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.
I had two interviews in December, both within the grounds of Christ's College and on the same day. I got to the interview location slightly ahead of time, but wasn't sure whether or not I should knock on the door and enter or wait to be collected, so I obviously ended up several minutes late to the interview (it took that long for the feelings of abandonment to force me to enter).
The first interview lasted about half an hour or so, and was with the
After this interview ended, my mum (aka my cheerleader for the day) and I went to have lunch before the second interview. This interview was a lot more "relaxed" (which was so disconcerting for my brain that I freaked out and ended up choking on a sip of water for several minutes), and also had two interviewers, neither of whom I had researched previously. The interview was probably roughly the same amount of time as the first one, but felt like eons when I was trying to desperately stop my spluttering.
The first interview with the
Other questions from this interview were logical and also involved reading a graph and being asked to explain the relationship I could see (fun fact: one of my interviewers later became my first year supervisor, and after I'd failed a graph-interpreting exercise, brought up the fact that in the interview I had correctly identified an "interaction" in the lines. I regard this information very suspiciously, because neither in my application year nor my first year of Uni did I ever understand just what on earth an interaction was). The final bit of the interview involved me explaining why I wanted to study the subject.
I left the interview feeling quite positive, because my interviewers (or at least, one of them - the second didn't say a single word - just sat there smiling like a cat) were providing reassuring prods throughout. Ironically, it was the second smiling cat supervisor who I think calmed me down the most, because I took her smiling as sign of her being pleased with my answers.
Floating on the high of believing I had impressed smiling cat lady, I walked into my second interview quite calm (to be honest, overly calm). As my college had told me that the first interview would be academic and the second would be personal, I let my mental faculties take the rest of the day off. The interview started off okay enough, with them asking questions about specific lines I'd written in my personal statement, such as a question about a psychology article I had written for my
I pretty much scoured the Nature website (and DailyMail, which reported the headlines in much more entertaining ways) every couple of days when writing my personal statement. All I did for the interview was ensure that I understood all of the articles I had mentioned and could potentially talk the interviewers through the procedures and findings. On the advice of someone (I can't remember who but will never forgive them), I also memorised the names of all of the article authors. Was several hours of memorisation worth the fleeting stab of pride I got when I said, "and of course, Bob Lawblaw's article on the mice overlords was particularly fascinating..."? Not really, especially because my brain immediately convinced me I'd said not only the name wrong, but also the wrong name.
My school did organise
Despite what the website says,
Remember that, unlike the bullies at your school, your interviewers will reward an almost obsessive thirst for knowledge. When I remember my interview, one of my boldest memories is a moment where right after I was asked a question and realised I could figure out the answer, my face broke into the goofiest smile. Although I might be completely wrong, I truly think that supervisors are looking for that sort of attitude towards a subject (along with academic aptitude, obviously).