If you’ve been scheduled for an interview at Cambridge Medicine, reading Cambridge Medicine interview questions can help you practise during your mock medical school interviews. The interview is an important part of the application process; if your responses are detailed, articulate, and resonate with the programme, there’s a good chance you’ll get accepted. Success starts with preparation; reading common medical school interview questions can help you build the confidence and proficiency you need.
In this article, we discuss what to expect from a Cambridge interview and provide sample questions and answers.
Disclaimer: Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa.
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Cambridge Medicine Interview Format
All Cambridge Medicine applicants are interviewed by the admissions faculty. Each interview will last approximately 20–45 minutes; at least one of the members of the interview panel will be a current clinical practitioner. At least two interviews will be hosted per applicant. Interviews are held in person for domestic applicants and virtually for international applicants.
Want to know the most common medical school interview questions you MUST ace to get in? Watch this:
It’s important to know how to schedule medical school interviews. Most of the Cambridge interviews will be held in December, but many will extend into January, February, and March as well. You will also need to fill out a form for dates that you are unable to attend; this will ensure that your invitation doesn’t conflict with your schedule.
Cambridge Medicine describes a number of key characteristics that the admissions committee will be looking for in the interview and in other application materials, such as your medical school letters of recommendation. Be sure to review medical school personal statement examples as well to inform your answers to questions that target what you wrote in this document.
Here are the three key categories of competencies covered in Cambridge Medicine interview questions:
Cambridge Medicine Interview Questions and Sample Answers
Why do you want to study medicine?
What’s being asked?
This is a variation of the question ‘why do you want to be a doctor’. Among the competencies mentioned above, this question is targeting professional and career considerations. The admissions committee wants a succinct description of your goals and how you connect them to what’s offered in the programme. This will likely be one of the first questions you’re asked – a strong answer will set the tone for the rest of the interview, but an incomplete answer will increase the prospect of med school rejection.
To answer this question effectively, you need to demonstrate that you understand what a career in medicine entails; give examples of experiences you gained during your pre-med studies that influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. You can talk about your extracurriculars for medical school, clinical experiences, volunteerism, or notable research projects. How important is research for medical school? It isn’t required, but it can certainly help you stand out as an applicant.
You know, compared to a lot of other medical students and residents whom I’ve spoken with over the last few months, I’ve gathered that my motivation for wanting to pursue medicine is somewhat unconventional or unique. As you probably read in my application, I am making a career switch out of social work, as I have long toiled with the idea of being more involved in health care.
I grew up in underprivileged circumstances; while my parents were trying to find stable jobs, my family often relied on the support of our community – at times, we had to depend on the charitable kindness of our neighbours and friends just to put food on the table. I gravitated towards social work because I was aware of the substantial importance of the work of these hard-working and selfless individuals, based on my own experiences with them.
In my first two years as a professional, I collaborated with primary health care workers to support patients in managing the stress associated with chronic health conditions. It was challenging work, but the more I thought about my long-term career goals, the more it became apparent that I wanted to do more than just help patients transition into their homes after prolonged stays in a hospital, or after complicated procedures in which extensive rehabilitation was needed. I believe, as my experience tells me, that the intersection of social work and health care will help alleviate emotional and physical burdens that result from oversight. You could say that exposure to these ‘blind spots’ of the health care system made me realise that I could use my unique perspective in a different capacity to make a difference in the lives of people who rely on their communities to support their health and well-being.
Want to know the most common medical school interview questions? Check this infographic:
Why Cambridge Medicine?
What’s being asked?
This question is one you will certainly be asked, along with ‘tell me about yourself’. This is also a common medical school secondary essay prompt.
The function of this question, in a fundamental way, is to test the quality of your preparation; to answer, you should know the structure of the programme and its intended outcomes. You should be able to discuss what you hope to gain from the programme by citing specific examples. Don’t memorise the school’s mission but keep it in mind nonetheless.
