Cambridge interviews: A student's advice on how to prepare

There are plenty of myths and half-truths that surround the process of being interviewed for a place at Cambridge.

But the reality is far less likely to involve outlandish questions and devious mind-traps, than simply being a process where the tutors guide you through an explanation of why you want to study there.

We asked Cambridge student and TSR member chazwomaq to share his experience of the Cambridge interview process.

How did you prepare for your interview?

I had a practice interview at school with a biology teacher, and a general interview practice with an outside person. I reread my personal statement to make sure I knew what I had said!

Did anything come up that you weren't expecting?

Yes, in the sense that I didn't know what was going to come up. All the questions were things I had never been asked before. But the general interview was just basic things like 'why do you want to come here?' and 'why this subject?', as well as some stuff on my personal statement. 

The technical interview tested learning I already had from A-level chemistry and maths, even though I hadn't seen the questions before. There was one biology question that forced me to speculate about the adaptations of this weird animal I had never seen before, but it just required saying sensible things about evolution.

What is your top tip for students that have interviews next week?

Take your time with your answers so you don't blurt out something stupid. If you don't know the answer to a technical question, express your thoughts out loud. The tutors can then hear your thought process, and will guide you along. If you remain silent trying to work things out, it can look like you have no ideas at all. 

Watch the practice interviews on the Cambridge website. Try some breathing exercises before if you are nervous. Get a good meal inside you and plenty of sleep the night before. 

Do you have questions about getting into Cambridge? Would you like to share some of your own experiences? Add them to the comments below. 

More on TSR: 
Ask questions about the University of Cambridge
Talk about Cambridge colleges 
Cambridge applicants 2015 discussion

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