My 2020 UCAT Group Interview Experience

Wondering what the group interview requires you to do? Well, you came to the right place!

Being interviewed at the same time at other candidates may sound daunting. What’s everyone going to think of your responses? Are your responses going to be as strong as the other candidates? But, it’s easier than it sounds though! In this article, a UCAT Masterclass graduate shares their successful experience at a university admissions group interview.


Receiving my group interview offer

I was thrilled to even get an interview offer, and my hands were shaky even just scrolling through the email that announced it. With the group interview being conducted in an online setting via Zoom, it was definitely not an experience I was used to having. So, I made sure to carefully read the email.

The key pieces of information I noted from the offer email were:

  • Time and date of the interview
  • How I could confirm my invitation
  • When did I need to confirm my interest
  • Any confidentiality agreements I would need to accept
  • ID documents required for the day of the interview
  • What screen name I should use
  • Any other information provided about the structure of the interview
  • Any other follow up emails I would have to look out for. In most cases, the Zoom interview link will be sent in a later email.

I referred back to this email quite a few times before the interview for peace of mind, and I would recommend favouriting or at least not trashing such interview related emails.


Joining the meeting

In the email presenting my interview offer, I was instructed to change my screen name to my full name with an unexplained number in front that they had specified.

After joining the online meeting with the appropriate screen name, I was left to wait for about 15 minutes before my ID was checked in a private meeting room.

I’m a very cautious person, so I made sure I had all required documents plus extra ones handy.

Once my ID was checked, I was transferred to a waiting room with all the other candidates.

The waiting room

In some group interviews, candidates are specifically asked not to converse with others in the waiting room.

However, in my case, we were allowed to freely talk to each other. I had initially planned to engage in conversation with others in the waiting room to appear sociable to the invigilators that were monitoring the room (they were muted with their cameras off. So, this wasn’t immediately obvious).

However, I was concerned that the colloquial language used and the topics discussed could create the wrong impression of me if I was not tactful. Ultimately, I chose to stay quiet.

While candidates aren’t directly assessed on their behaviour in the waiting room, I would suggest that you avoid swearing or joking about malpractice…

Since I didn’t have much else to do while waiting, I decided to familiarise myself with the names of the people who were probably going to be in my group.

I had correctly guessed that the random number that was assigned to screen names was our group number. I mentally rehearsed pronouncing my group members names, trying to put names to faces, so that I could confidently refer to them by name if I wanted to address their responses during the panel discussion.



Beginning the assessment

After waiting almost an hour while all ID checks were completed, we were all given a short briefing by a presenter about the structure of the whole interview. They let us know the schedule for our panel discussion and written assessment (not all interviews have the same components, so check your interview offer email to find out what’s relevant for you).

After that, we were given the opportunity to ask any questions. From there, I was separated into a virtual room with the other people in my group. I didn’t know anyone in my group because they deliberately sorted students from the same school in different groups, but this might not be possible in all cases.

In my case, there was a timed written assessment that was conducted over Google Docs. Some generic questions will not require you to do much thinking on the spot, while for other situational questions based on moral dilemmas, you will need more time to consider and plan the appropriate response.

The invigilator told us how long we had to answer the questions, let us know when we could start, alerted when there was two minutes left, and then removed our access to the document once the time was up.

Check the time before the assessment begins.

There was no visual reminder of the start or finish times! But, fortunately, I checked the time before the assessment began, so I could have a sense of how I was tracking and when the time would be up.

Unfortunately, though, my nerves made me completely forget all this information and I had to rely on the invigilator’s alert for two minutes to the end. There actually was a candidate who tried to ask how much time there was left during the assessment, but the invigilator never heard them because their headset was not working… Moral of the story? Check the time and remember it.


Panel discussion

After the written assessment, our group moved onto the panel discussion where one interviewer asked questions, while the other was muted and probably observing our behaviour. My best guess is that they were helping take notes and also looking out for any signs of malpractice.

That aside, the interviewer would present a question before asking if anyone would like to speak. The interviewer let us know that they would call on us if we didn’t volunteer to answer any questions, but everyone in my group took the initiative to speak. So, it never came to that.


UCAT Group Interview dos and Don’ts

All in all, this is my advice based on my experience:



  • Be assertive.
    If there is a silence in the group and you believe you have an appropriate answer, offer to step up first. There is a bit of a lag time in video conferencing, so if another candidate volunteers at the same time as you, don’t be afraid to politely let them go first or thankfully go ahead yourself if they offer to let you speak first. Try not to waste the interview time bantering with someone about who should go first.
  • Show that you are a confident speaker.
    Make eye contact, speak with conviction and feel free to be humorous if it’s a light-hearted topic; the interviewer is human too! If you aren’t 100% sure about your opinion, let the group know that you are open to other perspectives, but still be articulate in what you say. Remember that as a high school leaver, you aren’t expected to know everything about professions that people spend years studying and practising. All you need is a passion, and a willingness to learn.
  • Listen to other people’s responses.
    It’s called a panel discussion because you are meant to be bouncing off the ideas of other candidates. Drinking water loudly and gazing off into the distance while other people are speaking can also come across as disrespectful. Offering an encouraging smile to the person whose speaking, nodding when you agree with them and addressing other people’s ideas are simple ways of demonstrating you are an active listener. Listening makes up half of communication and it’s an essential skill for team players in any field of work.



  • Dominate the discussion.
    A rule of thumb is to speak once or twice for every question and only more if someone specifically addresses you or a point you were making.
    It might be tempting to go back and forth with someone when they disagree with a point you made, but just explain yourself once and offer closure by acknowledging that there will always be many different perspectives on complex real world problems.
  • Wait until the end to make an impression.
    For the last question of my group interview, the interviewer started to cut off people’s responses because we had gone overtime for the previous questions. That’s great if you’ve already said your piece. However, for those who haven’t, it’s a lost opportunity. It’s important to not dominate over others, but it’s just as important to make your mark early on and speak up. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds; just do what feels natural as you would in a regular conversation.
  • Be afraid to disagree with other people’s responses.
    You just need to ensure you are tactful and respectful about it. An easy way to do this is starting off with a phrase like “I can see where you are coming from, however…” or “That’s an interesting point, but…”


Recognise that:

  • Other candidates may also disagree with points you make.
    Try not to take it personally, and focus on the validity of their point. You might end up agreeing with them or refining your previous opinion, and this is a great way to show that you are an open-minded individual with emotional intelligence and maturity.
  • Group interviews are a marathon.
    They take a long time (3 hours+) and a lot of it is spent in the waiting room (at least an hour and a half) because everyone in the group needs to be checked in individually (for privacy reasons) before the interview can start. I personally didn’t converse in the waiting room, but even just sitting through almost an hour of small talk was mentally draining. I definitely felt tired by the end of the interview, and that was with a good night’s rest and plenty of food and drink. Ultimately, you can’t be the bright smiley person (which I’m sure you are!)  unless you are feeling energised. So, make sure you get enough sleep and food beforehand. However, keep in mind that there are no bathroom breaks during the two-or-so hour interview process, so go easy on the water.


All in all, if you are passionate about whatever you are being interviewed for, your interest and background knowledge will show through. It’s okay to feel nervous; it just means that you care. Believe in yourself and try to enjoy this experience. Best of luck!


Before you do group your interview, you need to sit the UCAT.

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