confused dot com
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Hey, I just heard that in the oxbridge interviews, they tend to ask academic questions such as identifying cancer on x-rays :eek: I just wanted to know is anyone had an experience of this during their interview and if not, what kind of questions did come come up because I have been told that Oxbridge interviews are quite different to most medical schools
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(Original post by confused dot com)
Hey, I just heard that in the oxbridge interviews, they tend to ask academic questions such as identifying cancer on x-rays :eek: I just wanted to know is anyone had an experience of this during their interview and if not, what kind of questions did come come up because I have been told that Oxbridge interviews are quite different to most medical schools
You are correct - Oxbridge 'interviews' are more of an academic discussion than an 'interview' as such. They use figures like graphs or diagrams a lot - an x-ray is easily possible. However, its important to recognize what they are looking for - they want to see people with good problem-solving abilities who can tackle a problem they don't know the answer to, not people with pre-existing extensive knowledge.

To use your example, they would categorically not expect you to be able to recognize cancer on an x-ray (i guarantee almost no pre-freshers can), and you would gain no credit for doing so. What they do want to see is how you thought about the problem: all a good candidate would have to do would be to say that this bit looks asymmetrical, therefore it might be cancer. Even if you are completely wrong, you would gain credit for that for using logic to try to solve a problem. The best candidates might then consider relative tissue densities and how that might appear on an x-ray. They would then move onto a discussion about cancer, testing what you know from your studies, and then pushing you until you don't know the answer and then seeing how you tackle a problem you don't know the answer to.

Also, remember that this would be one part of one of multiple interviews (i had 6). Answering a question badly is fine, even expected. Everyone is only human! The people that think their interviews went badly are often the ones that did the best - they were clearly thinking through the problems hard!
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GH
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(Original post by confused dot com)
Hey, I just heard that in the oxbridge interviews, they tend to ask academic questions such as identifying cancer on x-rays :eek: I just wanted to know is anyone had an experience of this during their interview and if not, what kind of questions did come come up because I have been told that Oxbridge interviews are quite different to most medical schools
I'll bite.

I'll tell you a few questions that came up on my Cambridge interviews.

1) Tell me about PET scans. How do they work? (This was in relation to my work experience)

2) How would you reassure a patient who was scared about getting cancer from a CT scan? (Tell them in relation to background radiation, risk vs benefit)

3) What day is it today? (HIV awareness day? - Still no idea. I told them it was my interview day. They told me not to be so egocentric. lol). Tell me about HIV.

4) Is X inactivation random or not? Are you sure? (Answer was truely random. They tried to put me off. Cheeky!)

5) Under what conditions can a X chromosome can be skewely inactivated? (I remember this because he prefaced this with the following phrase "I am a professor of genetics and there are 2 possible answers to this question. One is trivial." - It was if it was XY, and another if the XIST (?) gene was mutated. (I read up on this topic a few weeks back..LUCKY!)

6) Had to defend my enviromental bio coursework. "Freshwater benthic macroogranisms and flow water rate...". One thing that struck me was that, from the title and my brief explanations of the coursework (they are no experts in enviromental science) they took apart my coursework completely. They are sharp, very very sharp. Bullsh*t doesn't work. I just had to acknowledge their viewpoints, and defend it well.

7) What is a disease? Name me a disease.

And loads more random questions.

Its not a test of knowledge as such, more like what supervisions might be like, and whether your thrive in such an rather peculiar learning enviroment. How you cope with pressure. How you cope with new information. They will help you and guide you through the questions.

From what I can recall to talking to other canditates on the day. Easier questions = they decided that you already weren't suitable and eased off the steam half way through and asked basic questions.

Hard questions = they are trying to find your basal rock of knowledge. So hard questions = good.
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angel_saiai
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Did you get in? ..or do you know yet.
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GH
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(Original post by angel_saiai)
Did you get in? ..or do you know yet.
That was 6 years ago. Was successful

I'm now a supervisor for pre-clinical medicine in a couple Cambridge colleges.
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Organ
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Yeah, you aren't meant to understand everything in the scientific world like a living, talking and more accurate wikipedia - it's more a case of how can this person think.
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SabreT
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(Original post by GH)
I'll bite.

