Oxbridge Medical Interviews
An Oxbridge medicine interview tends to be exciting and intimidating in equal measure.
Our aim is to demystify and break down the Oxbridge medical interview process so that you can tackle it in an informed and effective way.
We have individual sections in the interview guide to cover the Oxford Medicine Interview and the Cambridge Medicine Interview in more detail
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Why Are Oxbridge Medical Interviews So Challenging?
For many, the chance to study at Oxford or Cambridge represents the pinnacle of world education, which understandably creates pressure.
A lot of applicants find the Oxbridge interview process challenging but it’s only scary if you let it be.
As two of the most prestigious medical schools, competition is fierce before and during interviews. Interviewers want to see that candidates show genuine enthusiasm for medicine and are committed to the process of obtaining their degree, as much as they want to test the way you think.
There are effective ways to approach your Oxbridge medical interview, as you will discover below.
What are Oxbridge interviewers looking for in candidates?
The main thing Oxbridge interviewers are looking for in candidates is a genuine enthusiasm for the course as well as a desire and commitment to become a doctor.
Oxbridge medicine applicants should be able to:
- Demonstrate a good ability to solve problems
- Handle unfamiliar questions and scenarios confidently
- Tackle problems they might not necessarily know the answer to
If you are asked a difficult question and you’re not sure what the answer is, the interviewers will give you more credit if you explain your thought process, rather than simply saying ‘I don’t know’.
Oxbridge interviewers want candidates who are:
- Able to cope with pressure
- Eager to learn
- Ready to engage in discussions
What happens during your Oxbridge Medicine Interview?
The Oxbridge interview is designed to reflect a tutorial or ‘supervision’ that students at both universities experience on a regular basis.
An Oxford tutor explained what this means to The Medic Portal:
“It is the ability to see both sides of an argument, think on your feet, explain your views to others, present information and cope with pressure.”
The interviewers will ask challenging questions that are designed to see how well you adapt to different scenarios.
You will be expected to talk the interviewers through your thought process as you make an attempt to establish an answer.
One way to view your Oxbridge medicine interview is as an academic discussion and problem-solving exercise, rather than as a test of academic knowledge.
Oxbridge Medicine Interview Questions
You’ve probably heard the rumours of bizarre Oxbridge medicine interview questions that candidates have received in the past. Some are myths, whereas others are rooted in truth.
It is notoriously hard to predict exactly what questions you will be asked, but the type of questions and the approach you can take to answering them well is much easier to anticipate.
You will often find you are faced with a scenario, during your Oxbridge medical interview, where you need to apply scientific reasoning to an unfamiliar problem.
Here are a few real examples from recent years you could use to practice:
- How do birds survive at high altitude?
- Identify this bone (bone is presented to the candidate)
- Draw a scientific representation of a balloon flying around the room
- What’s a disease? Name a disease
- How would you reassure a patient who was scared of getting cancer from a CT scan?
The questions you’re asked might seem random and bizarre, but it’s important to remember that they’re testing how you think, rather than your actual answer.
The ratio of scientists to doctors who will be interviewing you could be skewed towards scientists; expect to get fewer questions about your application and more of a scientific nature. However, the interviewers might begin by asking you why you have applied to medicine at Oxbridge to help you settle down and work through any interview nerves.
You can always say you’re not sure of what the answer is but you will get extra credit for always giving it a go and talking them through your thought process – no matter how wrong your answer might be.
How do I answer questions at an Oxbridge medicine interview?
The best way to answer Oxbridge interview questions is calmly and strategically. Think beyond GCSE and A-Level knowledge and have the confidence to verbally work and talk through problems as you come up with an answer.
During your interview, you should:
- Outline your thought process methodically, taking a step-by-step approach
- Be prepared for further, and more challenging, questions to come from the interviewers
- Do your best to avoid shutting down in the face of uncertainty
If you’re still not sure after giving the question some thought, tell the interviewers so but say it is a topic you would love to research in greater depth in the future. This will show that you are serious about pursuing a medical degree and that you are eager to learn.
The questions you face in your interview will come as a surprise to you, as that is the way they’re designed. Oxbridge interviewers want you to be challenged and have to think on your feet, as that is the way they will test your potential.
You’ll undoubtedly be nervous but enjoy the experience and intellectual challenge. It’s not everyday you get to interview at a world-leading university!
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