Application to the University of Cambridge in 2018/9

This student applied in the 2018/9 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 woman who went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send students to study medicine.

Our Summary
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?
In sixth form

How did you choose which universities to apply to?
A mixture of admissions criteria hoping if I didn’t do well on one thing ie personal statement, UKCAT or BMAT – it wouldn’t matter as i had universities which prioritised these to different extents.

Completing work experience

What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, GP surgery, Care work (e.g. in residential care), Customer service role (paid)

How much work experience did you do?
2 days in GP
4 days in hospital
Had worked in customer service + Health Care Assistant in a nursing home since I was 16

How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through asking someone I knew to take me on, My school organised them

During the application process…

Admissions tests

What admissions test did you sit?
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT):

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:

What resources did you use?
Free online resources
Paid online resources
Practice papers from test website

How did you prepare for your admissions test?
For UKCAT used an online question bank, that I paid around £30 for, although I can’t remember what this was called.
For BMAT I read the physics gcse revision guide to try and refamiliarise myself with it as i hadn’t done A level physics.


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 practiced answering questions speaking out loud, found the questions online and googled things like “Cambridge medicine interview questions” etc, there is also a good online bank of questions but I can’t remember what it’s called.

For my college all you needed to know was A level stuff so just be on top of that, I understand this can differ between colleges though.

What happened during your interview?
My interviews were nice.
In one they talked to me about my school to start the conversation, they then asked me questions relating to one of the Alevel chemistry topics.

In the second interview there was a lot of maths, some A level maths and some maths that id done in biology. There was a white board for working out stuff. Then he asked me a question relating to a topic I had not yet studied, I told him this and he said okay and asked me something else – they wanted to talk about stuff we had learnt – i understand this is different to interviews at other colleges. They then asked me some questions about the NHS and health in general :))

Both were good, with two interviewers.


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. 

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.

Volunteering: Lots of students do volunteering to help them prepare for their medicine application. This doesn’t need to be volunteering in a medical setting, but might be a caring volunteer position. Lots of students might do this during their Duke of Edinburgh Award, but there are plenty of other opportunities to become a volunteer – ask your school if they know anywhere that might be asking for volunteers, or the NCVO might be able to direct you to somewhere via their Volunteer Centres:–D6S3CYjcUbP2LqkMiCU0dCL31NURMPKkkaAqiiEALw_wcB#/.

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