How I prepared for my MMI as a prospective medical student
MMI stands for Multiple Mini Interviews. They are a circuit of stations that are generally around five to ten minutes long. Each of the stations has an interviewer and you are asked different questions in each. MMI stations can vary from ethical questions to acting stations to data interpretation.
My priorities before my interview
I carried out my MMI interviews in year 13, which was an extremely busy year. However, looking back at my time at school, I must say that it was my favourite year. Over the Summer before starting upper sixth form I prepared for the UKCAT by going on the Kaplan course, whilst also writing my personal statement over the same period. In the first half term of this final year I tool the Kaplan BMAT course to prepare for the BMAT exam and at this time I was president of HSBMS (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Muslim Society) at my school too. We put on a show in December called Taal which involved acting, singing and dancing. It was completely student-run, which made it pretty stressful, but it was completely worth it in the end. Once Taal was over, I made a start on interview preparations. Of course, throughout all of this, I also had to make sure that I kept on top of my A levels and one way I was able to stay organised was to write all my commitments in my diary – my diary was and still is my life!
What to expect of MMI & techniques I used to prepare
Just before the Christmas holidays I received my first invitation for interview at King’s College London which was to take place early in January. I was pleased that I had the Christmas holidays to prepare for my first interview, however, I was spending two out of the three weeks of my holiday in Bangladesh!
I was lucky as my Dad helped me a lot with my interview preparation. He printed out many different interview questions that he found on the internet, including questions that could come up in MMI’s and panel interviews. Then we would role play mock interviews together. The benefit of acting out these mock interviews was that I was able to practice answering questions that I had not seen before and it meant that if I was asked a similar question in a real interview, I would have a good idea on how to answer.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
Practice is key for interviews. The more you practice different questions, the more fluent you will be during the real thing. I remember in one free period at school, my friend and I sat opposite each other in the common room and took it in turns to ask each other different interview questions. We would then talk about what was good about our answers and also what could have been improved.
In retrospect, I would have found going to an interview preparation course very helpful; a course which Kaplan now offers. Going on this Medical School Interview course would have given me the unique opportunity to get interview practice with a medical student and doctor which would have been invaluable.
Practicing with someone else is especially important for the acting stations during MMI. This is when there is a professional actor in the station. You are given a scenario such as “you are a dry-cleaner and you have been given a dress to dry-clean by Stephanie for her daughter’s graduation. Unfortunately, you burn the dress while ironing it by accident. Stephanie is here to collect the dress for the graduation that takes place tomorrow.” The actors in the real interviews can be very dramatic and I have heard that they can even start crying! Therefore, practicing to stay calm under this pressure with your friends can be really useful.
Even if you cannot find anyone to practice interview questions with, you can even sit in front of a mirror and answer questions. This way you will see if your facial expressions and body language are professional enough.
Sometimes silence is key
Two out of my four interviews were MMI – the ones at King’s College London and St George’s. I also had interviews at UCL and Bart’s and the London which were panel interviews. I ended up getting offers from all four of the universities I applied to. I am currently studying at UCL and have just finished my second year.
During my St George’s interview the interviewer was not allowed to ask any questions other than the set ones. This meant that they could not ask any follow-up questions. This could lead to awkward silences if you have nothing more to say. Just remember, if you think that you have answered the questions as fully as you can, do not try to fill the silence by waffling on. It is better to sit in silence than to mumble or make things up.
Challenges I overcame
I remember in my King’s College interview my first station did not go well at all, this could have had a knock-on effect on the rest of my stations. However, I made sure that I took a deep breath and cleared my head between stations. In MMI’s it is important to remember that you have a fresh start at each station. Therefore, if you think that one of your stations has gone badly you must try and forget about it and move on. The interviewer in the new station will not have any idea how your other stations have gone.
Overall, year 13 can be a very hectic year and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by how much you need to get done. Just remember that any preparation you do will be helpful.