The following are topics relating to the medical school, which you may be asked about during your interview, and suggestions for what to include in your answers:
To gain an understanding of why you have chosen that medical school, interviewers / assessors may ask you directly why you have chosen to apply there, or what appeals to you about the medical school. They may also ask you why you think it’s the most suitable place for you to study, what you think the advantages and disadvantages of the medical school are, or what you are most or least looking forward to. If you attended an open day event, they possibly may ask you about your experience, or you may find it useful to use this to support your answer to questions regarding why you have applied for that medical school.
Undoubtedly you will have reasons why you chose to apply to each medical school and the best answer you can give is a personal and genuine response, as naturally your enthusiasm for studying there will be evident to the interviewer. The only caveat we would give to this, is that while a genuine response is favourable, ensure that the reasons you share give the interviewers a positive impression of your priorities when choosing a place to study. For example, if you choose to discuss the location of the medical school, referring to the types of patients you may have contact with and opportunities that this will present, or even the cultural opportunities on offer, demonstrates to the interviewers your commitment to medicine and your focus on the learning opportunities available; this will make your answer more impactful than just saying I would like to live in this location.
The following are suggestions of topics you may wish to include when answering these types of questions; perhaps there are areas which you haven’t researched about your chosen medical school/s, which may be useful to do so for your interview. You’ll find much of the information relating to the ideas below, for your chosen medical school, in the Individual Medical Schools section, but visiting the medical school website will also support you.
You could include elements of the following areas within your answer:
Although it may not be practical to include all of them, any of these topics could contribute to your answer on why you want to study at that particular medical school. You may also find that you’re asked direct questions about some of these topics, each of which we explore in more detail below, to support you in either situation.
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There’s a multitude of different questions that you could be asked about the teaching methods and delivery of the curriculum; below are examples of the types of questions you may experience:
The key to being able to answer questions relating to the delivery of the curriculum, is knowing what teaching methods and modes of delivery are used – find out in the Individual Medical Schools section or on their website – and having an awareness of your preferred way of learning and how this will be supported within your chosen medical school.
Common teaching methods which you may encounter as you’re looking through the course information for your chosen medical school are:
It’s useful to have an understanding of a range of teaching methods, as although your chosen medical school may not use a particular method, you may still be asked how the teaching method compares to others, and therefore a general understanding is needed. It may also help if you are asked about the advantages and limitations of the primary method to be able to compare to other methods of teaching in your answer.
Below is a breakdown of the different teaching methods and a brief description. We’ve also included possible advantages and limitations of each, which have been grouped together, as for the majority of them whether you consider an element to be a positive or negative will depend on how you prefer to learn and will no doubt be a deciding factor when choosing a medical school which uses that particular teaching method.
When answering questions about teaching methods, try to provide an objective response, demonstrating that you understand that there are advantages and limitations to each method. Crucially, relate it to your own learning whereas possible, as admissions staff want to know that you will learn effectively through their curriculum and means of delivery. If you have experienced a teaching method previously, then give an example of this to support your answer, sharing how it enabled your learning.
You may also come across reference to a spiral curriculum within the Individual Medical Schools. This refers to a curriculum in which topics are revisited throughout your training, to develop your knowledge and understanding, and to continue to build on what you have previously learnt, as opposed to being taught a topic once without revisiting it.
You may be asked directly for your thoughts on the opportunities for clinical contact within the medical school; for example, when you will first experience it or the variety of clinical contact you’ll be exposed to; and the effect you think this will have on your learning experience. Alternatively, you may wish to refer to the clinical placement opportunities in answer to a different question, if for example you are asked why you applied to this particular medical school.
Additionally, you may be asked what you know about the teaching hospitals associated with the medical school or about the local health within the key areas in which you will be training.
Whether your chosen medical school offers early clinical contact or focuses on more teaching before exposure to patients, you can discuss the perceived benefits to your learning. You can also discuss the types of clinical contact you will be exposed to on the course and the amount of time you will be based in clinical settings during your training, and how these contributed to your decision to apply to this medical school. Having an understanding of the opportunities that your chosen medical school offers for clinical contact is essential to be able to answer questions relating to this.