I'll tell you a few questions that came up on my Cambridge interviews.

1) Tell me about PET scans. How do they work? (This was in relation to my work experience)

2) How would you reassure a patient who was scared about getting cancer from a CT scan? (Tell them in relation to background radiation, risk vs benefit)

3) What day is it today? (HIV awareness day? - Still no idea. I told them it was my interview day. They told me not to be so egocentric. lol). Tell me about HIV.

4) Is X inactivation random or not? Are you sure? (Answer was truely random. They tried to put me off. Cheeky!)

5) Under what conditions can a X chromosome can be skewely inactivated? (I remember this because he prefaced this with the following phrase "I am a professor of genetics and there are 2 possible answers to this question. One is trivial." - It was if it was XY, and another if the XIST (?) gene was mutated. (I read up on this topic a few weeks back..LUCKY!)

6) Had to defend my enviromental bio coursework. "Freshwater benthic macroogranisms and flow water rate...". One thing that struck me was that, from the title and my brief explanations of the coursework (they are no experts in enviromental science) they took apart my coursework completely. They are sharp, very very sharp. Bullsh*t doesn't work. I just had to acknowledge their viewpoints, and defend it well.

7) What is a disease? Name me a disease.

And loads more random questions.

Its not a test of knowledge as such, more like what supervisions might be like, and whether your thrive in such an rather peculiar learning enviroment. How you cope with pressure. How you cope with new information. They will help you and guide you through the questions.

From what I can recall to talking to other canditates on the day. Easier questions = they decided that you already weren't suitable and eased off the steam half way through and asked basic questions.

Hard questions = they are trying to find your basal rock of knowledge. So hard questions = good.
Wow, your interview sounded absolutely horrid. Mine was nowhere near as complex and I still got in. That's not to say it wasn't hard, it was definately challenging, but if I got the same questions as you, I wouldn't be going to Cambridge thats for sure. In my experience (4 interviews over 2 years), they have eased off a little, probably because of the changes in the A level content over 6 years.

Like I always say, they want a scientific thinker, not a human textbook.
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confused dot com
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That sounds really hard. Any tips for preparing for an Oxford interview in particular?
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(Original post by confused dot com)
That sounds really hard. Any tips for preparing for an Oxford interview in particular?
Just being used to thinking through problems, really. Arguing about random science problems with friends was the best preparation i did by a long way. A mock interview is nice, but unfortunately most teachers tend to ask the wrong kinds of questions, making the interview too hard and keeping questions like 'why oxford' as areas of importance.
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DNA helicase
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There is a book called something along the lines of 'How to survive an Oxbridge interview', it's really good. It gives you the questions, lays out what it means and then gives you how to answer and an example answer. It then shows you how to answer spin off questions too.

What you may also find useful about this book is that it has the dreaded question, "Why do you want to study medicine?" and "What is medicine and what impact does it have on the world."

I'd give you the exact name and publisher, but the book is at home and I'm at school at the moment.
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stephanietbrown
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My best friend applied last year and got in! She said pretty much the same, its not about knowing the course before you start, its more about being able to think beyond A-level and having the confidence to work through problems.

I'm applying this year and my school are terrible and mock interviews and stuff so I'm getting a tutor, my best friend had a medic from Oxford tutor her last year and said it was really useful with the BMAT and she got loads of interview practice!!

