Application

 Cambridge

 Gonville and Caius

 Medicine

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 International Baccalaureate

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Comprehensive School

Sixth Form College

 yes (10 A*,1 A)

International Baccalaureate

( predicted 7; gained 7)

( predicted 7; gained 7)

( predicted 7; gained 7)

( predicted 7; gained 7)

( predicted 2; gained 1)

( predicted 7; gained 7)

( predicted 6; gained 7)

Details about the offer

 conditional

776, Total of 40 points, with 776 at higher level despite doing 4 highers

yes

no

 offer met

Decisions about the application

The medical course covered a lot of science, which I thought would suit me as I would like to go into medical research.

Family at Cambridge.

I have wanted to do medicine since I was very young.

Long history of medicine and nice atmosphere.

Preparation

no

Got a mock interview and some talks for Oxbridge applicants, plus extra personal statem ment help.

Know your A-level course well and have one or two areas of interest outside the curriculum which you can talk about in detail.

Interview

yes

Did not seem to value BMAT particularly highly.

no

no

They were very academic, which was comforting. Once they started bombarding me challenging questions it was impossible to think that they’d make their decision on which school I went to, what I was wearing, how I spoke – they were clearly only interested in my intelligence and aptitude for the subject. I had three interviews altogether, all with one interviewer, which lasted about 20 minutes each.

I was asked about things at the hardest end of the A-level syllabus. Oxygen dissociation curves came up twice. I was also asked to identify structures on an electron micrograph of an intestinal epithelial cell, and this led to a discussion about ‘how cells know which way up they are’, which was interesting. I was also asked a long question about the effect of certain substances on blood pressure, which I was guided through, and about what cancer was and treatments. My second interviewer asked ‘do you know what DNA methylation is?’ I said no, and that was the end of it! My third interview was with a doctor at Addenbrookes, so I was asked about my work experience. I was also asked one or two non-medicine-related questions about books I’d read in my English course and my hobbies.

I wore a black embroidered skirt and a shirt jumper and jacket – I thought a suit was over the top. But I really don’t think it matters, except that it made me feel quite confident knowing I looked nice.

Impressions

I really, really liked it. I chose Caius because it was a very academic college and this seemed to be its main focus. It’s quite hard to articulate, but I felt I’d fit in well and it would be a place where I’d happily spend 3 or six years. I didn’t get that feeling from any other colleges I visited.

I stayed the night and the room was very nice – quite large with a comfy bed and big desk, a few chairs, small table, balcony and a washbason. The heating was very warm too, which was appreciated! Also the showers were very nice, so ingeneral apart from looking like a multi-story car park the accomodation was very nice.

Caius is notoriously bad for food, but actually the food was good – a lot, lot better than school dinners – and I’m not worried about having to eat lots of it next year!

They were friendly and helpful, and they seemed to be trying to find your skills and talents.

They were also friendly and welcoming. They were very chatty and talking to them really helped relieve nerves.

Final stage

I was quite philosophical – I knew I’d performed to the best of my abilities in the interview, so if I didn’t get in it would be because I wasn’t right for Cambridge. Also I’d got an offer from Nottingham which I’d also really liked.

It was quite a thick A5 envelope so I knew I’d got the place before I opened it!

Looking back

Definately. No question about it! But I might feel differently if I hadn’t got a place – I did put a lot of extra work in for the interviews.

Read and read and read! Extend your knowledge beyond A-level in all human areas of the subject. If anything is simplified in your lessons, look up the full version. That said, don’t make the mistake I did of trying to learn the entire course, clinical included, before you get there. Just make sure you are confident in talking about all the aspects of the syllabus – cell biology, genetic etc, a little beyond A-level. In my experience (though of course this is subjective) the people who got places were the ones who were really keen and who had put some work into preparing. Most of all, enjoy the interviews!