beneficial to you. However, Physics is not a completely necessary, non-negotiable subject for prospective Doctors.
Although Universities like this combination of 3 Sciences, you can substitute Physics for another subject, like Maths, or a Humanities subject and still be in the running for a place to study Medicine at a wide range of Universities.
This means that if you are not confident with your abilities in Physics, you may want to consider taking a different subject which you would be able to achieve a better grade in. It is better to take a different subject which you can be successful in than it is to force yourself to do Physics because you think it is part of the ‘right path’ to becoming a Doctor. If you are unsure about how difficult A-Level Physics is, have a quick read of this helpful article, which may be able to help you with your decision.
Generally, in terms of application to Medicine and how Physics will be a useful subject to a prospective Doctor, the answer is that Physics is often used in diagnostic tests. This includes things like Medical Imaging, including the use of X-Rays, MRIs, and Ultrasounds just to name a few.
What Makes A-Level Maths Well Suited to a Prospective Doctor?
Maths is another example of a subject which is really valued by University Medical degree courses. Maths A-Level is something that will enable you to develop your skills which can be applied to the scientific calculations which you would be required to do in Chemistry, Biology and Physics.
In addition to allowing you to apply your maths skills to your Science subjects, as a Doctor, maths will be necessary to enable you to understand measurements, such as body weight and blood cell counts. Doctors also need mathematical skills in order to determine what quantity of a drug should be prescribed to a patient, based on a number of different factors. Maths can also be useful for Doctors when they are evaluating medical images such as X-Rays. This helpful website contains more details of how maths is applied to Medicine, if you would like to go into more detail.
If you are interested in taking A-Level Maths, you may want to take a look at what the difference between GCSE and A-Level Maths is, to help you make an informed decision about your subject choices. This helpful article may help you decide whether A-Level Maths is the right choice for you.
Another thing worth noting is that A-Level Further Maths will not be especially helpful to you in terms of getting into University to study Medicine unless it is a 4th A-Level. Even if it is an extra, there are subjects which would be perhaps better suited to you as a Prospective Doctor. Especially because often, Universities consider Maths and Further Maths as too similar, and therefore don’t particularly value Further Maths as a subject.
What Makes A-Level Humanities Subjects Well Suited to a Prospective Doctor?
A Humanities subject at A-Level is something that is really valued by some Universities for students who want to pursue Medicine. However, there is a chance that some Universities will prefer you to have a Science or Maths qualification rather than a Humanities one, so it is essential that you do your research about which Universities accept Humanities subjects as a part of their requirements.
Humanities subjects show Universities that you are a well-rounded, capable student. Subjects like History and Geography show Universities that you have analysis skills, and are very competent in English, as these are generally very essay-based subjects.
An A-Level subject such as a Language, whether that is a foreign language such as Spanish, French or German, or your native language of English, will show Universities that you have a diverse range of skills, and again, are very capable of understanding and using language effectively. In any career, a second language will be an invaluable skill, so it is certainly something to consider if you don’t want to take Physics or Maths as your third option.
What A-Level Grades Do You Need to Achieve to Become a Doctor?
In order to become a Doctor, you should have grades A and above in all of your A-Levels. In an ideal world, you should be aiming to get A*s, and in some cases, they will be necessary for you to get into the University which you would like to go to.
For example, the entry requirements for Kings College at Cambridge are A*A*A, so the baseline of A grades in all 3 subjects does not always apply. Therefore, it is incredibly important to do your research about which Universities accept which grades.
Can You Become a Doctor Without Particular A-Levels?
You will struggle without Chemistry, as only the only University which I have come across which does not require Chemistry or Biology as A-Level subjects in order to do their Medicine degrees is Newcastle University. This is not to say that there aren’t other Medicine courses you will be able to do, but they are quite difficult to find.
Not having an A-Level in Biology may also limit the number of Universities that will consider you for a place, and therefore, if you can, it is best that you take this subject in order to have as much choice between Universities as you can.
As with most subjects, the A-Levels that you should take vary depending on the University which you would like to go to. Different Universities prefer different subjects, because they want you to have a different range of skills.
What Other Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Doctor?
As you would expect, becoming a Doctor requires a lot of extra training. You will need to achieve high grades in your A-Levels, which will enable you to move on to the next step of a Medical degree. After you have got your degree in Medicine, the further qualifications which you will need vary depending on the type of doctor you would like to be.
For example, if you wanted to become a General Practitioner (GP), you would need 2 years of Foundation Training, and then 3 years of specialist GP training. More information about this can be found here.
Often there are some requirements for the number of GCSEs and the grades which you have achieved in them. If you want to find out more, take a look at this useful article about which GCSEs you need to become a Doctor.
It is incredibly important that you consider what path you would like to follow in Medicine, as there are a number of different options for careers. However, don’t put too much pressure on yourself at the stage of your A-Levels. Even though it would be nice to know exactly what career you would like, it is something you can decide as you do the courses and see which parts you like and dislike.