Do AS grades matter? (Or how to get into medical school with bad AS grades)

by     11 Comments    Posted under: Application, Career disaster, Medical Schools

As levels for medicine

With the recent grade slips landing into people’s hands, it’s been a busy time at

We’ve been giving specific advice to students over email, twitter and facebook.

One common theme question is from people who have got their eyes set on a medical application for next year and are looking at their lower than expected AS grades and wondering whether things are salvageable or whether they should give up.

Please advise. My AS results were not quite as good as expected. Should I apply for medicine anyway in the hope that my A2 results will be better? Or take a year out?

The answer depends on two main questions.

  1. Are you confident that you can convert B, C or D grades into A’s in less than a year?
  2. Will your school or college predict the grades you need for A2 to allow the medical schools to look at your application seriously?

The first thing that you ought to realise is that in the good old days the only thing that a university had to assess your potential for medical school was your predicted grades. Schools were, and still are pretty good at getting accurate predictions and the universities will still look at these closely when deciding whether or not to give you an interview or offer you a place.

It was well recognized that students would not have achieved their full potential by the time it came to predicting these grades. Therefore a student who might get a grade B or C in August of year 1 would quite likely improve over the next few months and perhaps therefore be heading for a high B or A grade by the time they end up sitting the final A-level exam.

Although this is more difficult to do with a poor AS grade that has eaten up a chunk of the potential marks available to you, your school and college will be aware that your motivation and exam technique will improve over the next few months. You may also have to resit some modules in to make up some marks. With all this in mind, your school / college may well give you the predicted grades that allow you to send off the medical school application this year.

In the eyes of the universities, the predicted grades will count, even if your actual AS level grades are lower.

If your teachers think you’ve been a less than convincing pre-medical student so far, you may need some help in convincing them. (We have some tips for you in an upcoming article on how to do this.)

So with less than ideal AS grades in your hand your first task is to make sure you can get some appropriate predictions.



But I’m seriously worried that I’m now way off target for the A-level grades I need…

Well in that case you need to think carefully about your next step.

You have the following four options:

1. DO NOT APPLY FOR MEDICINE THIS YEAR. Work hard and see what grades you get. You will have to take a year out and apply next year. You may have to retake some modules but you can also do some other relevant stuff in your year out that can help you to strengthen your application.  We have a strategy that can help you.

2. Apply to medical school if you can somehow get the required predictions and think the application proves might motivate you to get the grades.

3. Choose a different degree that is more suited to your grades. You can consider medicine after a year out in the event that you get some surprisingly good grades, or apply for medicine as a graduate in a few years.

4. Consider an overseas medical school application if all of the above seem unpalatable.


That should cover every option and make the path ahead pretty clear!




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11 Comments + Add Comment

  • Hi Leo,

    I recieved my AS grades and I have achieved ACCD with the D being in chemistry. I believe that I can bring a D back to an A in this one year but I have only lived in this country for a few years so will that make any differences to my application?

    • Hi John,

      I think it depends on whether your Chemistry teacher believes you can get an A and will predict accordingly. If not you may be better off delaying your application and taking a year out.

  • Thank you so much.
    This is the clearest advice so far telling me I need to take a year out!

  • DDDD.
    Thanks anyway. Currently mulling my options including EU appliations

  • Just wanted to say that as a teacher, this is the sort of advice we aren’t really supposed to give out to our students as it’s a bit too decisive for 17 year olds who may be considering many options besides medicine.
    However, I must admit I have been pointing people in your direction!
    Thanks for taking the time!

  • Interesting advice.
    If not totally committed to med, I guess it doesn’y apply?

  • Choice of med school? Does it matter with a dropped grade or two, or do they all just look at predictions before anything else?

  • Thanks so much for this and all the other articles!

  • Thank you.
    Needed to convince myself i was doing the right thing!

  • This really is a tough time for AS students moving onto A2, I remember I was at this position last year. I had achieved AAAB in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Maths, and I managed to convince my teachers to give me an A*A*A prediction for Bio, Chem, Maths. I ended up getting 4 rejections for med school as I aimed for the competitive unis, and am now taking a gap year and reapplying to less competitive unis, but I would like to state that anything really is possible if your determined and work hard enough. I managed to get achieved A-level grades of A*AA in Maths, Biology, Chemistry at the end of A2, and you can see how I went from a B to an A* in 1 year for Maths.

    Good luck to everyone applying this year!

  • I had to deal with this situation myself. I got AABB at AS, with A’s in Biology and Physics, and B’s in Chemistry and Maths. I still had very good GCSE’s and A*AAA predictions and so decided to apply anyway.

    I had to do lots of research beforehand; it should be noted here that some universities will flat out admit that they DO NOT look at or consider AS grades in the application process. If they did not say it on their website, I e-mailed the admissions department to ask.

    I got an offer, and I am on track for A*A*AA in my final A2 exams.
    (It was lucky I managed to hammer the chem re-sits)

    All hope is not lost!