Before the day of your interview sessions arrives, you should thoroughly understand the potential MMI ethical questions and answers you’ll be asked in 2023, and review of time. MMI’s are a way that admissions can assess your suitability for their medical program, and your ability to think critically, ethically, and logically under pressure. Read on to learn how you can increase your chances of receiving a high score on your MMI, and specifically, on the ethical questions that will arise.
Being given a great score on your MMI could give you an edge in the medical field, but many underestimate the importance of answering each question thoughtfully and concisely. It's important to be prepared for your MMI because you'll have limited time to complete it—and if you have not reviewed potential questions or practiced your answers, this will be difficult. Often, the ethical questions are the ones that tend to stump interviewees, resulting in a lower score and hurting their chances of admission.
An MMI is typically comprised of 8-12 stations, each lasting 4-8 minutes, that are designed to assess the suitability of candidates for admission to medical school based on the quality of their responses to various questions, and their ability to think logically, ethically, and with integrity. The assessment format is designed to evaluate many additional skills and traits that are imperative in the medical field, such as adequate communication skills, ethical reasoning and critical thinking abilities. This is done in an interactive setting rather than through a formal essay, which allows the admissions panel to understand how a candidate thinks and organizes their thoughts in a very limited amount of time. This method has been credited as being effective at eliminating biases caused by traditional admissions methods such as GPA or MCAT scores alone. That is why it’s important to prepare for your MMI interview, especially for the ethical questions, well in advance so when under pressure in the moment, you’ll be able to curate a suitable response to each question and potentially stand out to the evaluator and admissions committee.
What are the hardest MMI questions and answers that you must know? Watch here:
In order to be successful in your MMI, you need to be well prepared. The first thing you have to do is know the type of questions you will be asked and second, understand how they work. There are you may be asked, and in order to prepare for them, and the ethical questions specifically, you must first understand how to break down a question and think logically and fast. During your interview, you will have 1-2 minutes to read your question and comprise your response before entering the interview. Once you’re in the interview room, you’ll have only moments to provide a clear, well-thought out response to even the most difficult questions.
It’s also extremely important that you practice answering multiple choice questions with different scenarios by yourself or with a so that it becomes second nature for you when it comes time for the actual test. You may not know exactly what you’ll be asked, but there are plenty of practice questions you can utilize to get ready for your MMI. Make sure that all aspects of your medical knowledge, as well as ethical and moral position, are fresh in your mind so you aren’t taken aback by any questions during your . Along with this, make sure that you re-read your question several times when you practice, and on your interview day, and if necessary, picture all details and external factors that could impact your potential response. MMI questions, especially ethical ones, are meant to be challenging, so it’s important that you utilize the limited time you have to think critically and logically—don’t let your emotion overrule your response, either.
You should expect to be asked questions designed to test your communication skills, and this is why practicing is vital. You may be nervous, but ensure that you have a clear opening statement, detailed response, and closing remark for each question you answer so that your interviewers will be able to closely follow your thought pattern and response.
Looking for an example of an MMI Ethical question? Check out this video:
Before your MMI, you may wish to conduct some research to know what you're up against, and what you should expect. You may find valuable information and insight online from previous interviewees. Although you’ll never be able to prepare 100% for your MMI, and you cannot base your expectation off the experiences of another, understanding what might be asked, and preparing a plethora of responses to potential questions is key to succeeding!
Of course, you are human, and you may feel stuck or unsure of yourself at some point during your MMI. Confidence is important, and if you’ve practiced enough, you should be able to provide the best response possible. For ethical questions, you should rely on your own personal and professional logical, your ability to critically think, and your background of experience and field-related knowledge. If you try too hard to curate a response that tailors to what you think the committee wants to hear, then your responses may sound unnatural or overly technical. And, if you don't try hard enough then they could be simple and vague. The key to responding to ethical questions in your MMI interview is knowing how much effort will give an answer that sounds natural while still conveying your idea clearly without being too broad or too specific. Being authentic, practicing, and trusting in your own knowledge and professional ethical stance is the best way to ensure a smooth MMI process.
Looking for more tips on MMI Prep? Check out this infographic:
Here are some tips and considerations to make that can help with your MMI ethical question and answer process:
- Practice answering in front of a mirror, or, recording yourself and reviewing your responses. This will help you learn how to control your body language and facial expressions, which can be an important factor in how effective you are at communicating your message. If you’re unsure how to gauge your presence on camera—this can be tricky, as humans are often self-critical—you may want to ask a trusted friend, or, consider , or looking into the best available to help you best prepare and overcome any obstacles you’re facing during your practice sessions
- Practice answering questions in front colleagues, friends, and/or trusted family members. If possible, practicing in front of people who have completed an MMI interview successfully themselves, or who work in a related field, in addition to close friends and family. Parents and friends can be supportive, but are not always completely honest, nor do they always know what an MMI interview committee is looking for. However, they offer a fresh perspective, and likely have your best interest in mind! So, even if your chosen practice audience doesn’t have MMI or medical field experience, let them know that they should be transparent with you and observe carefully to ensure you are being genuine, and that your answer doesn’t rehearsed. You can also get feedback on whether or not your tone was appropriate, what your body language was like, and what their overall impression was. If you can practice in front of somebody in the medical field, they may be able to give you very specific tips and feedback.
