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 British woman who went to a comprehensive school that doesn’t regularly send students to study medicine.
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?
Year 10 (age 15)
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
I chose ones within 2 hours of home (car or train) that were linked with good hospitals: I knew Uni would be a big change and that medical school would add extra stress so wanted to be close to my support systems
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Customer service role (voluntary), Online work experience
How much work experience did you do?
Only managed online medicine focused work experience as there were no local opportunities and my school and family had no links for work experience
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?
Free online resources, Paid online resources, Practice papers from test website, Medify
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
I scheduled about 2-3 hours of my day during the month leading up to the exam to do practice questions for the UCAT (from UCAT website and Medify). I used the same time scale for the BMAT but focused on covering the specification content. I printed the specification off and made sure I had all the content down. I then did practice questions on Medify to familiarise myself with the question style.
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 YouTube videos about what the Cambridge interview process involved. I found the focus was academic content and critical thinking so I reviewed all the major topics from A level and considered how they may overlap e.g. Kidneys, Heart, Lungs, biochem. I practised verbalising these ideas to myself at random times in the day e.g. in the shower. I asked my friends to quiz me on my personal statement so I was familiar with the topics it covered. I also practised some techniques that to gain extra thinking time e.g., outlining why something could not be the answer – rather than rushing to the correct answer with my notes. Look at what you’r interviewer’s specialisms are on the Cambridge/college website and consider what A Level content links with this.
Just make sure you are used to verbalising the A-level content and consider themes that run throughout A level units without getting flustered and you will be great 🙂
Also remember that your interviewers know that you are academically capable from your grades but want to see if you are suited to their teaching style by engaging with the new content they deliver to you and if you can think critically about the new material. So look engaged with what they are saying, ask questions and apply stuff that you already know.
What happened during your interview?
Interview 1: 50 mins
Purely Academic: 1st half: discussed some overlapping themes in A-level chemistry and asked some harder A level style questions and then built on answers with the interviewer; 2nd half: physiology with some integrated graphs and maths
Interview 2: 50 mins
1st Half: built on A Level understanding by teaching some new content, discussed definitions and built on them. I had very little knowledge in this area – but stay calm, listen carefully and work with what you have got. 2nd half: discussed current healthcare challenges, ethical dilemmas surrounding them and personal thoughts
Anything else you want to add?
Applying to medicine is really challenging and looks different for every person so don’t be disheartened if your route to medicine isn’t what you planned or what others are doing – keep working hard and remember to look after yourself 🙂
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 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.
Looking up interviewers: While some people like to look up the individuals who will be interviewing them, not every student will do this. It might make you more nervous, or make you feel better, but be cautious about bringing up their research unless you’re very confident that you understand it!