Education @ Clare, Cambridge in 2016

Interview format

2x interviews (20 mins each)

Interview content

Standard issues surrounding education

Best preparation

Chatting to current students; TED talks; following relevant social media hashtags; subscribing to relevant news feeds

Final thoughts

Just be yourself and don't think you need to be the 'typical Cambridge student'

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

We were given breakfast then I waited in a common room with other applicants. I had 2 Interviews, approx 20 mins each, both 1 on 1. The first was focused on motivations for studying the subject and current developments surrounding the subject. The second was an activity-based analysis interview for which I was given material to prepare (more like a university supervision) in which I just gave feedback on what my gut responses to the text were and if I felt anything towards any of the issues it raised (e.g. issues of race, gender, inequality in the classroom).

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

We had a TED-talk video to watch beforehand so we discussed issues from that including school access and inequality, creativity, diversity and innovation. At the time, I was worried I wasn't saying anything that made me 'sound smart' or that I was mis-selling myself by discussing some of the things that frustrated me in the academic area but I guess they saw that as passion to learn the basics and keep pushing the field further.

How did you prepare?

Chatting to current students is very helpful especially on the access team. TED Talks were also so helpful. (HE plus exists now and that's great!!!) [Editor's Npte: , HE+ was made by Cambridge to help school students discover their subject beyond the curriculum]. Following relevant Twitter/Instagram hashtags i.e. #WeNeedDiverseBooks as lots of academics Tweet their findings/frustrations and it actually keeps you really up to date. Subscribing to relevant news feeds on apps i.e. science and technology, literature news so you follow major changes coming up to interview.

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

Apply. It's 1/5 of your choices and the only way you'll definitely fail is if you don't try. The "typical cambridge student" you imagine will always be 100x more perfect than they're expecting/wanting in reality. They just want you to be you. Your thoughts / opinions / dreams matter, because honestly that's the only way things change and academic fields get revolutionised. It's okay to dare to be different. Just keep engaging with the things that you'd gladly nerd out about when you first wake up in the morning - you'll need it!