Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) interview advice interview

Sophie Wrigglesworth
Created: 1 month, 3 weeks ago
Last modified: 1 month, 3 weeks ago

So you’ve got an interview for MML at Cambridge - congratulations! To help you prepare we’ve compiled some of the best advice from successful MML applicants, so you can get all the top tips in one place. If you’re looking to learn more about the course from Cambridge themselves you can do so in this video 🔗 or from their website 🔗, and you can find much more advice from students on how to prepare an MML application in our InsideUni MML guide 🔗.

How to Prepare

“Consolidation of grammar knowledge, really reading one or two books I enjoyed WELL rather than skimming lots of books briefly, thinking more deeply about the books I did read, especially more literary texts…I also think some of the best preparation I did was chilling out the night before and watching Happy Feet”
MML | Sidney Sussex | Full interview here 🔗.

“To prepare I made myself a PowerPoint where I broke the content of my entire personal statement down into slides, and then added further comments about each of the topics/books/areas of interest I’d mentioned, so that I could elaborate in an interview if asked to.”
MML | Selwyn | Full interview here 🔗.

“I tried to keep up to date with news in Europe, so that I felt more confident talking about current affairs (and reading the news in foreign languages helps develop skills through cultural immersion too!).”
MML | Sidney Sussex | Full interview here 🔗.

What to expect on the day

Most applicants will have 2 interviews for MML — one for each language applied for. Interviews often involve a discussion of pre-reading that applicants may be given before the interview (usually in the target language for a post-A-level language interview, and an English translation for an ab initio language interview). The rest of the interview may include a discussion in the target language (for a post-A-level language), questions about grammar, questions relating to the applicant’s personal statement, and a broader discussion. However, it’s important to note that interviews vary from year to year and from interviewer to interviewer, so take all guidance and information with a pinch of salt!

“I was very nervous about the interview setting, but in retrospect I shouldn’t have been! Both students and staff were so welcoming!”
MML | Newnham | Full interview here 🔗.

“The atmosphere was quite relaxed: the interviewer was kind and not intimidating”
MML | Selwyn | Full interview here 🔗.

What could be asked

Questions on pre-reading
“I was given a piece of text for 15 minutes to look over, make notes on, then asked to comment on during the interview, talk about style, language, period etc”
MML | Corpus Christi | Full interview here 🔗.

Language/grammar questions
“I was provided with a page or so of grammar questions (conjugating certain verbs, or changing the gender of particular adjectives) and some sentences to translate.”
MML | Newnham | Full interview here 🔗.

Questions about ab initio language
“For my ab initio language we still discussed the text but obviously did no grammar or translation. We did however speak about whether I had tried to learn a little bit of the language already, and what I found interesting about it.”
MML | Sidney Sussex | Full interview here 🔗.

Discussion of personal statement
“The focus in both seemed to be on my motivation for choosing the particular languages, and discussion of my personal statement”
MML | Sidney Sussex | Full interview here 🔗.

“I was asked questions about my personal statement but mainly more abstract ones with no right answer”
MML | Jesus | Full interview here 🔗.

General advice

“The number one piece of advice I would give prospective students is to think out loud. Say whatever comes to mind, even if you think it's ridiculous and stupid. Because if the interviewers don't know how and what you're thinking, they're also not able to help you.”
MML | Christ’s | Full interview here 🔗.

“Try to enjoy it! The application process can feel overwhelming and scary at points but on the whole, it's a chance to learn more about your subject and (if you get an interview) chat about it with experts!”
MML | Newnham | Full interview here 🔗.

“Remember that the interviewers are looking for someone who genuinely loves their subject and is willing to dedicate time to learning more and understanding new concepts - you aren't expected to know everything.”
MML | Sidney Sussex | Full interview here 🔗.

Good luck!