In Conversation With… Medicine at Oxford

Mr C Dodd – Staff Editor

This month The GSAL Journal caught up with 2018 GSAL leaver and successful Oxbridge applicant Lexy Shipley (Medicine, Oxford).
Lexley shares her experience of academic life and making a successful transition from school to university. Mr Dodd was asking the questions.

Worcester College, Oxford

Hi Lexy! Thank you for taking the time to chat to me today and congratulations on securing a place at Worcester College, Oxford.

Thank you for asking me.

How’s life been since you left GSAL? What did you do during your long summer break?

Life has been very exciting since I left (although I miss lots of the teachers and students). I had the best summer ever as it was the first I can remember where I had no work to do whatsoever and I could just enjoy myself. I cruised round the Med, where I met some wonderful people and ate far too much delicious food. The highlight of the three months off, though, was attending a pre-season training camp with the Oxford University cross-country club. This was brilliant and removed any nerves I had about coming to Oxford.

In one word, how did it feel when you finally knew that you would be going to Oxford?

In one word – PHEW! Getting into any medical school is a two year slog and resits are not really an option. So, yes, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that confirmation email popped up. Then the excitement kicked in.

What has been the best thing about your first few weeks at Oxford?

The overwhelming choice of things to become involved in. I am busy every minute of the day and I love it. I just wish I didn’t need to sleep.

 And the worst?

The mess (not my mess!) of a shared kitchen.

Have you done any exciting practical work yet?

Yes. We performed brain surgery on a willing volunteer. Only joking! The most exciting practical so far has been innervating our own muscles using electrodes to measure the speed of impulse conduction.

Brain surgery – not on the first year medicine course!

On a more serious note, what advice would you give to a student thinking about applying to study Medicine at university?

I’d encourage them to read the brief [!] guide I wrote on ‘Exploring Medicine’ [This excellent guide is available online by following the hyperlink.]

Your detailed guide ‘Exploring Medicine’ is fantastic! Thank you for taking the time to provide potential future applicants with such a detailed account of your experience. I fear it may also render my next question redundant, but here goes…

Other than working incredibly hard to get top exam grades, what else did you do to strengthen your application to Oxford?

This is also in the guide I wrote [see above]. It is a few pages long and would be hard to summarise, sorry, as I kept it as brief as I could.

Please share for us a ‘typical’ day in the life of a first year medical student at Oxford.

My favourite day is Wednesday as there is lots of sport and always a social in the evening. However, a more typical day goes something like this:

6.10am – wake up and eat breakfast very quickly

6.30am – jog to the Sports Centre

6.45am – netball court session

8am – reading course material at the Sports Centre

8.45am – jog up to the Medical Sciences Building

9am – lectures and practical work

1pm – jog back to College

1.15pm—eat lunch in college

1.30pm – write an essay (2-3 per week)


5.00pm – cross country team club run

6.30pm – eat a ready meal as I’m too late for dinner in Hall

7pm – make notes on earlier lectures

9.30pm – college bar or brownies and ice-cream with friends from college

11pm – back up any work I’ve done and sort all my stuff out for the following day

11.14pm – check my watch to see how far I’ve walked/run that day. It’s often more than 15 miles.


When you’re not studying, what else are you looking forward to doing during your time at Oxford?

As much sport as possible. I’m in the Blues teams for Netball and Cross Country, which is a massive time commitment—not just for the sport itself, but for the socialising that goes with it! I’m particularly looking forward to the preseason athletics trip to Portugal in the Easter vacation.

Oxford University Netball Club

And finally, any words of wisdom for the current crop of GSAL students?

  • Use your course spec and examiner’s reports to ensure your notes are fully comprehensive.
  • Complete as many practice papers as you can.
  • Delete social media in the month before your A-levels
  • But, do take time to relax so you don’t burn out.
  • Wherever you go to university, get stuck into as many clubs as you have time for. It’s the best way to make friends and settle in.
  • If you are coming to Oxford, either buy a bike (a helmet, some lights and 4 locks) or practise speed walking/running.
  • Be kind. Always.

Good luck!

Many thanks, and best wishes for the future. Mr Dodd


Find Out More

Find out more about Worcester College, Oxford.

Find out more about studying Medicine at Oxford.

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