Economics @ Sidney Sussex, Cambridge in 2015

Interview format

2x interviews (20 mins)

Interview content

Based on personal statement; maths questions

Best preparation

Reading & mock interview

Final thoughts

Show interest outside of the school subject & show your thinking

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

My interview took place in November. I arrived at the porter's lodge and was directed to a room to wait until it was my interview slot. There were no tests on the day and no work was needed to be submitted beforehand. My first interview was with a PhD student which lasted approximately 20 minutes and my second interview was with two of the economics fellows which also lasted 20 minutes.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview I had to expand on things I had mentioned in my personal statement and answer a simple game theory question which most would have come across having read a beginners book on the subject.

The second interview was more difficult, with a more in-depth discussion of an aspect of economic development something I had also mentioned in my personal statement. I also had to work through a maths/logic question on a whiteboard, which required a knowledge of maths roughly similar to A-level but was just presented in a different format.

How did you prepare?

I mentioned 4 books in my personal statement and made sure I read them before interview - The Bottom Billion, Poor Economics, Nudge and The Joy of Game Theory which together give a decent introduction to development economics, behavioural economics and game theory respectively. This combined with what I had learnt in economics lessons up in school was sufficient. I had one practice interview with an ex-Oxford student which the school organised for me - but other than that relatively little and I would say I was less prepared than most.

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

For economics I would not say there is a need to learn any economic theory beyond what is in the A-level course, they just want to see evidence that you are interested in the subject outside of school and showing that you have read books such as those I mention above will be enough. Don't worry if you don't immediately get to the correct answer, they want to see the way you think through a problem so make sure you articulate your thought processes as you work your way through a problem.