- Review as many ethical questions as you can, and answer them all. During your practice sessions, try to work in a timeframe similar to the one you’ll be situated with during your MMI interview. Too often, people recite the notion that “there’s no right or wrong answer” to ethical questions, but in the case of medical practice and MMI interviews, there certainly are preferred—or ‘right’—answers at times.
- Lastly, remember that you mustn’t strive to speak for the entire 8 minutes you are allotted, this is a common mistake, and you may actually run out of time! Rather, you should practice and arrive at each station organized and confident in your stances so that you are able to take 1-2 minutes to prepare a response, and deliver it in 4 minutes to the evaluator. Being able to summarize your answer in concisely and in a short period of time means that you’ll have additional time, if needed, to expand on your response in the moment and answer additional questions. This is why it’s also imperative to expect and know —if you don’t run over your time, that’s preferable, but you’ll have to remain confident and expectant that other questions may be thrown your way!
Ethical dilemmas are, without a doubt, challenging. Receiving a prompt that is overwhelming, complex, or, too brief, can make any interviewee feel panicked, but it doesn’t have to. When breaking down an ethical dilemma prompt during your MMI, it’s best to:
Question: “You are sitting having dinner on the couch and watching TV in your apartment. You suddenly begin hearing something that sounds like yelling and shouting in a language that you do not understand from the apartment next door. You turn down the TV to hear what is going on but are unable to decipher what is being said. The yelling and shouting escalates and then you hear a loud “bang.” Then everything goes silent. What is your first reaction? What would you do in this situation?”
Answer: “In this scenario, I am sitting on couch, watching TV while I eat dinner, in my apartment. I hear sounds—yelling and shouting in a language I do not understand—coming from my neighbors. I have no idea what is being said, even with the TV volume off, the yelling escalates, then suddenly, a loud bang occurs. Everything is silent after the bang, and I must decide what my next steps are. In this situation, I would first, very quickly, evaluate the likelihood of something being amiss, and there are many factors worth considering here.
First, I would pause and try to recall who my neighbors are, what they’re normally like, and if this type of noise occurred before. Whether or not I know who resides there is important, because an apartment occupied by, for example, 3-4 young renters who attend college together, may at times, be subject to loud noises. However, if a quiet single person, a mother and child, or even an elderly couple, reside in the apartment, the shouting and the bang would be a cause for concern. Second, with this information in mind, I would take note of the time of day. Sometimes, I eat dinner after work, at 11p.m, so this is occurring late at night, calling the police might mean a noise violation would be given to my neighbors, in the case that they’re having a party or being rowdy. Or, it may mean something is indeed wrong, especially if my neighbors are normally quiet. If this is the early evening, it still may be worth my concern, but I’m in a biased position either way, in that I do not understand the language they were shouting in, and have no idea what phrases were being uttered at an audible volume. I will pause to evaluate what noise follows the bang—or, if the silence remains. I will remain in my apartment for my own safety, but will make note of any subsequent sounds coming through the walls, or into the hallway. Third, I will assess the voices, and the bang. Even if the sound was muffled, I’d likely be able to decipher the distinct difference between a weapon being used, an explosive device detonating, or just a simple ‘pounding’ on a wall. I should also be able to loosely identify the amount of voices I heard. I’d ask myself if my neighbors spoke another language, if the voices sounded familiar, or, if they even belonged to my neighbors at all. It’s possible they had noisy guests, or but it’s also possible that, if the shouting sounded aggressive, that somebody may be in trouble.
All in all, if this type of event is not a common occurrence, if there are no sounds of partying or laughter that follow the bang, and if the shouting and bang was loud enough to feel startling, then I would proceed with calling the police. I’d rather be safe than sorry, and if somebody was injured or frightened due to an intrusion, an irate guest, or domestic dispute, the police would be able to assist them. If, by chance, this was just a misunderstanding, the police will not disclose who reported the incident, and my neighbors would likely receive a warning or a noise violation. Because I do not understand their language, I would not be able to assess the gravity of the situation based on their spoken words, however the yelling, followed by the bang, if out of character, would be concerning enough for me to report the incident.”
Question: A female student of yours has been making more frequent visits to your office. You also sense that she is sharing too much of her personal life with you (talking about recent divorce) and being excessively friendly. She now brings you a coffee on each visit and asks you about your weekend plans. What should you do as the professor? Why?
