Preparing your Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine Applicants for Multiple Mini Interviews
Updated: Nov 21, 2021
Students applying for highly-competitive medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine courses are increasingly required to complete Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) as part of the admissions process.
Rather than a traditional panel interview, applicants complete multiple tasks at interview ‘stations’ in quick succession. Most station tasks last under ten minutes and students are required to complete several of these (often between 6 to 10, although some medical schools run more stations). For further details about the process, The Medic Portal contains a wealth of information and exemplar questions to help students to prepare effectively for this very unique style of interview.
Since I’ve worked within sixth form leadership, I have always sought to support our students with whatever interview process they may face. Oxbridge applicants have a bespoke programme to prepare them for their very competitive admissions process, but I always felt that applicants for medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine received less support in comparison. Despite being a History teacher with zero subject knowledge that might be of benefit to these applicants(!), I decided that the best preparation might be to run a ‘Mock MMI’ event in school prior to students’ actual interviews (I usually hold this in the second week in November so it’s early enough to be ahead of any actual university MMIs, but not so early that they forget what they learned from the experience). Whilst we are unable to recreate the exact set-up students might face at university MMIs, going through a process of completing a range of tasks in quick succession will surely, at the very least, give our students confidence ahead of these very high-stakes interviews.
I have provided the resources I use for the Mock MMI event below – these are by no means ‘best practice’; simply some tasks I found as exemplar MMI stations online, along with a couple created by friends (a GP who has kindly agreed to run a roleplay station for me each of the five years I have now been running this event and a biology teacher who helpfully provided a data-based task too). I try to include a range of tasks: role play; a data task; some based on ethics; some on giving clear instructions. The event does take a fair amount of organisation, as it needs adapting each year to the appropriate number of applicants, but students get real value from having a ‘dress rehearsal’ ahead of their university MMIs.
Each year, I try to invite as many practising professionals as possible to run the stations, then use senior or other staff members (preferably unknown to the students) for the remaining stations. This year I even asked a Year 12 Drama student to complete one of the roleplay tasks, which worked really well and meant she got some additional ‘work experience’ too! I call on parents from our school community, or connections via friends and, over the five years, have been lucky enough to include GPs, consultant haematologists, associate physicians, midwives, dentists and those working in mental and occupational health among our ‘interviewers’. Following the MMI event, I always ask whether any of the invited professionals are prepared to stay and hold a Q&A with our students. Every year, I am humbled by the time people in these very pressured and busy roles are willing to dedicate to support our students. Students listen attentively, making notes whilst asking questions, and always leave inspired and motivated to prepare further for their interviews.
I send all the necessary information – allocated tasks and information about the process overall – ahead of the event, then provide individual packs on the day itself. ‘Interviewers’ have packs containing the general information about the event, their task (which is also on the other side of the table already, facing the student), the rotation of students they will see, lined paper and pen (to make notes during the tasks) and the four named marksheets for each student. Students have their own clipboard, with their task rotation, lined paper and a pencil (for making notes in the two minutes’ thinking time).
For the purposes of our mock event, each student completes four ten minute tasks. Students move around the stations, and there is a timer on the screen indicating their two minutes’ thinking time and 8 minutes’ task time for each. You therefore need to hold the event in a fairly large room, with a projector for the timer (and someone willing to operate this if you are unable). I ensure any students applying for veterinary medicine or dentistry complete the ‘non-medical’ stations, so sorting out the rotation can be time consuming, especially if you have lots of applicants. Once the students have done four tasks, they get a short break which allows the ‘interviewers’ to write up the concise feedback sheets. Students then return and complete the same rotation, getting two minutes of feedback from each station – interviewers hand the students their mark-sheets so they have the feedback to take away. The ‘marking’ is pretty arbitrary; I ask interviewers to score each student out of 25, essentially so that they get a ‘percentage’ score for how well they have performed overall. I realise this is very subjective and in no way scientific, but as each university uses such a different scoring system for their MMIs, I feel we should provide something which gives our students a clear summary of how they have performed across the event.
Year on year, students report that they find it incredibly useful to be able to practise in this way. I then follow this up by sending them an example of a genuine university MMI task rotation that a former student completed in the last couple of years (the university sent them the details ahead of the interview – this is not standard practice and most are completely ‘unseen’). This allows students to work on their areas for improvement, having shared their experiences with one another.
The final thing to mention is that the Mock MMI event is actually really enjoyable to run – sometimes I act as an ‘interviewer’, at other times I operate the timer; either way, it’s great to see the students growing in confidence, even as the event unfolds.
Whereas once I was concerned that Oxbridge applicants received more comprehensive preparation than medicine, dentistry and veterinary appicants, I am now much more comfortable with the support we offer for all early entry applicants. Alongside the MMI event, our fantastic science staff have also provided so much support for these students. They set up and run our school MedSoc and have hosted multiple events to give our students 'hands on' experience. We are also lucky to have two science teachers within our Year 13 mentor team who have great experience in supporting this type of UCAS application and have signed our school up to Medic Mentor, which is something I would also highly recommend. The combination of the interview preparation and this wider support is invaluable and is already proving successful in increasing places offered for these highly competitive courses.
I hope others find this useful. I have included the MMI event resources in editable format, so you can adapt as appropriate for your own context.