Engineering Admissions Assessment; 2x interviews.
Interview 1: mathematical puzzles; Interview 2: long subject-related problem, personal questions.
Emailing Cambridge academics (but proceed with caution), subject-related websites, college websites.
Explain your thought process aloud; don't worry if you get something wrong
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.
Number of interviews: 2
Time between interviews: about 2 hours
Length of interviews: 20 minutes
Online interview: No
In one interview, I was given some mathematical puzzles. Similar to the sort of thing I would see at school, but with twists that made them just a little more challenging. I was given these puzzles an hour ahead of the interview. I was lucky that I was calm. The puzzles are definitely not out of your reach if you have studied Year 12 maths, however, it takes some confidence to find new approaches. So, it was important for me to be comfortable and calm while trying them out. If I remember correctly, I didn't really boss any of the puzzles. I had a good stab at each one, but I did not go into the interview with all of the answers. I knew that was normal though. They just want to talk about the questions with you, so there is no need for everything to be perfect ahead of time.
In my second interview, I was asked a much longer question. The kind of thing you can't really answer straight away. It was a little more abstract, but it did not contain any high level topics. So, the way it worked was that the interviewer walked me through the process of answering the question. They really didn't let me struggle: every time time I seemed stuck, they would give me a hint. Which meant that it wasn't very scary. Some people try to make it sound like they just give you a really hard, weird questions and then leave you there to sort it out. It was not like that. We had a good chat and took quite a bit of time getting to the answer, together.
Aside from that, the second interview was an opportunity for me to talk a bit about myself. They asked personal questions. It seemed like they truly wanted to get to know me better. I enjoyed this part. I remember thinking that it was a rare opportunity to discuss my interests with people who know so much about engineering! So I thought I should make the most of it. We also spoke about non-engineering things, which was good fun.
My interviewers were very friendly! They really put me at ease and I am sure they will try to make you feel as comfortable as possible. They don't want to scare you. I treated the interviews as though they were
Of course, some people might
Clare seemed almost keen to get applicants to talk to each other on the interview day. I really didn't want to do this! Haha, I was actually really trying to think of ways to sneak away! I didn't want other applicants to scare me. I tried to eat breakfast alone, but other applicants came to sit with me. I am so glad they did. They were all so friendly and we were all equally nervous. Chatting to them really put me at ease. I made friends that day and I had a great time.
So, my advice is that you don't need to avoid other applicants. Even if you do feel the inclination at first. I remember thinking that even if I didn't get in to Cambridge, I would still cherish my memories of the interview as an amazing, surreal experience.
So, to prepare for interviews. I emailed
As for resources, I continued visiting https://i-want-to-study-engineering.org/ and https://isaacphysics.org/.
I also scoured lots of college websites to try to pick up on their preferences: some
I taught myself Mechanics 1 and Mechanics 2 (OCR) over the summer holidays.I had been told that having never being taught about mechanics, I was not an attractive candidate. So I took no chances! I also bought a puzzle book from Amazon, called Professor Povey's Perplexing Problems Pre-University, I tried to do those regularly. I tried to make a daily habit of practising problem solving using https://isaacphysics.org/ and https://i-want-to-study-engineering.org/. I emailed different Cambridge University members to see if anybody could meet me to give me advice. Several directors of studies agreed to have a chat, which was great. I also completed all of the practice tests ( I believe there were only two at the time) which were available online.
You are so much cleverer than you think! If you are invited for interview, then you are excellent. The questions will be set at a standard you will be comfortable understanding. So there is really no need to panic. The interview is not a test to see whether you are a genius or not, they already know you are smart enough. They are just checking to see whether they can teach you. So, I suppose that means that you should be able to show them how you thinking. Explaining your approach to the question is a great idea. That way, they can pick you up on any great ideas you have, and also help you if you seem to be going down the wrong track.
On which note, being wrong is extremely normal. Don't let that worry you. The test is to see whether or not you can use their guidance to correct yourself. So listen carefully and ask all of the questions you need to. Really, I don't think any question is too silly. Just ask away. Try to work with the supervisor to get the task done.