Your Medicine interviews at Oxbridge are a scary process, and you want to be fully prepared, so as to shine and impress the admissions tutors. Here are some things you can do to help fully prepare so you can stand out as a stellar candidate!
Looking over A-Level content and the BMAT syllabus
You don’t want to be put on the spot in your interviews, and forget something really obvious. Although the interviews are not a knowledge test, they are looking to see how you apply your knowledge and understanding to new information, so it is important that you have a sturdy knowledge base. Any content from the BMAT, regardless of whether it relates to an A-Level you study or not is fair game for the interviewers, so make sure you are confident with it.
If you have not studied one of the science A-Levels and feel a bit more insecure with the content from that subject covered in the BMAT, it might be worth acquiring an A-Level textbook. Read over the key parts, and try and answer some of the questions.
Keeping up with medical research
It is unlikely that you will be quizzed on what you have been reading and what’s going on at the moment, but it is important to be up to date nonetheless. Things that are in the news at the moment may be relevant to something the interviewers ask you about, and then you can really impress them by linking it to an article you read about some new area of medical research.
Furthermore, these topics that make the news are often contentious sources of debate. Your interviewers will want to debate medical issues with you, so reading examples is really useful. If you just type “medical research” into a search bar you can read lots of interesting articles.
Analysing unseen diagrams
A common trope of Oxbridge medical interviews is analysing an unseen diagram. This could be:
- A particular type of cell
- A type of disease: it may be a grid of the symptoms, or the causes
- A body part: usually something that will not have been seen or heard of before
- A random picture of a scene, where some kind of medical issue is occurring but it may not be obvious what it is
You can prepare for these type of questions by getting your teacher to show you new pictures of things you haven’t seen before, and practice analysing them. Furthermore, make a list of things to typically identify in these pictures, such as shape and size of the cell (always remember to look at the scale in the corner of the picture), or location of the random picture of the scene, which will probably be written on it.
Many of these questions contain hidden information, and if you can get used to the things you are looking for they will be a lot easier to answer in the interview.
The best way to prepare for your interviews are to have mock ones. See if your teachers have time to do a mock interview with you, and give you some feedback. Practice verbalising your thoughts and communicating your ideas; this is incredibly important, as these skills are what the tutors really want to see.
If you can’t secure a mock interview, just talk about some medical concepts with your parents or friends: this is also extremely helpful. Get them to ask questions when they get confused, this will not only improve your communication skills, but also ensure you fully understand everything you are talking about. To get an idea of relevant medical concepts, take a look at some of the books on our Medicine reading list.
Practicing your manner
Unlike MMIs, you won’t have specific questions in your interviews designed to see if you would be a good doctor. However, this still plays a part in your interviews, it is just something that will be monitored in the background throughout. Therefore, you want to make sure you present yourself well, and remember: first impressions really count!
- Eye contact: sustain this throughout when you are talking to someone
- Handshake: you want to firmly shake your interviewers hand when you arrive
- Debating, but not being rude and cutting across the other person’s opinion
- Presenting your thoughts well and concisely, but not sounding over confident
Chatting to a doctor
A great way to prepare for your interview is to chat to a doctor. See if a family friend or local GP would have an hour to talk to you in the lead up to your interview. Get them to ask you some medical questions, like a mock interview, but also ask them questions, about things that you may be asked. Ask them to ask you questions about unknown diseases, or contentious medical issues. Debating with somebody in the profession will be invaluable preparation for your interviews.
Remember: stay calm, and don’t panic. As long as you engage with the tutors and explain your thinking, you’ll be fine. And if you want to be a doctor, you can’t lose your head in stressful situations!