This student applied in the 2022/23 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 man who went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send 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?
Cambridge was suggested by a member of staff at Sixth Form – I also liked the look of the traditional pre-clinical, clinical split that was offered at Cambridge.
For the other options, I chose other BMAT universities as I didn’t do very well in my UCAT.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
How much work experience did you do?
I did 2 days of work experience at a hospital. I think that the quality and reflections made from your work experience is much more important than the length of work experience. I had enough to talk about in my personal statement from just 1 day in the hospital!
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, Practice papers from test website
BMAT ninja – their free BMAT questions
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
I didn’t manage to prepare for UCAT as I had COVID for the 2 weeks before.
I did the free questions on BMAT Ninja to prepare for the BMAT before trying a few practice papers, with a few more under timed conditions. I didn’t spend too much time trying to learn each part of the specification for the BMAT as I was able to remember quite a lot of my GCSE content.
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 made sure to check my emails so that I was familiar with how my interviews would be held.
I did a couple of mock interviews organised by my school with teachers for ethics, science and why I wanted to do medicine.
I wouldn’t stress too much about trying to revise all of your science content before your interviews; the interviewers care more about how you think than what you know!
What happened during your interview?
I only covered scientific content in my interview, which involved applying A level content to more challenging and unfamiliar contexts.
We had two 30 minute interviews, each with two interviewers. For my first interview, I was very nervous but after about 10 minutes, I began to settle in. Once in the interview, I was shown a couple of diagrams which required interpretation however, on the whole, the interview involved me answering questions, before being encouraged further to elaborate my reasoning before receiving further questions.
Each interviewer focused on a specific topic area, giving you a chance to show your knowledge even if you struggled with one topic area.
‘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.
Problem Based Learning (PBL): 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.
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.
Mock interview: Don’t worry if you didn’t have this opportunity. Interviews are designed to take into account that not everyone has the same level of preparation. See our guides and blogs on interviews to find out more about free online resources.