History @ The Queen's, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

2x 30 min interviews, 1 day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: written work, interview 2: discussion of article given a few days before

Best preparation

Talk to people about your subject

Final thoughts

Practise your ability to develop historical argument rather than memorise arbitrary information.

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: 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

One of my interviews was based on my written work, which my tutor used as a starting point to delve into a related topic. I had written on Tsarist Russia, but we used my essay to explore comparisons with Stalinist Russia (which I knew slightly less about!). I was a bit thrown at first but I relaxed when I realised that they didn't expect me to know everything, they just wanted to see if I could make links in my head and use my knowledge to come up with ideas and theories. I had been so worried but the interviewer was very friendly and it began to feel more like a discussion than an interview as I settled in.

My second interview was based on an article which I had been given a few days before (although my college has now changed their process for this so it may be slightly different!) and I was more stressed about this one - the article was hard and I wasn't entirely sure what I was supposed to have learnt. When I got in, I had an idea which I presented to the interviewers, but as they continued to ask me questions I completely changed my mind! They didn't make me feel stupid or wrong, I just felt like I was learning more on how to examine the source. There was one moment where I finally understood the source properly and I actually got excited that I'd been able to understand it. Overall both my interviews were daunting but much more fun when I'd accepted that I wasn't supposed to just know everything straight away, and used it as an opportunity to learn and discuss my ideas.

How did you prepare?

I looked at the practice papers on the Oxford website.

Use Oxford's resources - they're a lifesaver and I definitely would not have got in without practicing a few History Admissions Test (HAT) papers! Even if your teachers are not very familiar with the Oxford process, try and talk to them about your subject outside of the classroom, as the way you build on and expand your ideas is what interviewers are looking for. I had a philosophy teacher who loved to discuss in this way and, even though he couldn't help me with my subject, he helped me to make comparisons and links and argue coherently, which is very important for humanities subjects.

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

I expected the interview process to be much scarier and harder, but when I realised that they don't expect you to be perfect, it completely changed my outlook. If I could do it again, I would not spend ages trying to learn every fact about Tsarist Russia, but instead think more about wider links and develop my own lines of argument more.