If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just been offered an interview for medicine at Cambridge. If this is the case, congratulations! You’ve jumped through the UCAS hoops, soared over the SAQ hurdles and nailed the personal statement – you’re so nearly there. However, now comes the part that you’ve likely had nightmares about; you’ve undoubtedly heard the hundreds of horror stories thrown around after every Cambridge medicine interview season, and I know all too well how easy it is to believe these folktales!
Realistically, though, Cambridge medicine interviews aren’t that terrible – as strange as it sounds, I quite enjoyed mine! In this blog, I’m going to give you my three top tips for a Cambridge medicine interview – I hope that these will put your mind at ease about the process, and assuage any concerns that you might have about the day itself.
1. Know your stuff
When you apply to Cambridge, you’re asked to fill out the SAQ in addition to your UCAS form, including a list of all the subjects you’re taking for A-Level (or equivalent) and, for each of these, the modules that you will have completed by December in the year of application. Theoretically, the interviewers can ask you questions related to any of these topics, so it would be very much in your interests to ensure that you have a good understand of everything you’ve covered in class up until your Cambridge medicine interview.
Make use of textbooks, teachers, study guides and, if you’re really keen, read some papers or journal articles to gain an even deeper understanding of more complex topics. Don’t assume that questions will just focus on Biology and Chemistry – one of my interviews was almost entirely Statistics-based – so try and think outside the box during preparation. It might seem at first like a never ending task, but it’s definitely worth it (plus, it gives you a head start on revision for summer exams!).
2. Show enthusiasm in your Cambridge medicine interview
Cambridge medicine interviews differ from those at most other medical schools in that they focus a lot more on academic medicine. Interviewers are most impressed by candidates who show genuine enthusiasm – medicine is, after all, a very long course and they want to be sure that all students are truly dedicated to studying this challenging subject.
There is an endless list of ways in which you can demonstrate your passion for medicine: read books and journal articles on areas of medical science which interest you, attend talks and lectures on interesting clinical scenarios, keep up to date with news of recent scientific advances, organise work placements in clinical and research settings…
The most important thing is to be proactive and to take any exciting opportunities which might come your way. Your interviewers will try to ‘push’ you; any extra information that you might have absorbed could come in handy!
3. Be comfortable talking about your subject
Cambridge medicine interviews are, in general, designed to mimic the structure of a ‘supervision’ (small-group teaching session), and one of the interviewers’ main aims is to figure out how you thrive in such a situation. In a typical interview, the interviewer will introduce a scientific problem and will expect you to talk them through your thought process as you work out the answer. It is therefore crucial that you are confident using scientific language in conversation, and that you don’t feel awkward verbalising your thought process. It’s easy to develop these skills; even sitting with your friends for ten minutes and chatting about something you’ve enjoyed learning in Chemistry is a fantastic way to start feeling more relaxed in an interview situation. If your school offers mock interviews, take the opportunity – they’re a brilliant way to get into the mindset of a Cambridge medicine interview.
Above all, enjoy the experience! Your Cambridge interview is, above all, an amazing opportunity to talk to some of the world’s leading researchers and lecturers about a subject you love – take a deep breath and go for it!