Medicine is an incredibly competitive degree to apply for, so applying to one of the most highly regarded medical schools in the world is going to be even more difficult.
Although there is no definitively “better” medical school between the two Oxbridge universities, Cambridge is more established and commonly ranks above Oxford on medical school rankings. Essentially, it is typically considered one of the best medical schools in the world, meaning applicants need to really stand out in order to have a good chance of being accepted.
In this guide, we will be learning more about the Medicine degree at Cambridge, including what it’s like to study there, what the entry requirements are and how you can improve your chances of getting in. Let’s get started:
Cambridge Medicine Entry Requirements
There are multiple steps to the application process for Cambridge Medicine, all of which will need to be completed to a very high standard. Let’s go through these one by one, starting with your grades:
As it is very rare to receive an Unconditional offer from Cambridge, you will of course have to achieve the required grades once you have received your offer. Your predicted grades and GCSE (or equivalent) grades will also help the admissions team during the shortlisting and decision-making processes.
Cambridge Medicine Required A-Level Grades:
Among your A-Levels, you must achieve a grade in Chemistry and another in Biology, Physics or Mathematics. There are no requirements for the third subject. However, it is stated by Cambridge that most applicants study at least the three sciences or Mathematics. Different colleges at Cambridge will also have their own requirements, so be sure to do your research.
Cambridge Medicine International Baccalaureate Requirements:
40-42 (776 at Higher Level)
For International Baccalaureates, applicants must have Higher Levels in Chemistry and one other science or Mathematics. Similar to A-Levels, it is stated that the most competitive applicants will have Higher Levels in two sciences and Maths, which may be required by some colleges anyway.
UCAS Personal Statement
As with any university application in the UK, you will need to write and submit a Personal Statement via UCAS. This 4,000-character document is your way of presenting your abilities, character and drive to study medicine to the admissions team at Cambridge, so it is important to take your time and ensure you have presented yourself in the best possible light.
The Personal Statement will need to be submitted by October 15th, when it will be used in conjunction with your grades and BMAT results to decide if you will be shortlisted for an interview with the university.
You can learn more about how Personal Statements work and how you perfect yours in our Ultimate UCAS Personal Statement Guide, but the basic topics that you will need to cover include your motivation, research, relevant extra-curricular activities and work experience (more on the soon). By writing about all of these things in a concise, engaging and genuine manner, you should stand a good chance of being invited to interview.
In 2024, the UCAS Personal Statement system will be changing into a survey-based system that requires applicants to answer multiple predetermined questions about themselves. You will still be covering the same general topics, just in a more rigid, less free-form structure. You can find out more about this here:
All applicants to Cambridge Medicine must sit the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT), which aims to test several skills including general thinking skills, scientific knowledge and verbal reasoning – all incredibly important skills for a medical school student to possess.
There is no required grade for this test, although the average applicant will score a 5.0 and an above-average or good BMAT Score would be a 6.0 or higher. In order to increase your chances of scoring well, it’s always best to begin revising and practising early, as well as seeking out resources and support to help you prepare.
It was announced that Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, the BMAT’s creator, that the test will no longer be used as of 2024. An alternative admissions test for Cambridge and the other BMAT universities has not currently been announced. Find out more about this announcement below:
Cambridge Medicine Interview
These interviews are held in a traditional panel format, where you will be speaking to a university admissions tutor and medical practitioner. These interviews aim to expand upon what you have shown about yourself in your Personal Statement and BMAT results and allow the university to see how you react under certain conditions.
Subject knowledge will be tested there, although the interviewers rarely expect a perfect answer from applicants, instead looking to judge their thought process and ability to communicate their ideas. You can learn more about what to expect from these interviews here:
Aside from the four major elements of your application, there are various other smaller, but equally important, things to consider and prepare for.
Although not officially required for an application to Medicine at Cambridge, accumulating work experience is incredibly beneficial to not only your application but your own personal development. By taking part in a wide range of placements, you will have lots to discuss in your Personal Statement and Interview.
This work experience needs to be relevant to the subject but isn’t limited to just clinical placements at hospitals or GP surgeries. As these placements are very competitive and can be difficult to get, you will also be able to take part in voluntary work for other areas of the industry, including care work and charity work.
These placements aren’t just about what you did but the skills you learnt, both general and specific. This is what admissions tutors want to see from you regarding your work experience – reflection and understanding of how the experiences have benefited you as a medical applicant.