Answer: “In my position as a professor, if a female student were to make frequent visits to my office, share details of her personal life with me, bring me refreshments, and ask me about my life routinely, I would take a step back and assess the situation as a whole, beginning with why she is visiting my office, and how I interact with other students.
I would very likely have office hours designated to my students, but would otherwise have hours by appointment. Either way, if she was going out of her way to make appointments, or visiting during office hours, there should be a reason for it. I’d ask myself, “Is the student presenting questions, or having trouble with the course material? Or, is she a high-achieving student who seems to grasp the material well on her own?” The reason for her visits is key here, because if she is genuinely struggling and coming to my office with questions—and making noticeable improvements with her course work as a result of my feedback—then there is a chance she is just showing her gratitude by buying me coffees, and perhaps needs to be reminded of conversational boundaries. I may not be able to find out what other faculty she visits—if any—but if possible, I’d consider if I was the only professor she visited, or if she frequently stopped by office hours and treated other faculty members to coffee, too.
Regardless of why she is visiting my office, though, I’m the professor, so it’s up to me to draw a line and remind students of boundaries, and before I did so, I’d have to re-assess my current approach. If I accepted coffee, or made small talk with other students often, then I’d have to consider that this young woman may not realize she’s doing anything wrong. If that were the case, and I was confident in how I conducted myself during office hours with all students—and if accepting coffee from others wasn’t something I was previously opposed to—I’d send a notice to the entire class as a subtle reminder for what is acceptable behavior between faculty and students. I would have to understand that I cannot accept tokens of gratitude and casual conversation from some students—but not others—so in that case, I’d have to take a step back, revisit my own standards for professional conduct, and perhaps passively remind students of proper academic etiquette. But, if this woman is the only student who speaks to me in the manner that she does, and if the office visits seem to be more about friendly conversation than professional or about academic materials, I’d need to be clear with her directly that office hours are for course-related questions and politely excuse her if she’s just stopping by to talk. If I do not accept drinks from students on a usual basis, I’d thank her, but explain to her that I do not want a coffee, and that she needn’t visit unless she had a question about the course materials. I would also benefit from expressing to her, privately and calmly, that as much as I appreciate her confiding in me or sharing details of her divorce and life, I don’t wish to discuss personal matters with my students because it isn’t professional. This can be done face to face, or, through a friendly email. However, I would in no way assume that her intentions were questionable, nor would I make her feel guilty for being overly friendly. In order to prepare for a possible reaction, for example, if she, as a recent divorcee who is arguably seeking friendship, were to become visibly upset or cause a scene, I would confide in another trusted faculty member, perhaps a superior, prior to speaking with the student to let them know about the situation I was handling.
It’s very possible that the student has innocent intentions, benefits from the office hours, and just enjoys friendly conversation, and it’s safe to assume that so long as I don’t feel boundaries are being crossed, and she’s not the only student whom I have similar conversations with. However, if I felt uncomfortable, and if she was the only student whom I interacted with in that way, it’s absolutely warranted that I’d set a boundary with her, and with all my students. I would never insinuate or accuse her have having other intentions, she would be treated with respect, as all of my students would be, but I would have to ensure all students are interacting with me, their professor, with the same level of professionalism as they expect from me. If I am showing interest in a young woman’s stories, allowing her to visit my office, and accepting her coffees, then she likely won’t know that I’m uncomfortable. So, it’d up to me as a leader to demonstrate appropriate behavior and express my concerns about what I expect from my students; communication is key.”
Question: You are a parking lot attendant. One day as you are working you overhear a loud crash from the lot and then observe a car drive away rapidly after the accident. The owner of the damaged car comes out and see the damage and begins yelling at you because you were not able to stop the driver that hit her car. A few days later on your day off as you are walking around, you see a car that seems to be the car that was involved in the parking lot crash. Of course, you were unable to get the license plate that day and now you are not sure if this is the same car. But it looks just like that car. What would you do in this situation?
Answer: “As a parking lot attendant who witnessed a hit-and-run that damaged a car—and did not catch the license plate number at the time of the accident—I’d have to make an impromptu decision as to if the car I spot a few days after the accident that resembles the vehicle involved is, in fact, the same car. Of course, there would be no harm in making note of the license plate of the car. I could report it to the police as a potential suspect in a hit-and-run that damaged a car at my lot, but, I’d have to have adequate evidence to back up my claim. Firstly, I’d have to decide whether or not there was any proof to add to my claim, other than the car being the same model and/or color as the car. Do I keep a log of license plates at the lot? Or, are there any machines or cameras that track the license plates of people who use the lot? If so, I might be able to write the license plate of the car in question down, and keep it on-hand in order to review the appropriate digital or physical file at the parking lot. If I found that the license plate matched that of a car that was parked in the lot on the day of the accident, then it might be fair to assume that this car was the one involved. Another piece of evidence that would be worth acquiring is the damage on the car involved in the accident, and the car in question that I’ve spotted days later. For example, did the car that fled the scene of the crime have visible damage to it’s left side? Does the car in question appear to have similar damage? Or, would I be entirely unsure of where the damage occurred on the car, or find that the car in question has no damage at all?
