a level retakesRochester Independent College has been helping prepare students for medical, dental and vet school entry since 1984.

We welcome students on two year A level programmes and those who transfer into Year 13 after disappointing AS results elsewhere who need to maximise their chances of securing the required entry grades of AAA within the two years.

We also offer intensive one year A level Science and Maths courses that have been successfully taken by high flying international and mature students preparing for medicine, dentistry and vet science.

For international students aiming for these courses a two year programme is generally better to allow us to help them to build up relevant work experience. Many of the College’s former students are now successful practitioners working locally and many of the local GPs, surgeons and consultants send their children to us. This gives RIC a real wealth of experience to draw upon when advising students about who to approach when organising their work experience. Our parents also help with the mock interviews we organise for all our applicants aiming for these courses.

Two RIC students started Dentistry in 2012 at Sheffield University, Anna Lee from Korea and Yalda Nassehi from IranAnna and Yalda both boarded in our onsite halls of residence while at Rochester.

reapply medical school a levelsRIC student Vinitha Soundararajan was left last September with four top A level grades- including an A* in Biology and As in Chemistry and Maths but rejections from all the medical schools she applied to. Refusing to give up on her dreams of becoming a doctor she opted to take a year out to improve her profile and reapply.

RIC’s Senior UCAS Advisor Dr Rachel Woolley, formerly an executive administrator at Birmingham University’s medical school says: “With up to 10 applicants per place at UK medical schools it is inevitable that every year there will be students with top grades and good work experience that are left disappointed. If the required A level grades are achieved first time round though keen aspiring medics can secure places if they demonstrate real commitment and reapply. They first however have to audit their strengths and weaknesses candidly and spend their enforced gap year getting every aspect of their application up to scratch. It is also important they target their applications carefully and apply to the right range of universities.”

Vinitha says:

“I decided to do a one year A level Sociology course as part of my gap year plans and this helped me at interview. The one year course packaged huge amounts of material relevant to the issues involved in a health care profession really well. I went to a grammar school before RIC but the teacher student relationships here are unique, far more friendly and laid back. With the help of my teachers and friends the one year A level course was a great opportunity to have another shot at applying for medicine and being successful at it.”


Dr Woolley adds: “There is no secret to how to make a successful medical school application and the universities themselves are increasingly transparent about the process.  They tend to point score applicants on each aspect of their application- academic performance to date, work experience, personal statement, UKCAT score and interview performance.”

Vinitha continues:

 “As well as my intensive A level course I did some long term volunteer placements at a children’s hospice and at a hospital. Everyone I knew was travelling during their gap years but I thought I’d stay local and build up my work experience.”


Vinitha now has an extra A level to add to her collection and starts her MBBS Medicine course at the University of East Anglia in October. Advising others left in a similar position she says:

“Anyone thinking of applying for medicine keep going at it. You will get people along the way who will tell you it’s too hard but at the end of the day you have to go for what you want.”


Rochester Independent College is more used to its students winning medical school places but this year is wishing good luck to one of its English teachers who is leaving to retrain as a doctor.

A level and GCSE English teacher Oliver Batham has won a place at Southampton University to study medicine on a Graduate Entry Medicine Course.

Oliver says:

“These accelerated courses are already the norm in countries like the USA, where medicine is a postgraduate course. They were pioneered in Australia, and entered the UK’s educational landscape a little over a decade ago, in order to accommodate those who wished to enter medicine as a new career, or who had followed non-traditional academic paths to medicine. The entry requirements are different to the standard undergraduate course – entrants have to have completed a degree first, although not necessarily in a scientific subject. Other requirements tend to be similar to those of other entrants – A Level Chemistry and a good amount of work experience are both key. As well as undertaking my new course, I look forward to remaining in touch with RIC and hope to return in the near future, both to speak to my old English students and to give interested students an insight into life at medical school.”


In order to realise his ambition of becoming a doctor Michael Swindon took A level Chemistry in a year from scratch while studying the remainder of his A levels at the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Maths School in Rochester. It is sometimes possible to combine studying one A level at  RIC while staying at local school sixth forms for the remainder. Michael is now studying Medicine at Southampton University


Liz Fitzwalter formerly of King’s School, Rochester graduated from UEA with a 2.1 degree in English Literature, not perhaps the best grounding for a potential vet! She completed A level Chemistry in a year from scratch at RIC having not studied the subject since GCSE  five years earlier and secured not only a Grade A but an impressive  550/600. Liz won a place to study Vet Science as a mature student at  Bristol University.

A change of environment at this stage of a two year A level course, often after disappointing AS results, is often a highly successful way of ensuring good results without the need for a retake year. Priya Sethukumar for example took her GCSEs and AS exams at Highsted Grammar School and joined Rochester Independent College for Year 13, continuing A levels in Physics, Chemistry and Biology and starting a new A level, Sociology from scratch. Priya won at place at Imperial College to read medicine.

a level medicine retakesA similar story  was Roshni Patel from Gravesend Grammar School who crashed in Year 12 but after transferring into Year 13 won a place to study Medicine at St George’s. Her parents, Mr and Mrs Patel comment:

“We are extremely happy with  Roshni’s results. This is our second daughter to attend Rochester  Independent College after disappointing results elsewhere. Our older  daughter Sarina is in her final year of Dentistry at Queen Mary.”


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