History @ St Edmund Hall, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 20 min interviews, 1 day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: written work; Interview 2: written source, images

Best preparation

Read info on faculty website

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Try not to get too stressed during interviews

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: 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview was about my written work sample. The professors asked me to justify my views and challenged some of my points. They also asked me to identify a historical ‘theme’ within my essay: I settled on cultural misunderstanding leading to conflict. They then asked me to find other historical examples that illustrated cultural misunderstanding that has caused conflict. I felt like my answers had been too simplistic and I was on edge the entire interview - even left the interview crying... Just goes to show that you really can’t tell how you’ve done in the interview!

For my second interview, I was given a written text about political resistance and protest. I was asked to summarise the text and then discuss specific historical examples from my own knowledge that linked to ideas within the text, e.g. parliamentary resistance to authority vs protest based resistance. There were also 4 images given as sources and I had to give my thoughts on them, as well as debate the merits and drawbacks of the mediums in which they were presented (painting on wood vs written paper). This interview felt more structured and more relaxed, probably because I was discussing a text and other sources. The professor also just seemed a bit more laid back, so I think stress in the interview experience is somewhat dependent on the way the professor sets the tone.

How did you prepare?

To prepare for the HAT, I used the past papers from the History Faculty website, as well as doing some source analysis from random sources in my history course at school.

I read almost everything on my subject faculty website - possible courses I could take, modules, etc. - to understand what kind of student Oxford wanted: one that is able to think independently, while also feeding on ideas and input from others. I spoke to people from my school who had graduated and attended Oxford. I also watched YouTube videos on interview experience and personal statement.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I think my prep helped reduce Oxford’s image as an unattainable goal - it’s very possible to get in! I also think it enabled me to be a bit more calm about admissions tests, as I’d seen all the past papers, as well as interviews.

I wouldn’t really do anything differently regarding preparation, except maybe be less stressed in the interview! What worked best for me was making sure I understood the structure of admissions as best as I could, so I wasn’t facing any surprises during the process.