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 has chosen not to share any demographic information in their testimony.
Course: Standard undergraduate
Interview: Online interview
Admissions Tests: UCAT; BMAT
Before I made my application…
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, Other healthcare setting e.g pharmacy, physiotherapy, Customer service role (voluntary), Online work experience
How much work experience did you do?
I cannot remember precisely from the top of my head but, excluding virtual work experience and voluntary work, I would probably say a few weeks.
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, Paid online resources, Free admissions test prep course, Practice papers from test website, University guidance
For the UCAT and BMAT, I focussed on using the official resources and these were the most useful in that you can be sure they are truly representative. For the UCAT I did in addition use the paid resource Medify but this was mainly to have additional practice in a similar format to the actual exam (because not that much was available officially from UCAT) and I made sure to always refer back to the official resources and use those fully particularly closer to my UCAT date. For both the UCAT and BMAT I also utilised free trials of various other paid resources such as BMAT Ninja (my main reasoning for this was to get BMAT practice in a computer-based format as for my year the BMAT was held on computers) and Medentry for the UCAT, but again these were purely supplementary and I always focussed on the free official resources and took those as the most reliable way to track my performance.
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
See what I wrote about resources. I essentially combined learning relevant theory, finding tips and then lots of practice, both timed and untimed. I made a note of such theory and tips and anything I learnt after every bit of practice I did.
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 only recall using free resources, particularly ‘official’ ones such as from the university itself or the Medical Schools Council, which I found very useful and are known to be reliable. The mock interviews specific to Cambridge I remember doing were ones provided by my school, primarily by a teacher but also including a session by an outside company, but as these were not ‘official’ they were not necessarily reflective of the actual interviews and I took them more as an opportunity just to practise speaking. As well as being prepared for ‘general’ medical interview topics, I went over my scientific A-level content that I had listed on my SAQ.
What happened during your interview?
From what I can remember: I had one more ‘pure’ scientific interview and one more ‘clinically-oriented/medical’ interview. They were 20-25 minutes each I think and other practical details were sent out beforehand. In the scientific one, I remember being asked to think about some questions about concepts which were unfamiliar to me but which I could apply existing knowledge to. In the other interview, I remember discussing some wider healthcare issues. I remember trying to approach the interviews positively as an opportunity to try my best, learn new things and have a discussion with experts: I do not think I felt too nervous or panicked and once I was in the interviews they were quite fast-paced so I was immersed in the discussion and, before I knew it, they were over. Though they were online, the atmosphere felt pretty welcoming.
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#/.
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.
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.
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.
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.