Medicine @ St Catherine's, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

4x 20 min interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

Topic-based science questions, tables and graphs, ethical scenario, personal statement

Best preparation

BMAT and TSA papers, A-level biology and chemistry revision

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Present yourself well - e.g. with good eye contact

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: 2 hours apart, on 2 separate days

Length of interviews: 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Each interview was split into 2 separate 10 minute parts- one with each interviewer. The interviews were almost all science based- each "part" was based on a particular topic (e.g. "enzymes"). It would begin with fundamental A level knowledge, and then would be stretched beyond- often to a more obscure, real world application (but remember, no additional knowledge beyond A level content was required/expected: you just have to "apply" what you already know). If I didn't know an answer/was getting off track, the interviewers brought me back on topic with leading questions/statements. Some interviews involved data tables and graphs, etc., to interpret. One "part" posed a hypothetical ethical scenario to interpret, while another was based on my personal statement. I was really nervous going into my first interview. However, this interview was conducted by my current personal tutor who was really friendly and put me at ease. From this point onwards I was much more relaxed and took the approach of simply trying to enjoy the interviews as much as possible.

How did you prepare?

I did BMAT practice papers, as well as some TSA section 1 practice papers, since they are similar to BMAT section 1. I read through a CGP style BMAT guide (available online free). I read sample essay answers online and made essay plans for past papers.

I had heard that the Oxford interviews were largely science based, so I read through all the content we had covered so far in A level biology and chemistry. This was probably the most useful thing I did, as it is expected that you are familiar with the content you have been taught at school so far.

Given that my personal statement had a strong focus on immunology, I also read a book on it (Oxford's 'Very Short Introduction to Immunology') in case I was asked about a particular interest I had in the field of medicine.

I also had some practice interviews with my school and my friends: this helped me get used to speaking about my subject eloquently, and helped with my confidence in doing so. I also had a rough outline of how I'd answer questions like "Why medicine?" or "what I learnt from my work experience" although this was more useful for my non-Oxford interviews.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

In hindsight, I am pleased with my interview preparation. I remember my tutor saying one of the biggest thing she looks for is how you present yourself (i.e. making eye contact, smiling, being friendly and speaking clearly) because these are important social skills for doctors to have. They already know you're clever from your results; while the interview also puts this to the test, it is also used to observe your personal skills.