16th December 2016
If you’re preparing for a Medical School interviews, specifically an MMI, you may be wondering how you can prepare for stations on calculations and data analysis. This blog will give you some examples of the kinds of questions that may feature at these stations, as well as our top tips on how to prepare for drug dosage conversions and graph interpretation.


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What kinds of questions will there be at a Calculation station?

Many Medical Schools now include a Calculation station at their MMIs.

At these stations, you will be asked simple calculations 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:

  • 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?

How can I prepare for a Calculation station?

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

You may be given a sheet of paper for your calculations, so practice working out basic sums by hand and completing practice questions, like the ones above. Our blog, How to do Drug Calculations, guides you through the answers to the above questions, as well as detailing some key tips on how to convert units.  

Be mindful of the units in drug calculations, and practice 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 (and then get a friend to test you!) such as 1g equals 1000 mg, and so on.

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

  1. How much is 500mg in grams?
  2. How much is 850mcg (micrograms) in mg (milligrams)?

Answers at the end of the blog!

Data Interpretation

What kinds of questions will there be at a Data Interpretation station?

At a station on Data Interpretation, you may be given data to discuss – this could be on anything from study findings on blood glucose to heart monitors. This 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 – 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 this 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. You can visit an answer guide to this in our MMI Question Bank (Question 9).

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.

If you’re struggling, you could also ask your Biology or Chemistry teacher for some help – and they may be able to provide you with example questions of data interpretation graphs.

Calculations answers:

  1. How much is 500mg in grams? Answer: 0.5g
  2. How much is 850 micrograms in mg? Answer: 0.85mg

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