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Scottish Medical Training

Scotland - the home of medical excellence

What is the matching process? 

The matching process is the process by which candidates are allocated to a Group and Programme (for definitions of the terms Group and Programme, please click here).

How high will my score have to be to guarantee a match to my first choice Group? 

This depends very much on what your first choice Group is. For popular Groups the score required to guarantee a match is likely to be significantly higher than for less popular Groups. 

Should I avoid placing popular Groups at the head of my list? 

If you place popular Groups P1, P2 and P3 in, say, positions 1, 2 and 3 on your list, and a less popular Group Q in position 4, your chances of being allocated to Q are no less than they would have been if you had disguised your true preferences by placing Q first. In other words, there is no advantage in 'faking' your preferences. For applicants with low scores (it is difficult to predict just how low) there is some danger of ending up unmatched; for such applicants it would be risky to include only popular Groups in their list.

Could I fail to be matched to a Group? 

No - if you have been allocated to Scotland on the primary list you will be allocated to a Group.

How does the system distinguish between applicants with the same score? 

Initially, applicants with the same score are distinguished on a completely random basis. However, this randomness can have a significant effect on the matching size (the number of applicants matched) and profile (the number receiving their first, second, etc. choice). The algorithm may be repeated many times, and the solution that matches the most applicants, with the profile that is most satisfactory, will be selected. 

Is there an upgrade system for me to upgrade to a higher ranked Group or Programme if one becomes available?

There is no upgrade system for either the Foundation Programme or Academic Foundation Programme allocation process.

If I don't like where I am matched, is there any "swap" system for me to change or can I have changes made to my programme? 

The School does not allow any “swaps”.  All of our programmes are 'balanced' educationally and are quality monitored by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) through its quality management processes.   

Exceptionally, changes can be made for operational reasons relating to the running of the programme, or when specific circumstances warrant it on the basis of a trainee's health or well-being.  

Trainees should not worry if they don’t secure exactly the Foundation Programme of their choice. The placements will not have a direct bearing on their chances of getting into a specific specialty training programme. Trainees should ensure that they can demonstrate commitment through other means, for example tasters, arranging their own observations, meetings with consultants, courses and research. 


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