Cambridge Medicine school mission:
Through inspirational teaching and training, the school will educate ‘individuals who:
- will become exceptional doctors or biomedical scientists
- combine a depth of scientific understanding with outstanding clinical and communication skills
- demonstrate a caring, compassionate and professional approach to patients and the public
- are equipped to become future international leaders of their profession’
To address specific core values and components of the curriculum that appeal to you, think about what makes the programme unique. For instance, one of Cambridge Medicine’s learning methods is to keep class sizes small, which allows mentors and faculty to supervise and interact with students in a more direct and intimate manner. You can also relate an experience, such as a virtual shadowing session, to demonstrate fitness for the programme.
What I like about Cambridge Medicine is the theoretical heaviness of the curriculum; I’ve always preferred to have a strong theoretical grasp of subjects to gain the confidence and understanding I need for practical exposure. The benefit of focusing the first three years on theory, rather than experience, is that it sets the stage for students’ pursuit of research; I happen to be one of those students.
The research themes at Cambridge resonate with my previous research experiences. For instance, I worked on a project at a women’s health research institute over the summer that explored gender and sex differences in sleep health. Because I found this research area incredibly interesting and expansive, I knew I would want to explore it further, which is part of the reason I chose to apply to Cambridge. And another thing – I tentatively acknowledge that I will likely want to specialise in either psychiatry or internal medicine, so the opportunity to join any active research campaign investigating sleep health will certainly help me make a final decision.
I have to say that there’s something awe-inspiring about Cambridge that’s hard to put into words. Some of the greatest thinkers in the world did some of their best work here – Alan Turing, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton. To call it exciting to be in the same environment in which these people changed the world doesn’t do justice to the incredible privilege that would be.
A 16-year-old Girl Requests Birth Control Pills From You but Asks You Not to Tell Her Parents. What Do You Do?
What’s being asked?
This is an ethical question. Interviewers will often ask applicants these types of questions to get an idea of where they stand on certain issues. You aren’t expected to be a lawyer, and yes, your clinical experiences are limited as a medical school applicant, which means you won’t have a large well of experiences to draw from; focus on remaining non-judgemental and developing a cogent argument for the position you take.
If you’re wondering how to prepare for ethical questions in a medical school interview, consider these pillars of medical ethics to develop an effective answer that shows you can behave ethically and professionally:
If a sixteen-year-old girl were to come to my clinic and explain that she wants a prescription for birth control medication and that she doesn’t want her parents to know, I would abide by the patient’s wishes and order the prescription. If she wants to conceal this information from her parents, that is within her rights as a patient. To betray her interests would violate patient confidentiality and autonomy.
It's also not within my right to assume, like many would, that the patient is engaging in dangerous sexual activity. Birth control is not prescribed for the sole purpose of preventing pregnancy; there are viable reasons for taking birth control pills that don’t involve sex. I would discuss the function of the pill, options for different prescriptions, and potential side effects that she should consider to help her make a confident decision about her health. As long as the patient is capable of understanding and respecting her situation, I will not project any of my own moral prejudices or judgements onto her; if she is comfortable with it, I would also ask her to elaborate on her situation so that I may discuss sexual health and perhaps refer her to a sexual health clinic.
Do You Think All Doctors Need to Have Experience With a Disorder or Condition to Empathise?
What’s being asked?
Your medicine interview prep in the UK should show you how to ace weird or intimidating medical school interview questions. This one is all about defining what makes a good doctor. There are many key attributes that are actionable and objective that you can name; to go above and beyond with your answer, explain some of the characteristics you’ve witnessed or embodied using Cambridge Medicine’s ‘competencies’ vernacular.
Generally, you will need to target the competencies mentioned in admissions criteria – for instance, at Cambridge, there’s a strong emphasis on having a scientific background. There are also other important attributes that the admissions committee looks for; consider the Medical Schools Council’s (MSC) statement on what makes a good doctor, which Cambridge mentions directly on their admissions page:
The short answer is no, I don’t think doctors need to have experience with a certain disorder or condition to sympathise or empathise fully with their patients. I think it’s a common mistake to assume that one either has or doesn’t have empathy, rather than to view it as a spectrum. For instance, I worked as a medical assistant for the last two years, and the physician I was working with had a patient who arrived at the clinic complaining of persistent abdominal cramps, occasional weakness, and lack of appetite. She was worried that her symptoms were a sign of colon cancer due to her family history.
