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 Bangladeshi woman who went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly sends students to medical school.
Course: Standard undergraduate
Interview: Online panel interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT; BMAT
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
Look at course structure. I preferred traditional over integrated because I wanted time to build my confidence before going onto placement.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Care work (e.g. in residential care), Lab placement
How much work experience did you do?
The lab shadowing placement was for 2 weeks and it wasn’t intense at all but I got a feel for what a career in STEM felt like. With a youth centre, I volunteered at a care home and that was better at reflecting the sort of thing a medic would be exposed to like speaking to vulnerable and often sick elderly people.
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
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
I took out 1250 UKCAT questions and 700 BMAT questions for free from my library. Assumed knowledge guide for BMAT section 2, which is free and online.
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?
Did extra reading around anything I mentioned in my personal statement, should I be asked about it. Read simple articles about topical issues in the NHS and also a documentary AI technology used in GP Babylon. Went over basic medical ethics protocols e.g. judging consent, breaking confidentiality and laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide etc. I completed projects associated with university Widening participation schemes such as TargetMed with UCL. ‘Diagnosis on Demand? The Computer Will See You Now’ documentary on BBC iPlayer. BMA articles.
What happened during your interview?
It felt more like a conversation than hard and fast questions and answers so it felt quite easy to relax into it. I remember being shown a graph concerning patient care and to describe the trend and then foster an explanation about why this trend has occurred. My personal statement mentioned something about physiology and the interviewer started drawing out rough diagrams to explain it further and asked me for my input e.g. how a drug could prevent a disease occurring. I got the answer wrong but he continued to prompt me until I got it correct.
‘Traditional’ teaching: a traditional approach to teaching is different from PBL and integrated in that it is ‘split’. Firstly, you will be taught the scientific and academic knowledge in a pre-clinical phase, and then you will learn the clinical skills in a clinical phase. Traditional teaching is now only used at a few universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge.
Integrated learning: Most universities use an ‘integrated’ style of teaching where they teach the scientific topic alongside the clinical skills. This means when you learn about a specific aspect of the body, they will teach you all the science, and the clinical skills to go with it, rather than teaching you all the science first, and then giving you the opportunity to learn the clinical skills at a later date (traditional teaching).
Problem Based Learning: PBL is a teaching style that many universities use to teach their medical students. Usually, you will work to solve a problem, and this is how you learn about the solution, rather than being taught the solution first and then applying it.
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.
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#/.
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.
Multiple Mini Interview (MMI): 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. ]
Four Pillars of Medical Ethics: These four pillars guide ideas about medical ethics. Knowing and understanding them can help you prepare for your interview and how you answer questions. Four Pillars