Medicine @ The Queen's, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

4x 20 min interviews, all within 24 hrs

Interview content

Science questions (including physics), personal statement, extended project, graphs and data

Best preparation

Follow medical news and keep reflection diary

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Try to stay calm if you find a question difficult.

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

Interviews all within 24 hours

Length of interviews: 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In preparing for my medicine interview, I explored every avenue I could think of; keeping up to date with current research, looking into issues in the NHS, reading a book on medical ethics, however the one thing I completely failed to prepare for was snow! Whilst everyone else was enjoy the snow on that white December weekend, I was walking 3 miles with my suitcase through my hilly village and town to get the train to Oxford, praying that I would get to the station before they were all cancelled! In some ways I actually think this was a blessing in disguise because, rather than spending the whole car journey stressing about my interview, I instead turned all my attention to simply getting to Oxford. However, I would still say, make sure you have several contingency plans on getting to your interview! Neither British weather nor public transport are particularly reliable, and so it good to ensure you know what to do if either proves a barrier to you getting to your interview.

Once I’d made it to Oxford, I had two interviews at Queen’s on my first day, and then two at St Catz on the second. Medicine interviews are quite intense, with four interviews within the space of 24 hours. Compared to other medical school interviews, I felt these had much more focus on scientific content (including physics!) and on your personal statement. For example, I had questions about electric cars and how they could still cause pollution, and then this was linked to potential public health issues. With MMIs, often the interviewer has not seen your personal statement, whereas at Oxford they were sat with it in front of them! Especially in my first interview, quite a lot of the discussion was based around my EPQ, so although it may sound obvious, make sure you are prepared to discuss everything you have written about. Another piece of advice would be not to panic if you don’t know the right answer straight away. One of the tutors asked me a question about viruses which took me quite a while to understand and it seemed to dominate a large proportion of the interview. After some guidance from the interviewers, I think I eventually got to the answer they were looking for, which I believe was mainly because I kept talking through all my thinking and then they were able to signpost me down the route to follow. My final piece of advice would be to be prepared to talk about graphs and data. In all of my interviews I was asked to either draw or interpret a graph/diagram, and although it is impossible to predict what they will be on, it might be useful to look at graphs in your biology textbook or journal articles to practise identifying trends in data.

The best bit about interviews was meeting other candidates though! Everyone at Queen’s was so lovely and supportive, especially the current students who were helping out. We even had a murder mystery night, which was really good fun! My best piece of advice would just be to enjoy the interview experience. Oxford is such a beautiful city, especially in the snow, so make the most of any spare time you have to explore it with other candidates as that definitely helped me to feel more relaxed and stop replaying my first interview over and over again in my head!

How did you prepare?

I used a free online CGP guide to go over the science content and then did past papers under timed conditions.

For medicine interviews, keeping up to date with new research and case studies in the media is very useful as you can use these to back up your answers to questions. Also be prepared to talk about your work experiences and the qualities of a doctor. Keeping a little reflection diary of your experiences can be useful as you can then flick through it in the weeks running up to your interview to remind you of what you learnt from past experiences.

Asking a parent or teacher, etc., to do a mock interviewcan be very helpful. The Medic Portal is a free online resource with blog posts that include sample questions and ideal answers. I used these and asked my mum to use these as a template when we practised together - something I’d really recommend!

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

With the more academic questions, in hindsight the tutors aren’t looking for you to get it right, they’re looking for whether you can take feedback and direction towards the right answer, I.e. are you well suited to the tutorial system. Therefore, don’t panic, and stay calm if you find a question tricky!