The physician and I had no personal experience with colon cancer, nor did I know anyone intimately who had gone through it. I remember when the patient arrived at the clinic, her anxiety was visible; she wore a dark look of distress and had downcast eyes. When it was her turn, I called her name, brought her to the exam room, and asked her permission to take her medical history. I made a few casual comments about the weather to distract her; during the exam, the physician patiently listened to the patient talk about her symptoms and family history. He sat close to her and showed concern with a calm, supportive tone, which seemed to help. It wasn’t necessary in this case to have personal or professional experience with the disorder to show empathy; we just needed to appreciate and understand what the individual was going through.
Empathy is a complex emotion, and the degree to which I can express it doesn’t depend on the equivalency of experience. Becoming attuned to a patient’s emotions takes practice, sure, but I would say that being attentive, present, and thinking deeply about someone’s situation are the most important qualities presupposing empathy, which are, for the most part, innate.
What is the Most Recent Scientific Paper You Read, and What is Your Takeaway?
What’s being asked?
As we’ve said, Cambridge Medicine has a rigorous scientific curriculum: the first three years are almost exclusively designed to develop knowledge in relevant science subjects before students have a chance to apply that knowledge. You will undoubtedly be asked to clarify and explain various topics encountered in your science prerequisite courses.
For science-based questions, you must review class material. It’s very difficult to prepare for these types of questions because you can’t predict what you’ll be asked, but if you study your notes and read your textbooks, you’ll be in a good position to answer.
I read a psychology paper recently on the segregation of explicit and implicit bias in facial recognition. The throughline of the study was the measurement of how the explicit attitudes of college students regarding social issues differ from their implicit attitudes. The researchers used the implicit association test (IAT), which is the gold standard when it comes to measuring unconscious attitudes.
The researchers presented the participants with a series of faces and positive and negative words like ‘tragedy’, ‘murder’, and so on. The test compares the speed with which participants link different racialised groups to positive or negative words or ‘associations’. The results of the analysis showed that people who agreed with statements like ‘diversity is good’ or ‘it’s important to address racism’ were quicker to associate European-Americans with positive words.
I think the study is interesting – while many people criticise the utility of the IAT, it’s still our best method of measuring the strength of associations between concepts and evaluations. The study didn’t explain why there was an observable disjoint in implicit and explicit attitudes, but I’d reckon it has something to do with an intersect of environmental, cultural and psychological factors that are difficult to isolate. Future studies, in my opinion, should aim to describe the conditions that must be met to equivocate implicit and explicit beliefs so we have a better idea of what a solution looks like in the grand scheme of diversity and equity politics on campuses.
1. What is the Cambridge Medicine interview format?
The Cambridge interview will last between 20–45 minutes; every applicant will be sent an interview request, and you will have at least two interviews with faculty members and at least one practising physician.
2. What competencies will be assessed in the interview?
According to Cambridge, you will be assessed on the following categories of competence: scientific and related, personal qualities, and professional and career considerations.
3. What is one defining aspect of Cambridge Medicine?
Cambridge Medicine has a very science-heavy curriculum. The first three years will not include any experience components, during which students will build a strong theoretical foundation.
4. Will I be asked any science or ethical questions?
You can be asked a variety of questions, including ethical and science questions. Because Cambridge is a science and research-based institution, the admissions committee will want to evaluate your science knowledge; review your notes from your medical school prerequisite classes to prepare.
5. Do I need to know what speciality I’m going to pursue in residency?
You may be asked to discuss long- and short-term goals, but you aren’t expected to know exactly what speciality you’re going to choose. You should be able to describe your tentative plan for your future career as a medical professional, but the important thing is that you can show that a career in medicine is right for you.
6. How do I prepare for the interview at Cambridge?
The best way to prepare for your medical school interview is a mock interview. Consider asking for help from a qualified admissions consulting service. Study your notes from your science classes and include a variety of different questions in your practice.
7. When are offers of acceptance made for Cambridge Medicine?
Most offers will be made in February and March. First, the faculty will assess your application materials and conduct the interview; you will need strong materials and an even stronger interview performance to receive an offer.
8. How important is the medical school interview? Can a bad performance be overlooked based on a strong application?
If your performance wavers in the interview, you will not receive an offer of acceptance. This is why it’s important to start preparing early and with a qualified professional who can guide you through the process.
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