Can you become a Doctor without A Levels? | learndirect

Can you become a Doctor without A Levels?

Posted on 17/07/2020
Can you become a Doctor without A Levels?

Becoming a medical doctor can put you at the forefront of the healthcare profession. Giving you the opportunity to help thousands of people throughout your career.

Many doctors highlight this as one of the main reasons for choosing their profession. It really can be life-changing work.

It’s common to have thought about becoming a doctor at some point over your lifetime. With some of us realising those ambitions whilst others ended up pursuing different interests.

Whatever brought on the change in career paths sometimes that desire to help people doesn’t disappear.

It requires determination and hard work to get into the medical profession. However, it’s never too late.

Even if you’ve left school without A Levels there are options available to get you back on track to achieve the qualifications you need.

Becoming a doctor requires a great deal of commitment and years of study, but it’s never too late to fulfil a life long ambition.

Read on to learn what you can do to lead a fulfilling career as a medical doctor.

Becoming a Doctor

learndirect | can you become a doctor without a levels | Becoming a Doctor

Becoming a qualified doctor is an extensive learning process with various stages of higher education.

You’ll need a degree in medicine recognised by the General Medical Council. Courses usually take 5 years.

Though each institute can vary, predominantly you’ll find they follow a similar structure. The first two years will be understanding the scientific theory behind medicine with the following three years are usually based in a clinical environment.

In the clinical environment you’ll be observing how the theory in the first two years is applied into different specialities such as:

  • General medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Paediatrics
  • Psychiatric
  • Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Once completed you’ll move onto the next stage of your studies which will be a two-year foundation programme. During these two years you’ll combine your training with work experience in various specialisms.

Then you’ll have 2/3 years of core medical training followed by specialism training for another 4 – 7 years depending on the field of study. However, by this point you’ll be practising under the supervision of senior doctors.

Once your training is complete you will receive a certificate of completion and entry into the General Medical Council Specialist register or GP register.

Getting the Qualifications

Before working through the various stages of higher education you’ll need to make sure you have the relevant qualifications.

Getting into a medical school is competitive as places are limited. As well as the requirements being high.

The academic requirements needed to start your medical training ensures that the best of the best become the nation’s doctors.

You’ll need at least 5 GCSEs grade A – A* or 7 – 9 in the new grading system. Most commonly universities will ask for you to have them in maths, English and a science too.

Assuming you have all the relevant GCSEs you’ll have to carry on your studies in one of two ways.

A Levels

learndirect | can you become a doctor without a levels | A Levels

The most obvious way to would be to retake your A Levels. This could mean going back to physical college or more practically through online learning.

As A Levels are a standard qualification across that UK, they must be regulated by Ofqual. The Office of Qualification and Examination Regulation are a non-governmental agency tasked with maintaining the standards of qualifications like A Levels, to whoever provides the course.

Whether that’s through an online learning provider or its brick and mortar counterpart you’ll receive the same qualification.

The advantage of A Levels is they’re accepted by every university and allow you to tailor your studies towards your needs.

You’ll be able to choose subjects based on where you want your career to go. In this case it would be best to take all three sciences.

However, taking A Levels is time consuming, especially if you don’t have any from your time at school. You’ll need to have 3 A Levels grade A to be in with a good chance of getting into university.

While the average distance learner can complete their course in 9 months. Taking three A levels would equate to two years of study.

It is possible to take them simultaneously though not something we would recommend. Studying three A Levels would be more like full time study.

That could be more than a little challenging if you already have a packed schedule.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

Alternatively, an Access to Higher Education Diploma is another option.

Access to HE Diplomas are designed for adults, who lack traditional qualifications. The content is specifically aimed towards getting you on to your desired university course.

Think of it as a foundation year but at a fraction of the cost.

Through your Access to Higher Education Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions) you’ll cover biology, chemistry and physics and other core principles of medicine and health care. By offering relevant topics all under one course it cuts your study time in half.

Like A Levels, those that take the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Medicine and Health Care Professions) complete their course on average in 9 months. Which is much more realistic than trying to take three A Levels all at once.

However, it should be noted that despite the overwhelming majority of universities accepting Access to HE Diplomas – some do not.

Therefore it’s best to check with your desired institute before applying. You wouldn’t want to put in all that hard work just for it not be relevant to the specific course you’re trying to get into.


Whatever route you decide to take whether that’s retaking A Levels or starting an Access to HE Diploma becoming a doctor is still possible.

At learndirect we offer a range of courses to suit your needs. As one of the UK’s leading online providers we have courses from GCSEs to Access to HE Diplomas and more.

Throughout your learning you’ll be guided by an expert tutor. They’ll be able to answer any queries you might have and provide useful feedback to help you succeed. As well as flexible payment options to help you spread the cost.

Read more on how to prepare for your online learning experience by reading our blog here.

Browse our courses below or get in touch with one of our advisors and enrol today.

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