Medicine @ Magdalene, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

BMAT; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: subject-related discussion topics; Interview 2: more diverse discussion topics

Best preparation

Read around your subject.

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Take your time answering interview questions.

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

Test taken: Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT)

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: around 90 minutes

Length of first interview: around 30 minutes; Length of second interview: around 30 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In both my interviews there were 2 interviewers, with one asking me questions, and the other taking notes. They swapped roles around halfway through each interview.

In my first interview, around 3 or 4 separate topics were discussed. My interviewers really pushed me and I felt really stupid and out of my depth - but if you don't think it's going well, it's not necessarily a bad thing! The interview started off with anatomy, and a human bone was on the table which one of the interviewers used to demonstrate concepts.

My second interview felt much more relaxed and the interviewers really made me feel at ease - however, at this point, I thought my first interview had gone disastrously and that there was no chance of me receiving an offer after how badly it had gone! I found the interview interesting, and enjoyable. The topics discussed could not have been more diverse, with ethics, immunology, and maths/computer science all featuring!

How did you prepare?

I did all the practice papers for sections 1 and 2 that I found on the website, and also did some section 1 TSA papers for further practise with section 1.

Since I didn't do GCSEs, I learned the GCSE knowledge that was expected for the BMAT but not covered in the curriculum I had studied in school. As a non-English student without GCSEs, sitting an exam that was based on the GCSE curriculum felt really unfair, but admissions tutors will take your background into account when looking at your BMAT score.

By far the most useful preparation I did was reading around my subject. Go into a bookshop, and have a look for popular science books that look interesting. This may help to deepen your understanding of the subjects you are studying in school, and will also help you to think about science in a completely new way. When you study science in school, it is often very fact-based and taught in a way to get students through their exams. Further reading will help you to understand the important underlying principles BEHIND the facts.

Talking about books you have read is not only a good thing to put on your personal statement, but will give you the ability to think more broadly about medicine, which will be invaluable in your interview.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

I stayed in college the night before my interview, and I remember my fellow interviewees talking about all the mock interviews they had had at their school/college. If you haven't had one, don't let this freak you out! If your school offers you one, great. It won't do you any harm and take all the help you can get, because there are loads of students who wish they could have that opportunity. However, if you don't get one, don't panic. A lot of advice teachers give can be really patchy, and it's way more important to just be yourself.

One tip for Cambridge interviews: don't rush into your answers. Talk through your thought process, and don’t try and come up with the final answer right away. At the same time, feel free to ask for a second or two to think about the question before blurting out the first thing you can think of. Don't be scared to ask the interviewer to repeat what they said.