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: In person interview
Admissions Test: BMAT
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
Year 9 ~ age 13/14
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
I chose medical schools based on my applications’ strengths and weaknesses (e.g if didn’t do so well on my UCAT exam but did well in GCSE’s and had lots of work experience then can apply to ABC universities and not XYZ universities). Chose my 5th choice as biomedical sciences at a university that I thought I would enjoy going to.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Other healthcare setting e.g pharmacy, physiotherapy, Online work experience
How much work experience did you do?
I did a few shifts at a vaccination clinic ~ 25 hours total
Online work experience over 6 months ~ 30 hours total
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
UCAT Ninja – Did not find useful.
BMAT Ninja – Did find useful, however I personally did not use it to the fullest extent
Official BMAT preparation guide – especially the online textbook for section 2 of the BMAT
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
Watched YouTube sharing advice and tips on how to approach both papers.
Prepared for the UCAT ~ 4 weeks before test date doing practice questions for each section. Read the GMC good practice guidelines for the SJT section of the UCAT.
For the BMAT orders the 700 BMAT questions book from my library, used TSA past papers as practice before using the BMAT past papers to prepare for section one, used to official online BMAT textbook on the Cambridge Admissions Testing Site to prepare for section 2.
For section 3, looked at examples of good and bad essays so had an idea of what to include/ not include.
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 to use the official Cambridge website that gave information regarding the interview process and what was expected. I also watched YouTube videos of successful Cambridge Medical School applicants talking about their experience of the process and how they prepared. I ensured that I knew my A-level content and looked at practice questions on how they might expect to me to apply this knowledge. I read general articles, books, did work experience, listened to general science podcasts to improve my overall scientific literacy. I did a practice interview with someone who went to Cambridge.
What happened during your interview?
I was given a source and had to interpret its findings; was asked general questions on current affairs and had to design an experiment. I felt relatively relaxed in my interview as it was similar to what I was expecting, though the questions were still challenging. My interview was online so being in my own familiar space was comforting. I had two interviews, each with two interviews and both lasted around 20-30 minutes. The interviewers split the interview time equally between them.
Do you have any further advice?
Don’t prepare for entrance exams too early. You will reach a peak point. If that peak is reached before the exam day then you either have to stop and then re-prepare for the exam closer to the time anyway; or keep doing the same amount of work to maintain the same peak level (which can leave you feeling burnt out). Make sure that you know what to expect when it comes to the exam and create a good strategy but only start proper preparation max 2 months beforehand.
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.
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.
GMC Guidelines for Good Medical Practice: These guidelines describe what it means to be a good doctor. These can help guide you during your preparation for your application and how you answer questions in interviews. GMC Good Practice
SJT: The Situational Judgement Test is a part of the UCAT, but is not about academics or reasoning. The SJT tests your ability to judge and make decisions in real-life scenarios – think of it like an ethical test. There are ways to prepare for this, so check out some free online resources which might help you understand how it works a bit better.
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.
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.