Music @ Jesus, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

No test; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: Unseen pieces of music and text; Interview 2: personal statement, aural test

Best preparation

Speculate about questions in interview, speak to other people and think critically about reading

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Don't panic and don't feel judged!

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: None

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: around an hour

Length of first interview: 20-30 minutes; Length of second interview: 20-30 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In the first interview, I was asked to discuss my thoughts on a previously unseen piece of music and a text I had been given about half an hour before. We talked about the context that the piece of music was written in. I then had to speak about my opinion on the text and to the extent I agreed or disagreed with the writer's line of argument.

In my second interview, there was more discussion about my personal statement and I was able to elaborate on what I had written. I was asked to think of some other examples contrary to my thoughts outlined in my personal statement.There was also an aural test in this interview.

I felt comfortable going into both interviews, though I was naturally a little nervous and did relax into it. The interviewers were all very supportive and encouraged me to think more deeply; they didn't mind if I made a mistake, it was more about how I recovered from the mistake and moved forwards.

How did you prepare?

To prepare, I tried to think about potential questions and I how I would answer them if I were to be asked them at interview. It was also very useful to speak to other people in the years above, regardless of their subject, about their experiences at interview. I was sure to read many books on the subject and think critically about what I was reading. I also made sure to read every book or reference I had mentioned in my personal statement thoroughly and with an analytical perspective too.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

It sounds like a cliché but don't panic, and don't feel judged by the interviewers. I felt that I was genuinely supported and encouraged by the interviewers and was at no point ever made to feel "less intelligent" or unworthy of being at Cambridge just because I didn't answer something correctly.

My expectations of the interview were exceeded, as the interviewers and all staff and students were helpful, and my interviews were both in beautiful old buildings.