Idk1156
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Hi I just got an interview for medicine at Cambridge. For my preparation I’ve been making sure that my As knowledge is solid with the A2 content I’ve so far learnt. I’ve also being practicing interview questions by speaking out loud to myself and expanding on what I’ve written on my SAQ and Personal statement. I’ve received mixed advice on if I should make sure I know the basic science on the subjects the professors specialise in, who will interview me on as I might get questions based on their speciality. I’m not sure if I should do this so could someone who may have experienced the interviews give me advice as I don’t want to waste my time preparing for something that may not help me in the outcome (I do understand that the questions are quite abstract and its not something I can fully predict but I’m trying to prepare what I already know) I forgot to add that I’m reading journals on ethics, current affairs and the GMC website. Thank you!
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ShootForTheStars
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This video might be useful. From what she experienced, definitely revise things to do with your interviewer's speciality!
https://youtu.be/53qG8rNKyuU
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Idk1156
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(Original post by ShootForTheStars)
This video might be useful. From what she experienced, definitely revise things to do with your interviewer's speciality!
https://youtu.be/53qG8rNKyuU
Thank you for the recommendation!
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R T
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(Original post by Idk1156)
Hi I just got an interview for medicine at Cambridge. For my preparation I’ve been making sure that my As knowledge is solid with the A2 content I’ve so far learnt. I’ve also being practicing interview questions by speaking out loud to myself and expanding on what I’ve written on my SAQ and Personal statement. I’ve received mixed advice on if I should make sure I know the basic science on the subjects the professors specialise in, who will interview me on as I might get questions based on their speciality. I’m not sure if I should do this so could someone who may have experienced the interviews give me advice as I don’t want to waste my time preparing for something that may not help me in the outcome (I do understand that the questions are quite abstract and its not something I can fully predict but I’m trying to prepare what I already know) I forgot to add that I’m reading journals on ethics, current affairs and the GMC website. Thank you!
You can safely ignore the specialism of your interviewers. A "Biochemist" professor is entirely capable of giving an interview about evolution or physiology for an A-Level student. In fact you can safely assume that every single interviewer you have will be fully capable and knowledgeable of any science or Maths A-Level. Even for first year undergraduate, it's common for fellows, professors and members of the college to teach in areas outside their expertise. The kind of specialist knowledge conferred from being an expert only really starts to kick in at 3rd year undergraduate or later.

The most important thing to do is to just have a solid grasp of the topics you have mentioned in the SAQ and being able to apply this in harder or more unusual questions - but the fundamental idea always comes back to breaking things down into simple logical steps and allow that to lead you in questions.
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Idk1156
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(Original post by R T)
You can safely ignore the specialism of your interviewers. A "Biochemist" professor is entirely capable of giving an interview about evolution or physiology for an A-Level student. In fact you can safely assume that every single interviewer you have will be fully capable and knowledgeable of any science or Maths A-Level. Even for first year undergraduate, it's common for fellows, professors and members of the college to teach in areas outside their expertise. The kind of specialist knowledge conferred from being an expert only really starts to kick in at 3rd year undergraduate or later.

The most important thing to do is to just have a solid grasp of the topics you have mentioned in the SAQ and being able to apply this in harder or more unusual questions - but the fundamental idea always comes back to breaking things down into simple logical steps and allow that to lead you in questions.
Thank you for the detailed response, and your point makes complete sense. When you say applying those topics into harder or more unusual questions do you know any sources that could help me going about that???
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R T
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(Original post by Idk1156)
Thank you for the detailed response, and your point makes complete sense. When you say applying those topics into harder or more unusual questions do you know any sources that could help me going about that???
It's just general problem solving really. If you want to practice targetted questions, then probably biology/ chemistry olympiads would be good examples. For Maths, the UKMT/ Kangaroo/ AEA/ STEP I are some others. Some colleges might even have example interview videos or example interview questions on their website.

But tbh most Oxbridge applicants are already quite good at it, even if they don't realise it. If you play chess to a decent level, then you know how they break down very complicated questions "What is the best move in [difficult position]" into a series of simple questions that rely on digging into simpler concepts and "known" topics. So a chess move is usually broken down into "does this move keep my king safe, does it attack their king, is it applying good pressure, does it improve my position, am i setting up longer term plans, etc". Likewise even simple things like a rubik's cube or sudoku or even computer games like Portal.

Applying this to a biological context could depend on how much of an applied spin they want, but if we consider something simple like "why does life use hexose sugars" - this is an incredibly complicated question that involves evolution, organic chemistry, polymerisation, entropy, relative abundance of elements, etc. If they wanted to discuss this, they'd probably want a structured answer that involves first bringing in what you know (e.g. sketch of glucose or something, discussion of the active chemical groups, discussion of their properties, discussion of the chemical environment of a cell, discussion of how exothermic reactions are driven by concepts in chemistry such as entropy, why an exothermic reaction is needed). And then how you can maybe extend this into deeper concepts. It's actually too broad of an interview question, so they'd probably want to zoom in on a few of the topics. They might then bring in some obscure alternative to a hexose sugar that some obscure bacteria uses - but they might want students to spot "ah although this is different, it is most likely still water soluble and has some nucleophilic groups that could be used in a polymerisation reaction, so it's actually going to do a lot of things similarly (convergent evolution). But I can see that there is a lot more nitrogen in the molecule, so perhaps this bacteria is good at fixing/ reducing inorganic nitrogen, or perhaps it evolved in an environment where organic nitrogen was more freely available. Perhaps the fact that nitrogen is less electronegative than oxygen is important for the bacteria because it could have other reactive compounds in the cytoplasm".

The above is impossible to really know, and a students ability to do well / engage well in a discussion tends to reflect a good basic understanding of A-Level modules. They're not looking for the correct answers, they are often just looking for good engagement, the ability to think of and extend answers logically.
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