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OXFORD DEMYSTIFIED

Hey there! My name is .........., I’m from Swansea (originally Swindon - all the Sw’s I know!) and I am currently holding an offer to study Medicine at LMH.


Why did you want to study your subject?

My aspirations to study Medicine actually came pretty late! I’m used to a lot of people saying ‘I’ve wanted to be a doctor since X age’, but that was never me. I was convinced I wanted to study Maths in Y11 and the first part of Y12, so I chose to study A-Levels in Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Statistics. Around Christmas of Year 12 I was researching for my EPQ and realised that my interest in Maths wasn’t as big as I once thought, as I found doing research a task rather than pleasure. As a result I tried to do something else that interested me more, and then I found some online sources like The Lancet and BMJ and I couldn’t stop reading from that point. I researched Medicine a bit more and decided that it was definitely what I wanted to study.


Why Oxford?

I’m from a quite regular comprehensive school who sends only 1 or 2 people to Oxbridge each year, and the school isn’t all that focused on encouraging students to apply. Due to this, I hadn’t thought all that much about the opportunity to apply to Oxford. It was when a LMH representative gave a talk at my school speaker session that made me think more about the opportunity of aiming so high. I debated for a while whether I would count Oxford as one of my 5 choices as I knew I could do it but just felt slightly apprehensive, especially applying for Medicine out of all subjects. I was sitting or preparing for both BMAT and UKCAT anyway, so it wasn’t as if I didn’t have lots of opportunities as sitting both enabled me to consider a few medical schools. Anyway, I decided I would apply around June of Year 12 which is quite late really, but luckily I had an array of super curricular under my belt by this point so I felt slightly at ease in firmly deciding Oxford as a choice. I also visited Oxford on their open day and it persuaded me even more.


Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert (TV presenter etc)

Not particularly to be honest! As Medicine is a combination of quite a few subjects it wasn’t like there was a particular teacher that inspired me as I never had any lessons in Medicine! Seeing a few blogs from medics was handy and did inspire me a bit, but I was quite independent in discovering my passion for Medicine.


Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible) Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?

Where do I start! As I didn’t study Biology at A-Level I spent quite a lot of time researching and reading to improve the awareness of biological concepts and then I read a lot of medical related books.

The Health Gap by Michael Marmot
Medicine and what happens in the end
British Medical Journal
The Lancet
This is going to hurt
Breaking and Mending

I actually don’t have a favourite! I really liked the Health Gap as it provided a very detailed perspective of health in an unequal world, and it really enabled me to reflect on my own medical perspective, and therefore I think this was one of the most powerful reads! All of the reading supported me in different ways and I’d say it's important to do all extra reading with an open mind, it is likely it will challenge your own views at times, but that’s the power of academic reading, and something I only realised once I got my offer was something Oxford looks for in a candidate.

Did you attend any lectures, or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why?

I attended some local lectures, and travelled to Birmingham and London with my foster carer at the time to attend 3. They were all slightly different and sometimes quite challenging to understand but I’d say if you can get a few thoughts from it when you get home, it’s most certainly worth it! I have specific interests in international and tropical medicine so I tried to initially attend a lecture on this, and as I grew more confident with the environment went to a few that I thought may be helpful. I didn’t do any competitions, and I wouldn’t really say it's necessary - I think it's good to help you understand more about your subject, but not essential. I would assume doing an extended essay would show you whether you are willing to spend time on your subject and challenge whether your passion is genuine, but I felt I already knew I was passionate enough.

Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

I had a work placement in a care home each week which was really rewarding and taught me a lot of practical skills which I didn’t expect I’d get - including how to play bridge from a lovely elderly lady! I also did a day with a cardiologist and a day with a consultant in a tropical medicine hospital. I emailed/called loads and loads of potential options in my area and many came back and said no, but a couple said yes so I just grasped the opportunity when I could really. It takes a lot of work to be able to convince people to give you a placement as it is so competitive, especially in my area. I think especially for Medicine, work experience is truly essential to be able to both develop your knowledge of caring and assistance and knowledge of medicine as a subject. I know a few people who did work experience and realised they weren’t best suited to such a practical job, so decided to apply for Biomedical Science instead - I think work experience truly helps you to either discover your passion or invigorate your interests further.

Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?

As mentioned previously, I started an EPQ on maths, and then switched the focus to International and tropical medicine. My EPQ was on Africa’s governance and the development of health inequality and medicine. It was a very interesting project, and I found it more of a thrill than a task - i’m predicted an A* so hopefully it will all pan out OK!

What did you mention in your personal statement and why?

I mentioned a few things in my personal statement which I think is worth mentioning:
I started my personal statement explaining how through being cared for in care has motivated me to want to give back, and how my personal experience will help me in the practical and sympathy side of medicine.
reflecting on books i’ve read and articles
my EPQ
my work experience and reflected upon what it taught me about the demands of medicine as both a subject and as a doctor.
Overall, I do think it is important to illustrate your specific areas of intrigue as it shows you are dedicated and passionate as you’ve gone out of your way to research not just into medicine but into a specific area of medicine too.

Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?

I’ll be honest - I found the UKCAT and BMAT really tricky. I worked really hard to improve my scores, and I think my lack of Biology A-Level was to blame. As with my A-Level revision, repetition is the key to success. Ensuring I have nailed the technique of answering questions in a good time is essential. A good technique is to use a highlighter and read through the question and highlight the bits that give you information or analysis which is needed in order to answer the questions correctly.
I worked so hard on the technique for both tests that when it came round to the actual exams it was like second nature. I didn’t burn myself out though, it’s definitely a case of spending 30-1hr a day working through questions - revisiting them and ensuring you are confident in every area that could be examined.

I think my technique paid off as my scores were:
UKCAT - 850
BMAT Section 1 - 8.2
BMAT Section 2 - 7.3

Apparently it’s rare people get over 7.0 so I was really chuffed! I think it might have been one of the things that convinced the tutors to offer me a place (that’s what they spoke about in the feedback I recently requested so I could write this!).

How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

As said earlier, an LMH representative came to my school so that was a motivator. I went to an open day, and that did confirm my love for the college, but I very nearly did apply to Jesus because of my Welsh roots.
Also I was very naive not realising the process was universal in ensuring a equal distribution of candidates per place at colleges, and someone told me that because I got 10 A*s and 1 A, I’d be at more of an advantage if i applied to LMH - complete rubbish, just apply to the place you like the look of.

How did you find the interview process? (NO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS PLEASE - this is against TSR guidelines)

I was so so surprised to get an interview to be honest, just as medicine is so competitive and I never expected my BMAT score to be strong enough - I was wrong!
The interview process was interesting, but I wasn’t completely worried. I was obviously worried about how I’d do and thought deeply about it a lot, but I just knew that if I try my best and know that I’ve done the most that I can, that’s all that I can do! I wasn’t really expecting to get an offer because I thought my lack of Biology knowledge would shine straight through.
The questions they asked me were interesting, and certainly at times challenging. I found it best to just not speak for 5-10 seconds after they asked me the questions, just to give me time to think. I treated it as a conversation where I just delayed my responses a bit. I was interviewed at 2 colleges LMH and St Hilda’s.


Any interview tips?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!! This is such an important thing to remember for interviews because if you feel as if you could do with an explanation of a certain term or phrasing, sometimes it creates a light bulb moment like it did in my St. Hilda’s.

Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?

Yes quite a lot actually! I was in Oxford for a few days so I made sure I spoke to people at dinner and just to anyone who seemed like they wanted to talk. This helped me to have a few friends I could speak to and go into the centre on the second and third days. It’s definitely worth socialising as much as you can, and spending maybe 1-1.5 hours before the interview making sure you're confident with your personal statement and common concepts etc.

How did you feel after the interviews?

Mixed! My St. Hilda’s interviews were a lot stronger than my LMH interviews, so I had some confidence but I just thought it was best to put it behind me and move on because anticipation doesn’t help anybody. Also as I said earlier, you can’t change anything when the interviews are over so as long as you’ve given everything you can there’s not much point stressing. I really liked Nottingham too so if I didn’t get an offer I was still so happy to take up that offer.


Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?

I was in my Further Maths lesson and I felt my phone vibrate and immediately knew it was my decision just by my gut. I checked to see if it was by looking at my phone in my pocket quickly but wasn’t allowed to open it in the lesson of course. Let’s just say the 40 minute wait felt like forever! It was then break so I checked my phone with my friend who also had her email yet to open for PPE. Luckily we both received offers so it could have been really bad if one of us hadn’t got in and slightly awkward.

Are you looking forward to coming up to Oxford?

Yes very much so! I am writing this 2 weeks before results day so I’m getting quite nervous. Even though i’m predicted A*A*A*A my mocks were A*ABB so I'm very worried about achieving the grades, but I was a bit ill on the day so hopefully my teachers take that into consideration. Also that was in November so who knows! If I do get the grades, I’m really excited to get to Oxford and meet new people!!
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Oxford Mum
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Thank you, Azby and friend, for providing us with an extra chapter for what is surely the most popular course to get in for at Oxford!

For extra resources (book suggestions, interview questions, youtube videos etc, please read my chapter about Oxford Medicine:

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6019726

And for what the course is actually like, please see my son's chapter (just graduated from his first degree):

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6044384
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I am pleased that your school was open minded enough to invite a Lady Margaret Hall representative to speak at your school. The access reps send emails out to all their target area schools, and so many of them end up in the "round file", aka the bin, aka deleted. Before you met this wonderful rep, the idea of Oxbridge never even occurred to you. This is why, if you are ballpark Oxford, you need to get your school to get someone from your partner college to come and speak. I know this is impossible at the moment, but post Covid, in future years, you need to speak to your head teacher to get this organised.

As for LMH, I could be here all day. LMH is a very forward looking college. The principal, former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, was right at the forefront of state school pupil access to Oxford. Let's enjoy a beautiful video about LMH.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7oNFkMdRBA

And here's what it's really like to study here, by two wonderful students (now graduates), the iconic Miss Varz and Josh Tulloch. Enjoy, OP!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfll3Sh8GBA
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It was interesting that you didn't want to study medicine at the age of 8 or something. You were going to apply for maths, but were fascinated by medicine. Medicine is one of the most addictive subjects you can study. My son did his EPQ on the explanatory gap in the brain. He should have written 5,000 words, but it ended up as about 44,000. He couldn't stop, even though I begged him to. Please don't try this at home.

Also you didn't study biology at A level either. This is a question a lot of TSRians ask.

The Health Gap sounds like a very interesting read. Out of the books you mention, my son has only read one of them. It is really important to not just blindly read everything on the (rather general) Oxford reading list. You need to branch out into what interests you, as this is what will make you stand out from the other candidates.

As my son also found out, this personalised reading can take you in surprising directions, and can help you to become even more fascinated by your future uni subject.
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Not sure if the question can be passed on or OM could answer from her knowledge, but I thought most medicine courses required biology? How did the OP get around this?

Great chapter by the way!
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Going to local lectures - TSRians may be surprised at the amount of lectures available to the public and run by universities - my son went to some at his local uni - Sheffield. Now here's the important thing - "if you can get a few thoughts from it when you get home". Those are key words. The whole point of going to these lectures/watching medical documentaries/reading the BMJ is to get some inspiration for your EPQ/special research etc. But it's also about learning just for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Just look at this;

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p071hchn

My son actually made me sit down and watch this (I'm not one for this type of stuff). It made me cry by the end. He used this as inspiration for his own work into Parkinson's. He has had a new idea about it that nobody else in the world has had. Oxford told him he could get it published. The deadline is next week and he and other student helpers are racing to get it ready.

Yes, medical documentaries really are THAT important.
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Nursing homes : This is absolutely vital (sorry that this year you are unable to do this). Why? because you actually have time and leisure to speak and get to know the residents. There will be some heartbreaking sights, particularly when patients you are fond of die. My son was very upset when one of the residents died. It was of an awful brain condition and he wanted to know if he had suffered in the end. This lead to his EPQ on consciousness (the explanatory gap in the brain).

