How Are Medical School Interviews Scored? (Real Mark Schemes)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

If you understand how your medical school interview is going to be marked then you can tailor your performance exactly to the mark scheme.

By appreciating how your interviewer will be marking you, you’ll have a much better chance of squeezing every last mark out of the process- which will put you in with a much better chance of getting an offer at the end of it.

In this article, I’m going to look at how medicine interviews are generally scored, what you can learn from this as an applicant and even dissect a couple of real medical school mark schemes.

Scoring Criteria For Medicine Interviews

There is no standardised scoring system for medicine interviews used by medical schools across the UK.

Each university will use a subtly different system, with slight variations on the qualities examined in their medicine applicants.

However, there are some common themes.

How Medical School Interviews Are Scored Pixel Infographic

The specific scoring rubric can vary slightly between schools, but generally, it will assess the following areas:

  1. Communication skills: This includes the candidate’s ability to express themselves clearly and effectively, listen actively, and demonstrate empathy.
  2. Problem-solving and critical thinking: This assesses the candidate’s ability to analyse complex situations, think creatively, and apply their knowledge to solve problems.
  3. Professionalism and ethics: This evaluates the candidate’s understanding of professional conduct and ethical considerations in healthcare, as well as their commitment to these principles.
  4. Motivation and interest in medicine: This assesses the candidate’s passion for medicine and their reasons for pursuing a career in healthcare.
  5. Interpersonal skills: This includes the candidate’s ability to work collaboratively with others, show respect for diversity, and exhibit leadership qualities.
  6. Knowledge of healthcare: This evaluates the candidate’s understanding of healthcare systems, medical terminology, and current issues in healthcare.

As an example of how interviewers might grade a candidate on the above criteria, each could be assigned a score on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest score.

The interviewer will then provide an overall score that reflects their impression of the candidate’s overall performance.

The scores from all interviewers will be combined to provide an overall score for each candidate, which will be used to inform the final admissions decision.

Example Panel Interview Mark Scheme

The following mark scheme is based on a University of Nottingham mark scheme used to score applicants to their A100 medicine program.

The mark scheme was released through a Freedom of Information request back in 2012, so it’s not what will be used for candidates applying this year.

However, it can give you an insight into what sort of things medical schools do genuinely use.

Although this won’t be exactly what you’ll be scored against if you apply to the University of Nottingham this September, medical school interviews really don’t change that much over the years.

So it’s likely you’ll be assessed on many of the same qualities and characteristics.

Name:UCAS No:
Interview date:Interview time:

STARTING THE INTERVIEW:

Welcome the candidate and introduce yourselves. Explain what will happen.

CRITERIONNOTES ON RESPONSES
MOTIVATION
EMPATHY
COMMUNICATION SKILLS AND INTERACTION

CONCLUDING THE INTERVIEW:

Does the applicant have any questions?

INTERVIEWERS DECISION

Please complete the table below using the one of the following scores:

A:  Has all the criteria
B:  Has most of the criteria
C:  Has some of the criteria
D:  Has very few/none

CRITERIONASSESSOR ONEASSESSOR TWOJOINT DECISION
MOTIVATION
EMPATHY
COMMUNICATION
SIGNATURE

If you consider this person worthy of an offer please tick here: 

How Is A Medical School MMI Scored?

The multiple mini interview (MMI) is a format of medical school interview that involves a series of short stations or scenarios, each assessing a specific skill or quality that is important for success in medical school and in life as a physician.

In an MMI, the candidate rotates through several stations, each with a different interviewer and scenario.

Although an MMI might seem like a totally different interview from a standard panel medicine interview, the attributes interviewers are looking for in a candidate are exactly the same.

This means the exact same characteristics described above will likely form some part of an MMI mark scheme.

A medical school interview in progress
A medical school interview in progress

However, rather than being assessed collectively, an MMI might have a series of stations that focus on each attribute individually.

One of the most important things to remember in your MMI is that your performance on one station doesn’t impact your score on the next.

Each station gives you a standalone score.

In my MMI for Leicester Medical School, I actually really badly messed up my role-play station.

I think it must just have been the stress of interview day but I actually ended up laughing in the station because I thought I’d done so badly.

But, despite this, I actually got an offer from Leicester and ultimately ended up studying there!

This is why if a station doesn’t go exactly to plan, the best thing you can do in your MMI is take a deep breath, reset, and tackle the next station with a fresh start.

Example Medicine MMI Mark Scheme

Philip Adds, an admissions tutor at St George’s University London, actually wrote a paper in 2016 titled ‘An admissions tutor’s perspective on the multiple mini interview.’

In it, he described how St George’s evaluates their applicants in the MMI:

“The marking scheme at St George’s is out of five marks on each station (with zero the lowest and five the highest mark). At the end of the interview, all of your scores are added together and if you meet the cut-off score you will be offered a place. This cut-off score changes from year to year.”

So, it seems simple enough.

You just have to get a good enough combined MMI score to put you in the top portion of candidates that then go on to receive an offer.

However, there is an extra step.

St George’s uses this in their MMI marking and lots of other medical schools will likely use this in their panel interviews too.

It’s the concept of a red flag:

“A “red flag” can be given by interviewers if an applicant says something outrageous or inappropriate during their answer. Any applicant who scores two or below, or an “unacceptable,” or has a “red flag,” will be automatically referred to the admissions tutor before an offer is made.”

The system is used to stop candidates who may have said or done something that wouldn’t be compatible with good medical practice from getting through the admissions process due to an otherwise good performance.

There are just certain views or opinions that will mean an applicant wouldn’t be admitted to medical school, no matter how well they did on their other MMI stations!

Final Thoughts

Quite a few medical schools will actually explicitly tell you what they look for in their applicants- their websites are usually the best place to start.

You can bet these qualities a medical school specifically mentions will at least in some part be assessed in their interview process.

Knowing what your interviewer is going to be marking on you can put you one step ahead of every other applicant who’s otherwise going into the interview ‘blind.’

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.