The answer guides to these creativity and imagination questions have been put together by medics who have successfully navigated interviews at top Medical Schools. They’re included in our Mastering the Medical School Interview Guide that you get when you join a Medical School Interview Course. It’s over 220 pages long and has everything you need to ace your interview.
As with all questions of this sort, you won’t be able to get an exact answer. They are looking for you to talk through a systematic methodology. It is about applying reasoning and scientific rationale to an unusual scenario. You don’t have to answer straight away. Take a little time to map out a good starting point. Ask for a moment if you need. But you do have to start articulating your thought process at some point — probably before you know it is complete. You should ask logical questions, such as: what shape is the mountain? How tall is it? And what is the radius of the base?
Getting these parameters would allow you to use an appropriate mathematical formula, such as the one for the volume of a cone: one third pie r squared, multiplied by height. If they are not prepared to provide any further information, then you would need to work out how you would get some of these answers, like consulting existing maps. You can then ask about other important factors that will have a major impact, like the type of mountain it is and what type of rock it is made out of. Perhaps you would take a rock as a sample and extrapolate the weight.
This is about implementing a logical process in a difficult situation — and covering all the angles. You might begin by talking about uses of the wheel currently. Transport would be a good starting put, since a lot of types of transport depend on the wheel e.g. cars, bikes, aeroplanes, boats with wheel engines. Be creative, though. Wheels are used for transport but try to cover as many angles as possible to show you can think outside the box. What about water wheels in electricity production? In machinery, the wheel evolved into gears and propellers. So without the wheel all these areas would be affected.
You might want to speculate on whether humans would have created alternatives or whether the advancements made possible by the wheel would simply not have been made. Then move ahead to the next logical step. What are the implications of this? Would it have affected the evolution of society? (The world would definitely be a smaller place). Remember, the wheel has also affected lots of other major things, like war and trade. You should try to cover as many bases as possible. You might spark some lively debate, which could even end up being quite fun.
You need to get as much detail as you can before launching headlong down what could be a logical rabbit hole.
First, establish what type of book it is. You can ask but they might not say. In which case just state that you’re assuming it is, say, a novel, because this makes life easier (if it were a textbook, for example, there would be diagrams and tables; this differs a lot from book to book).
Think logically. Start with the average number of pages in a novel. This doesn’t have to be right, just reasonable. Always use round numbers, so you can multiply them out without causing a huge headache. In this case, let’s say 300 pages. Then, estimate how many words are on each page. Again, break this down. Possibly twenty lines, each with ten words. So 200 words. 300 multiplied by 200 equals 60,000 words. However, to really show you are thinking of all angles, estimate how many pages would be wordless (or have fewer words e.g. dedication and review pages). Say this is equivalent to ten wordless pages. 10 multiplied by 200 equals 2,000 words. Subtracting this from 60,000 means that your average book is 58,000 words long
This is an example of a more abstract, and less process-driven, creative interview question, and as such it requires a slightly different process. You should take a moment to think up a balanced argument, which reflects both sides of the situation. You can’t be black and white about such a complex and subjective issue.
Arguments for: inhibition, in the sense of keeping yourself out of dangerous situations, is an evolutionary instinct to promote self-preservation. It modulates your relationships with other people and it gives you a social conscience.
Arguments against: fear can limit your human experience. It is not always necessary, and it can be dictated by your past encounters with a certain stimulus. Past a certain point, it can be detrimental to your health.
You could then link the question to the medical environment. Disease puts patients in vulnerable situations in which there is an element of fear and this can be harmful when it comes to good decision making. You should make it clear that you understand that fear will have an impact on your interactions with patients. There will be moments in your career where you may be unsure of your decisions and fear the possible outcomes/consequences. This is natural, and you should show an awareness of this. You could also state that this will lessen as you gain more experience and confidence and that even when you are ‘worried’ you would be confident that you acted within guidelines, consulted your colleagues and made a reasonable decision.
This is another esoteric-sounding question that requires you to think logically about something that we usually take for granted. Though it seems quite arresting, this question isn’t too bad if you think about the practicalities, which is the key to a lot of creativity questions.
Shoes are a social norm. Most people have never questioned why we wear shoes because that is what is generally accepted. Not wearing shoes is considered abnormal. But was it always this way? And what could have led to it becoming so? Perhaps it made walking long distances and hunting easier, centuries ago. From a functional perspective, shoes are protective. They prevent injury. Some shoes, like steel toe work shoes, are designed specifically for this function. What other functions require specific shoes? Hiking, climbing etc. Or sport?
Consider different cultures. Don’t only think about your perspective — this is part of what can help you stand out. There are many groups of people in other parts of the world that actually don’t wear shoes. Of course, there are also aesthetics to consider. People put a lot of thought into how they look and this extends to their shoes. People may wear shoes they consider uncomfortable to increase their height or make their legs look longer. From here, you could contrast the functional reasons you touched upon earlier with the recent (first world) shift towards aesthetics. Be creative!
Take some time to think about a few people, then single it down to one person and be prepared to explain why.
Go through the thought process of who you would want with you. Mention both practical and personal reasons to give a unique answer.
This question has an underlying theme of teamwork. Think about how you would work with the person to come up with the best means of escape. If you are struggling to come up with someone, there may have been someone in your life that has always been reliable. Pick them as a safe choice. You may wish to draw on personal experiences you had with this person where you were able to work towards a goal effectively. You may also wish to show interest in the question by asking questions of your own, such as what equipment you would have access to. If the person you have picked is good with navigational equipment, you could mention that.
With a question like this, the interviewers are interested in your thought process rather than an actual solution to the problem so talk them through your thinking step by step when giving your answer.
Think about the problem practically and take into account the different values you would need to know in order to reach a solution. You will be using logical reasoning as well as some scientific knowledge in your answer.
How much water is in the glass? Think about the dimensions of the glass and how full it is which would allow you to work out the volume of water that it contains. Depending on the shape of the glass, think about which formula would allow you to deduce this volume such as V = pi(r)2 x h for a cylindrical glass where h is the height that the water comes to.
Once you know how to find the volume of water, you need to figure out the number of H2O molecules that that volume would contain. Chemistry at A or AS level is a requirement for prospective medical students at certain colleges such as King’s College or Cambridge, so some chemistry knowledge may be required in answering questions such as this.
By dividing the mass of water in the glass by the molar mass of H2O, you would be able to calculate the number of moles present. Avogadro’s number 6.02 x 1023 multiplied by the number of moles of H2O would tell you how many molecules of H2O the glass contains. As H2O is comprised of 3 atoms, multiplying this answer by 3 would give you your solution.
For example, this may be an idea to train as a Consultant then travel the world to engage in humanitarian work. What they want to see is if you have an idea of how a medical career could satisfy your interests and how you can contribute to society as a doctor.
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