History @ Selwyn, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

History Admssions Test (HAT); 3x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: discussion of a source; Interview 2: general motivations; Interview 3: talked about submitted written work

Best preparation

Practiced admissions test papers

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Remember that interviewers are mainly looking for enthusiasm for your subject

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: History Admissions Test (HAT)

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: 30 minutes

Length of first interview: 30 minutes; Length of second interview: 40 minutes; Length of third interview: 20 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview was source-based, looking at a written source and discussing it. My second interview was more general, and the final one was based on two essays I had submitted prior to the interviews. The interviewers were encouraging and kind, it felt as if they wanted to see me at my best rather than put me off. I was encouraged to bring out my ideas and then challenged to think more deeply and critically about the material we were working with.

How did you prepare?

To prepare for my admissions test, I completed a specimen paper I found online, which was kindly marked by a teacher. I had a practice interview

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Try not to be nervous or put off by other candidates seeming more prepared: just be yourself. Interviewers are just looking for a genuine curiosity and enthusiasm for your subject, as well as ability to think for yourself and work with the material. If you feel like you don’t know much yet, don't worry - it really doesn’t put you at a disadvantage.