Modern And Medieval Languages @ Sidney Sussex, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

Modern and Medieval Languages Admissions Assessment; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: discussed pre-reading, general motivations; Interview 2: translation, personal statement

Best preparation

Read books related to the subject

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Remember you're not expected to know everything

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: Modern and Medieval Languages Admissions Assessment

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: 10 minutes

Length of first interview: 30 minutes; Length of second interview: 30 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview was a general language aptitude test with two language tutors, although they were not specialists in the languages I was taking. We discussed a text, then we spoke about my A level choices and studying languages. I felt nervous for the first interview but the tutors were really, really nice and interesting to talk to and I quickly relaxed so it ended up as more of a nice conversation than an actual interview.

The second interview was with another two language tutors, this time the tutors were specialists in the languages I would be studying. I was given a sheet of simple English sentences to translate into Spanish, my post-A Level language, and then we discussed in English the pre-reading text I had been given just before the interview. We then had a conversation in Spanish about the texts I had mentioned in my application. The conversation with the Ab Initio language tutor was different because we talked entirely in English but we discussed why I wanted to study the language, as well as a piece of literature I'd read in English. I was a bit more nervous for the second interview and nerves caused me to fumble slightly on the sentence translations. But as the interview progressed, I forgot about being nervous and just focused on the interview.

How did you prepare?

I prepared for the admissions test by attempting past papers. For the interviews, I looked at the University website to understand how the course works and picked my favourite modules. I read several books about history and linguistics, which was very helpful because I was confident that I had a general knowledge of my subject, although this wasn't a large part of my interviews. Attending a college open day was also useful preparation because I was able to watch a mock interview and talk to admissions tutors to gain more of an insight into the course.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

The difficulty level of the interview was as I expected, however I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated. My advice would be to remember that the interviewers are looking for someone who genuinely loves their subject and is willing to dedicate time to learning more and understanding new concepts - you aren't expected to know everything.