Modern And Medieval Languages @ Corpus Christi, Cambridge in 2016

Interview format

1x test; 2x interviews (one on French, one on German)

Interview content

First interview: pre-reading, French conversation, personal statement; Second interview: pre-reading, personal statement

Best preparation

Mock interviews; Knowing my personal statement

Final thoughts

I thought I hadn't done well at all! The interviewers aren't trying to trip you up though.

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

One test prior to interview, one interview for each language. For the test I was given a room to go to at the allotted time. There I found all the other language students taking their test, as well as some history students taking their test. We then all sat in a large room together and took our respective tests.

The test was on English comprehension skills, analysing the techniques used by an author in a passage of English prose, and of a short piece of foreign language writing, based on the content of the text.

The next day I had my two interviews in the afternoon, within a few hours of each other. For my French interview I had one interviewer (a professor in French) and for my German interview I had two (a professor in German and a professor in Italian with a focus on European film).

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Each interview was broadly the same format - I was given a piece of text for 15 minutes to look over, make notes on, then asked to comment on during the interview, talk about style, language, period etc. For both, for the 15 minutes of reading I was shown into a room with other preparing texts for their interviews. During the French interview, we started by discussing the text I had been given (from a 21st Century novel). I was also asked some brief grammatical questions about the text (which I actually got wrong first time round) and we spoke in French briefly about what interested me in French culture. We also discussed the French works I had talked about in my personal statement.

For my German interview, we talked about the text, though no grammatical questions came up, and then proceeded straight to talking about my personal statement. We talked about almost everything I had mentioned, including some of the English-langauge texts I had mentioned after studying them at AS Level.

How did you prepare?

Mock interviews helped me a lot - they meant I had patterns of thoughts and almost prepared answers to fall back on under pressure. They also helped me get used to the nerves (not get rid of them entirely, but that's totally normal). Just before going to the interview, reminding myself of things I'd written in my personal statement just some time before also helped as it can be easy to forget things and focus on one specific thing you might never get around to talking about.

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

I thought my interviews had all gone terribly - I've never been so mentally and physically exhausted after mine, and I know it's a cliché but it's honestly incredibly hard to tell how they went. They're looking to push you and see what you can do, but never to find gaps in your knowledge to make you feel small - remember that even if it feels like you haven't given the answer they were looking for.