Engineering @ Emmanuel, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

ENGAA; 2x interviews

Interview content

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

Best preperation

Practice papers, NSAA material, iwanttostudyengineering.com

Final thoughts

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

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

Test taken: ENGAA

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between interviews: 23 hours

Length of first interview: 2530 minutes; Length of second interview: 2530 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

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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How did you prepare?

I used iwanttostudyengineering.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.

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

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 iwanttostudyengineering 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.