English @ Robinson, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

2x interviews (30 mins each, 1 with 15 mins reading prep)

Interview content

1 based on specific texts; other on personal statement

Best preparation

Talk about your subject

Final thoughts

No need to be scared

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 early December. I was greeted at the porter's lodge where I was signed in and taken to the JCR where I was to await my interview. I was introduced to student volunteers who not only acted as my guide for the day, but also made friendly conversation to help settle my nerves before the big event. The whole day involved two separate interviews with two different members of the college.

The first interview involved me reading out aloud an unseen poem and discuss it a little, before talking about subjects I touched upon in my personal statement - it lasted for about thirty minutes. The second interview involved me being given a poem which I had to analyse for fifteen minutes prior to the interview and then discussing it with the interviewer.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Although this maybe a surprise to some, I actually enjoyed the whole interview process. I was obviously nervous prior to the interviews, but when I got in there I sensed quite quickly that the interviewers were only trying to gauge your passion for the subject, not confuse you with some ridiculously abstract question. That said, the questions were quite challenging. In my first interview, I was asked about the links between literature and philosophy. In my second interview, I was questioned on the books I talked about in my personal statement.

How did you prepare?

Probably the best preparation I did was interview practise. My sixth form college didn't have a support network for Oxbridge applicants so I found a website which had a stock of possible/past questions asked at interviews and had my mum ask me some of them for twenty minutes or so a day. This both prepared me for the spontaneity of the interview process and for the possibility of being asked overly abstract questions (my mother had a knack for asking the most ridiculous ones on the website!). Also, just learning your personal statement and being confident talking about the things you address in your personal statement can go a long way.

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

Don't be afraid of the interview - it will probably be the best part of the whole admissions process.