Application

 Cambridge

 Pembroke

 Medicine

 2008 (deferred entry)

 offer made

Applicant

 A-levels

 pre-qualification

 home

 United Kingdom

 Independent – selective

 yes (6 A*,4 A,1 B)

A-levels

(A at AS (273 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (271 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (256 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

(A at AS (293 UMS); predicted A; gained A at A2)

(A at AS (269 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)

Details about the offer

 conditional

AAA, Not including general studies.

yes

N/A

 grades pending/unknown

Decisions about the application

Good course – extra year to study more in depth
I thought the teaching style would suit me
Nice surroundings
It’s prestigious

Pretty much a toss up. Slight differences in the course and I thought Cambridge’s course looked better. Also a boy from my school had applied to Oxford for medicine the year before and I didn’t want to be following him.

Always wanted to do medicine, for all the usual reasons:
I love biology, like working with people, find the human body fascinating etc.

I eliminated all the ones I couldn’t go to because of age or course, then the ones I thought were too big/small, then the ones that were quite far out of the main centre. Pembroke is right next to the medical centre, and it was the first one I visited and I loved it. It had a really nice feel and the tutors were nice, unlike the other college I looked round.

Preparation

yes

Not specifically because I was applying to Cambridge but more for medical interviews. I had two mock interviews, but they were nothing like my Cambridge one and my form tutor helped me fill in the form.

Read around the subject a little and make sure you can talk in depth about your subject. Get a teacher/friend to quiz you on some key aspects of your subjects.
Get plenty of sleep the night before.

Interview

yes

BMAT. Got slightly above average results in the first two sections, slightly below average in the essay part. Beware you are limited to just one side for the essay, that caught me out!

no

no

Suprisingly fun. Challenging and very interesting. I had two of around 35/40 minutes each. One to one interviews with men.

There was a huge pause after he asked a question that I couldn’t think of an answer to, but he wouldn’t accept “I don’t know” In the end I got it, but I had a few minutes of wasted time due to panic.

What is a disease?
What ways can diseases hurt us?
What causes cancer?
Something about the immune system
What sort of diseases aren’t caused by external sources?
Something about evolution
How would you kill an egg?
How do frogs breathe?
What is funny about a duck-billed platypus?
Something about blood and diffusion and oxygen transport and adaptations of mammals/amphibians.
And a lot more I can’t remember.

Black heels and trousers and a white shirt with fine pale grey/green lines on it under a black vest top.
I thought it was appropriately formal without being over the top, and it was comfortable.

Impressions

Pembroke: Very friendly porters, lovely buildings, very friendly other applicants, quite laid-back and a really informal pleasant atmosphere.
Christ’s: More formal, more serious and less time for extra curriculars. Very serious and intimidating director of medical studies.

Largish rooms, shared bathroom/shower. Both modern and old accommodation available.

Nice, better than school food. A good choice and plenty of it.

Very welcoming, no-nonsense and interesting.

Friendly and down to earth. The girl who showed us round was really funny and very nice. When I went for my interview a 4th year medical student was in the JP the night before with us and was more than happy to chat about Cambridge with us, he wasn’t at all stuck up.

Final stage

Mostly I just put it out of my mind. The day after my interview I was very excited and hopeful, but by the day the letter arrived I had managed to convince myself I hadn’t got in. The night before it was due to arrive I found it very hard to get to sleep, as you can imagine. The butterflies were unbelievable when I was opening the letter, I literally had never been so nervous in all my life.

I opened it and read the “we have decided to offer you a place” part and started jumping around and shouting and hugging my brother (which I would never normally do!). Then I calmed down enough to read the rest of it and for some reason I read “for medical studies” part and thought they meant they hadn’t accepted me for medicine but for some sort of biomedical science course. So I had a miserable dog walk in the snow wondering what to do; to go to Cambridge but not study medicine, or study medicine but not at Cambridge.
When I got back I looked on the website but couldn’t find a medical studies course so I emailed them and thankfully they emailed back pronto saying medical studies was the same thing as medicine and so I’d been offered a place for medicine. That made me feel pretty foolish, but I was so happy and so relieved I ran outside and started making snow angels and having a snowball fight with my dog until I almost caught hypothermia.
Then I tried to call my mum but I was shaking so much (whether from cold or adrenalin I’m not sure)I could barely dial the number.

Looking back

Absolutely, despite getting quite a lot of stick for it at school, and having some less than enthusiastic friends it was definitely worth it!

Don’t listen to what anyone else says, it’s your descision and if you want to apply, go for it.
Go to bed the night before your interview rather than chatting all night in the JP.
Enjoy your interview, and if you can’t think of an answer, don’t panic, just force yourself to think about the question rather than going “crap, I don’t know, oh and he’s looking at me like i’m stupid and there’s been such a long pause, argh what’s the answer? It’s all going wrong”!
Don’t bother wrote learning answers on likely questions because most of them won’t come up.
Don’t let the quality of the other applicants intimidate you.
And finally make friends with the porters, they can be very helpful!