English @ Pembroke, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

English Literature Aptitude Test; 2x Interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: Unseen Poetry, Personal Statement; Interview 2: Unseen Extract, Subject Conversation

Best preparation

Timed Essays

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Be enthusiastic and know your personal statement content.

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: ELAT/p>

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: About 3 hours

Length of first interview: 30 minutes to 1 hour; Length of second interview: 30 minutes to 1 hour

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview was about some poems that I had 5 minutes to read over beforehand. It was very loosely related to some themes from my personal statement.

The other interview was also based on an unseen extract, but for the second half I had an opportunity to direct the conversation to where I wanted it to go.

I really enjoyed the second interview but I thought the first was terrible! I was convinced I wouldn’t get in.

How did you prepare?

Doing essays to time

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I would say don’t be phased by your interviewers and whatever impression you think they have of you, because chances are they’ll be different.

Make sure you’re very confident on everything you mention in your personal statement, even if you only mention it briefly! Try and read/ listen to as much as you can, show what you’re interested in and what makes you distinctive.I think what saved me from my appalling first interview was my enthusiasm for the second when I found a topic I was excited about.