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How hard is it to get an interview at Cambridge?

Oxbridge Application Specialists

How hard is it to get an interview at Cambridge?

Surprisingly, the answer to this question appears, at a first glance, to be ‘not that difficult.’ Here we will delve further into the admissions process and statistics in order to understand whether securing an interview at Cambridge is truly straightforward – and how easy it is to get an offer subsequently. This article focuses on Medicine, but has reference to the overall university and other courses too for context.

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How Hard is it to get an Interview for Medicine at Cambridge?

Medicine is one of the three most oversubscribed courses at the university, so there will therefore be more students rejected before the interview stage for Medicine than there will be for almost any other course. However, you should remember that proportionally the vast majority of applicants will still be interviewed.

2019 is the most recent year for which data is publicly accessible on Cambridge Medicine interview statistics. There were 1584 applicants across the university as a whole, 323 offers made, and around 280 places successfully taken up at the start of the next academic year.

Getting an interview will rely on your predicted grades, your attained grades at GCSE, your BMAT score, and your personal statement. All factors are taken into account together, and there is no set BMAT cutoff score – it will be used in conjunction with other factors rather than as a standalone filter.

Looking at BMAT scores, for offer holders in 2018 the average scores were 5.5 for section 1, 6.1 for section 2 and 3.5 for section 3. Remember though that many students will have scored lower and received an invite to interview and/or a place. A level scores were generally very high. Of 898 applicants, 604 were predicted A*A*A* – roughly 67% of all applicants.

Therefore, despite the fact that 80% of students will receive an invite to interview, those 80% are likely to be very high-scoring. If you are thinking of applying to Cambridge, be aware of just how high quality the applicant pool is.

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What is the Interview & Application Process like in General at Cambridge?

Every year, roughly 16,000 students will apply to Cambridge. They are competing for 3400 places. If we were to look at Churchill College for Natural Sciences, for example, we’d see that they received more than 170 applicants for their 39 places. The vast majority of those that receive offers take them up – those 39 places will normally be the result of about 45 offers being made.

In fact, at least 80% of applicants to Cambridge in general will receive an interview. That’s because Cambridge still places a huge emphasis on the interview as a selection tool. Their goal is to assess whether a student has the right characteristics to be part of Cambridge, and take part in their collegiate tuition system which features one-on-one tuition weekly. However, you must remember that the general standard of applicants is very high – meaning that even a ‘good’ student is not guaranteed an interview place. Cambridge will take into account your grades, admissions tests, and the context of your grades (e.g. the school you went to, other social factors, etc).

Then comes the interview. This will be run by the college that you are applying to, and will normally consist of two (or even three) interviews. In order to decide who succeeds and will be offered a place or pooled, admissions tutors will gather together to review applicants. Pooling is when applicants are deemed to be Cambridge-worthy, but not right for that particular college. They will therefore be put into a University-wide pool, from which they might be picked up by other colleges for which they are more suitable, or that have more space available.

When the admissions tutors gather, they will go through each interview together, with the students having been assigned a score from 1 to 10. The student’s name will be read aloud, and feedback provided by the tutors that interviewed them. They will then be assessed through comparing their interview performance to their grades, their reference, and ‘flags’ – factors like poverty or a particularly badly performing school. Cambridge is slowly changing its student makeup from overwhelmingly skewed towards private school towards a more representative mixture of state and private pupils, and therefore you should not be concerned that coming from a poorly performing school will lead to worse interview performance, or a lesser chance of receiving an interview in the first place. One’s race or ethnic background is not a factor that Cambridge reviews at all – whilst they are looking to admit a range of the population, this is done through looking at neighborhoods as a whole rather than ethnic backgrounds.

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