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 white woman and they went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send students to study medicine.
Course: Standard undergraduate
Interview: In-person panel interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT; BMAT
Top tip: It’s okay to make mistakes – take on the feedback and improve your answers thoughtfully based on it.
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
It was something that was suggested to me when I was young and seemed like a good idea. Then as time progressed I found more and more reasons why I would enjoy it and so didn’t stray from it.
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
A doctor who went to Cambridge said I should go for it! I wouldn’t have had the belief that I could be good enough other wise.
Exter and York both felt culturally comfortable to me and I liked the Problem-Based Learning style.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
GP surgery, Customer service role (voluntary), Customer service role (paid), Voluntary healthcare charity
How much work experience did you do?
1 day on GP and 2 days in hospital shadowing a Orthopaedic doctor (a doctor that takes care of the musculo-skeletal system).
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?
Medic Portal for UKCAT.
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
Started off doing past paper questions untimed, then timed, then whole papers untimed, then whole papers timed.
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?
Made sure I knew all my A level content and my personal statement off by heart. Also reread through the articles I talked about before going in.
What happened during your interview?
All the questions were science based, they started out as easy things I had learnt in GCSE/A level and then got progressively harder. It wasn’t about knowing the right answers but about using my basic science knowledge and reasoning to come up with sensible ideas.
Do you have any further advice?
I think being reassured that you don’t have to be perfect and they can make mistakes. That’s not what is important, it’s how they deal with being wrong. Being able to take on correction and advice and thoughtfully and logically improving the answer for there.
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.
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.
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.