Human, Social And Political Science @ Christ's, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

HSPSAA; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: personal statement, submitted essays; Interview 2: discussion of a source

Best preparation

Fleshed out prior reading and content of personal statement

Test preparation

Past papers

Final thoughts

Don't overthink the questions, just answer to the best of your ability

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: HSPSAA
Number of interviews: 2
Time between interviews: 7 hours
Length of interviews: 1 hour
Online interview: No

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My first interview was relaxed and more focused on the content of my personal statement and what I spoke about in my essay in the HSPSAA. This gave me free rein to talk about aspects of the course I was interested in and I was asked to critique how I did evaluate certain ideas and topics. We spoke also about the essays I submitted from year 12 and year 13, and we spoke about what I studied. I was nervous at first but it became relaxed quickly and by the time we spoke about the subjects I was studying at the time it felt very natural. You will be asked if you have any questions, and as with all interviews it's best if you have one to allay any awkward silences! 

My second interview was later and I had two interviewers. I was asked much more targeted questions about the education module of my Sociology A-level and we went into far greater detail than the first interview, although I was relaxed after the first interview the questions did stretch what I thought and so it was helpful having some books or articles to refer to as it helped illustrate my thinking as I was trying to come to an answer. The questions bridged over into my Politics A-level and they showed me a cartoon and asked me to explain what I saw. I was trying to pull it back way too much to the education questions I had been given earlier and completely missed the point, which was fine! They asked one or two more questions which put me on the right track and not long after the interview was finished. Afterwards I was certain I had fluffed it because of that but it was all ok, you're not meant to know everything off the bat.

How did you prepare for your interviews?

I read several books around my subject and practiced articulating what I thought about them out loud. I spoke to my teachers and got comfortable talking about my personal statement and the academic contents of it. This meant that I was happy talking about the topics I spoke about in my personal statement and was able to flesh out more what my reading and general knowledge contributed to my knowledge around the subject. I also spoke to someone who had got into the course and asked about their interviews, they told me that a prop or a point of discussion is used, for me it ended up being a photograph, for all the advice I was given the best thing I was told in preparation was that I should treat it as if it was a conversation, so to prepare, have lots of conversations!

If you took a test, how did you prepare?

Past papers and practice papers

What advice would you give to future applicants?

Give yourself a moment to start with, but be sure to articulate your thoughts, especially if you are stuck or not sure what your answer is. Don't overthink things either, I thought every question was part of some complex wider topic and I was trying to tie it all together, but the interviewers will direct you in that way if they want you too. This is why it is important to articulate what you're thinking as if you are on the wrong track you can help you out. Never say you don't know! However challenging the question, the interviewers will only be able to help you if you have said what you think, for example, how you would answer it or what information you think you need to answer the question. At the end of the day, whatever the subject or topic of the question, if you are relaxed and answer as if it were a coffee shop conversation your answers will be much better, honest and it will be easier for you to think about answering the question, rather than getting strung up on the whole situation.