Human, Social And Political Science @ Clare, Cambridge in 2014

Interview format

2x interviews in one morning

Interview content

First interview: asked about favourite subject and what was being studied at school; Second interview: given an article and asked opinions.

Best preparation

Reading about the subject making sure you're familiar with those books; mock interviews if available

Final thoughts

Take time to think

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 was in January, I was in my final year of school. I arrived the day before the interview as I had travelled from Scotland, and stayed the night in college. On the day, I had breakfast in college buttery. My first interview was at about 9 in the morning, and the second was later on at about 11am. I waited in the college library in between interviews, and then headed straight to the train station after the second one had finished.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview was with one politics professor. I was surprised that she didn't ask me about the books that I had said I'd read on my personal statement, or about the school history essay that I'd brought along as an example of my work, although she did ask me about my favourite subject at school (history), what I was studying currently in that subject, and we had a conversation about that period.

She asked very general questions about my opinions on things like power in the specific periods. She finished by asking about

The second interview felt less formal, with two professors. In the interview I was asked to read an article and discuss my opinions on it.

How did you prepare?

To be honest the most useful preparation I did was probably looking up a prominent social theorist on Wikipedia, getting a basic grasp of his theories, and then lying that I'd read his book. Probably not the most advisable tactic cause it can very easy go wrong if they ask questions that you can't answer. Could have gone wrong super easily!!

Other than that, I made sure that I was as familiar as possible with the books on my personal statement (I made sure that I had read at least a few chapters of each and could say something about each). I also did a mock interview with a friend who is a uni professor - this was helpful. If you can get anyone in the academic world (school teachers etc) to do a mock interview, this can help quite a lot in terms of giving a sense of what an interview is like.

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

Don't be afraid to pause and think about the question that they have asked. You don't need to fire back a response straight away.