The role of teaching hospitals is vital in your medical training and being able to demonstrate your knowledge of the teaching hospitals associated with your chosen medical school will emphasise your enthusiasm and interest in studying there. Researching the teaching hospitals to find out more about them and explore what opportunities they may offer you on clinical placements, rather than merely learning the names of them, will aid you to do this well. Similarly, gaining a basic understanding of the local health in the areas in which you will be training, will show your passion for the medical school and allow you to discuss how this relates to learning opportunities for you.
If your chosen medical school includes dissection and/or prosection within their curriculum, you may be asked how you think this will benefit your learning or how effective you think it is for teaching anatomy. Even if the medical school you’re interviewing for doesn’t offer dissection or prosection, they may still ask for your opinion on it as a teaching method, or if you think it’s a disadvantage to not have this experience.
Again, if you’re not asked directly about this topic, you may find it useful to include in your answer if you’re asked what appeals to you about the course. As only a limited number of medical schools offer dissection and/or prosection, it may understandably be a selling point if you’re chosen medical school does offer it, and something which you’re looking forward to within the curriculum.
Fundamentally, you need to know if your chosen medical school offers dissection and/or prosection as part of their curriculum in order to answer this question confidently – go to the Individual Medical Schools to find out.
Regardless of whether it’s included or not, it’s a good idea to present a balanced argument for dissection and prosection, which demonstrates that you understand the advantages of both as well as alternative methods for learning anatomy. Understanding what your chosen medical school offers in terms of teaching anatomy will allow you to tailor your answer, demonstrating that you’re aware of what methods they use and the positive implications for your learning. It will also highlight your interest in the medical school to the interviewers, as it shows that you’ve researched their curriculum in more depth.
The main advantage of dissection or prosection, rather than other representations of organs, such as models, is that it provides a more accurate experience of human anatomy, demonstrating variations which exist between individuals, and allowing you to explore human organs and gain first hand experience. However, even if you’re chosen medical school utilises dissection or prosection, your learning will be supported by other methods of teaching anatomy, so it’s important to demonstrate an understanding of how this will benefit your learning. Avoid downplaying the use of models and other representations of organs, as these are effective methods for exploring and understanding general structures within human anatomy; particularly if your chosen medical school does not offer dissection or prosection, you should focus on the benefits of learning anatomy via alternative methods.
During your interview, you may be asked directly what extracurricular activities you’re looking forward to or what you will bring to the university in terms of extra curricular contributions. In this instance, you can easily demonstrate your awareness of the opportunities that the university offers and your enthusiasm for studying there. However, you may simply be asked what extracurricular activities you currently take part in or what your hobbies and interests are outside of your academic studies; this type of question can be an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for attending your chosen medical school, or it may present a possibility to link your extracurricular interests to skills which will support your medical training, depending on the framing of the question.
Understandably, the extracurricular opportunities available may not have been a deciding factor in choosing the medical school you are interviewing for; however, being able to demonstrate your awareness of some extracurricular activities offered, again shows to the interviewers that you have researched the university and therefore your decision to apply there is well-informed.
Many medical schools offer Student Selected Components (SSC) as part of their curriculum; these may be linked to medicine, for example focusing on the history of medicine or perhaps global health topics, or they can be completely separate to your medical training, offering you the opportunity to learn a variety of modern languages, for example. If your chosen medical school offers SSCs, these can be useful to discuss in relation to the opportunities this will provide you with, in terms of choice within the curriculum and gaining additional skills and knowledge. Alternatively, it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss clubs or societies that the university offers which you’d be interested in joining; remember, medical schools are looking for well rounded students, so don’t be afraid to mention activities which aren’t related to your course, as it demonstrates your interests outside of medicine. These interests and hobbies can also provide examples of how you have developed skills and qualities which are useful for medical school; we discuss this in more detail in the ‘All About You’ section.