This student applied in the 2021/22 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 grammar or 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?
In year 10
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
Course type (traditional) teaching styles, cadaveric dissection whether intercalation was mandatory, distance from home.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Customer service role (paid), Online work experience, volunteering at Rainbows
How much work experience did you do?
I did 3 online work experiences: Observe GP, BSMS and medic mentor. I’d also been volunteering with children for 3 years by the time I applied.
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, University guidance
Medify was the best one I could find for UCAT, as well as the demo tests on the official UCAT website. I used BMAT Ninja too, but could have just used to papers on the official website and still scored highly.
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
For UCAT, I completed multiple practice papers and worked intensley a few weeks before the exam, while also watching videos on how to answer questions and keyboard shortcuts to work faster.
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 read the information that my medical school had sent me. I also researched Oxbridge-style questions and watched YouTube videos on example Cambridge interviews – not necessarily for medicine, but just to get an idea about what the interviewers were looking for. I also revised all of the A-Level content I had covered in my SAQ and read recent news articles related to medicine.
What happened during your interview?
I had two interviews for Cambridge, with 2 interviewers in each (a total of 4). Each person interviewed me for 10 minutes and my questions were purely scientific. I was initially quite nervous, but relaxed into it quite quickly, as the interviewers made me feel calm and I was also very interested to discuss the topics they had prepared for me.
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.
‘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.
Dissection / Full Body Dissection: Some universities use full-body dissection as a teaching method. This is when you personally get to dissect and be involved in the removal and looking at certain aspects of the body. Some students like the idea of this, while others don’t. This might inform where you choose to apply to medical school, so check out the universities you’re considering to see whether this is part of their teaching style.
Intercalation: Intercalation happens when a medical student takes a year away from their medical degree studies to study for a related degree. For example, some students complete Research Degrees (e.g. MRes) in a topic of their choice, or undertake a Bachelor’s degree (usually a BSc) in a specific medical interest. Not all universities permit this, so if you think you might want to intercalate, this might affect where you choose to apply.
Online work experience: Some providers are now offering online work experience, such as the Brighton and Sussex Medical School online work experience, or the Observe GP experience by the Royal College of General Practitioners.
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.
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.
YouTube Videos: There are many current and recent medical students who create videos on YouTube about their experience and advice about applying. Remember that their experience is personal and individual, and may not reflect yours. They might provide some useful advice but remember that they might be advertising paid for services. Take their advice as part of a more holistic approach alongside moderated advice such as ours, and official advice from universities and test providers.
My Cambridge Application / SAQ: The My Cambridge Application form is a short form you complete after you send your application off to the University of Cambridge. The form has replaced the Supplementary Application Questionnaire in the last couple of years. In this form, you are asked to provide more information about the specific topics you have covered in your A-levels and some further information about you, to guide the selection process.