This student applied in the 2019/20 application cycle and therefore the selection process at Sheffield may have changed since then. You should read all the information a University sends you about the selection process to get the most up to date details!
Remember to check out the glossary at the bottom of the page for our explanations of all the jargon we medical students like to use!
More about this student
Ethnicity: White British
I went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send students to study medicine.
Course: Standard Undergraduate
In person MMI interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT
UCAT past papers
Free online question banks
Before I made my application…
When did you decide you wanted to apply for medical school?
I actually didn’t decide I wanted to do Medicine until halfway through Year 12, when I had already made my subject choices. I hadn’t picked Chemistry as an A Level, which is pretty much always a requirement. This meant that I had to pick it up in Year 13 and do my first year of Chemistry while I was doing my Year 13 in my other 3 A Levels, and then take an extra year to complete Chemistry. I ended up having to resit Biology as well anyway. My point is, it’s never too late to change your mind or decide you want to do Medicine.
How did you choose what medical schools to apply to?
I resat my A Levels so my choices for medical school were a bit more limited. I chose a variety of universities in different sized cities with different types of courses in order to have a wide range to choose from and see which types I preferred on interview days. For my fifth choice, I chose paediatric nursing at Birmingham.
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, Customer service role (paid), tutoring at school and volunteering in a nursery.
How much work experience did you do?
I managed to get 3 days in my local hospital shadowing some of the doctors in opthalmology (eye medicine!), however I didn’t actually end up speaking about this in my interviews much at all! I volunteered in a nursery for 12 months in Year 12 and tutored Year 9 & 10 students while I was in Year 13. I also had a part time job in a shop.
You don’t need lots of clinical experience or any at all. Part time jobs and volunteering give you a lot of transferable skills and experience that are a lot more desirable to medical schools than a few weeks spent watching surgeries or shadowing (not to say these aren’t good if you have them but they are definitely not a necessity!)
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
My local hospital had a webpage with an email to email about work experience and they were able to provide me with 2 or 3 days (can’t quite remember!)
During the application process…
What admissions test did you sit?
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT): https://www.ucat.ac.uk/
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
I started off by going through the books and looking at The Medic Portal website to see how to tackle each section and then started on the questions in the books as initial practise. I also watched some YouTube videos with people going through worked examples of the different sections of the test. I then moved on to all the free resources and practised all the different sections, doing as many questions from each section. In the last 2 weeks I just did as many practise exams as possible.
I had my UCAT in September and started revising around 6 weeks before, but probably not intensely until 3 weeks before. I didn’t revise for hours and hours every day, probably max 3 or 4 hours in the few days before the exam, purely because the practise tests take time. I found that doing little but often helped me not get fatigued and juggle A Levels as well. The biggest piece of advice I would give would be do as many practise questions as possible in timed conditions and don’t be afraid of skipping questions, due to the timed nature of the exam. If I couldn’t answer the question within a few seconds of skimming my eyes over it, or knew it would be time consuming to answer, I skipped it and went back to it if I had time, prioritising answering all the easy/quick to answer questions first to maximise points. Focus on your strengths- don’t neglect areas you struggle with and make sure you can get a decent mark on those sections, but on areas you are strong in, you can really maximise your marks by getting very good at them.
What resources did you use?
I had 2 books with practise questions in: “Get into Med School 1250 Practise Questions” and “The Medic Portal: Mastering the UKCAT”. I bought the books second hand as there’s so many around because realistically people only use them for a few months, max 2 admissions cycles. The second book is old now because the UKCAT became the UCAT.
I used free questions from The Medic Portal, Medify, the UCAT website – just google free UCAT practise and so many websites came up.
The only thing I paid for was Medify in the last month, which I think cost £20 (it’s probably more now!). I didn’t buy a subscription because it was too expensive and so just bought the month pass.
What type of interview did you do?
Multiple Mini Interview: This type of interview usually includes several short interviews or ‘stations’ which may involve different types of questions and scenarios. This is different compared to a panel interview, which may cover the same scenarios/types of questions but be a more ‘traditional’ sit-down interview.