If you're serious about applying maybe you should think about getting a tutor too! there are a few companies ive heard that do it, I've got one from oxbridgemedicine.com and meeting them next week!
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AVR
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I'm a surgeon just looking on here with my daughter, who's applying to Harvard and Oxford and I wanted to say I'm pleased to see that Oxford and Cambridge are looking for 'thinking ' but you might be amused to know that it wasn't always so, although it was, in my opinion, quite testing. My father (an Oxford medic before I too went up) told me the story of his interview in the 1940's. The anatomy professor asked him to choose which nervous organization he should prefer to be questioned on. My father chose the facial. He was then asked to explain the different function or purpose of the somatic sensory, sympathetic afferent, taste, somatic motor and sympathetic efferent fibers of that nerve. Having done his prep. he answered this reasonably well. He was pushed a little further and shown a detail of fibers arising from cells in the geniculate ganglion and was unable to identify it - after a pause the professor said that this section of the nerve was often described as the nervus intermedius and my father said "a little like I am at the moment sir !", at which the prof. quipped " Oh no - in your case the journey is nearly finished" and smiled benignly. The fact that he was accepted was much more to do with intensive study of a small part of Gray's than the ability at problem solving you describe , but I think you'd agree, not easy.
Good luck with your studies and in your careers.
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apologies, twice
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(Original post by AVR)
I'm a surgeon just looking on here with my daughter, who's applying to Harvard and Oxford and I wanted to say I'm pleased to see that Oxford and Cambridge are looking for 'thinking ' but you might be amused to know that it wasn't always so, although it was, in my opinion, quite testing. My father (an Oxford medic before I too went up) told me the story of his interview in the 1940's. The anatomy professor asked him to choose which nervous organization he should prefer to be questioned on. My father chose the facial. He was then asked to explain the different function or purpose of the somatic sensory, sympathetic afferent, taste, somatic motor and sympathetic efferent fibers of that nerve. Having done his prep. he answered this reasonably well. He was pushed a little further and shown a detail of fibers arising from cells in the geniculate ganglion and was unable to identify it - after a pause the professor said that this section of the nerve was often described as the nervus intermedius and my father said "a little like I am at the moment sir !", at which the prof. quipped " Oh no - in your case the journey is nearly finished" and smiled benignly. The fact that he was accepted was much more to do with intensive study of a small part of Gray's than the ability at problem solving you describe , but I think you'd agree, not easy.
Good luck with your studies and in your careers.
Thank you, sir, for sharing this story with us..things have certainly changed since then..
I am going to apply to medicine at Cambridge this year and I was wondering..what kind of sympathetic fibers does the facial nerve? all i knew about were parasympathetic fibers- the efferent ones..for the lacrimal glands, submandibular and sublingual salivary glands and glands responsible for nasal secretion..other than that I have really no knowledge of sympathetic fibers within the facial nerve so could you be as kind as to enlighten me?
thx
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AVR
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Sympathetic fibers of the Facial nerve (VII cranial nerve) start from the nucleus in the pons and passing in the facial nerve leave through its branches and end in submaxillary and sphenopalative ganglia.
It's possible the way of describing this is modified, but I am not so apprised.
Regards.
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(Original post by AVR)
I'm a surgeon just looking on here with my daughter, who's applying to Harvard and Oxford and I wanted to say I'm pleased to see that Oxford and Cambridge are looking for 'thinking ' but you might be amused to know that it wasn't always so, although it was, in my opinion, quite testing. My father (an Oxford medic before I too went up) told me the story of his interview in the 1940's. The anatomy professor asked him to choose which nervous organization he should prefer to be questioned on. My father chose the facial. He was then asked to explain the different function or purpose of the somatic sensory, sympathetic afferent, taste, somatic motor and sympathetic efferent fibers of that nerve. Having done his prep. he answered this reasonably well. He was pushed a little further and shown a detail of fibers arising from cells in the geniculate ganglion and was unable to identify it - after a pause the professor said that this section of the nerve was often described as the nervus intermedius and my father said "a little like I am at the moment sir !", at which the prof. quipped " Oh no - in your case the journey is nearly finished" and smiled benignly. The fact that he was accepted was much more to do with intensive study of a small part of Gray's than the ability at problem solving you describe , but I think you'd agree, not easy.
Good luck with your studies and in your careers.
Indeed - my tutor's description of admissions as recent as 25 years ago was "ask the craziest question you can think of, and give offers to those that give the craziest answers back". I'm sure he was joking though
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pieceofheaven
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Hi! I had an Oxford interview last year and there was nothing about X-rays, but a couple of scientific ideas came up.
Both the colleges asked questions involving blood pressure - one how it varied depending on conditions in the kidneys (but really it was just a tube, a simple model) or when being pumped around the body. Exeter asked me to draw a graph of the pressure changes as the blood went through the model (D and I felt like it went awfully, but they were giving me hints and guiding me throughout. They also asked me about diabetes, something I'd done at GCSE; I think just to test how well I could explain a specific idea.

