History @ Jesus, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

3x 30 min interviews (+reading time) over 2 days

Interview content

Interview 1: choice of sources; Interview 2: personal statement discussion; Interview 3: source

Best preparation

Used sample questions and went over personal statement and submitted work

Final thoughts

Don't worry about the tutors' reactions to your answers

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: 3
Time between interviews: Two on the first day (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and then one two days later
Length of interviews: 30 minutes each with 30 minutes with a source before one and two and a half hours with a source before another
Online interview: No

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my first interview, I had an extract to read and then I answered questions on it. We could choose between two extracts so it was less stressful because you could pick whichever made you more comfortable. The tutors who did the interview asked questions and built on anything that I said. They were very friendly and it was much less stressful once I was in there and able to talk about things.

In my second interview, I was asked about my personal statement and the things that I studied at A-level. It wasn't something I was expecting and was a bit daunting at first but they were friendly too, and made it easy to talk. It might be useful to just think about your subjects from A-level a bit before you do the interview to make sure that you can talk about it if you have to.

My third interview didn't go very well at all. I was in a different college and the extract that I got was harder. The interview was in a tutor's room so it was more scary and there were 4 tutors which made me feel much more intimidated. It went fine though and I still got a place in the end. I think it shows that, even if you think the interview wasn't great, that isn't necessarily the case. Tutors are looking for different things and they aren't expecting you to know everything at the start.

How did you prepare for your interviews?

I looked online for a list of possible interview questions which may pop up and then talked through them on my own or with my parents. (I had a long drive with my Dad to get to interviews so it was a great use of that time). Almost none of the questions actually came up but it was useful to get used to thinking on your feet, and it made me a bit more confident. I also made sure that I had reread everything that I mentioned in my personal statement and the work that I submitted in case they asked anything about it.

If you took a test, how did you prepare?

I used the Oxford Univeristy website to find some past papers and mark schemes. I wrote the test in my own time and then asked my teacher at my college to mark them for me. Neither of us really had much of an idea about what was supposed to be in the answer but it was still useful to give it a try and get a bit of feedback.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

Don't worry too much about the tutors' reactions to your answers. It may seem like they are not happy but they're often just concentrating. It can feel very scary when you have to talk for so long but the tutors will know what they're looking for, even if it seems like the interview isn't going well. Also, don't be afraid to stop talking. It can sometimes feel like you need to fill the silence but it is normal for tutors to leave a space after you talk to think before they respond. You can leave this silence and give them time. It feels strange but it is completely fine.