This student applied in the 2020/21 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 woman who went to a selective state 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?
When I was about 13 or 14.
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
I looked at the courses. I wanted to intercalate but to have lots of choice in what I intercalate in (didn’t want to do research) which pushed me to apply for Cambridge. I liked the structure of the Glasgow course and I visited Glasgow and loved the feel of the city. Again I liked the structure of the Edinburgh course. I applied to Bristol as my fifth choice because I thought it was a pretty city so if I was going to be sad about not doing medicine at least I would be in a nice place.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Care work (e.g. in residential care), Other healthcare setting e.g pharmacy, physiotherapy, Customer service role (voluntary), Customer service role (paid), Online work experience
How much work experience did you do?
I volunteered in a local hospital once a week and then when covid happened I volunteered at a vaccine centre. I also did pharmacy deliveries during COVID and online work experience courses (Brighton Sussex Medical School have one).
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through formal schemes online.
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, Practice papers from test website, University guidance
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
For UCAT I mostly did Medify.
For BMAT I made notes on the specification and learnt from them and did practice papers from the website
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 watched some YouTube videos of other people talking about their Cambridge interviews and I read up on some health news. I also revised science that I had been tested on in the BMAT. I set up a group with other students applying to medicine in my school and we met once a week to practice interview questions on each other.
What happened during your interview?
My Cambridge interview was very science focused. I was asked different questions on scientific things that I hadn’t learnt very much on in school and they asked me to suggest reasons why things might be the case or what different outcomes may be in different physiological scenarios. I think the best advice is don’t give up! I definitely did not get the answers right first (or even third or fourth) time but keep suggesting things that might be plausible and explaining your thought process and they help you out. I was shown a graph and had to explain it and I think if you are given a source or a graph say everything that you see.
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#/.
Paid-for courses: 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.
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.