UCAS References and Recommendations:
As with any kind of job application, universities want to see some form of reference to demonstrate that you would be a good fit to study there. These can come from teachers, mentors or people who you have worked with during medical work placements. Find out more about how this works in our dedicated guide below:
Submitted Work is typically not required for Cambridge Medicine, but it is still important to be prepared in case a college asks you to provide some. The nature of this work will be determined by the college but is normally a written piece.
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Studying Medicine at Cambridge
In order to prepare your application effectively, you need to understand what it is actually like to study at Cambridge, as it is very different from other medical schools in a number of areas. It’s also important to do this research if you are still unsure of where you want to study, so let’s take a look at what it’s like to study at Cambridge Medical School:
Cambridge Medicine Overview
At Cambridge, medical knowledge and its application are given the utmost importance. Studying Cambridge medicine has not been restricted to theory only. The students there are prepared for combining human interactions with technical knowledge. It aims to provide technically superior skills to students that are aligned with the medical discoveries made over the years.
The coursework at Cambridge University is diverse enough to help students in getting adequate knowledge to practice medicine. In the first two years of study, medical sciences are taught through lectures and practical classes. The initial coursework is designed to help students in learning the practical aspects of medical studies. These courses are included to guide students so that they are well-acquainted with research findings and clinical studies that they can implement in their future medical careers.
In the third year of study, students need to decide about their area of specialisation. In the fourth, fifth and sixth year, there are clinical studies that students need to conduct, visiting specified hospitals.
To fully register as a medical professional while studying at Cambridge, you need to complete your registration with the General Medical Council. This helps in getting a license so that you can effectively finish your degree requirement. There is a two-year period of service that needs to be done in a Foundation Programme so that you can fully qualify as a doctor.
How Is Cambridge Medicine Different?
It goes without saying that the admissions process is fiercely competitive. On average, there are five students applying per place available, most applying with an excellent academic background, meaning you will need to work hard to have a good shot of being viable for the course.
Cambridge Medicine Interview
The terms at Cambridge Medicine are much shorter than at most other universities. They last just eight weeks each and typically have double the workload of other medical degrees. You will have to submit essays, as well as work on scientific worksheets and presentations.
How you’re taught and go about your work on a day-to-day basis is the most important factor that will affect how you develop into a medical practitioner.
Cambridge offers very small class sizes in comparison with other universities. A supervision session (led by a doctor or professor) typically contains 3-4 students and can sometimes even be one-on-one sessions. This makes the standard of teaching much more intense on an individual scale and offers excellent opportunities for specific questions and areas of interest for the students.
The approach to medicine taken by Cambridge is fairly unique, focusing more heavily on the scientific and theoretical aspects of medicine, aiming to teach the students the underlying principles behind the subjects they are learning. For the first 3 years of the 6-year degree, there is no contact with patients, instead using the time for detailed scientific studies.
This is known as a “Traditional” teaching style and is exclusive in the UK to just Oxford and Cambridge. You will find that most other universities in the UK use either “Integrated” or “Problem-Based Learning” teaching styles. You can learn more about these different styles of teaching in our Oxbridge vs Non-Oxbridge Medical School Guide:
Why Choose Cambridge Medicine?
The intensity of the workload and rigorous academic standards can be off-putting for many people. It can be easy to think that a different university would give you a much more relaxed time and still give you a medical degree in the end. However, while you will get a good education at any medical school in the country, not all of them are created equally.
There are definitely reasons why a degree from Cambridge may be more highly sought after when compared to another medical school. Firstly, the high workload is a marker of the university’s high standards, and a degree from here goes a long way to show that you are one of the best around. Rightly so, considering its requirements and close teacher-student relationship tutoring style.
There is a reason that Cambridge can boast that almost 100% of its medical students are employed within 6 months of leaving. Employers will certainly notice the name of the university and consider it in your application. This is true for any subject taught by either Oxford or Cambridge, with Cambridge Medicine being one of the best examples of this.
Final Tips for Your Cambridge Medicine Application
So, if you think you’re up to the challenge and you like looking at the scientific principles behind things, Cambridge might be for you. If you are getting your application started, here are a few final tips to help you make your application a success.
Of course, there is much more to learn about how to effectively prepare for your application, but this guide will have given you an effective starting point for it. Be sure to check out our other free guides, or learn how you can enrol in our Oxbridge Medicine Premium Programme today to triple your chances of success.
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