Human, Social And Political Science @ Jesus, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

Arts-Humanities Admissions Assessment; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: discussed an article; Interview 2: personal statement

Best preparation

Reading relevant articles

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Try to expand on your answers

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

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: about 2 hours 30 minutes

Length of first interview: 45 minutes; Length of second interview: 45 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My first interview required me to read an article, which I was then questioned about. I was very nervous, and I’m sure the interviewers were aware, but they tried their best to make me feel calm and comfortable.

My second interview was personal statement based. Generally the interviewers were firing questions about a section of my personal statement, in order to access my opinion on things.

How did you prepare?

Within my school we had sessions which prepped us for the exam. Generally they were useful, but most of the information received could have been found independently. I also had two mock interviews, in the same style of what I thought my actual interview was going to be like (reading and article, speaking about my personal statement)

For HSPS, the test is comprised of multiple choice questions and an essay. For multiple choice, I prepared by doing loads of past paper questions. Because of my year of entry, there weren’t many past papers to choose from, but I had enough to prep me thoroughly. For the essay writing portion, I also used practice questions; taking the essay questions from the past papers - planning them (brainstorming your ideas), writing them, and if possible, getting a teacher to mark them/give you feedback.

It’s also important to read articles/newspapers to expand your factual knowledge, as well as your comprehension skills, which is beneficial for the multiple choice portion of the exam.

To prepare for the interview, I re-read articles and annotated books I put on my personal statement. As well as that, I printed out my personal statement and cut it up in to sections (intro, para1, para2, para3) and stuck each section on a large sheet of A3 paper. Then I annotated and analysed every single line of my personal statement. (Yes I mean every line!). This included, researching more facts about what I was talking about, which I could throw in when I was speaking to my interviews, and analysing individual words, so that if I was asked, what I meant when I said ‘this’ I would know what to say. This is what worked for me, and was very helpful for me to look over before my interview so I had things to speak about that not many people would. [Edit: This is something this student did - it might be helpful for you too, but it's certainly not something everyone does]

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

If you are asked to read an article for your interview, my tip would be, try to dissect the article, understand what the article is trying to tell you & the topics which it touches on - if you can show that you can be analytical and understanding of something which is generally foreign to you, then that is very impressive.

My tip for a personal statement-based interview would be, TALK. Try to expand on your answers, and try to make sure what you’re saying is developed. It would also be a good idea to try to prepare for different things the interviewer might ask.

I would say, that it’s perfectly normal to be nervous, and it's likely that you might get nervous when the interview day comes. But what’s most important is that you try your best, if you know that you’ve put in the most effort you can to wow the interviewers, then that’s all that truly matters.

The interviewers are looking for candidates who are analytical, whilst still able to look at the bigger picture. Being able to look at different perspectives whilst still having an opinion. They’re looking for you to have confident developed answers whilst still having the capacity to want to know more. They want to feel as though they can teach you. But being yourself, and trying your best, is the most important piece of advice I can give to you :)