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.

Engineering | Emmanuel College | 2018

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Interview details

Application outcome: succesfulDirect
Interview type: directInterview

Interview format

ENGAA; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: general; subject skills; Interview 2: personal interest; academic

Advice in hindsight

-

Best preparation

Practice papers, NSAA material, i-want-to-study-engineering.com

Final thoughts

They're not looking to trick you, but see how you think.

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.

Remember this advice isn't official and there is no guarantee it will reflect your experience. 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.

Read our subject resource guide for Engineering. Keep an eye out for new interviews, we are adding them daily.

Interview Format​

Test taken: ENGAA

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between interviews: 2-3 hours

Length of first interview: 25-30 minutes; Length of second interview: 25-30 minutes

Interview content

Interview 1: This was a purely technical interview; a few minutes of small talk to get me comfortable, followed by an explanation of the structure of my interviews. We started then with some maths, with a simple question upon which the other questions were built. Next, the other interviewer asked a materials question which brought in probability.

Interview 2: It started off with a discussion on my chosen topic from current engineering and the impact of engineering on my local area. The PhD student set me a question about electricity, which was moderately hard but with A level spec, and then we moved on to a question about friction. There were some moments where very little information was given at first but hints were gradually given.

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Advice in hindsight

Best preparation

I used i-want-to-study-engineering.com, Professor Povey's Perplexing Problems and the TBO Problem Solving Booklet (hard pure maths). I also had a mock interview with an academic I didn't know.

Final thoughts

Advice:

I received advice from a teacher at my school who had been through the process unsuccessfully as well as from a visiting Oxford professor who gave a talk about the interview process.

Best Thing: Honestly, the Oxford professor's talk was very helpful for understanding the reasoning involved in the process: the heart of Oxbridge teaching is the tutorial/supervision (supo) system, and the interview is designed to set up that atmosphere to test whether you'll learn well in tutorial/supo. The i-want-to-study-engineering website is an excellent resource which helped me greatly.

Impact: The interview made me feel more comfortable and encouraged me to think aloud.

Advice: I came out thinking my performance had been very mediocre. However, it is impossible for a student to gauge whether they have done well (I found a chart on The Student Room that showed this). Another important skill is to learn to think the entire process aloud. They're not looking to trick you, just to see how you think.

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