Classics (4 Years) @ Christ's, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

3 interviews; 1 language test - across 2 different colleges

Interview content

Enjoyable experience; don't assume content of test beforehand

Best preparation

Organise timings of day beforehand; re-read books from personal statement

Final thoughts

Try and enjoy experience; don't worry afterwards

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

My interview day was 5th December. All interviews/tests were on the same afternoon. First a Latin translation exam at Christ's college from 12.00 until 1.00 (plenty of vocab provided). A hot lunch was available in Christ's college, which I had time to squeeze in before my interviews.

I had 3 interviews, and as a Classics applicant I had to be interviewed by 2 colleges, not just the one I applied to. I paid for a taxi to get to my first interview at Churchill college (2 interviewers starting at 2.00), then I had to go back to Christ's for my second and third interviews (the first with 1 interviewer starting 3.45, and the second with 2 interviewers, starting 4.45). A busy but enjoyable day.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The passage used for the translation exam was a verse text (not what I was expecting) by a writer I was not familiar with. However, I was just able to get the gist of what was going on as there was a lot of vocab provided, and I had revised my sentence constructions. Not my best translation ever, but finished on time (although somewhat untidy!)

The interviewers at Churchill were very welcoming and offered me a biscuit. I regretted my decision to have one, as it proved difficult to talk with a mouthful of chocolate digestive! I did a verbal translation of a prose passage (with the occasional bit of advice from the interviewers if I was unsure on a word) followed by a discussion on an artefact.

The second interview with one interviewer started with a very short extract from a verse passage, which I was given time to read before verbally translating. I was asked a question about my opinions on a text which I had mentioned in my personal statement.

Finally, in the last interview, I was asked questions about a classical image, followed by questions about the EPQ I was working on, and on the two essays which I had submitted with my Classics application. Although I was nervous at the beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed my interview day at Cambridge, and the opportunity to discuss the Classical world with experts in the field.

How did you prepare?

Revision of Latin vocab from the OCR list and sentence constructions was crucial for the translation exercises. I read everything I mentioned in my personal statement thoroughly prior to the interviews, forming my own opinions on the texts. I also re-read my submitted essays to remind myself of the arguments I made, and re-read my personal statement.

As I had such a tight schedule for my interview day, I organised my routes and timings in advance, and stayed in a hotel in Cambridge the night before to avoid transport delays. I got a taxi between colleges so I wouldn't be late for my first interview. I got a lot of help and advice from my Classics teachers, and my school organised a practice interview day with parents and volunteers.

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

Don't overthink how your interviews and exams went afterwards, especially between interviews. Try and enjoy the experience if you can. Don't worry if you come out of the interview thinking of other things you could have said (I'm sure it happens to everyone).