A couple of weeks ago, a family friend asked if I could look over their medical personal statement. This made me realise that it has been three years since I submitted my own UCAS application. Three years feels like a pretty long time. Hence, I thought now would be a fitting time to refresh my memory on my application experience as it was ultimately what led me to Imperial. Seeing as the UCAS deadline has been and gone and any prospective students will have already sat the BMAT, I’ll focus this post on the interview and see if I can give you a few tips or tricks which might make the experience feel a little less daunting.
- Don’t wait to get an interview before starting to prepare for them
I distinctly remember that when I started preparing for my medical school interviews I had not yet received my BMAT results and therefore had no idea whether or not I would even be invited to interview. This made me exquisitely uncomfortable. I felt as though I was being arrogant, or tempting fate, by preparing for something I may never get to experience. However, medical interviews often have a very short turnaround period and therefore you can’t afford to wait to hear if you’ve been given an interview offer before you start preparing. Have faith in yourself and your UCAS form and just start your preparation without worrying about what you can’t control.
- Plan answers for the ‘classic’ questions.
This tip has a couple of caveats. Some people will tell you that under no circumstances should you ever script an answer to an interview question for the risk of sounding rehearsed. However, there are just some questions which you can be fairly sure will come up at some point. Why do you want to be a doctor? Why do you want to come to this university? In my opinion, having an answer in your head for these questions just makes you prepared, not rehearsed. These questions also often crop up at the head end of your interviews so having an answer which rolls of your tongue will make you feel so much more relaxed and confident for the remainder of it.
- Speak to people at the university you’re applying to
Most universities will expect you to have a basic understanding of their course structure when you get invited for interview. They want to make sure you are fully committed to their institution and that you didn’t just apply to them as a ‘back up’ option whose offer you’re planning on declining in the end. I personally found it quite onerous and confusing to glean information about medical courses from university websites as they were often full of jargon and acronyms. Instead, in my opinion, a better way to understand how a course works is to speak to someone who is already studying it. They will be able to give you a first-hand run down of the course structure in likely a more comprehensible and useful way.
- Be yourself
It is easy to get bogged down with wanting to ‘seem’ like a particular kind of student in order to get into a university. However, in reality, you want to be at a university which wants you- not someone you were pretending to be. Have confidence in who you are, your experiences and what you can bring to the university. Don’t forget, they will be very lucky to have you.
I hope this was somewhat useful if you’re in the process of preparing for your medical school interviews. Try not to worry about them too much and remember that feeling nervous is completely normal. If you do your best and be yourself you can’t really go far wrong- whatever the outcome.