Now playing bridge may not seem so important, however you are providing a lonely person with company and getting a lot of fun yourself in the process! My son used to run art activities and do bingo calling!!! Book learning is important, but how you deal with patients in hospital and what kind of team player you are on the wards makes the different between a competent doctor and a great doctor.

Experience in hospital: not everyone can get experience so it is not seen as essential, however my son got this as well. Like my son, you had no connections, so you just applied on spec and were rewarded. I am sure you agree that charm and persistence often pay off. But as I say, don't worry if you don't get it.
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EPQ - yours sounds fascinating and into a very niche area as well.

I love how you focussed about giving back, after having been in care. That is such a moving story. I am sure you will have many opportunities to show your caring side. A caring doctor is the most loved and appreciated doctor.

Yes, I encouraged my son to talk about the less glamorous side of medicine and the fact that he is up to the challenge. And areas of intrigue - this is a great way to explain the extra reading. It should be all about intrigue, never a chore. He also referred to his reading quite a bit and why it informed his studies.
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Well done on the BMAT and UCAT! My son got 707 in the UCAT so you have done exceptionally well. Same with the BMAT. My son had an average of about 62. Each and every chapter writer for Oxford Demystified practised their admissions test and had a plan on how to deal with it before they stepped into the exam room.

My son found both quite tricky too.

A good BMAT score is crucial for getting an Oxford interview. You absolutely aced this.
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Your comments on the Oxford interviews are pretty universal. The questions are interesting and challenging. Don't speak straight away but think. My elder son, who applied for German, used to look at a map of Germany behind the interviewer whilst he was in his thinking time. The (quite cunning) younger son managed to twist many of the questions back to his EPQ.

Asking if you don't understand. My elder son was starting to give a wrong answer, but he realised and asked if he could start all over again. They were happy to let him, and glad to know he had the insight to realise his error. There was also a term he didn't understand and when he asked they were pleased to enlighten him.

I am so delighted that you chose to spend your time socialising and going round Oxford during the interviews. It's almost impossible to prepare for these interviews, particularly at the last minute, so you may as well use the time to get a feel of what it would be like if you actually studied at Oxford.

Congratulations on your offer! I am pleased you are sensible enough to get to love Nottingham, just in case.

I have read an article saying that this year Oxford may still be letting you in if you are a state school student, even if you miss your grades by a couple of marks. I really hope your dreams come true.

Azby, I realise your friend may not be on TSR. Could you please show this to her, and give her my sincere thanks?

Cheers.
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(Original post by laurawatt)
Not sure if the question can be passed on or OM could answer from her knowledge, but I thought most medicine courses required biology? How did the OP get around this?

Great chapter by the way!
Laura here is your answer. I am not sure about other unis, students will need to check the individual medical school's websites

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...sting/medicine
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
OXFORD DEMYSTIFIED

Hey there! My name is .........., I’m from Swansea (originally Swindon - all the Sw’s I know!) and I am currently holding an offer to study Medicine at LMH.


Why did you want to study your subject?

My aspirations to study Medicine actually came pretty late! I’m used to a lot of people saying ‘I’ve wanted to be a doctor since X age’, but that was never me. I was convinced I wanted to study Maths in Y11 and the first part of Y12, so I chose to study A-Levels in Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Statistics. Around Christmas of Year 12 I was researching for my EPQ and realised that my interest in Maths wasn’t as big as I once thought, as I found doing research a task rather than pleasure. As a result I tried to do something else that interested me more, and then I found some online sources like The Lancet and BMJ and I couldn’t stop reading from that point. I researched Medicine a bit more and decided that it was definitely what I wanted to study.


Why Oxford?

