Updated: May 3, 2020
By Karan Gupta
Cambridge, a city with a unique blend of rich academic history, coupled with a stunning atmosphere and packaged into a cosy city centre. Literally the perfect dish!
However, studying medicine here is a tough pill to swallow. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted and getting in itself requires commitment to the process. Throughout the years here, the feeling of having too much on your plate never really goes down. On the other hand, as you get used to it, your appetite for a challenge will steadily increase.
For me at least, I had to approach Cambridge differently to my other uni choices; thinking more like a scientist and intellectual than an aspiring doctor. In my personal statement, I focused on including as many academic achievements as I could afford to, without damaging my chances with the other universities I applied to. Try your best to demonstrate the ability to think scientifically and any research you’ve done or are doing is a huge plus-point. However, you need to bear in mind that there is the opportunity to include other relevant academic information in the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ). This is also a great opportunity to include Cambridge specific information, like reasons for applying there and why you best suited to the course.
The interview was an interesting experience for me. My mindset going in was to get an insight into how Cambridge teaches. This allowed me to drop my pre-interview anxieties and engage with the interviewers themselves. Their focus was less on how much you know and more on how you think when you don’t know the answer. Verbalising your way to a logical answer is key. Getting challenged on your conclusions and being able to make corrections is all part of the process, so don’t be scared to show them that you can think out of the box. And make sure to be honest, if you know the answer then just say it. Many people who applied with me made the mistake of acting like they didn’t know the answer and then pretending to work it out logically. This isn’t acting school. The proof of the pudding is always in the eating.
Choosing your college is an important consideration because each has its own set of benefits. However, the lectures are the same for all medical students, regardless of college. Supervisions, which are small group teaching sessions, are provided by the college to help consolidate lecture content and improve your understanding further. Everyone has their own approach to these: some like to use them to test their understanding; others use it to help identify the most important examinable parts; while I just like using them to ask questions around the topic and explore.
Cambridge presents a great opportunity to interact with leading minds in the field. If you are passionate and curious about medicine academically, this is the perfect place for you, at least during the first 3 years of the course. Afterwards, in the clinical years, all the other skills needed to be a doctor will of course be provided.
If this opportunity makes your mouth water, then this is the perfect course for you. It’s your choice whether you make it into a starter, main course or dessert!