History @ Oriel, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 25-30 min interviews, 1 day apart

Interview content

Source-based questions (one source given beforehand), written work

Best preparation

Practice papers, previous questions, thinking critically about other sources

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Read around your subject; practise speaking aloud about it; read over your personal statement and written work; don't worry about knowing everything; try not to freeze up!

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: HAT

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 1 day

Length of interviews: 25-30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Both interviews were centred around a source (either picture or text) and I was asked questions on it without knowing anything about it to see how I would try to work out the answer from what I had. I was then told more information and asked to change and adapt my previous answers in light of new information.

In one interview I was given a source before the interview, where I had to write what I thought about it to discuss in the interview. I was asked one question about my written work which I sent as part of the application in one of the interviews.

The atmosphere was very welcoming and as the interview went on I got more relaxed as it became apparent that it was just a discussion to see how I think when dealing with a new piece of information

How did you prepare?

I looked at practice papers and previous questions, as well as practising thinking critically about other sources.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Read around your subject to feel comfortable that you know some things about it. Practise looking at sources on unfamiliar topics (images and text) and thinking about them critically (what they show/don’t show).

Practise speaking about your subject to family/teachers/anyone to get comfortable speaking aloud and talking about things you aren’t familiar with.

Read over your personal statement and written work before you come, so you feel confident talking about those if they come up.

In hindsight I wouldn’t worry so much about trying to know everything about my subject because it’s not needed or wanted by the tutors. They want to see passion and that you can think critically and infer things you don’t know, not that you can remember loads of facts from your A level studies.

Also, answer every question even if you aren’t sure. Don’t freeze up, just use what you’ve been told or know to infer an answer to the question.