Natural Sciences (Biological) @ Jesus, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: topic of interest, subject questions; Interview 2: subject questions

Best preparation

Timed practice papers and questions

Final thoughts

Don't worry if you get stuck!

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: Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA)

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: about 1 hour 30 minutes

Length of first interview: 20 minutes; Length of second interview: 20-25 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My interviewers were very friendly and made sure I'd visibly settled down before starting. My first one started off quite general with one of the interviewers asking me to outline a topic of interest, which we used as a springboard for further discussion.

The questions became more specific as we went on. It was very much a two-way dialogue throughout though; not just question-answer. In my second one we again discussed some questions.

How did you prepare?

To prepare for my test, I revised the AS/A-Level syllabus, did practice papers (under timed conditions), and went through questions with a teacher.

As well as this, to prepare for my interivew I had a mock interview with a Biology teacher at my school.

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

Maybe try to arrange a mock interview if possible so you're prepared for the format and feel (relatively) at ease in it - this way hopefully you'll be better able to focus on the questions. It's also a good idea to go over your A-level notes and personal statement. Try to have a few bits about any books/articles you've read to hand in your head as it can be good to slip in.

If you get stuck in the interview, they may 'prompt' you. Don't be discouraged by this - remember, they want you to do well. Just try to listen carefully and if you need clarification, don't hesitate to ask. Sometimes you may find it's useful to use some pen and paper to help work through questions, so do use it if needs be. The key thing is to always verbalise your thought process because then it's easier for them to help you if you do get stuck. Last but certainly not least remember to convey how much you love your subject!