Medicine @ Brasenose, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

4x 25-30 min interviews

Interview content

Discussion of graph/table given, topic related to graph/table, personal statement, and extended project

Best preparation

Past questions book, timed practice papers, practice essays

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Read books that genuinely interested me; practise explaining answers aloud; think aloud in interviews; try to enjoy the interview experience!

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: BMAT

Number of interviews: 4

Skype interview: No

Interview spread: first 2 interviews about 1.5 hours apart, last 2 interviews about half an hour apart

Length of interviews: 25-30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

I was given a graph/table and asked to talk about what I saw. This then developed into a discussion about the scientific topic related to the graph/table. I was also asked to speak about my EPQ topic. There were a few ethical scenarios I had to debate. I was asked about personal statement related things in one of my interviews, as well as a recent area of research in medicine I was interested in.

Going into my first interview I’ve honestly never been more scared in my life. I was convinced it was a shambles and wanted to go home. My second interview was a bit better. In my last interviews the following day I was far more relaxed and could even say i enjoyed them.

The atmosphere in the room was one of encouragement and friendliness. It felt like the interviewers were being argumentative but in reality they were just trying to get the best out of me.

How did you prepare?

I bought a book on Amazon of past questions and did these. I did all the past papers I could - focus on timings. For the essay part I practised writing timed essays and gave them to an English teacher in school to look at.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I read a few books- these were books on topics I was genuinely interested in and would have happily been able to speak about at an interview had the interviewer opened up the floor. I read through my personal statement and thought about any questions that could crop up, as well as thinking about an answer to ‘Why medicine?’ (I did not script these answers however- it is very obvious if answers have been memorised- don’t do it). I didn’t have a mock interview as no one at the school I went to really knew what the interviews were like. My preparation I think did help to an extent but nothing can prepare you completely.

If I was to give the old me advice for preparation it would be to practise talking through scientific problems out loud to yourself. It is one thing to explain something in writing but another thing to verbally communicate this in a succinct, organised way. Practise justifying what you are saying and try to be curious and questioning about topics that interest you.

I have spoken to my tutors since and asked them what they look for in an interviewee. In response they said that they know in the first ten minutes whether the person being interviewed is right. They look for immediate enthusiasm and engagement. Don’t be afraid to be flexible with your ideas and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure of something. Don’t worry if you don’t know an answer to something- just say whatever is going through your mind, no matter how stupid you think it will sound. My tutors look for someone who is down to earth and has interests other than books and study.

Also, if you do get an interview, enjoy the time in Oxford- it’s free accommodation and free food and there are often events going on, run by the student helpers. Try not to be intimidated by the other applicants (I certainly was) and avoid talking to them about the specifics of interview questions because it really doesn’t help. Just try to enjoy the experience- feel excited that you are able to sit in a room and talk to people at the cutting edge of medical research.