I’m from a quite regular comprehensive school who sends only 1 or 2 people to Oxbridge each year, and the school isn’t all that focused on encouraging students to apply. Due to this, I hadn’t thought all that much about the opportunity to apply to Oxford. It was when a LMH representative gave a talk at my school speaker session that made me think more about the opportunity of aiming so high. I debated for a while whether I would count Oxford as one of my 5 choices as I knew I could do it but just felt slightly apprehensive, especially applying for Medicine out of all subjects. I was sitting or preparing for both BMAT and UKCAT anyway, so it wasn’t as if I didn’t have lots of opportunities as sitting both enabled me to consider a few medical schools. Anyway, I decided I would apply around June of Year 12 which is quite late really, but luckily I had an array of super curricular under my belt by this point so I felt slightly at ease in firmly deciding Oxford as a choice. I also visited Oxford on their open day and it persuaded me even more.


Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other expert (TV presenter etc)

Not particularly to be honest! As Medicine is a combination of quite a few subjects it wasn’t like there was a particular teacher that inspired me as I never had any lessons in Medicine! Seeing a few blogs from medics was handy and did inspire me a bit, but I was quite independent in discovering my passion for Medicine.


Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible) Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?

Where do I start! As I didn’t study Biology at A-Level I spent quite a lot of time researching and reading to improve the awareness of biological concepts and then I read a lot of medical related books.

The Health Gap by Michael Marmot
Medicine and what happens in the end
British Medical Journal
The Lancet
This is going to hurt
Breaking and Mending

I actually don’t have a favourite! I really liked the Health Gap as it provided a very detailed perspective of health in an unequal world, and it really enabled me to reflect on my own medical perspective, and therefore I think this was one of the most powerful reads! All of the reading supported me in different ways and I’d say it's important to do all extra reading with an open mind, it is likely it will challenge your own views at times, but that’s the power of academic reading, and something I only realised once I got my offer was something Oxford looks for in a candidate.

Did you attend any lectures, or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why?

I attended some local lectures, and travelled to Birmingham and London with my foster carer at the time to attend 3. They were all slightly different and sometimes quite challenging to understand but I’d say if you can get a few thoughts from it when you get home, it’s most certainly worth it! I have specific interests in international and tropical medicine so I tried to initially attend a lecture on this, and as I grew more confident with the environment went to a few that I thought may be helpful. I didn’t do any competitions, and I wouldn’t really say it's necessary - I think it's good to help you understand more about your subject, but not essential. I would assume doing an extended essay would show you whether you are willing to spend time on your subject and challenge whether your passion is genuine, but I felt I already knew I was passionate enough.

Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

I had a work placement in a care home each week which was really rewarding and taught me a lot of practical skills which I didn’t expect I’d get - including how to play bridge from a lovely elderly lady! I also did a day with a cardiologist and a day with a consultant in a tropical medicine hospital. I emailed/called loads and loads of potential options in my area and many came back and said no, but a couple said yes so I just grasped the opportunity when I could really. It takes a lot of work to be able to convince people to give you a placement as it is so competitive, especially in my area. I think especially for Medicine, work experience is truly essential to be able to both develop your knowledge of caring and assistance and knowledge of medicine as a subject. I know a few people who did work experience and realised they weren’t best suited to such a practical job, so decided to apply for Biomedical Science instead - I think work experience truly helps you to either discover your passion or invigorate your interests further.

Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?

As mentioned previously, I started an EPQ on maths, and then switched the focus to International and tropical medicine. My EPQ was on Africa’s governance and the development of health inequality and medicine. It was a very interesting project, and I found it more of a thrill than a task - i’m predicted an A* so hopefully it will all pan out OK!

What did you mention in your personal statement and why?

I mentioned a few things in my personal statement which I think is worth mentioning:
I started my personal statement explaining how through being cared for in care has motivated me to want to give back, and how my personal experience will help me in the practical and sympathy side of medicine.
reflecting on books i’ve read and articles
my EPQ
my work experience and reflected upon what it taught me about the demands of medicine as both a subject and as a doctor.
Overall, I do think it is important to illustrate your specific areas of intrigue as it shows you are dedicated and passionate as you’ve gone out of your way to research not just into medicine but into a specific area of medicine too.

Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?

