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How Long Should You Prepare For A Medicine Interview?

How Long Should You Prepare For A Medicine Interview?

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.

How long should you prepare for a medicine interview? One week? Four weeks? Seventeen??

It’s vital you know how long to prepare for so you can design your revision plan of attack.

As a general rule, applicants should aim to start preparing eight to ten weeks out from their medical school interview. The ideal length of preparation time will depend on factors such as the type of medical school interview, the baseline knowledge of the applicant and which medical schools they’re interviewing for.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one set length of time that will guarantee you an offer.

However, there are a number of different factors that will affect what an efficient preparation plan would be.

In this article I dissect what these factors are and how they’ll affect how long you should be preparing for.

Do You Need To Prepare For A Medicine Interview?

To start out with I wanted to answer a common misconception that students have about medical school interviews.

That is, the question as to whether they even need to prepare for them at all?

Nearly every medical school advises that applicants should undertake some form of preparation prior to their medicine interview. By revising important topics as part of their preparation applicants will give themselves the best chances of success at their interview and so at getting an offer to study medicine.

Much like the UCAT, although interviews can cover some novel and strange topics, you can very much prepare for them.

It’s true that in many ways they’re designed to examine you as a person and your personality- two things that are certainly not easy to change!

However, you may be surprised by the improvements you can make in your performance after only a couple week’s practice.

When Are Medicine Interviews In The UK?

To figure out when to start preparing for a medicine interview (and how long you should be doing it for) you first need to know when medicine interviews are held in the UK.

The vast majority of medicine interviews in the UK are held between December and March. A couple of outliers from this rule of thumb include the University of Bristol which interviews up till April and King’s College London who interviews from November all the way till May.

The dates medical schools choose to interview students between does vary from year to year- depending on the number of applications they receive and staff availability (amongst a host of other things).

A young lady being interview for medical school

The best way to find out exactly when a medical school is planning to interview their applicants is to phone them!

The admissions teams are always happy to answer questions and give you the latest on their interview schedule.

If you’re hoping to be invited to one, you might want to check out this article where I delve into the stats on how hard it is to get a medicine interview.

When Should I Start Preparing For My Medical School Interview?

Whether or not you know the actual date (or if you’ve got one!) of your medical school interview will dictate when you should start preparing.

An applicant should start preparing for their medicine interview from approximately October. This will give the applicant a preparation time of eight to ten weeks even if they’re invited to interview at the start of December. If the date of the interview is known then this start date can be adjusted accordingly.

I think October is a good time to start because the majority of medical schools interview applicants from December to about March.

So by starting in October you’ll ensure you’ve got at least eight weeks run up if you’re invited to interview at the start of December.

Now how much work you need to put towards your interview will depend on a number of key factors:

  • What your baseline knowledge is
  • What type of interview you’re attending
  • Which medical schools you’re interviewing with
  • How many hours a day you’re working

By thinking about how each of these factors is applicable to you, you can tailor exactly how far out you should start your prep.

A final factor that might affect how long you want to prepare for is how difficult medicine interviews are…

Your Baseline Knowledge

Medical school interviews do require a certain level of baseline knowledge.

This includes things such as the general role of a doctor in a patient’s treatment, a basic understanding of the different ways healthcare is delivered in the UK and a rough picture of what medical school will actually be like.

It’s the knowledge that you may have picked up if you’ve volunteered or done work experience in a healthcare setting, had an interest in medicine for a long time, or have close family that are doctors.

Not the sort of thing that you’re likely to be directly questioned on but you need to understand it for the rest of your preparation to make sense.

Depending on where you are on this spectrum of understanding will dictate how much extra work you may have to put in to bring yourself up to speed.

The Type Of Interview

The type of interview you’re preparing for can have a significant bearing on your length of preparation.

For example, in 2021 Nottingham Medical School ran a four-station MMI interview.

Knowing this could have focussed your prep around common MMI stations that were likely to come up.

With only four stations to play with you could have made an educated guess that Nottingham were going to cover some central themes in them- such as your motivation and suitability for medicine.

So you might have allocated a smaller portion of your time to the rarer MMI stations and tasks that have been known to come up.

This is in contrast to an eight-station MMI, commonly used by Leicester Medical School.

With eight stations, each seven minutes long, you’d want to be sure your interview prep branches out into more specialist areas.

Which Medical School You’re Interviewing With

Different medical schools can have significantly different expectations of candidates’ performance at their interviews.

A prime example would be either Oxford or Cambridge medical school.

A young man in a panel interview for medical school

These two medical schools are notorious for being more interested in how you think than listening to your rehearsed interview answers.

They’re more likely to bring up current affairs, test your wider scientific knowledge, or hit you with weird interview questions.

Because of this broader array of topics, candidates usually have to spend a bit more time covering them all as part of their preparation.

How Many Hours A Day You’re Working

How many hours a day you’re working is a bit of a tricky one when it comes to preparation timelines.

It can be easy to think more hours will equal more practice and so you’ll be better prepared for the interview..?

In reality, this isn’t always the case.

By absolutely hammering yourself you run the risk of being completely burnt out by the time it gets to your interview.

I’d suggest a far more safe and effective strategy is to take it steady with an hour or two’s work a day.

This will let you consolidate learning as you go as well as not completely frying your brain!

I know there’s always going to be some of you who cram everything in at the last minute, but if you plan ahead your revision will be both more relaxed and more productive.

Final Thoughts

The exact length of time you should prepare for your medicine interview will be unique to you.

Everyone is in a slightly different situation regarding their starting point, objectives and timelines.

What’s key is that when you walk into that room you feel fully prepared to take on the interviewer’s questions.

And that will only happen if you’ve planned out a preparation schedule that reflects your circumstances.

But now we’ve covered the different factors that affect them, you’re now more than capable of going away and doing just that.

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.