Section A: The Cambridge Medical School Application Process
1. What qualities does Cambridge look for in a medical student?
As expected, Cambridge values the science aspect of medicine greatly. It is crucial to have a sound scientific understanding and a passion for science. This is understandable as the pre-clinical years of the degree are heavily science-based and are designed to prepare you to be a good scientist. Cambridge also values professional qualities such as empathy and emotional maturity (a more detailed list can be found in this document).
2. What elements of your application does Cambridge value most?
This is college-dependent for Cambridge, but generally, GCSEs and BMAT are the main factors determining whether you are selected for an interview. There is no minimum mark for either of these, however, it must be noted that Cambridge uses contextual information when considering a particular applicant's GCSE grades. After that, the final decision is heavily influenced by interview performance.
3. How important is the UCAT/BMAT score at Cambridge?
Cambridge is a BMAT medical school as this admissions test assesses scientific aptitude - very important for Cambridge. The BMAT is important in deciding whether you get an interview or not, but there is no minimum score required for an interview.
4. How important are the grades you ultimately achieve for Medicine at Cambridge?
The entry requirements stand at A*A*A for A-levels OR 40-42 points with 776 at higher level for IB students. If applicants do not achieve the above grades, there is often little flexibility, although in some cases students are placed in the summer pool where other colleges can choose applicants to give an offer to. Flexibility also varies depending on the college. This table gives specific entry requirements per college.
5. What other requirements does Cambridge have for Medicine?
GCSE grades are considered when selecting for an interview, although this is viewed with the applicants' individual circumstances and contextual information in mind.
6. What should I put in my personal statement for Medicine at Cambridge?
Given Cambridge particularly appreciates scientific aptitude and passion, including academic experiences, courses, and work experience is ideal. With the ongoing pandemic, Cambridge understands it may be difficult to gain clinical work experience (which it also values greatly to gain an insight into medicine) so applying without this will not hinder your application.
7. What is the structure of the Medicine interview at Cambridge?
Cambridge gives traditional panel-style interviews with tutors who ask academic questions testing scientific aptitude. This often involves 2-3 interviews with multiple academics and they will often explore how applicants deal with information they've never come across before.
8. What does Cambridge look for in a Medicine interview?
The interview will focus on science-based questions testing mathematical and scientific knowledge and application (A-level Biology and Chemistry will likely feature but the interview will go beyond the syllabus for this). However, this is very college-dependent and some also test ethics, personal statement questions, or provide the candidate written material beforehand ie. news articles etc. Take a look at some of these mock interviews with the director of studies at Peterhouse for a good idea of what the interviews are like:
Section B: What is Medicine at Cambridge really like?
1. What types of Medicine courses are available at Cambridge?
There is an Undergraduate (6 years) and Graduate (4 years) Course available. The Undergraduate Course includes a compulsory Bachelor of Arts (BA) in the third year. There is also the option to pursue the MBPhD programme for an additional 3 years taking place between years 4 and 5. Note that graduates do not necessarily have to undertake the Graduate Course - other options for graduates are outlines under 'Courses available' at this link: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/medicine.
2. What is the structure for the 5 year Medicine course?
The course structure is traditional. The first 2 years are pre-clinical meaning you are taught the relevant scientific basis of being a medical professional. During the 3rd year, you undertake an intercalated BA year, and the 4th, 5th and 6th years are the clinical years where you spend much of your time on clinical placements with a focus on the necessary skills and knowledge to practise medicine.
3. What is the teaching style?
The teaching style is traditional with a blend of lectures (all of which are recorded so can be watched online), supervisions (college-arranged) and placements, depending on which year of the course you are doing. Full-body dissections are also a huge part of the course, as are seminars and discussion groups - again, the distribution of these depends on the stage of the course you are in.
4. What does an average day as a first year medical student at Cambridge look like?
A typical first year timetable looks like this:
5. How does the structure of your day-to-day life change as you progress through the different years of the course?
In the pre-clinical years, there is very little patient contact and a large emphasis on lectures, supervisions and dissections. This changes during the clinical years, as there is a greater focus on building upon the content learnt in the pre-clinical years; developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to practise medicine as a doctor. You still have small-group teaching sessions during this time as well as lectures.
