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 woman from Hong Kong who went to an international fee-paying school.
Course: Standard undergraduate
Interview: In-person panel interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT; BMAT
Words of Advice: Be proactive and ask around for opportunities.
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
in about year 10, I have always been thinking between biology and medicine. In Sixth Form, I was also considering bioengineering for a while
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
I did not do well in UKCAT so I just chose 3 BMAT and 1 UKCAT. For my 5th choice, I just chose a course that I want to do in a top university, didn’t really think much about it
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, Customer service role (voluntary)
How much work experience did you do?
1 week of hospital placement in Hong Kong, 1 week of hospital placement in the UK and 1 week of hospital placement in India. For voluntary work, for over a year I go to a charity shop to volunteer every Sunday
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through a formal scheme or work experience placement, 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
Free admissions test prep course
Practice papers from test website,
Borrowed a BMAT answer explanation book from the library
UKCAT ninja (can get a lot of free practice questions)
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
I only did UKCAT Ninja for UKCAT, I just did their practise questions. For BMAT, I just did past papers and timed myself and borrowed the book with explained answers so I can read the explanations of answers if I don’t understand
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?
Read over my personal statement making sure I can elaborate on everything I wrote on the personal statement, especially the academic stuff. Google medical ethics to familiarise myself with the topic. As Cambridge is an academic interview, I did some olympiad questions before hand (maths, phy and chem) to get myself into problem solving mode.
What happened during your interview?
I had 3 interviews each 20min each. The first interview involved A Level Biology stuff on neurons and also one of the academic stuff I had on my PS. I find it very relaxing and not too challenging.
The second interview was a critical thinking interview where the interviewer asked me some medical ethics questions and gave me a newspaper article to read and talk about the ethical implications of the case. T
he third interview was on hardcore biochemistry! The interviewer asked me something I wrote on my PS that’s biochem related and proceed on asking out of syllabus biochem questions.
Do you have any further advice?
Be proactive! Get opportunities yourself, ask your school or ask around!
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: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering/want-to-volunteer/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwyLGjBhDKARIsAFRNgW-o9NsatwGEYMfXowTD–D6S3CYjcUbP2LqkMiCU0dCL31NURMPKkkaAqiiEALw_wcB#/.