The Student Room Group

what does cambridge actually want from a medical applicant?

i'm currently in year 12 and it's my dream to study medicine at cambridge - and not just for the prestige. i really like the university, i've been to their open day and to a medicine taster day and i feel like its the perfect place for me.

but sometimes i see people online with crazy things they've written in their personal statements. like winning olympiads, essay competitions, science competitions, and basically just being really really smart.

i think academically i'm quite good, but not the smartest person ever (then again i go to a grammar school so maybe my view of things is slightly flawed). and i've done all the things you'd expect to see in a med application - wider reading, work experience, volunteering (at a hospital for 6+ months).

so i was just wondering - is that enough? or do i need to do something like win an olympiad to stand a chance of getting a place, or at least getting an interview.

for context: my gcses are 99999999888
Hey there, thanks for posting a question in the Medicine forum. :biggrin:

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Megathreads
(Please read the first post, before then posting any further questions you have within that thread.)
The "Which Medical School Should I Apply To?" Uberthread
The Ultimate 'Am I Good Enough For Medicine?' Angst Thread
Medicine A-Level subjects queries
Work Experience and Voluntary Work

2023 Applicants:
Official Undergraduate Medicine 2023 Entry
Graduate Entry Medicine 2023 Entry
Medicine 2023 entry for resit / retake / gap year applicants
A100 Medicine for International Students 2023 Entry
Medicine Interview discussion 2023 Entry
2023 entry A100 / A101 Medicine fastest and slowest offer senders
Index of Individual Medical School Applicants' threads 2023 Entry

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Official Undergraduate Medicine 2024 Entry
Graduate Entry Medicine 2024 Entry
GAMSAT 2024 / 2025 entry discussions megathread
UCAT 2024 Entry Discussions Megathread

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Graduate Entry Medicine 2025 Entry
Official Undergraduate Medicine 2025 Entry

Useful Articles:
GCSE Requirements for Medicine
Everything you need to know about the BMAT
Work Experience as a Graduate or Mature student
Medicine Personal Statement Advice
Medicine Personal Statement Advice (Graduate Entry)
Interview Frequently Asked Questions
MMI Medicine Interview Tips
What to do after an unsuccessful first application

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Original post by klafow
i'm currently in year 12 and it's my dream to study medicine at cambridge - and not just for the prestige. i really like the university, i've been to their open day and to a medicine taster day and i feel like its the perfect place for me.
but sometimes i see people online with crazy things they've written in their personal statements. like winning olympiads, essay competitions, science competitions, and basically just being really really smart.
i think academically i'm quite good, but not the smartest person ever (then again i go to a grammar school so maybe my view of things is slightly flawed). and i've done all the things you'd expect to see in a med application - wider reading, work experience, volunteering (at a hospital for 6+ months).
so i was just wondering - is that enough? or do i need to do something like win an olympiad to stand a chance of getting a place, or at least getting an interview.
for context: my gcses are 99999999888

Hard to tell if this is enough. Then again gaining an offer depends on how your interview went. Your GCSEs look fine and it's good that you have done work experience + reading and volunteering. You will have to see what you get for the UCAT and your A level predicted. So until then, just focus on these 2.
Original post by klafow
i'm currently in year 12 and it's my dream to study medicine at cambridge - and not just for the prestige. i really like the university, i've been to their open day and to a medicine taster day and i feel like its the perfect place for me.
but sometimes i see people online with crazy things they've written in their personal statements. like winning olympiads, essay competitions, science competitions, and basically just being really really smart.
i think academically i'm quite good, but not the smartest person ever (then again i go to a grammar school so maybe my view of things is slightly flawed). and i've done all the things you'd expect to see in a med application - wider reading, work experience, volunteering (at a hospital for 6+ months).
so i was just wondering - is that enough? or do i need to do something like win an olympiad to stand a chance of getting a place, or at least getting an interview.
for context: my gcses are 99999999888

My son has just completed Oxford medicine. He did not win olympiads, or essay competitions. You may consider joining St. John ambulance- he found that very useful. Yes, keep up with the wider reading- specialising in one area of interest if you can.

The real litmus test is the bmat. He and others in his year sat the test and applied for Oxbridge medicine- but only his result translated into an interview. Getting into Oxbridge medicine may seem impossible but it really isn’t.

Google Oxford demystified- medicine from a parent’s point of view for my account of my son’s journey to Oxford medicine- and my son’s response- Oxford demystified- medicine from a student’s point of view for his reply what happened and how he felt at every stage.

Always remember my elder son’s motto ( Oxford- German). Someone’s got to get in, and it might as well be me”

Good luck and keep us informed

All the best

Oxford mum
Original post by Oxford Mum
My son has just completed Oxford medicine. He did not win olympiads, or essay competitions. You may consider joining St. John ambulance- he found that very useful. Yes, keep up with the wider reading- specialising in one area of interest if you can.
The real litmus test is the bmat. He and others in his year sat the test and applied for Oxbridge medicine- but only his result translated into an interview. Getting into Oxbridge medicine may seem impossible but it really isn’t.
Google Oxford demystified- medicine from a parent’s point of view for my account of my son’s journey to Oxford medicine- and my son’s response- Oxford demystified- medicine from a student’s point of view for his reply what happened and how he felt at every stage.
Always remember my elder son’s motto ( Oxford- German). Someone’s got to get in, and it might as well be me”
Good luck and keep us informed
All the best
Oxford mum

