1) Reading about interviews isn't a substitute for subject preperation. Read them for guidance but remember to do the work and know your subject materials.

2) Someone else's experience will not necessarily reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and, like any conversation, they can be highly personal.

Modern and Medieval Languages | Trinity College | 2015

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Interview details

Application outcome: Succesful - Direct offer
Interview type: Pre-Christmas Interview

Interview format

2 x 30 minute interviews (1 French, 1 Spanish). 1 x 60 minute admissions test.

Interview content

French interview focused on poem that was given as pre-reading on interview day. Spanish interview about a poem given in the interview. The interview ended with questions asked in Spanish.

Advice in hindsight

Speak slowly to help the interviewers follow your thoughts.

Best preparation

Actually read the texts in your personal statement. Research the course in advance so you can refect you understand it in your personal statement.

Final thoughts

It's fine to leave knowing you could hae done better!

Something missing?

1) Reading about interviews isn't a substitute for knowledge. Read them for guidance but remember to do the work and know your subject materials.

2) Someone else's experience will not necessarily reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they can be highly personal.

The Cambridge application has changed in recent years to reflect the new A-Level system. Check the official Cambridge website for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests. Remember this advice isn't official and there is no guarantee it will reflect your experience.

Read our subject resource guide for Modern and Medieval Languages. Keep an eye out for new interviews, we are adding them daily.

Interview Format​

Two subject interviews, one per language, lasting thirty minutes each. One interviewer for both (with an additional fellow observing, but not participating in my Spanish interview). Prior to each interview, I was given an envelope containing a poem (in the languages) to read over/analyse. One admissions test, lasting one hour.

Interview content

In my French interview, almost the entirety of it focussed on my analysis on the poem I had been given 45 minutes in advance to read. The poem's central theme was death, however I insisted that it was instead nature. Naturally, the interviewer humoured me. At the end, he asked me why I wanted to study languages at Cambridge. The poem had one verse that mentioned a dream so he asked me how I knew I wasn't in a dream, which was terrifying, as I didn't remember applying for Philosophy!

For Spanish, the interview starting by asking my about my personal statement, explaining why I was interested in the texts/historical periods mentioned. She then moved onto asking me about a love poem. Again, I totally messed up, just not identifying the references to race in the poem (and I'm not white, the embarrassment!). She gave me a moment to reassess my analysis after telling me what the double meaning in the title was, and then ended the interview by asking me some questions (still about the poem) in Spanish.

Advice in hindsight

Speak slowly, I speak way too fast when nervous, and it won't help the interviewers to follow your thoughts, which is the purpose of the interview - yes, even if you get nothing right, like me.

Best preparation

Actually reading the texts in my personal statement (I hadn't finished them all at the time of applying!). I also think it's important to justify your choices and interests, why you enjoy that particular author, genre, or period, for example. Researching the course is also really important, across all languages, MML is very broad, covering disciplines that people even study as one degree alone: film, literature, linguistics, history, and the actual languages stuff. If you can reflect that in your personal statement, that's great.

Final thoughts

It's fine to leave the interview feeling like you could've done better. I still remember the bench on King's Parade where I had my post-interview cry! [Editor's note: Remember this interviewee still got in!]

Image Credits

By Cmglee [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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