Engineering @ Churchill, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

ENGAA; 1x interview

Interview content

Interview: personal statement, reading, subject-specific questions

Best preparation

Do test paper papers

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Remember the process is holistic

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

Test taken: Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA)

Number of interviews: 1

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: N/A

Length of interview: 45 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

At the beginning of my interview the first 5 minutes was used as a bit of an icebreaker. We talked about my interest in engineering and allowed me to explore some of specific details I mentioned in my personal statement such as some of the projects I carried out and a book I read.

The rest of the interview was purely academic and involved problem solving with maths and physics questions. I personally did not find the interview questions too difficult as it was based on topics I had previously done in school. For example, some of the questions that were asked were revolved around mechanics, electricity and thermodynamics. Despite this, the questions were designed to be somewhat advanced and I did have to sit back and think for a while before arriving at an answer for some of the questions.

The interviewers actually wanted me to arrive at the right answer and if I were at all stuck, they would push me in the right direction with the hope that I would get there eventually. So in some sense, the interview wasn't really intimidating for me but rather quite enjoyable and it felt more like a discussion than a formal interview. The interviewers gave me time to think when I faced with some of the more challenging problems, this often led to some Eureka moments when I figured out how to solve a problem (great feeling!).

How did you prepare?

The important thing for preparing for the ENGAA is just to do a lot of problem solving and doing all the ENGAA past papers. I would also advise people to do additional admissions papers relating to maths, physics and engineering (e.g. MAT, Physics Admissions Test etc) - this will provide a lot of practice for the ENGAA.

I would also suggest using the Isaac Physics and iwanttostudyengineering website to really stretch and improve your problem solving skills, this will especially be helpful for interviews.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

The ultimate advice would simply be do just do a lot of problem solving questions beyond your A Level (or equivalent). There are numerous resources available online that can enable you to go beyond and stretch yourselves and this will prove to be very helpful in the interview stage.

As mentioned previously, Isaac Physics is a great website for practising solving maths and physics problems (the highest difficulty corresponds to pre-university level). Doing different admissions papers (even if it is not strictly related to your course) is also a great idea.

Looking back at when I applied, I do remember that I thought I hadn't done as well as I would've liked to in my admissions test, so I was feeling a bit pessimistic whether I would get an offer. However my interview did go quite well, so in the end everything worked out.

This shows the whole nature of the applications procedure at Cambridge; it is a holistic process meaning you don't have to do very well in every part of the application. The interviewers are looking for candidates who are passionate about the subject, who are persistent and constantly thinking and also who are teachable.