Modern And Medieval Languages @ Girton, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

No test taken; 2x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: French reading and speaking, personal statement; Interview 2: Russian speaking, personal statement

Best preparation

Lots of reading

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Use the interviews as a chance to show your interest

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: None

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: 2 hours

Length of first interview: 20 minutes; Length of second interview: 20 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In the first interview, they gave me some material in French and ten minutes to read it. Then they asked me to read some of it aloud. They asked me to identify some tenses used and translate some sections. Then they asked me how certain effects were created by the writer. Then we spoke in French for five minutes, and finally, they asked me a few questions about the academic interests I listed on my Personal Statement.

In the second interview, they gave me some simple Russian sentences to read aloud and try to translate. Then they asked me a few questions pertaining to the Russian literature that I'd talked about on my Personal Statement.

How did you prepare?

I prepared by reading some books and plays by certain French and Russian authors... I think it's probably preferable to read several works by one author than to read several works by different authors - that way you can speak more confidently about them without feeling like you're extrapolating a lot from a small base of knowledge.

I also went to a Cambridge Slavonic Studies open day (they run it every year, it's called Heroes of our Time). It's fascinating and well run. Couldn't recommend it enough.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Preparation was important to make me feel confident, if nothing else. I think other than doing some reading and working hard on your respective language(s) at A Level or IB or whatever qualification you're doing, there isn't much you can do. Above all, you just want to show that you're interested in the subject.

The interviews were more or less what I expected really. In both interviews, one interviewer was friendly and talkative and asked all the questions, the other took notes. That doesn't mean that will always be the format, of course. With hindsight, I think it's probably important to see the interview as an opportunity to show off what you know about much as you can.