6. Is an iBSc offered at Cambridge?
There is a compulsory intercalated BA as part of the course, where students have the option to choose a subject from a variety of options, including science topics and even humanities if approved. This can range from philosophy to management studies or anthropology. Examples of options can be found under the 'Year 3' subheading here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/medicine.
7. What is the typical cohort size and does this change as you progress through the course?
295 students are accepted for the undergraduate course. Across all subjects, Cambridge has a very low drop-out rate (0.8%), with little change in the number of students in the medicine cohort. In February 2021, the University of Cambridge was reported to have the lowest dropout rate in the UK.
8. Which hospitals are linked to Cambridge?
The main site for the clinical years is Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge. However, students also spend time at various hospitals (found throughout the East of England region) that are part of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. At least 1/3 of clinical teaching takes place at regional hospitals or practices. The College you attend will provide you with accommodation for your placements. The seven regional hospitals are:
South: The Lister Hospital (Stevenage) and Bedford Hospital.
North: Peterborough City Hospital, Hinchingbrooke Hospital (Huntingdon) and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn.
East: Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital (Bury St Edmunds).
Section C: University & Medical School Life
1. Where is the university located?
It is located in the city of Cambridge in Cambridgeshire (East of England). The university is composed of multiple colleges scattered at various sites around the city meaning it is neither a campus nor a city university - essentially each college is its own mini-campus.
2. Are students encouraged to take part in societies?
Cambridge encourages students to take part in societies with a huge variety available to choose from! Some are more academic, such as the MedSoc, LawSoc etc., whilst others are not academically related at all, for example, film societies, sports societies (e.g. football, cricket), cultural (e.g. IndiaSoc, Filipino society, German society, African and Caribbean Society), religious societies (e.g. Hindu society, Sikh Society, Islamic Society). There are also some very niche societies such as the Cambridge Assassins' Guild and knitting society - so there is certainly something for everyone! Also, it must be reinforced that anyone is welcome to join any society - you don't have to be studying law to join the law society and you are more than welcome to try out rowing even if you have never rowed before!
3. What is the student satisfaction score for Cambridge Medical School?
According to TheUniGuide, both pre-clinical and clinical medicine have student satisfaction rates of 83%.
4. How diverse is the university and in particular the medical school?
TheUniGuide states 87% of medical students at Cambridge are from the UK whilst the remaining 13% are international students.
There are around 40 graduate entry medicine students, and around 270 students on the standard course (see above for more information on the different Medicine courses available).
It has been found that students who have not attended private or grammar schools only account for 48% of applicants to Cambridge University, resulting in an overrepresentation of students from private and grammar schools.
5. What bursaries are available at Cambridge for medical students?
There are college-level bursaries available to students who require them. Each college has its own process for receiving support. As well as this, there is the Cambridge bursary scheme which offers students a bursary if their household income is below the threshold. Faculty awards and grants are also available to students. Depending on the college, there are also awards given as a result of academic achievement or competitions.
6. Are student support services readily available and easy to access?
Most pastoral and welfare support is at a college level with each student being assigned a tutor to be the port of call for any personal problems students may have. Cambridge is often accommodating of any issues or reasons you may need to take time off with various students being able to intermit for a year or longer should they wish to.
7. What are the best food spots around Cambridge University?
There are a few good places including Jack's gelato (a very popular ice-cream place) and Gardenia (or Gardies, as we call it) which is a common place to go after a night out. Other favourites include Franco Manca, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and of course Mcdonald's! There is a Spoons and Revolution in Cambridge too.
8. Is student accommodation available at Cambridge University?
Accommodation is provided to students for all years of their degree. Of course, students may choose to opt for private accommodation should they wish (this is not very common though as Cambridge is often very expensive for private accommodation). The specific accommodation and location of it depend on the college you go to as it is arranged by the college. There is a variety of different priced accommodation available (but often much cheaper than other universities on average) depending on the specific requirements of students. For more information on the student accommodation at Cambridge University see here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/why-cambridge/student-life/accommodation.