Overall, I’d have to make a concrete decision about whether or not it is worth reporting—and possibly falsely reporting—a hit and run suspect to the police. I would have to be mostly sure about my accusation, and that means having some sort of record and evidence to back up my claim. Ideally, if the car’s license plate and description matched the plate and description of a car that was parked in your lot during the time of the accident, and resembles the car involved, there is a good chance I may have found the culprit. Along with this, is there is any evidence of damage on the car, or anything very specific about the model that I noted in the car that fled the scene that appears to be identical in the car I noticed days later, it’s likely that it isn’t a coincidence. However, if I’m lacking in any evidence, or I’m unsure entirely, it isn’t my fault that somebody fled the scene and that a customer was angry. Accidents happen, and I am in no way liable, but if I was certain enough to make a report to the authorities, I absolutely would.”
1. What is the purpose of an MMI?
An MMI is a form of interview that is common in medical schools. It is comprised of 8-12 stations, with each interview lasting 4-8 minutes on average. Candidates will have 1-2 minutes to review a prompt, and will then have to provide a concise, solid response to the prompt in front of an evaluator in a matter of minutes. These interviews are designed specifically to assess the suitability of candidates based on their ability to answer various questions on-the-spot, think logically, ethically, critically, and with integrity. This can help eliminate bias, as other assessments like MCAT’s or panel interviews allow a lot of time for candidates to prepare responses, or, they involve material that can be easily studied or recited. The questions in an MMI are incredibly subjective and are meant to challenge candidates.
2. There are several types of questions in an MMI, what makes the ethical questions unique?
Ethical questions are designed to challenge—and morally conflict—candidates during an interview! These questions are often open ended, and don’t have one specific ‘right and wrong’ answer. That is why it’s important to prepare, in advance, your knowledge of, and potential response to, ethical questions, as well as your professional stance on many topics. You must always remember to avoid emotionally driven reactions, think logically, consider consequences for your actions, and consider the best interest of the people involved in ethical scenarios.
3. How can I prepare to answer ethical questions?
It’s important to review potential ethical questions and MMI sample questions so that you’re well aware of what types of scenarios your prompts may present to you. You should practice answering a variety of different ethical questions, and ensure that your response feels fitting. You should also practice in front of a mirror, or record yourself, in order to time and assess your response and body language. Additionally, investing in an MMI tutor, admissions consultant, and/or trusting in a friend or family member—whether they’re experienced in the medical field, or not— to listen to your practice responses and give honest feedback is a great way to ensure you are delivering your responses as confidently and clearly as possible.
4. Should I go with my personal, gut-feeling when answering difficult ethical questions?
The answers to some questions may seem obvious, and at times, your gut feelings may indeed align with your professional reasoning. However, you should never let emotion drive your action as a professional, and when you’re answering ethical questions during your MMI interview, it’s important that you reflect on any legal, ethical, moral, and professional components that may impact your stance on an ethical decision.
5. How long will I have to answer each ethical question?
Typically, you’d have 1-2 minutes to review a prompt, and 4-8 minutes to provide your answer at each station you visit. This can vary, slightly, depending on the institution. There are also incorporated to some MMI interviews, where you’ll have the chance to write your response to certain questions instead of communicating them verbally.
6. Why shouldn’t I utilize the full 8 minutes I am allotted?
While you may be told you have up to 8 minutes to respond, this may lead to a drawn out, disorganized answer, and rambling can easily lead to going over the time limit, too. It’s best to aim for the 4-5 minute mark, because this allows time for the evaluator to ask you any follow up questions. Follow up questions provide you with an additional opportunity to ‘wow’ the evaluator and admissions committee with your insight and critical thinking skills.
7. Is there a wrong answer to ethical questions?
Ethical questions are subjective, but there are indeed wrong answers. Simply put, think professionally and logically! If you were to reply to an in-depth prompt with a contradicting, or brief answer, or suggest that you’d act in a way that puts the patient in harms way, you likely wouldn’t be viewed too highly by the evaluator.
8. I need additional support preparing for my medical school application and interview process, where can I start?
can help with all of your medical school admissions questions—from preparing documents for your initial application, to secondary essays, MCAT and interview preparation—working 1-on-1 with a consultant can help get you organized and confident for your MMI, and every other part of your medical school application process.