I'm in year 10 and wanted to get into the St John Ambulance boat aswell, but they're all full nearby and I've been waiting for a year now... 🙁
Original post by klafow
i'm currently in year 12 and it's my dream to study medicine at cambridge - and not just for the prestige. i really like the university, i've been to their open day and to a medicine taster day and i feel like its the perfect place for me.
but sometimes i see people online with crazy things they've written in their personal statements. like winning olympiads, essay competitions, science competitions, and basically just being really really smart.
i think academically i'm quite good, but not the smartest person ever (then again i go to a grammar school so maybe my view of things is slightly flawed). and i've done all the things you'd expect to see in a med application - wider reading, work experience, volunteering (at a hospital for 6+ months).
so i was just wondering - is that enough? or do i need to do something like win an olympiad to stand a chance of getting a place, or at least getting an interview.
for context: my gcses are 99999999888

hey me too, what subjects r u doing
Another thing would be to offer to work in a care home. Son was allowed to arrange activities such as bingo and arts and crafts. He would also spend some time chatting with the residents. His favourite resident indirectly gave him an idea for his epq project.

Also, although you are not allowed to perform any medical procedures you may well be allowed to shadow a nurse or cater, to see what they do and how they interact with the residents.
Reply 7
Original post by klafow
i'm currently in year 12 and it's my dream to study medicine at cambridge - and not just for the prestige. i really like the university, i've been to their open day and to a medicine taster day and i feel like its the perfect place for me.
but sometimes i see people online with crazy things they've written in their personal statements. like winning olympiads, essay competitions, science competitions, and basically just being really really smart.
i think academically i'm quite good, but not the smartest person ever (then again i go to a grammar school so maybe my view of things is slightly flawed). and i've done all the things you'd expect to see in a med application - wider reading, work experience, volunteering (at a hospital for 6+ months).
so i was just wondering - is that enough? or do i need to do something like win an olympiad to stand a chance of getting a place, or at least getting an interview.
for context: my gcses are 99999999888

You've got a good base to start off with - the important thing about wex, volunteering etc. is what you learn from it, rather than the fact that you've done it - and that needs to translate into your personal statement. For things like Olympiads, it's good to get involved as it shows your appreciation of STEM subjects, but "winning" is hardly necessary - participation is the key.

The most immediate next step is the UCAT - it's likely to be much more competitive following the scrapping of BMAT - so a strong score here will be very important.
Reply 8
Original post by Oxford Mum
My son has just completed Oxford medicine. He did not win olympiads, or essay competitions. You may consider joining St. John ambulance- he found that very useful. Yes, keep up with the wider reading- specialising in one area of interest if you can.
The real litmus test is the bmat. He and others in his year sat the test and applied for Oxbridge medicine- but only his result translated into an interview. Getting into Oxbridge medicine may seem impossible but it really isn’t.
Google Oxford demystified- medicine from a parent’s point of view for my account of my son’s journey to Oxford medicine- and my son’s response- Oxford demystified- medicine from a student’s point of view for his reply what happened and how he felt at every stage.
Always remember my elder son’s motto ( Oxford- German). Someone’s got to get in, and it might as well be me”
Good luck and keep us informed
All the best
Oxford mum

thank you so much! i googled the oxford demystified post and it was soo helpful, and has also given me a lot to think about. it's the most helpful thing i've ever read from the perspective of a student (and parent 🙂 )

unfortunately st john's ambulance is full in my local area, so i can't join that. it looks really good though, i wish there were spaces. my wider reading has been a bit broad, but i'm starting to realise that i love oncology so i guess i'll read mroe things related to that.

it's the ucat for oxford and cambridge this year, which is scary for me because it's the first time they are doing it. hopefully it'll go well but i'll need to prepare a lot for it.
Reply 9
Original post by Methene
You've got a good base to start off with - the important thing about wex, volunteering etc. is what you learn from it, rather than the fact that you've done it - and that needs to translate into your personal statement. For things like Olympiads, it's good to get involved as it shows your appreciation of STEM subjects, but "winning" is hardly necessary - participation is the key.
The most immediate next step is the UCAT - it's likely to be much more competitive following the scrapping of BMAT - so a strong score here will be very important.

thank you, that's really reassuring. there's so many people in my year doing exceptionally well in those types of competitions and honestly it was scaring me a lot
i've done a bit of ucat prep, but i'm focusing more on my mocks right now. once they're over i'll put more effort into it.
what sort of a score would you say is strong?
Reply 10
Original post by anonymous.2003
hey me too, what subjects r u doing

hey, i do biology, chemistry, maths and AS economics (my econ exam is next week ☹️ ). i'm not doing an epq.
what subjects do you do?
Original post by klafow
hey, i do biology, chemistry, maths and AS economics (my econ exam is next week ☹️ ). i'm not doing an epq.
what subjects do you do?

philosphy maths bio and chem ahh good luck for econ
Original post by klafow
thank you, that's really reassuring. there's so many people in my year doing exceptionally well in those types of competitions and honestly it was scaring me a lot
i've done a bit of ucat prep, but i'm focusing more on my mocks right now. once they're over i'll put more effort into it.
what sort of a score would you say is strong?

It really depends on where you're applying to. UCAT cut-offs vary a lot by medical school, from 2200 to 2900+. For Cambridge, you're probably looking at 3000+ to be a competitive score I imagine. But that's just speculation - the important thing is to make sure you've put in your best effort :smile:

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