Human, Social And Political Science @ Sidney Sussex, Cambridge in 2019

Interview format

Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment (AHAA); 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: personal statement, set questions; Interview 2: discussion of a source, social sciences questions

Best preparation

Re-read personal statement to think of potential questions

Test preparation

Past papers

Final thoughts

Take your time to answer questions

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: Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment (AHAA)
Number of interviews: 2
Time between interviews: 1 hour
Length of interviews: 20-25 mins
Online interview: No

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

I had one interview for Politics and one interview for Anthropology and Sociology. There were 2 people interviewing me in each one. All my interviewers were pretty friendly, Politics didn't really do small talk though so just be aware they might dive straight in with questions! In my first interview they started by talking about my personal statement, then they had some fixed questions they wanted to ask me. I often didn't know how to answer their questions initially but once I'd said something they could springboard off this either to help push me in the right direction or to make me rethink, so they always guided me to an answer in the end.

In my second they started with a source I'd been given to read before hand and then went into questions relating to my personal statement and social sciences more generally. This interview felt a bit more relaxed and more like a chat, although I worried that I hadn't done as well at answering the questions. You do relax into it but try and go in with confidence, they just want to see how you think and what you're interested in. If they're pushing you they think you can go further and that's a good thing so don't panic!

How did you prepare for your interviews?

I read all the books that were on my personal statement again and had a think about what sort of questions they could ask about them. They assume you know about everything on your personal statement so definitely worth a second look! I thought it was useful going through my personal statement line by line and thinking about what questions someone might have if they read it. I did a mock interview with an ex-student from my sixth form and I think that helped me gain a bit of confidence, I think the real thing is a bit different for everyone but practicing answering questions when you're a bit nervous really helps, so worth getting someone like a teacher to give you a mock interview. I got asked about something current in the news relevant to my subject in one of my interviews so it's a good idea to keep up with the news. I thought I'd left my preperation to the last minute but honestly they want to see how you think on the spot, so as long as you know your personal statement don't stress!

If you took a test, how did you prepare?

For the reading comprehension, practice papers really helped me get my timing sorted-these are all freely available on the university website. For the essays, I did try a couple under timed conditions the day before but for me what helped the most was looking at questions and thinking about how I could answer them without looking things up, and thinking about topics that were relevant to what was going on in the world at the time (climate change, democracy, terrorism etc).

It's worth keeping up with the news and also have a look at the older papers before the new ones came out as there are past papers for these as well, it's not exactly the same format but it gives you an idea of the sort of thing they could ask and more practice questions to think about. Don't worry though - it's about applying things you do know about to the question so you're not expected to be an expert - if anything coming at it from a different angle just makes you more original. Prepping is just about getting the ideas flowing rather than predicting exactly what the questions will be.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

Don't stress, it's honestly not as scary as it's hyped up to be! If you're asked a question try and come up with an answer even if you don't think it's 'smart enough', your interviewers can help you once you've said something by asking you mroe questions or giving you more info so just think out loud. Take your time to answer the questions and just try and relax. I was really stressed about what to wear, I wore a jumper and jeans wheras others wore suits and it honestly doesn't matter at all. Be confident - you were invited to interview for a reason! It's as much about you seeing if you like their teaching style as it is them assessing you.