History And Modern Languages @ Sidney Sussex, Cambridge in 2018

Interview format

HAA & LAA; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: personal statement, unseen text; Interview 2: personal statement, subject-specific questions

Best preparation

Do test paper papers

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Love your subject!

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:HAA,Linguistics Admissions Assessment (LAA)

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: 10 minutes

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

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Both interview experiences were surprisingly fun: I got to talk about something I really loved and with someone who was very interested in with someone extremely knowledgeable on the topic! I thought my chances of getting in were very low as I was extremely unprepared (I only decided to apply a week before the deadline), which actually meant I felt relatively relaxed. I figured that if I’d be rejected, I still would have experienced such interesting interviews at Cambridge!

The professors made me feel very much at ease and seemed genuinely interested in what I wanted to say. Both interviews were a mix of personal and general questions relating to my life and personal statement and actual subject questions. For my Spanish interview I was asked to evaluate two different translations of a short poem, and in my History interview we talked about Dutch colonialsm.

How did you prepare?

I did the practice papers. First I took as long as I felt I needed to complete them, and then I practised them with the appropriate time-constraints.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

As an international ‘average’ student, I’d never received any advice on Oxbridge applications from my school. I didn’t even know what UCAS was! I found that by googling a lot and being able to ask other people who’d applied questions I was able to form a general idea of how the process works.

I didn’t really prepare much, but I did focus on doing the things I was so interested in even more (like watching history documentaries or reading Harry Potter in Spanish). I feel like I would have done these things anyway, but the prospect of a potential Cambridge interview increased my level of motivation.

I expected the whole process to be extremely hard and thought only geniuses could ever get in. I now know that how passionate you are is so much more important than your exact grades! As long as you’re able to show how much you love your subject it truly doesn’t matter what background you come from. Be enthusiastic and enjoy the experience! You’ll learn something from it either way.