Cambridge University offers a traditional medical degree, which is one of the most competitive to get into in the world. So having an interview is a huge accomplishment already! The interview, unlike any other medical school interview (other than Oxford), can be quite a daunting process. Use this guide to help break down the interview structure and learn best how to answer the challenging questions posed. 

Structure of Cambridge Medicine Interviews

Cambridge University, like Oxford, uses a panel interview format for its medical interviews. This includes two interviews, each around 20-45 minutes in length, one of which is usually at your college of preference (the college you applied to) whilst the other is at a randomly allocated college. 

Importantly, these interviews can either be online or in-person. In each of your interviews, the panel of interviewers is most likely to be composed of two academics and one practising clinician. As such, be prepared for the majority of content in the interviews to be science-based! 

Although these interviews are panel-based interviews, the structure tends to mimic that of MMI interviews where each interviewer will pose various questions and scenarios to you, the aim being to see how you approach these questions so thinking out loud is essential to succeed! You can find more information about the structure of the interviews on the Cambridge Undergraduate website.

How To Prepare for Cambridge Medicine Interviews

Before the interview, it is important to acknowledge that you won’t be able to answer all of the questions as they are designed in order to challenge you and to make you think on your feet. 

The interviewers are not there to trick you! If you have reached a dead-end they may give you some more information to send you on the correct path, or may help to clarify a question, the interview is after all structured like a tutorial teaching session so tutors can see how you would react in a tutorial setting. 

Here are some tips for how best to prepare for your Cambridge medicine interviews: 

1)    Brush up on your basic science: The interviews tend to be heavily science-focused. A little revision of some of the key concepts you have covered in class is essential in order to be able to answer these questions accurately. 

2)    Read up on the nuances of the medicine course that Cambridge offers: Ensure you know which hospitals placements are typically held in, what courses are offered in the intercalation year or particular intercalations that interest you, how teaching is delivered etc.

3)    Practice with mock interviews: The best way to prepare is to practice! Seek out opportunities to participate in mock interviews to gain confidence and refine your responses. We offer many different forms of interview prep to help you turn your interview into an offer. 

What Questions Could I Be Asked?

There is no point in trying to predict exactly what questions you may be asked in your interviews, instead, focus on the general style of questions and practice brainstorming a few answers for these questions. 

The interview is likely to begin with an introductory question such as ‘Why do you want to study medicine?’ or ‘Why Cambridge over Oxford?’. After this, the more challenging questions begin! 

Interviewers tend to ask questions which can broadly be split into 3 categories: academic questions assessing your scientific knowledge and problem-solving skills, ethical and situation questions evaluating your critical thinking and ethical decision-making abilities, and personal questions assessing your motivations, empathy, and skills required to be a doctor.  

Some examples of questions from each of these categories have been summarised for you below. 

As a general rule, it is impossible to predict the academic questions that you may be asked as the possibilities are endless. However, there are only so many ethical dilemmas and styles of personal questions that the interviewers may ask you. Brainstorm answers for as many styles of questions as possible to help you answer the questions in a calm and structured manner. 

Academic Questions

  1.     Describe this bone. What do you think its function is and where does it originate from in the human body? 
  2.     What is the CT scan showing? How would an MRI of the same patient compare? 
  3.     Why were we able to eradicate polio with a vaccination but not malaria? 
  4.     What is the fight or flight response? Is it still relevant in today’s age? 
  5.     How would you calculate how many moles of water are in this glass? 

Ethical Questions

  1.     Describe how you would respond to a 13-year-old girl’s request to be put on the oral contraceptive pill? 
  2.     Do you think that euthanasia should be legalised in the UK? 
  3.     Should doctors ever break confidentiality? 

Personal Questions

1)    Describe a time when you were met with a challenging situation and explain how you dealt with it. In hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently? 

2)    Describe a situation in which you saw a doctor react badly or in an unprofessional manner in the healthcare setting? What was done to rectify this issue?

3)    What skills essential to being a doctor do you think you still need to develop and how do you think you could do this? 

4)    What extracurricular activities do you do outside of your academic work and what have you learnt from them? 

Common Cambridge Medicine Interview Topics

Some examples of interview topics you may encounter in your Cambridge medicine interview include, but are not limited to: 

  • Recent developments in Medicine
  • The NHS core values
  • Ethical, legal and community issues in healthcare
  • Your work experience as well as your personal statement
  • The scientific basis of medicine. This could include interpreting medical graphs and imaging modalities
  • Basic scientific concepts

How Should I Answer Cambridge Questions

The questions posed in your Cambridge medicine interviews are designed to be challenging, often with no set answer or various correct solutions to each question. Interviewers want to see how you approach questions so thinking out loud is essential. You can see a full list of potential interview topics with Cambridge here.

Students are often daunted by these challenging questions. Try not to worry too much, in most cases, you are not expected to get to an answer immediately. Instead, working logically through the questions, beginning with the most basic facts and then beginning to link your ideas together is a good place to start. 

If you get to a dead-end, your interviewer may help you out to lead you onto the right path. Remember: they are not there to catch you out!


Loading More Content