Classics (3 Years) @ King's, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

1x test (1 hour); 3x interviews (30 mins each; 2 interviewers for 2 interviews, 1 interviewer for the other)

Interview content

Personal statement, source analysis, discussion of issues within sources, discussion of wider reading

Best preparation

Mock interviews; practice talking logically and coherently about topics; look at primary and secondary sources; free courses at

Final thoughts

Stay calm; verbalise your thoughts and give responses, no matter how rubbish you think they are

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

I spent one day in Cambridge total and that started with a translation test in the morning, which was one hour long and took place in one of the university's lecture theatres.

I then had three interviews in the afternoon, two at the college I'd applied to and one at a second college. When I got to the college I went to the bar area and some current students were available; they approached me and showed me to my interview room, which I had found out ahead of time on my interview invitation.

After I was finished at my first college I went to the second college and my interviewer collected me from the waiting area and took me to the room. I had two interviews with two academics, and one 1-to-1 interview.

I did find there was plenty of time between my interviews so the day overall wasn't rushed and didn't feel too packed despite having a 1 hour test and 1 hour 30 minutes of interviews total (half an hour each).

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The interviewers tended to start from my personal statement, picking out something I'd read (primary and secondary sources) or studied in school and using that as a springboard toward further discussion – for example I was asked to critique a paper I had read.

I was also given an unseen source at one point and asked to make inferences based on it. Some questions were easier but some felt extremely challenging and at the time I didn't think I sounded very intelligent!

Some interviewers give more affirmative feedback than others but that is just a difference in interview style and nothing to worry about.

How did you prepare?

Lots of practice interviews helped me to build confidence as well as to highlight areas to improve – I had some teachers help me with this and then I also wrote out questions for myself and practised answering these. This wasn't about memorising answers or anything (as the questions they give are so unpredictable!) but just about getting used to talking logically and coherently about an academic topic, potentially in response to an unfamiliar question.

I would say looking at primary and secondary texts – for Classics, reading ancient texts and then reading history books or literary criticism – was immensely useful.

I also took an online course at

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

I generally didn't feel I'd done very well and found it particularly stressful being faced with two interviewers, as I had never practised in that context before. Irrespective of how you feel I think it's really important to plough on during the day/days you're in Cambridge and keep doing your best even if one interview or question seems like it's gone badly

Remember -- they are deliberately challenging and the best thing you can do is say something in response to their questions, verbalise your thought process and stay calm!