Application

 Cambridge

 Gonville and Caius

 Medicine

 2005

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 EU

 China

 Grammar School

 yes (8 A*,5 A)

A-levels

(B at AS)

(A at AS (257 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(B at AS (238 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (280 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (282 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (279 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Advanced Extension Awards

(predicted NA; gained NA)

Details about the offer

 conditional

A in Biology, A in Chemistry, A in Mathematics, A in Physics

AAA, German A2 excluded as I am classed as a native speaker (having lived in Austria). The condition was 3 As in my 4 main subjects.

yes

Are you joking?
Of course I’ve accepted the offer!

yes

yes

I applied for 4 medical schools:

Cambridge
Imperial College
UCL
King’s College

I got offers from all of them but once I had the Cambridge offer, all the other ones were irrelevant.

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

It’s a great environment to work (i.e. the historic buildings) and the people there (both student and staff) are the best you can get. Being in contact with students who actually care about and are interested in what they are studying is pretty amazing to me.

Oxford never had a chance really, because I went to a college open day (at Pembroke college) at Cambridge and never looked back.

Always have wanted to do it.
Great career prospects and job satisfaction

Gonville & Caius is a renowned college for medicine though the reason I chose it was because it took the largest number of medics per year for any college. That turned out to be a bit of a stupid choice because Caius also has the most applicants per year for medicine.

Preparation

yes

I had 2 practice interviews with feedback sessions afterwards which helped a lot. Both were with old boys of the school, the first of which had gone to Cambridge and was still active in supporting my school. The second had also gone to Cambridge and was a consultant urologist who volunteered to interview all medics.

Prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance.
Ignore the people who say you can’t prepare for interviews and tests (such as the BMAT). You most definitely can and you’ll be placing yourself at an advantage if you do.

Interview

yes

Did the BMAT and got a pretty good score (23.6 which was in the top 5% of the country).

no

no

Very challenging but great fun (please don’t kill me for saying that; I really did enjoy them in retrospect). Extremely scientific with only some token questions on ethics and that stuff. They asked very hard questions which require a lot of sideways thinking and all-round knowledge. YOu have to think on your feet and don’t be devastated if you get a question wrong because you inevitably will get plenty wrong.

I am taking all 3 sciences so I was quizzed quite thoroughly across all 3 of them. They took a special liking to physics (because hardly any medics do it these days) and ased me several biology/physics questions.

Some intensively scientific ones (e.g. how would you disinguish between salt and sugar without tasting them and one on the famous mouse leptin experiment) and some very open-ended ones, where the interviewer just told me to talk about a subject without any input from them.

White shirt, yellow/cream tie, pinstripe suit and polished black leather shoes to all my interviews. I think it makes you look like you are serious about the interview and about medicine.

Impressions

I visited Pembroke first an found it to be a beautiful college with great facilities. Caius seems less conspicuous but I still loved it (apart from the accomodation which is a bit rubbish to be honest)

Rooms in the quad across the river are very small and facilties are shared between 8 of them if I recall correctly. Not great obviously but I’ll survive.

Very good with large portions.

a great bunch of people with some notable eccentrics. I can’t wait to have tutorials with them!

Rather like students at any other university. They talked about the same things and didn’t seem any different until you talked to them about work. Obviously much harder-working and brighter than the average student but that doesn’t usually show.

Final stage

Complete and utter agony! I had longed to go to Cambridge ever since I had gone to the college open day so I truly wanted to get in. On the other hand with the odds I was facing I didn’t really stand too much of a chance.

I got the letter in the first week of January. I was back at school bu my sister was still at home so I phoned her during break and told her to open the envelope for me and read it out. All it took was 3 words (“We are delighted…”) and I did a little jig and ran around the field.

Looking back

Yes, definitely

Do your best to prepare for it, never say that you can’t do it because the odds are stacked against you and don’t fall in love with Cambridge too soon – it could all end in heartbreak.