How did you prepare for your interview?
Sheffield give you the stations in advance to allow you to prepare. I wouldn’t recommend writing down all your answers and memorising by heart as it’s quite clear when you do this, and doesn’t allow you to show your personality, plus if you get nervous and forget stuff, it can really throw you!
For each station I did a bit of research behind the theme and wrote down a few bullet points and ideas I had and then just practised answering some of the questions with my mum. I found that as long as I had a few ideas written down and had researched some of the questions needing extra knowledge, I was able to answer the questions well and quite naturally. I would just recommend practising talking through some of your ideas and bullet points out loud so when you’re nervous it still flows well.
Resources to use:
- GMC best practice
- Various NHS websites to do with some of the themes (best to get your information from reliable sources)
- Sheffield Uni website for course details, extra-curriculars etc etc
- Read up on current affairs affecting the NHS
- BMA have good resources giving MMI advice plus lots of up to date information about current events within the NHS
- The Medic Portal – lots of MMI information and advice, plus some med school specific info
- I didn’t buy any MMI interview prep books- if you want one, download an e book or find a free copy online as odds are you’ll never use it again!
I didn’t have any mentoring, didn’t go to any courses and had no help from my school in terms of interview prep- it is entirely possible to get into med school even if you don’t have support from your school or get practise interviews! Just be genuine and confident, and show how enthusiastic you are- you don’t need to know everything or get everything right!
What happened in your interview?
We arrived to Sam Fox House at the Northern General Hospital (where the interviews are held) and were signed in, given a station number to start on and then were sent to wait. I found that chatting to other students helped with nerves and gave us something to do while we waited. Plus it’s always nice to recognise people from interviews when you start in September!
We were given 8 or 10 minutes for each station (I can’t remember how long as it’s been a few years!), a minute rest between each station where we could take a breather and a minute to read the prompt, which gives you plenty of time to recall your bullet points and ideas. Bells were rang to signify the beginning and end of stations and when to move on, which meant everything ran smoothly. There were also people outside each station to help you get to the right station. I think overall, including all the stations, time between stations and moving times, the whole MMI lasted around 70-80 minutes, which isn’t long and went very very quickly!
The atmosphere was very calm, there were plenty of people to answer questions and help you find your way. We had a quick talk before the start of the interview by the head of Early Years (years 1&2) about what to expect.
If you have an interview at Sheffield and are driving, get there early as the parking can be a bit of a nightmare! Or get dropped off at the front door and let your parents find the parking!
Clinical work experience: Not every student will complete clinical work experience before they apply to medical school. Don’t worry, this is not required to be able to apply. You can use non-clinical work experience (e.g. a caring role, like in a care home) or even reflect on paid work you’ve done (e.g. in customer service) in a productive way. See our guide to this here:
Medify: Medify is a popular website which provides resources for helping you prepare your medicine application. Medify has some free resources online but some are paid-for. There are good, free alternatives for preparation available online, so check out our subject guides and the university websites for details.
The Medic Portal: The Medic Portal is a popular website that provides resources to help you prepare your medicine application. The Medic Portal has some free resources online but some are paid-for. There are good, free alternatives for preparation available online, so check out our guides and the university websites for details.
YouTube: There are many current and recent medical students who create videos on YouTube about their experience and advice about applying. Remember that their experience is personal and individual, and may not reflect yours. They might provide some useful advice but remember that they might be advertising paid for services. Take their advice as part of a more holistic approach alongside moderated advice such as ours, and official advice from universities and test providers.
Paid-for resources: Some students choose to pay for courses either online or in person to help them prepare for admissions tests and interviews. There is no evidence that they give you an advantage. There are good, free alternatives for preparation for admissions tests and interviews, and some offer bursaries and discounts to students who come from low income families. Check out our guides and uni websites for more details.
GMC Guidelines for Good Medical Practice: These guidelines describe what it means to be a good doctor. These can help guide you during your preparation for your application and how you answer questions in interviews. GMC Good Practice