What are the Cambridge Interview Questions: Medicine Applicants’ Guide
What are they looking for in a Cambridge interview?
Before we look further into the types of Cambridge interview questions medicine applicants might be asked about, let’s look at the types of attributes interviewers are looking for.
The official criteria that Cambridge University state they look for in a candidate is listed as follows:
- Scientific and related competencies
- Personal qualities and communications skills
- An understanding of the professional and career requirements
The Clinical School states they look for the following attributes in potential students:
- Knowledgeable about the scientific basis about the key qualities of a medical student
- Honest and caring, as well as knowledgeable and competent.
- Show respect for their patients at all times
- Have excellent communications skills for use in the health care of diverse populations
- Understand of the importance of the physical, psychological, and social aspects of patient care
- Ability to work effectively with teams of different/multi-disciplines.
- Possess the capacity for inquiry
- Prepared to continue learning, teaching, evaluating, and research throughout their careers to prepare them fully for their roles as doctors
While it would be advisable to have all these in mind when interviewing, they are all quite vague categories! After all, how do you go into an interview showing that you are ‘equipped to maintain good medical practice’?
To get a better idea about how to do well in answering the Cambridge interview questions for Medicine, we need to look more closely at the structure of the interview and the types of questions that applicants need to be prepared for. This will help applicants to prepare for the types of question that may come up, and get into the right mindset for what a Cambridge medicine interview is like.
Otherwise, students can be easily caught off guard by the somewhat alternative style of the interview, which may ask questions that are totally unrelated to medicine and simply test their intellect and creative ability.
What kinds of Cambridge interview medicine questions might come up?
There is no set structure to how a Cambridge interview will go. The questions that are asked vary hugely on their style and choice of subject, though they can be very broadly divided into a few categories, which give an overarching view of how they might go about the interview.
Here are some questions based on the topics:
Factual and analytical
These questions assess the candidate’s knowledge. This takes up a larger part of the interview than the Oxford medicine interviews for example, as Cambridge places a large focus on knowledge and retention of factual data.
They are unlikely to be a large part of the interview process, and will not draw on more than A Level Biology and Chemistry knowledge unless your child has mentioned a specific topic in their personal statement.
Candidates should make sure that they are solid on anything they have written about, and can still tackle the types of questions they might have had at school like mole calculations or the functions of specific organs or systems of the body. Some of the questions of this style may also ask for information that the student will not know the answer and not be expected to know the answer to. Instead, they will be expected to be able to approach in a methodical and reasonable way.
- How many organs do humans have?
- How does DNA work? What is it for?
- Why does heart rate increase with exercise?
- What effect does honey have on the body?
- How would you find out the weight of all the blood in a living person?
- What approach would you take to testing for dangerous allergic reactions in a patient?
Ethical scenarios are a large part of the experience of being an actual doctor. It is unsurprising, then, that these are commonly used in medicine interview questions. These questions assess the student’s mentality, and their suitability for the role of a doctor, and introduce them to some of the dilemmas that are common in modern medicine.
While students may not be expected to show that they are morally infallible individuals from day one, these questions will show the interviewers whether the student has an open mind and can see difficult situations from more than one perspective. As well as be able to make informed decisions on the ‘correct’ course of action.
They will often involve introducing a difficult scenario and asking what the most ethical course of action is.
- Should a doctor prescribe contraceptive medicine to underage patients?
- How far should doctor/patient confidentiality be respected?
- Is the health of a child more important than the health of an adult?
These Cambridge interview questions for medicine may take a much more interpretative direction than some of the others and are likely to have little to do with medicine or health. Some of these questions may seem a bit strange, however, the best course of action to take is to try to answer them to the best of your ability regardless.
Applicants should remember not to be afraid to ask for help if really stuck – the purpose of these questions is to see how the student reacts to difficult questions under stress and assesses their logical and creative ability to come up with interesting solutions to tricky problems.
- How long would it take a bird to fly around the coast of the United Kingdom?
- If you threw a stone out of a boat on a lake and into the water, what would happen to the water level?
- What is the best way to cut down a tree without any tools?
An Example of a Strong Medical Interview Candidate:
These questions typically provide the student with unseen material to view before or during the Cambridge interview questions. Medicine applicants may be given images, graphs, texts, or objects to analyse and discuss in their interview. Again, it is important that they think carefully before coming to any conclusions, but to not be afraid to try to answer the question, even if they do not know the answer. (The whole point may well be that they do not know the answer!)
- Students may be given a skull and asked what kind of animal it is from, and why it is like how it is
- Students will be asked to interpret a graph or statistical sheet of patient data
If your child still isn’t sure on how to best prepare for their interview, there are plenty of tips and information to be found on the UniAdmissions website. We’ve been in touch with students and tutors alike who have all been through the experience before and know just what it takes to secure a place at Oxbridge through perfecting your interview preparations and strategies.
Is your child applying for Medicine at Cambridge? Triple their chances with our Oxbridge Medicine application package!
And if you need further information and support on the Cambridge application process and the types of courses that could benefit your child, don’t forget that you can always get in touch with us by chatting to us online today or just by picking up the phone and giving us a call.
Learn more about interview season
Read our latest articles dedicated to supporting your child through the difficult and scary times that is the interview season. We’ve got the top tips, big mistakes to avoid and general interview guidance from the Oxbridge experts which will help calm your child’s interview butterflies. People have been through the interviews and survived(!) and now they’re telling their stories and experiences to help others realise it’s not as bad as they might have first thought.
You can read them here when you visit our blog.