Oxford Biomedical Sciences Interview Questions & Guide

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Interview Essentials

The Biomedical Sciences course at Oxford outlines that potential students should show:
– Intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm
– A readiness to cope with the academic demands of the course.
– Reasoning and problem solving ability
– The use of a logical and critical approach, and strong powers of analysis.

Additionally, they ought to be clear and fluent communicators, and good listeners. They should be able to create their own ideas, and show the ability to think laterally. They should be able to demonstrate that they will be committed to their studies.

The standard offer is A*AA. The IB offer is 39 with 766 at Higher Level. Candidates doing the IB must have two subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at Higher Level.

Admissions Statistics for Biomedical Sciences at Oxford

The admissions statistics broken down by gender are as follows: 588 male applicants were offered 81 places, with 76 successfully taking up their place. 209 female applicants were offered 34 places, of whom 30 successfully took up their place. 

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Interview Key Dates for Biomedical Sciences at Oxford

All candidates who are successfully shortlisted will be interviewed at two different colleges. Both interviews typically take place in the second week of December.

Interview Format and Purpose

Tutors are looking for ‘lively receptive minds’ who can evaluate evidence. That means you should be ready to encounter new material and discuss it with the tutors. Considering previous students’ experiences:

One student explained that they had a total of four interviews, each of which lasted around 25 minutes. The majority of the interviews centred around a diagram or graph that they had to explain, and there were some labels or other pieces of information that allowed the student to contextualise the diagram. Additionally, there were further questions on the personal statement, and about how they had followed up on activities or projects that they found particularly interesting from the personal statement. Each interview had two or three interviewers present, and they ranged from relaxed to more strict.

A second student explains that they took three interviews, two of which were 20 minutes and one of which was 40 minutes. The interviews were fairly relaxed and began with questions about their personal statement, focusing on books that they had mentioned. After this, the focus was shifted to subject related questions, with the student being shown a graph or diagram and being asked to explain it. The interviewers were very much on the student’s side, and guided them through the process of understanding the diagram or graph.

As such, it’s clear that you should practise analysing new information and presenting conclusions on it – ideally try to do this with your biology teachers at school.  

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Additional Assessments

All applicants must take the BMAT, or Biomedical Admissions Test. You must register for this yourself, well in advance of the deadline. The BMAT takes two hours, and is sat in timed conditions. It is made up of three sections, with Section 1 testing problem solving and analysis, Section 2 focusing on GCSE level Mathematics and Sciences, and Section 3 being a writing section in which you must clearly present an argument.

Previous Oxford Biomedical Sciences Interview Questions

About 1 in 4 deaths in the UK is due to some form of cancer, yet in the Philippines the figure is only around 1 in 10. What factors might account for this difference?
How true is it to say that the modern meal is the culmination of a long journey away from biology?
How does blood get back from your feet to your heart?
How many litres of blood does your heart pump in your lifetime?
What techniques could be used to date how long a disease has existed in a population?
Tell us about drowning. Why do you drown faster in fresh water rather than saltwater?
How would you simulate altitude in your living room?
Why do we have red blood cells?
How is a city like a cell?
Can you describe an experiment to differentiate between a normal and multi-resistant strain of bacteria?
Why does your heart rate increase when you exercise?
Why can’t humans live forever?
What causes the common cold and why is there no cure?
How does the flu vaccine work?
Why is it a disadvantage for humans to have two legs?
What are the advantages of the Human Genome Project?
What is DNA fingerprinting and why is it used in forensics?

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