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 woman who went to a fee-paying school (on a full scholarship)
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?
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
Location- I applied for 2 Scottish universities
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, GP surgery, Care work (e.g. in residential care), Other healthcare setting e.g pharmacy, physiotherapy, Customer service role (paid)
How much work experience did you do?
I did quite a lot, you don’t need to do this much:
Care work- 3 years as part of my D of E
GP- 2 years, mostly volunteered in the dispensary
Hospital shadowing- 1 week on wards, 3 days in theatres
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through a formal scheme or work experience placement
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, Free admissions test prep course, Practice papers from test website, Paid admissions test prep course on full bursary
BMAT and UKCAT ninja were very useful
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
I did a lot of practise questions both online and from books before trying mocks. I also attended courses for the BMAT and UKCAT on a full bursary
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 that I read and could discuss anything I’d talked about in my personal statement. I kept fairly up to date with relevant current affairs. I had mock interviews with my biology teachers and an exchange with another local school.
What happened during your interview?
We discussed why I wanted to do medicine, interpreting graphs, working through questions by applying a level knowledge
Do you have any further advice?
I’m from a very low income background with no doctors in the family and honestly never really thought I’d get into medicine (I got a full scholarship to a local private school because I was so convinced that people from my background don’t get in). Whilst I am in a very small minority, if you dedicate your time to achieving your grades and getting good work experience you can succeed.
If finances are a worry do take into account what each uni offers in terms of financial support.
Doing my UKCAT early and then my BMAT in September made the start of year 13 much more relaxed and meant I had more time to think about which med schools to apply to.
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.
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.
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.
Books: Don’t worry if you’ve not been able to find this particular book or afford to pay for it. You might be able to find secondhand copies online which are usually much cheaper, or at your local library (sometimes, libraries will order in books that you’ve requested, so check out this as a possibility too!). Bear in mind that some books may become out of date, so make sure you check when they were published, and if any changes to the relevant admissions tests/interviews have been made since then.
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.