I’ll be honest - I found the UKCAT and BMAT really tricky. I worked really hard to improve my scores, and I think my lack of Biology A-Level was to blame. As with my A-Level revision, repetition is the key to success. Ensuring I have nailed the technique of answering questions in a good time is essential. A good technique is to use a highlighter and read through the question and highlight the bits that give you information or analysis which is needed in order to answer the questions correctly.
I worked so hard on the technique for both tests that when it came round to the actual exams it was like second nature. I didn’t burn myself out though, it’s definitely a case of spending 30-1hr a day working through questions - revisiting them and ensuring you are confident in every area that could be examined.

I think my technique paid off as my scores were:
UKCAT - 850
BMAT Section 1 - 8.2
BMAT Section 2 - 7.3

Apparently it’s rare people get over 7.0 so I was really chuffed! I think it might have been one of the things that convinced the tutors to offer me a place (that’s what they spoke about in the feedback I recently requested so I could write this!).

How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

As said earlier, an LMH representative came to my school so that was a motivator. I went to an open day, and that did confirm my love for the college, but I very nearly did apply to Jesus because of my Welsh roots.
Also I was very naive not realising the process was universal in ensuring a equal distribution of candidates per place at colleges, and someone told me that because I got 10 A*s and 1 A, I’d be at more of an advantage if i applied to LMH - complete rubbish, just apply to the place you like the look of.

How did you find the interview process? (NO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS PLEASE - this is against TSR guidelines)

I was so so surprised to get an interview to be honest, just as medicine is so competitive and I never expected my BMAT score to be strong enough - I was wrong!
The interview process was interesting, but I wasn’t completely worried. I was obviously worried about how I’d do and thought deeply about it a lot, but I just knew that if I try my best and know that I’ve done the most that I can, that’s all that I can do! I wasn’t really expecting to get an offer because I thought my lack of Biology knowledge would shine straight through.
The questions they asked me were interesting, and certainly at times challenging. I found it best to just not speak for 5-10 seconds after they asked me the questions, just to give me time to think. I treated it as a conversation where I just delayed my responses a bit. I was interviewed at 2 colleges LMH and St Hilda’s.


Any interview tips?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!! This is such an important thing to remember for interviews because if you feel as if you could do with an explanation of a certain term or phrasing, sometimes it creates a light bulb moment like it did in my St. Hilda’s.

Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?

Yes quite a lot actually! I was in Oxford for a few days so I made sure I spoke to people at dinner and just to anyone who seemed like they wanted to talk. This helped me to have a few friends I could speak to and go into the centre on the second and third days. It’s definitely worth socialising as much as you can, and spending maybe 1-1.5 hours before the interview making sure you're confident with your personal statement and common concepts etc.

How did you feel after the interviews?

Mixed! My St. Hilda’s interviews were a lot stronger than my LMH interviews, so I had some confidence but I just thought it was best to put it behind me and move on because anticipation doesn’t help anybody. Also as I said earlier, you can’t change anything when the interviews are over so as long as you’ve given everything you can there’s not much point stressing. I really liked Nottingham too so if I didn’t get an offer I was still so happy to take up that offer.


Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?

I was in my Further Maths lesson and I felt my phone vibrate and immediately knew it was my decision just by my gut. I checked to see if it was by looking at my phone in my pocket quickly but wasn’t allowed to open it in the lesson of course. Let’s just say the 40 minute wait felt like forever! It was then break so I checked my phone with my friend who also had her email yet to open for PPE. Luckily we both received offers so it could have been really bad if one of us hadn’t got in and slightly awkward.

Are you looking forward to coming up to Oxford?

Yes very much so! I am writing this 2 weeks before results day so I’m getting quite nervous. Even though i’m predicted A*A*A*A my mocks were A*ABB so I'm very worried about achieving the grades, but I was a bit ill on the day so hopefully my teachers take that into consideration. Also that was in November so who knows! If I do get the grades, I’m really excited to get to Oxford and meet new people!!
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theJoyfulGeek
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
It was interesting that you didn't want to study medicine at the age of 8 or something. You were going to apply for maths, but were fascinated by medicine. Medicine is one of the most addictive subjects you can study. My son did his EPQ on the explanatory gap in the brain. He should have written 5,000 words, but it ended up as about 44,000. He couldn't stop, even though I begged him to. Please don't try this at home.

