Veterinary science is one of the most valuable degrees currently offered for those interested in improving animal health and welfare and public health. It has a competitive application process for which to gain entry, so it is important to have a good idea of the attributes, qualifications and experience you need to possess in order to apply.
While exact entry requirements differ between veterinary schools, applicants are required to demonstrate high levels of academic achievement. The typical conditional offer can generally be considered three A’s at A level, but some veterinary schools offer places at different grades, such as AAB and A*AA. For Scottish Highers, the typical conditional offer is Advanced Highers at BB-AAA and five Highers at AAAAB, and again there is variation between the typical conditional offers made by veterinary schools.
To become a vet applicants need to demonstrate an enthusiasm and aptitude for science. Veterinary schools expect this to be reflected in an applicant’s educational background and will stipulate the exact qualifications required in their entry requirements. Some veterinary schools require qualifications in Chemistry and Biology, while others require Chemistry and one or two additional science subjects, such as Biology, Maths or Physics.
For the exact requirements for each veterinary medicine degree programme, it is advised that applicants read the admissions guide, as well as the websites of the veterinary schools they are interested in.
Applicants will be required to show an understanding of what a career in veterinary medicine involves. To assess this, many veterinary schools include work experience among their criteria for application. It is suggested that most of the work experience should have been obtained fairly recently to the time of application.
Veterinary schools explain their requirements for work experience in the admissions guide. This includes details on whether they ask for clinical experience shadowing vets and/or experience in a non-clinical animal husbandry setting. You should also take note of the amount of work experience beyond which further experience confers little advantage in their admissions processes.
Reflecting on work experience is an important element of the admissions process for veterinary medicine. Rather than being a passive observer, veterinary schools encourage applicants to take an active interest in the husbandry practice or clinical cases they see and the management or scientific principles which underlie them. You should try to be observant and thoughtful about what you see, ask questions, and possibly do a little extra reading or research once the working day is over. The nature of work experience means that very often you will not be able to follow clinical cases all the way from first consultation to clinical resolution. Veterinary schools are fully aware of this, so applicants should not be deterred from mentioning such cases in their application or interview.
All applications to UK veterinary schools must be made via UCAS, which includes the requirement to write a personal statement. However, veterinary schools are aware that the amount and quality of advice, and assistance applicants receive when writing their personal statement, varies greatly – and that this could potentially
advantage or disadvantage certain applicants. For this reason, personal statements now play a smaller role in selecting candidates for veterinary medicine. This is reflected in the fact that some veterinary schools may have partially or completely replaced the use of the personal statement by introducing their own applicant questionnaires.
However, this does not make the personal statement unimportant. Throughout the selection process, for example at interview, it is likely that you will be asked about things you have discussed in your personal statement. Remember that the personal statement is your opportunity to explain that you possess the enthusiasm, skills and aptitudes which make you suitable for a career in veterinary medicine. Use this opportunity to explain how your academic interests, work experience and relevant hobbies reflect your interest in veterinary medicine. When mentioning these activities, make sure to reflect on how they have developed your skills and prompted your interest in veterinary science.
Most veterinary schools will interview applicants as part of the selection process. The interview method used varies between schools. Some will offer multiple mini-interviews, which consist of several different stations or small interview scenarios. Others will have fewer, though potentially longer, interviews. The selection process may also include assessed individual or group tasks, tests and additional questionnaires.
The types of questions asked at interview may vary, from more traditional questions to semi-structured questions or tasks which are designed key skills or attributes. Remember to prepare for your interview by thinking about why you want to study veterinary medicine and the skills and attributes you possess which make you a suitable candidate. Focus your preparation on reflecting on your experiences and what they have taught you, and give real life examples to back up any point you make. It is a good idea to demonstrate that you are engaging with the field outside of your work experience and school work, for example, by keeping up-to-date with current veterinary and science news.
Before the selection day, make sure to carefully read any information given to you about the style and structure of the interview and use it to prepare accordingly. Applicants can find read My Vet Future’s interview tips.
How to apply
Applications to study veterinary science are handled through UCAS. Applicants are able to apply for up to four veterinary courses and one other non-veterinary course. Due to the high number of applications received each year, the application process for veterinary medicine is longer than it is for other courses. For this reason, application must be made just under one year in advance. The deadline is always 15 October, to begin the course in September of the following year.
The application process for international students is the same as it is for domestic students, with all applications made through UCAS. The standard of grades required is also the same, but the equivalent grades will need to be determined for the international qualifications used to apply. All UK vet schools are experienced in considering a wide variety of public examination systems from around the world. If you are studying for non-UK qualifications, you should refer to each veterinary school’s website for further details about entry requirements. Should you not find your qualifications listed, contact the admissions department of your chosen veterinary school for advice.
Veterinary schools will consider a certificate of equivalence for qualifications that are not considered. You must contact UKNARIC to see if your qualifications can be converted into a certificate of equivalence.
If you are applying from outside the UK and you do not speak English as your first language then you are required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. This requirement applies to both international and EU/EEA students. Many veterinary schools will prefer, or expect you to take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). There are two versions of IELTS, the Academic test and the General Training test. You will need to complete the Academic test, which is for those who wish to study. Most veterinary schools will require a minimum score as part of their entry requirements, which will be listed on their websites.
The IELTS can be taken in over 500 locations worldwide and there is a set fee for sitting it. To find your nearest test centre, visit the IELTS website.