Human, Social And Political Science @ Sidney Sussex, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

2x interviews

Interview content

1st interview: personal statement; 2nd interview: conversational, drawing out argument

Best preparation

Talking to current students & reading around subject

Final thoughts

Take confidence from the fact you were asked to interview

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

I had two interviews in late December. Though I was really scared, the process was really comfortable. A student and the admissions staff welcomed me and took me to a room with other candidates with some drinks and snacks.

My first interview was in a relaxing, sitting room style environment. A fellowof the college interviewed me alongside a PHD student. He took my coat and made me feel very comfortable. The interview was casual and consisted of them picking out things from my personal statement and using them to challenge my knowledge around certain subjects. For example, a reference to Brexit led to questions on the EU, and in this context I was pushed to explain bigger political concepts.

My second interview was equally comfortable and was with two fellows of the college. It was more of a guided conversation than an interview, with them trying to see how I adapted my arguements to new information.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Both of my interviews were very relaxed and to me felt like more of a guided debate, in which I was challenged with new information. I was asked questions based on my personal statement and SAQ. We discussed power and its relevance to various big political events. Then they asked me questions about differential achievement in education, more specifically with regards to gender. They presented me with conclusions on the matter I disagreed with, and challenged my rebuttals in an attempt to push me as hard as they could to see how I adapted.

My second interview focused on elections across the globe. I was asked questions a variety of sociological factors that contributed to voting behaviour.

How did you prepare?

Current students helped me relieve a lot of anxiety about the interview by sharing their experiences. Reading isn't a requirement in preparation for an interview, but I read a few book related to my subject before hand I think it helped me feel more confident about conveying my knowledge and passion for my subject.

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

Try not to be scared. This of course is a massive moment in your life, however have confidence in the fact that your invitation to interview means that some of the world's best academics regard you as a serious candidate. When preparing for interview, reflect on all your achievements and the traits of your character that have brought you this far.