Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


State educated children do better at medical school

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 11 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4239

Rapid Response:

Re: State educated children do better at medical school

We are not at all surprised by the results of this study. From experience of our own medical schools, we have observed first-hand how hard-working and passionate some of our state school educated colleagues have been. Whilst we agree that these students would have developed resilience from their more difficult path into medical school, we also believe that state school medical students are also incredibly grateful for the opportunities given to them and therefore more likely to work harder. We have witnessed private school educated colleagues struggle in their first year as they were not used to having to organise their own learning. Furthermore, many did not seem to realise the seriousness of the degree they were studying, perhaps because they had not suffered as much to get there. Non-state schools offer a great deal of support, such as dedicated careers advisors, rigorous mock interviews and work experience contacts, making the application process easier.
This research shows that there are issues with the medical school application process, as clearly the tools that are used to assess us such as the UKCAT and A level grades do not fully reflect a student’s ability to thrive in medical school. Certain universities have schemes that allow state school students into medical school with lower A level grades, such as the Newham Doc Scheme (1). Perhaps this upcoming research will encourage more universities to adopt this approach, to ensure their institutions can pride themselves on producing the best future doctors.

1. Guardian Public Service Award for School widening participation scheme [Internet]. Queen Mary, University of London. 2017 [cited 16 September 2017]. Available from:

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 September 2017
Tara N Amin
Final year medical student
Jack L Benson