Theology, Religion, And Philosophy Of Religion @ Sidney Sussex, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

Theology at-interview assessment, 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: reading-based questions, personal statement; Interview 2: reading-based questions, foreign language skills

Best preparation

Practice papers, TED talks, reading

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Know what's in your personal statement, and think out loud

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: Theology at-interview assessment

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: a couple of hours

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

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

For the first interview, I was given a piece of reading and 20 minutes’ reading time. When I entered the room, I was asked what I thought of the reading and to summarise the general themes therein. I was then asked some more general questions about my personal statement etc.

I got the feeling in this interview that the interviewers had a strict set of questions to ask, so a more cohesive conversation with a flow never developed.

I had another 20 minutes’ reading for my second interview. In contrast to the first interview where I was alone, I did the reading in a silent reading hall with other students.

Again, I was quizzed on the reading when I entered the interview. The interviewers asked some more general questions. I was then given a quick test on my foreign language skills. I was given a couple of sentences translated into a language no interviewee was familiar with. I was then given a few more sentences to translate, based on that. The conversation seemed to flow more easily in this interview.

How did you prepare?

Practice papers from the university website, and practice “exam lectures” from the Divinity Faculty website

I watched a lot of TED talks and took plenty of notes from those.

My school were really helpful for advice, and I had a helpful practice interview with a nearby school. I also read a lot of fiction with themes relating to my course.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I think in general, interviewers use your personal statement as a way to gauge what kind of conversation you’re going to have, so it’s really important that you actually know a bit more about what you’re talking about than is in your personal statement.

That said, they’ll also be looking at your thinking skills, so doing that out loud is never a bad thing - and it also lets interviewers give you a bit of guidance if you’re stuck!