How likely am I to get into Cambridge as an American?

Thanks for all the advice guys, my gpa would put me at the top of my school considering that I’m taking all APs this year and I have A’s in all of them, that being said, I still have a C and a few B’s plaguing my 3rd quarter sophomore year as explained above. While my gpa could technically allow me to qualify for almost every school in California, I still have that C that sticks out. To clarify my earlier response, my main goal is to be able to become a professor leading a team of scientists as the PI. From what I know, many colleges offer dual MD PHD programs which makes the process of becoming a professor easier. At the end of the day, the MD is optional, it is a means to an end for me, as long as I can get a position as an associate/assistant/legit professor. Oxford and Cambridge are interchangeable to me, both are great schools, but Cambridge is ranked higher for bio sciences and has a higher acceptance rate.

They’re really not interchangeable in an important way. Aat Oxford you would just do biology, at Cambridge you would have to do Natural Sciences, meaning at least one more science subject in depth. take A close look at the websites of the respective universities and departments to get a clearer picture of how the degrees are structured.

higher acceptance rates are a bit illusory. They just reflect numbers of applicants per place, rather than the actual difficulty of getting in.

Thank you so much for the advice! I was originally a bit confused about what it meant by Natural Sciences, me not having someone to consult just thought it meant that I would have to choose one of several science classes. Knowing this, I would probably now lean more toward Oxford. Thanks guys.

The full description of all the required and optional courses is on the website, because there is far less flexibility than in the US. You need to understand and be comfortable with the list of courses you would be taking. So for example don’t expect to have the choice of taking computational biology before the third or fourth year.

There are incredibly detailed admission statistics, example entrance tests and all sorts of other information on the website. You should read it.

A pre med student would be more able to take all the required pre-med claaases.in a natsci program than in straight biology at Oxford. But it would still be difficult.

I was actually planning on just staying in the UK if I got in, given that the time required to earn a PHD is less, the only reason I would like to move back to the US for grad school or med school is for sentimental purposes, all in all, back to the main question, do you think I’ll be able to get into Oxbridge?

I’ve also heard about the interview and the TSA, and I’ve been going through past TSA’s

There is nothing which would disqualify you from getting a place, but since the admission decision is entirely dependent on the interview, it is impossible to say whether you would get in. It is reasonable to assume that your chances are likely better than your chances of getting into Stanford, assuming you don’t have any major hooks, and worse than your chances of getting into Berkeley L&S. However if you give the impression that Oxbridge is a backup to top US schools (for example by saying you’d like to become a doctor), then that would be viewed negatively (i.e. they really hate to be turned down). Remember that the yield for domestic UK applicants who meet their offer is something like 99%.

And read the statistics. They state the proportion of applicants each year who were admitted by subject and TSA score. Indeed looking on The Student Room you can find the full spreadsheets of admissions data by candidate (anonymized) released under the UK’s freedom of information act.

@VickiSoCal, I’m pretty certain that pre-med requirements also require a humanities component. I know some pre-health majors have that.

@KingDward, note that while American MD-PhD and STEM PhD programs (which you enter straight from undergrad) are funded, UK grad programs generally are not (unless you win scholarships).

@PurpleTitan most med schools reuire

Most medical schools require the following courses:
One year of Biology with lab.
One year of General Chemistry with lab.
One year of Organic Chemistry with lab.
One semester of Biochemistry.
One year of Physics with lab.
One year of English.

I think the right NatSci combo could get those in except the English, but you could take that over the summer back home.

Thanks for the list VickiSoCal, just to clarify, this is for UK med schools right? And I also noticed that you put down Organic Chemistry and Physics as a requirement. I am actually planning on taking organic chemistry and physics 3 senior year (both are college courses offered at my school), will this affect anything? Does this allow me to skip these classes if I do pursue higher education in Britain?

No. That is for US med schools.

UK Med school is direct entry after A levels.

I am very confused as to what your goals/plan are.

American med schools would want to see your transcripts from all colleges (but classes taught at a HS won’t count). You won’t be able to get out of any required classes at Cambridge. They often let you choose from a list of classes to fill some slots, however.

  1. Most US medical schools will only accept the pre-reqs if they are taken at a US or Canadian university.
  2. Biology (or Biochemistry) at Oxford does not have an admissions test. There is no need to be studying the TSA.
  3. Medical school in the UK is direct admissions from secondary school and is *exceptionally* difficult for US students. With the exception of 1 private program (which is brand new), every UK uni has a cap on the number of international students they can take. Oxford is allowed 12-13 international students for medicine; they typically take about 6.
  4. In the UK, your Master's is typically done by staying on for 1-2 years at the same university, and you pay for it. You apply for PhDs, where the fit between your research and the interests of the place you apply is crucial. Funding exists, but is not as certain (and not always as complete/generous) as in the US.
  5. For Oxbridge, nobody can tell you more than that your stats (+ a decent PS & rec) should get you an interview. After that, all bets are off.
  6. Why aren't you looking at Imperial?

Given OP’s stated ultimate aim of doing medical research, I’m not convinced a medical degree is necesssary. A PhD in the right subject would be fine.

Yes OP could do research as only a PhD, but many pharma/biotech/med device companies will only allow MDs to be PIs (Principal Investigator, OPs stated goal). Although PIs do not technically have to be MDs, the very large majority are, as an MD is needed to make all trial related medical decisions—so if PI is not, an MD has to still be involved. Lastly, most PIs are MDs because they also have patients to fill up the clinical studies, which a PhD would also not have.

Of course with a PhD only, OP could do research in any number of companies or government entities.

OP should also pay close attention to the many helpful points in post #25.

Thanks for everything guys, the list was particularly helpful. I understand that studying medicine is, unlike America, a choice that is made right at the beginning, however I also heard it was possible to receive an undergrad degree in another subject and still apply to graduate entry medicine as long as I have honors in a medical science. From there, if the UK offers dual PHD and MD programs, I would like to take that path. Also to clarify, while I will be learning organic chem and physics 3 at my high school, they are COLLEGE courses. Taking these would allow me to skip these classes in any college in the US and can be though of as higher level AP’s in my school. I was just wondering if this rule applied to the UK as well, as I would be able to skip these classes in US colleges given that I took them ahead of time in HS.

  1. You won't be able to skip them in the UK.
  2. You may not be able to skip them in the US. Some colleges accept dual-enrollment courses as college courses. Many do not. I doubt med schools see them as "real" college courses.
  3. I still don't get the fixation in the UK. Sure, apply away, but you're bound to get in to a UC somewhere and it seems that the American route (even at ones much less prestigious than Cambridge) provide a better path to PI.
  4. Why not actually check online to see if UK MD-PhD programs even exist?

Thanks PurpleTitan for all your feedback, Oxbridge does have an MD-PhD program with the NIH, the part I’m mostly concerned about is how I would apply as a potential international student. As for why I am focusing on the UK, I believe that I will be able to qualify for more intensive and honored schools there.