Making an application
Making an application to study dentistry can be daunting. This page aims to make the process easy to understand. It lays out the initial parts of an application in the order that you need to consider them, taking you from qualifications while at school or college to applying for financial support. The second part of the application stage will require attending interviews at a dental school for shortlisted candidates.
The application procedures for international students are the same as those described on this page, however, international students will have additional things to consider. To find out more, please see the international applicants page.
The deadline for applying to dentistry is 15 October every year.
Dental schools are responsible for setting their own entry criteria. Generally, the minimum entry requirements to a standard dentistry degree are three As at A level or equivalent qualifications, with one in Chemistry and often one in Biology,. Grades at GCSE or equivalent are also considered as part of the application. Graduate programmes often require applicants to have achieved a minimum of 2.1 in a health science degree. Exact entry requirements can be found on individual dental school websites.
To understand more about the different types of medicine courses available, visit our course types page.
Dental schools expect applicants to demonstrate an understanding of what a career in dentistry involves. Applicants are expected to use work experience to demonstrate this. Some dental schools may specifically ask for a minimum number of weeks of work experience and specify the type of experience they desire, for example shadowing a dentist. Many do ask for experience to be based in a dental or healthcare setting, however they also consider the opportunities available to the applicant.
Dental schools are keen to see that you understand what it is like working in a caring profession, and how concerns of various types of patients’ needs to be appreciated. Volunteering at a hospice or charity can be used to show these attributes. It is important that you discuss the learning you experienced, rather than listing the types of work experience you had.
To get work experience, prepare a short CV and hand this in to places in your area which relate to healthcare, saying that you are willing to volunteer. These places could be care homes, hospices, dental practices, and dental hospitals. The NHS, together with the Dental Schools Council, has developed a toolkit for organisations on providing dental work experience. You may wish to show this to any dental practices you would like to apply to.
Other useful activities might include reading dental journals or following news about the National Health Service. These things will emphasise a candidate’s interest in a dental career and willingness to research. If you know any dentists then arranging time to speak with one will provide you with material to use in the interview, as well as demonstrate motivation and initiative. All dental professionals can be a valuable source of information and experience, not just dentists. After all, dentists work as part of large teams involving many healthcare professions, so demonstrating that you have a sense of those professions and how they work together will help you in both your personal statement and interview.
In addition to high academic achievement, dental schools will look for certain skills and attributes which they believe make an ideal candidate for dentistry. As part of your application, you will need to complete a personal statement. Some schools may also ask you to complete their own information form.
Some attributes that make a good candidate for dentistry include:
- Motivation to study dentistry and genuine interest in the dental profession
- Insight into your own strengths and weaknesses
- The ability to reflect on your own work
- Personal organisation
- Manual dexterity (you could include examples of hobbies that require steady hands or good coordination)
- Academic ability
- Problem solving
- Manage risk and deal effectively with problems
- Ability to take responsibility for your own actions
- Insight into your own health
- Effective communication, including reading, writing, listening and speaking
- Ability to treat people with respect
- Empathy and the ability to care for others
Keep these in mind while writing your personal statement. Rather than simply stating that you embody these attributes, give examples of how you have demonstrated them in the past, for instance while on work experience or through extracurricular activities.
Dental schools vary in how they assess personal statements. Some score them while others do not. They commonly use personal statements as a basis for conversation during interview, so it is a good idea to write things which you would be prepared to expand on if asked.
Each dental school uses an admissions test as part of its entry requirements. There are two different admission tests. Dental schools each state on their websites which test they use. Please note that the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) dental school does not use these tests and instead runs its own entrance exam as part of its selection procedure.
The majority of dental schools use the UKCAT. An applicant registers for and sits the UKCAT before the UCAS application is made, noting his or her score in the application. Registration typically opens in May and closes in September. Testing takes place from July until October, ahead of the final deadline for UCAS applications to dentistry, which is 15 October every year.
Currently only Leeds Dental School uses the BMAT, which focuses more on academic aptitude. An applicant must register for the BMAT before the application is made, but the test is only taken after the application. This will be at the end of the calendar year, after the UCAS deadline has passed. The applicant’s score is sent automatically to the relevant dental schools which have been applied for. Registration opens in September and closes in October. Testing usually takes place in November.
The application – deadline and finance
Applications to study dentistry are handled through UCAS. Applicants are able to apply to up to four dental courses. If you are in college or sixth-form then you should be guided through the process by teachers.
There is a very high number of applications to dentistry each year and the process takes longer than for most 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 next available time to begin a dental degree is September 2019.
Completed 2019 entry applications can be submitted to UCAS from 5 September 2018 and will close on 15 October 2018.
UK applicants can apply for student loans through Student Finance. Some students may also be eligible for grants or NHS bursary support. It is best to apply for student finance as soon as you have made your UCAS application. For more information, refer to the following websites according to where you currently live:
England: Student Finance England
Scotland: Student Awards Agency Scotland
Wales: Student Finance Wales
Northern Ireland: Student Finance Northern Ireland
Universities may also offer their own bursaries or scholarships. It is best to research what is available on the websites of the dental schools in which you are interested. If you are from outside of the UK, and would like to know more about fees and funding, visit our international applicants page.