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Thinking of Oxbridge?

So, Oxford and Cambridge. Two universities known all over the world, and many-a-child’s dream institution. Fantastic institutions to study Medicine, no doubt, just like all the other medical schools over the country. But the question that comes to mind is… are they the best places for YOU to become the best doctor, and human being that you can be? One of the most common questions we get is – ‘should I apply to Oxbridge for Medicine?’ – well, let’s find out!

What makes Oxbridge different? 🤔

Aside from the drawing power of the name, and the cred you’ll get from aunties if you study there, the main difference with studying Medicine at Oxbridge comes down to the way they teach it. It’s a very traditional style, with a strong divide between pre-clinical studies for the first 3 years, and clinical application for the next 3. This means that early clinical contact is very minimal, if that’s something you’re looking for.

The programme is also 6 years, with one of those years being a mandatory intercalation year where you choose to obtain a degree in an area that interests you (note: this is also the same at universities like UCL and Imperial).

But really, the main thing that excites people about Oxbridge is the collegiate system, and tutorial based teaching style. The universities are divided up into many ‘colleges’, which will form the main part of your small group teaching and social experience. As part of your college, you’ll regularly have tutorials with the academic staff there each week, who are most likely leaders in their field, and be expected to complete work, such as essays on certain topics in Medicine, for these small group teaching sessions. Yep, you read that right… essays at medical school! No other universities really teach in such a way, but that’s the Oxbridge way. To be honest, the opportunity to rub shoulders with experts in their respective fields is definitely a cool perk if you’re interested in that stuff.

Will I be a better doctor if I go to Oxbridge? 🤭

Let’s bust this myth here – no. Yes, at Oxbridge, you’ll be able to be taught by leaders in the medical field, but that’s not that deep. But every university has amazing academic staff, and leaders in their own fields too. You won’t really be learning anything that’s not out there in the textbooks anyway, because it’s not like Oxbridge have locked up some exclusive medical knowledge for their students that no one else has access to!

Medicine is such a standardised degree, regulated by the GMC, who try to make sure that all graduates from every institution are of a very similar standard. It genuinely isn’t going to make a difference if you study Medicine at Oxbridge or not, and there’s more to being a doctor than the academics (which we will touch upon elsewhere)

So why should I go? 🤨

Don’t for a second think that at Medology, we’re anti-Oxbridge, because we’re not! It’s just that our pet peeve is when applicants apply to institutions like these without intention, which is a trap that a few of our team fell into during the time they applied too. We just believe everyone should make an informed decision as to whether they want to apply or not.

From our experiences helping people get in, and fellow medical students, we think the main reason you should consider Oxbridge is…

  • If you really love science, and we mean LOVE it a lot to the extent that you’re fascinated by how things happen on e.g. a molecular level, and regularly try to go beyond your A Level Biology syllabus in school because you’re just that interested in it, then consider Oxbridge. At Oxbridge, students definitely learn a lot more of the basic science underpinning Medicine, which may or may not be the most relevant to clinical practice, but would set you up well for a career in research or academia, if that’s what appeals to you. But having said that, it doesn’t mean you have to go down those lines. Plenty of Oxbridge graduates become GPs for example!

If you like science, but not to the level where e.g. learning about it is like a hobby, and what really draws you to Medicine is the whole patient/interpersonal side of it, then think twice. And if academics aren’t your strength, but you’re still okay at them, then think thrice!

Bear in mind that the workload of Oxbridge medical students is generally much, much higher than a student elsewhere, so satisfying your scientific curiosity will come at a cost. You will need a solid work ethic, and a drive to rise to the challenge to be able to cope.

Think to yourself as well, and be totally totally honest – if Oxbridge wasn’t ‘Oxbridge’, and didn’t have any of the reputation and world standing that it currently has, would you still apply?

How do I get in? 🤩

We won’t beat around the bush – it’s difficult. We know many, many, incredibly smart applicants who’ve tried their luck and been rejected, and our team is full of plenty of rejects too. But amongst those who we’ve helped get in, here were the ingredients to their success…

  • Excellent GCSEs – we’re talking 10A* (9-8) and above
  • An excellent BMAT score
  • Brilliant science students – the types of people who really engage in class, think outside the box, and just have a natural thirst for knowledge and understanding.
  • An incredible, disciplined work ethic and stamina for academia

If you don’t have any of these qualities, it doesn’t mean you won’t get in! It will just make the process harder. But ultimately, if you genuinely believe that it’s best for you, and have that drive to make it at all costs, you WILL get in if it’s meant for you. But we do have one piece of advice…

Closing words… 🙏

At the end of the day, your goal should be to study Medicine, not Medicine AT a specific institution. We’re being totally real here – doing so is likely to set you up for disappointment, because most people don’t end up at their first choice university! And that’s fine – NO ONE WE HAVE EVER KNOWN has regretted where they have ended up. It is cliche, but verily, everything happens for a reason, and if you don’t believe us, we’ll ask you again in 3-4 years :)

Ultimately you may still be wondering whether you should apply… well, we can’t answer tha for you. You’re gonna need to think long and hard, educate yourself before making that commitment. But if you do apply, then give it your all!