Medicine @ Jesus, Oxford in 2021

Interview format

Biomedical Admissions Test, 3x interviews

Interview content

Questions on personal statement; Scientific problem-solving questions

Best preparation

Completed multiple mock interviews

Test preparation

Completed past papers under timed conditions

Final thoughts

Speak your thoughts out loud when 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: 3
Time between interviews: 1 day
Length of interviews: 45 minutes
Online interview: Yes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My interviews were conducted online using Microsoft teams. I chose to do this at my home however if you will not have reliable internet or access to a computer, I recommend asking your school to provide a quiet room to undertake the interview in.

I was very anxious waiting for each one to start (all three of my interviews had the same format just were conducted by different professors) however all began on time, and I quickly became less nervous and more sure of my answers.

My interviews were a mix of questions about my personal statement (for example about work experience/ extra reading I had done etc. ) and scientific problem-solving (the majority of the time was spent on the latter). For example, I was given graphs and asked to explain what I thought they were suggesting. This required A-level knowledge of biology and chemistry and if there was something I didn't recognise I just asked the interviewers for help.

They were all very friendly and clearly made an effort to make me feel as relaxed as possible throughout the interview experience. I did not have to do any prior reading before my interviews, nor was I given any problem sheets to study beforehand. The interviews felt much more like a discussion of knowledge and there were no absurd questions that seem to be the myth about Oxbridge interviews.

How did you prepare for your interviews?

I had three mock interviews before the real thing! Two were organized by my school and for the final one I was approached by some current medical students from the University of Oxford who (as part of an access scheme) helped me go through some of the scientific questions that they may ask during the interviews. I found this the most helpful as it helped me understand more about what the interviewers would be looking for and gave me more confidence when talking through problems.

Remember it's okay to ask questions if you do not understand something, the interview is set up like a mock tutorial where the professors want to see how your mind goes about solving problems! I also found it helpful to look over my personal statement beforehand to help me to re-familiarize myself with what I had written as questions were asked about this in my interviews.

If you took a test, how did you prepare?

I used Medify predominantly for both my BMAT and UCAT exams (you can ask your sixth-form college/school to get a subscription for all the medicine applicants in your year group or use the 16-19 bursary to pay for it for a few months).

Half of the BMAT assessed science knowledge including physics and you can find online lists of all the formula you will need to have memorized so I made flashcards to help me remember them all.

Past papers (found on the BMAT website) were useful in showing the type of questions asked and remember it is a NON-calculator exam so I brushed up on my mental maths techniques to ensure I could answer the questions quickly enough. In regard to timing, it can be quite tight so completing past papers under timed conditions is a must.

There is also an essay section at the end, and I found that Practicing writing the essay on a computer was necessary because my typing speed needed to be increased as before this exam all the essays I had written had been on paper.

Some of the essay titles they give you can be quite abstract, but they give you a choice between 3 to write about so choose the one you feel most comfortable with. I looked at previous essay titles online and found example answers that were graded at the highest level to learn the structure and level of writing that was necessary to gain a high mark.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

Looking back, I would advise any applicant that the most important thing is to speak your thoughts out loud when answering interview questions. By this I mean talk through your thought process and any ideas you might have, the interviewers can then direct you into which thought process to go down or aid you if you are stuck. Try not to sit in silence for too long or simply say you have no idea if there is a way you can talk about even the basics of the problem given.