Human, Social And Political Science @ Robinson, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

2x interviews (each with 2 academics); 1st interview with 10mins pre-reading.

Interview content

1st interview: discussion of article and conversation about sociology as a subject, class and social issues and personal experience; 2nd interview: personal statement and <issueSaq>SAQ</issueSaq> personal statement.

Best preparation

<issueMockInt>Mock interview</issueMockInt>; reading; keeping up to date with the news.

Final thoughts

Don't worry about others waiting to interview, what you're wearing or your accent; you never know how the interview has gone; it doesn't matter if you get things wrong.

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 the first week of December, it was only the second time I had ever been to Cambridge and I had never been to Robinson College before. We had to wait in the JCR (common room) before/in between our interviews. Current students helped guide us to and from interview rooms and we were given a free lunch voucher. When I was called to my first interview, I was given a short article (2 pages of A4) about sociology to read in a small side room for 10 minutes before entering my first interview with two academics. There was about a half hour wait before my second interview with another two academics.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my first interview, we discussed the article they had given me. They asked me to summarise the first paragraph in a sentence. We talked about whether the categorisation of sociology is important. We then talked about class and social issues, I talked about my experiences in my hometown which the interviewers seemed really interested by. The interview lasted around 20 mins.

My second interview was more about my personal statement and my SAQ personal statement. I was a bit thrown by some random questions but it went okay (you can never predict what they are going to ask you!). I was asked about an obscure book I had mentioned in my personal statement (which I hadn't actually read) but I knew the gist of it and that was enough (they are not expecting you to know things inside out and back to front in HSPS). - But I don't advise saying you've read any books that you know nothing about/a book that is really well-known!

How did you prepare?

I had a mock interview at my college where we also discussed an article which helped for the real thing! I didn't really read any books or articles that were particularly relevant, but keeping up to date with current affairs made me feel more confident going in to the interview - except I didn't get asked at all about politics!

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

Good luck! Be yourself and don't let other people in the interview waiting room put you off. The interviewers don't care about what you wear or what your accent is like. Also it is true that you never know how interviews went, I came away from my interview day feeling really deflated and disheartened - I was sure I hadn't got in as I was focusing on the few questions that I stumbled on, but it doesn't matter if you get some bits wrong or if you could have said answers better!