This student applied in the 2019/20 application cycle and therefore the selection process at Cambridge 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
Sometimes students share information with us about their demographics, which may help put their application experience into a bit more perspective.
This student identifies as a white British man who went to a comprehensive school which regularly sends students to study medicine.
Course: Standard undergraduate
Interview: In-person panel interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT; BMAT
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
Part way through year 11, I think.
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
– Cambridge because I wanted to apply to Oxbridge, and I grew up in oxford (so wanted to move away. Also preferred Cambridge open day, though the weather was good then and horrible on oxford open day to be fair)
– Bristol; loved the city; liked the open day; respected uni; right distance from home
– Sheffield; liked the city; liked the open day
– Nottingham; didn’t know much about it; chose above Edinburgh last minute as I doubted my chances at other unis and wanted to get a place somewhere
– (5th choice) Swansea University biochemistry; thought biochem was vaguely medical; wouldn’t have chosen it had I not got into medicine so put an application in without much thought.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, GP surgery, Care work (e.g. in residential care)
How much work experience did you do?
I did work placements (~week in each of) oncology, acute medicine, general practise, and infectious diseases.
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through asking someone I knew to take me on
During the application process…
What admissions test did you sit?
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT): https://www.ucat.ac.uk/; BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). Note: BMAT will no longer be used for medicine applications after 2023. If you are applying in 2023 and sitting the BMAT, you can find out about it here: https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/bmat/
What resources did you use?
Free online resources, Paid online resources, Free admissions test prep course, Practice papers from test website
Medify for both UCAT and BMAT. Very useful for UCAT, less so for BMAT. Simulates UCAT very well, gives you loads of practise questions. Less good for BMAT because I’d say UCAT is much more exam technique-based. UCAT environment unfamiliar until you’ve tried it on Medify or similar, whereas BMAT a similar format to GCSE kind of exams.
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
Nearby private school offered medicine application preparation course, for free, to nearby state-schoolers. Part of this was a UCAT prep course, and part a BMAT prep course.
UCAT: The prep course at MCS. I bought Medify early and every now and again practised on it. I designated a two week intense UCAT revision period prior to exam, where I’d spend all day everyday doing UCAT (pretty much)
BMAT: Alongside the MCS course, I bought Medify and used it a bit to prepare. Otherwise tried to make sure I knew a level and GCSE content I thought might be relevant.
What type of interview did you do?
Panel: This type of interview is a ‘traditional’ sit down interview where you’ll be interviewed by a group of people, usually academic tutors and doctors. This differs from an MMI interview, which is based around ‘stations’ which have themes or scenarios attached to them.
How did you prepare for your interview?
I read online accessible info from websites like the Medic Portal. I watched YouTube videos from Cambridge about the interview process.
I had a mock ‘Oxbridge’ style interview at a nearby private school (not the school I attended) which they had kindly invited state schoolers to. I had a mock interview (hybrid MMI and Oxbridge style) at my own school, and had a mock science interview from a teacher at my school (it was a physics interview but judged to be useful despite it not being the course I was applying to).
I read medical books (inc. revising myself on the ones I’d mentioned in my personal statement) and read about recent Nobel prize in med. I revised A level bio content I thought might be relevant.
I familiarised myself with Good Medical Practice.
What happened during your interview?
I had two interviews, each roughly 20 mins long.
1: I was asked about my personal statement. I was presented with a theoretical medical case, which allowed me to get started with an A level biological concept, and with prompts get to the overall problem, I was then asked to suggest potential clinical treatment options. I was asked an ethical question too. I was very nervous prior to going in, but the interviewers (particularly one of them) were very nice, so I got used to it and relaxed quite quickly. The room was nice, very Cambridge, sitting on sofas.
2: We went straight into medical question, though this time involving a graph. The interview had a similar structure to 1 but without personal statement. There was a less relaxed atmosphere. I was quite nervy throughout I think. The room similarly Cambridge, again sofas
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.
Insiders: Don’t worry if you don’t know people like this. Most students don’t have friends who have already been through the process or healthcare professionals that they know who might be able to support them. You can meet current medical students to speak to at open days, or via free mentoring schemes, but it’s not a requirement for you to be successful.
Support networks: While not every student will have a support network to help them prepare, there are plenty of other ways to prepare for your admissions tests and interviews, such as through free online resources, like on our website.
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.
Free resources: There are plenty of free resources available to help you prepare for admissions tests and interviews online and in person! For example, you might be able to get a free place on a mentoring scheme or session, find free support books at your local library, or search online for free resources to help you. It’s very normal to rely on free resources – not everyone can afford to pay for support, and it’s not proven to give you an advantage.
Mock interview: Don’t worry if you didn’t have this opportunity. Interviews are designed to take into account that not everyone has the same level of preparation. See our guides and blogs on interviews to find out more about free online resources.
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