Christ Church on the other hand talked me through a really obscure graph of time against concentration, and you had to work out what the curves meant. It was really satisfying actually, and I came out feeling a lot less stupid than I had at Exeter! The other interviewers at CC gave me 20 minutes to read an article, which they then questioned me on. A woman also asked me about my work experience, and (bizarrely!) she was the most intimidating!

They both asked me obvious questions at the start - why Medicine/Oxford, and as long as your answers are sincere I don't think they judge you too harshly, it's more to get you settled down; because my first interview at Exeter was my first interview ever, so I was barely coherent at first! Luckily I managed to get an offer from them despite that In terms of preparation, I'd say just make sure you're confident with your schoolwork, and possibly do some general reading on the human body - the only thing that came up which I'd really read about was a small question on genetics, and I'd read The Selfish Gene; but 90% of it is drawing on knowledge that you don't know you have until they ask, if that makes sense! If you have any questions please let me know, I should be studying there next year... presuming I get the grades tomorrow! S:
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(Original post by pieceofheaven)
Hi! I had an Oxford interview last year and there was nothing about X-rays, but a couple of scientific ideas came up.
Both the colleges asked questions involving blood pressure - one how it varied depending on conditions in the kidneys (but really it was just a tube, a simple model) or when being pumped around the body. Exeter asked me to draw a graph of the pressure changes as the blood went through the model (D and I felt like it went awfully, but they were giving me hints and guiding me throughout. They also asked me about diabetes, something I'd done at GCSE; I think just to test how well I could explain a specific idea.

Christ Church on the other hand talked me through a really obscure graph of time against concentration, and you had to work out what the curves meant. It was really satisfying actually, and I came out feeling a lot less stupid than I had at Exeter! The other interviewers at CC gave me 20 minutes to read an article, which they then questioned me on. A woman also asked me about my work experience, and (bizarrely!) she was the most intimidating!

They both asked me obvious questions at the start - why Medicine/Oxford, and as long as your answers are sincere I don't think they judge you too harshly, it's more to get you settled down; because my first interview at Exeter was my first interview ever, so I was barely coherent at first! Luckily I managed to get an offer from them despite that In terms of preparation, I'd say just make sure you're confident with your schoolwork, and possibly do some general reading on the human body - the only thing that came up which I'd really read about was a small question on genetics, and I'd read The Selfish Gene; but 90% of it is drawing on knowledge that you don't know you have until they ask, if that makes sense! If you have any questions please let me know, I should be studying there next year... presuming I get the grades tomorrow! S:
Hi! I'm planning on applying for Oxford this year. Your post has been really useful - I knew there was a good reason for keeping my GCSE textbooks....
I just wanted to ask whether the science questions which they asked you were random or linked to work experience you might have mentioned in your ps? I'm not doing physics a-level so I was also wondering whether I need to look at some AS physics books to brush up on what are only remnants left of GCSE physics in my mind!
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(Original post by 26wb)
I just wanted to ask whether the science questions which they asked you were random or linked to work experience you might have mentioned in your ps?
Some questions they will have prepared and will be the same for everyone they interview, others will be derived from the PS, although they tend to take you off on a wild tangent so it is still nothing you are prepared for (they aren't testing knowledge or rehearsed answers - they want to see how you cope with things you don't know).
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pieceofheaven
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(Original post by 26wb)
Hi! I'm planning on applying for Oxford this year. Your post has been really useful - I knew there was a good reason for keeping my GCSE textbooks....
I just wanted to ask whether the science questions which they asked you were random or linked to work experience you might have mentioned in your ps? I'm not doing physics a-level so I was also wondering whether I need to look at some AS physics books to brush up on what are only remnants left of GCSE physics in my mind!
Yay! That was the idea..! The questions were totally random. The pressure graph was really quite physics-y, but I'd done no physics at all at a level!! I wouldn't say you need to look at AS physics really, gcse should be enough; you'll have so much to revise anyway :rolleyes:
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