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MMI calculation questions are designed to test your maths skills in a clinical scenario – and you won’t always get to use a calculator.

What Are MMI Calculation Stations?

In your Medical School interview, an MMI calculation station will involve you taking some key data and being able to make calculations or analyse and interpret the information. You will usually get between five and seven minutes to complete this type of mathematical station.

MMI Calculation Stations

Many Medical Schools now include a calculation station in their MMIs.

At this type of station, you will be asked calculation questions relating to a clinical scenario – for example, you may need to calculate the correct drug dose to give to a patient, or convert metrics.

These questions can take a variety of forms. For example:

  • You are asked to give a patient 1ml of 1% lidocaine. How many mg are you giving the patient?
  • You are asked to give a patient weighing 50kg a 1mg/kg IV injection. The syringe contains 100mg in 2 ml. What volume of the solution in the syringe do you need to give?
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How Can I Prepare For Calculation Stations?

At some Medical Schools, you won’t be given a calculator during this station, so a good way to prepare for these is to practise your mental maths beforehand.

You may be given a sheet of paper to help you answer calculation questions, so practise working out basic sums by hand and complete practice questions, like the ones above. Our blog about How To Do Drug Calculations will guide you through the answers to the above questions, and give some key tips on how to convert units.

Be mindful of the units in drug calculations, and practise your conversions between metrics – for example, converting from micrograms to grams and between decimals and percentages. It may be a good idea to memorise some of these basic conversions to assist you with calculation questions, such as 1g equals 1000 mg and so on.

You could also practise some of these conversions, for example:

  • How much is 500mg in grams?
  • How much is 850mcg (micrograms) in mg (milligrams)?
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MMI Data Stations

At a station requiring data interpretation, you will be given data to discuss. This could be data about anything from study findings on blood glucose to heart monitors. It doesn’t involve calculation but assesses your ability to analyse data – and this may take a number of forms:

  • A graph showing plasma insulin levels of different patients over one day, with the times that meals were eaten. You may then be asked to talk about a specific patient on the graph.
  • A graph that represents the effect of different antibiotics and their effectiveness for combating a particular illness. You may then be asked to interpret which antibiotics should be selected for treatment.
  • These stations draw on basic Biology and Maths knowledge – for example, with the second question above, this would require maths knowledge of graphs/gradients, and also biological knowledge of antibiotics and how they work. These are topics you will already have an understanding of through GCSE or A-Level.

Your interviewers won’t expect you to notice everything about a chart or graph, but they want to see that you can use data to spot trends and draw some conclusions.

How Can I Prepare For Data Interpretation Stations?

With these stations, the key is to vocalise your ideas and don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Spend some time establishing what the graph is showing. What does the x or y axis show? What are the variables? Is there a sudden rise or decline, and what does that suggest?

Remember to vocalise these things aloud, using the numbers from the graph. Then remember to focus on what the interviewer has asked you – for example, with the insulin graph, look for the specific patient and describe any trends you see in their insulin levels.

Another way to prepare for this kind of question is to keep on top of the content covered in A-Level Biology. Take a look at some of the graphs from past AS papers and the kinds of questions that were asked to familiarise yourself with interpreting graphs.

Two key terms that often appear in these papers are ‘describe’ and ‘explain’ – you could take a similar approach to the MMI data analysis. What do you see, and what does that signify?

These questions may draw on basic Biology knowledge you will have covered at school – for example, insulin levels or antibiotics – so these past papers will also be useful to get used to these kinds of graphs as well as refreshing your knowledge.

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