This student applied in the 2018/19 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, non-binary person who went to a comprehensive school.
Course: Standard undergraduate
Interview: In person panel interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT, BMAT
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
End of GCSEs
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
Open days/online research
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, Customer service role (voluntary)
How much work experience did you do?
Volunteered in hospital for about 6 months, once/twice a week. A few different placements of one/two days here and there.
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?
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/
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT): https://www.ucat.ac.uk/
What resources did you use?
Free online resources, Free admissions test prep course, Paid admissions test prep course, Practice papers from test website, University guidance
UCAT and BMAT question books, asked English teachers to mark some BMAT essays.
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
UKCAT – lots of questions, just do as many as you can. Use the free online resources closer to the test to get the timing down
BMAT – essays, try and get teachers to mark them if you can, science – read over GSCEs and A-levels
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 re-read my personal statement in the days coming up to the interview – make sure you know vaguely what you said so that you can answer any questions they might ask about what you did. Aside from that, mine was mostly a science-based interview (you can find out what type of interviews your college usually does by looking online/asking current students), so I went over my A-level notes. It would probably be useful to do a mock interview with a science teacher – I did one with my head of sixth form but he was a languages teacher and so it was a lot more general/he couldn’t give me much feedback.
What happened during your interview?
My interview was almost purely science-based with multiple questions asking about basic science concepts and then applying them, with a couple of questions about my personal statement at the end.
There was two interviews, in the first one I was incredibly nervous and afterwards thought I hadn’t got in, which meant I relaxed more for the second one and it went a lot better. Some interviewers will not give you much feedback in the room i.e. they might seem quite cold etc. but try not to let that put you off – they are like that with everyone.
I think the interviews were about 10 minutes each, with multiple questions that just kept going until the time was up. Mostly you would guess at an answer, it would be wrong or kind of along the right lines, they would give you hints and then help you work towards an answer.
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#/.
Free resources: There are plenty of free resources available to help you prepare for admissions tests and interviews online and in person! For example, you might be able to get a free place on a mentoring scheme or session, find free support books at your local library, or search online for free resources to help you. It’s very normal to rely on free resources – not everyone can afford to pay for support, and it’s not proven to give you an advantage.
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
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.
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.
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.
Interview Style: Some interviewers may be blunt or direct, but it’s not personal. Don’t worry too much about this.