Also you didn't study biology at A level either. This is a question a lot of TSRians ask.

The Health Gap sounds like a very interesting read. Out of the books you mention, my son has only read one of them. It is really important to not just blindly read everything on the (rather general) Oxford reading list. You need to branch out into what interests you, as this is what will make you stand out from the other candidates.

As my son also found out, this personalised reading can take you in surprising directions, and can help you to become even more fascinated by your future uni subject.
Thank you so much for this Oxford Mum! Your writing is always so informative and useful.

Medicine is fascinating - I love the subject, even though I'm not going to study it (I'm more interested on the research aspects, not clinical. Also, I love Maths too much.)

I personally disagree with you on a few aspects though - even though I don't go to Oxbridge and am only applying this year (Cam NatSci), so am not experienced! As someone who blindly reads everything on reading lists, books not on reading lists, textbooks, and literally anything, I believe that reading anything, even if it doesn't instinctively seem right, is great! It's a way to pick up interests that you wouldn't otherwise have heard of, and it leads to a breadth of knowledge about so many things.

I really hate having to choose interests for the personal statement, as narrowing everything down to just a few things just feels so restrictive? But I know that I don't have a choice on that (although I'm going to do EPQ equivalent things on 3 different topics, because that's my form of rebellion. Also, I'm not going to write(!?) because my school doesn't even do EPQ and rough notes are fine).

Also, the whole focus on medical / other documentaries and youtube videos and MOOCs is something that I personally dislike (sorry about this). As someone who genuinely enjoys reading textbooks, research papers, BMJ etc, and books, the whole focus on "You don't need books! You can just do MOOCs and stuff. You don't need to focus your entire personal statement on books." just makes me feel excluded in a way? I mean, I've been to plenty of university lectures and talks, and I love attending them. But online stuff (especially watching MOOCs and YouTube, or even Netflix) is more of a chore for me. I'd rather have a good textbook or book book any day - which I love reading.

Sorry about this - but I just wanted to say that? I love your posts, and I think that what you're doing is amazing - thank you so much.

However, I've just been hearing so much stuff about MOOCs and YouTube and Netflix and documentaries and "only read about your specific interests" and it's just making me feel so isolated and excluded.

I'm really sorry about this long and rambling post, and any criticism in it isn't intended for you personally - just the UK system as a whole, and how everything is so restrictive? It's just that your post caused me to think about it, and provoked these thoughts. Sorry.
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That’s fine. People need to find out the ways they are most comfortable working and play to their strengths.

I was just saying what worked personally for my son and what I have in common with op as well. It’s important to develop your own technique ( which has worked for you) . If you try something that doesn’t work for you it becomes a chore and may put you off.
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Just to add, too, that the whole idea of Oxford Demystified is to give prospective students as many different ideas for further study as possible, joyful! You have just given us another perspective, and that can be very useful to others.
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(Original post by laurawatt)
Not sure if the question can be passed on or OM could answer from her knowledge, but I thought most medicine courses required biology? How did the OP get around this?

Great chapter by the way!
Only a minority require it - approx half last time I checked.

The general trend is that they are slowly becoming less strict about what subjects they allow, with one uni (Newcastle) having no subject requirements at all.

We'd still stick to the 'bio, chem + one other' recommendation though as it gives the most options, and with the huge myriad of different entry requirements that med schools have set up, you may well not have to be to fussy about where you apply. More options can make a difference.
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(Original post by nexttime)
Only a minority require it - approx half last time I checked.

The general trend is that they are slowly becoming less strict about what subjects they allow, with one uni (Newcastle) having no subject requirements at all.

We'd still stick to the 'bio, chem + one other' recommendation though as it gives the most options, and with the huge myriad of different entry requirements that med schools have set up, you may well not have to be to fussy about where you apply. More options can make a difference.
Just spoke to my friend - she agrees with you she really regrets not doing A-Level Biology as it would have helped her so very much
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OP has gone to a lot of trouble writing this thread - any positive feedback?
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