Theology, Religion, And Philosophy Of Religion @ King's, Cambridge in 2016

Interview format

1x test (done prior to interview date); 2x interviews at different colleges (1x 15mins pre-reading).

Interview content

1st interview: , discussion of sample essay sent in; 2nd interview: personal reading and interests

Best preparation

Reading lots of books and drawing links between them and things happening in the media; thinking about how reading is changing perception; writing lists of questions for future learning.

Final thoughts

Interview enjoyable; interviewers interested in seeing initiative and evidence of independent and deep thinking about interests.

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

I had already sat an exam at school, and I had two interviews at Cambridge, one at King's College and one at Trinity Hall College. For my first interview, I was directed to a small room and I was given an article to read and make notes on. It was slightly daunting, but after 15 minutes, I was interviewed by two people in the lounge/office of my now Director of Studies. My second interview was a few hours later, and there were student helpers who helped me find where I was going. Again, I was interviewed by two people in a lounge/office, and the conversation was fairly relaxed. In this interview I was also shown a sheet with statistics and quotes, and was asked to comment on two of them.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed both of my interviews. In the first one I felt comfortable enough to disagree with the person interviewing me and present a different opinion. We also talked about the sample Religious Studies essays I had sent. In the second interview, I was given the space to talk about what I found interesting about religions, and told them what I thought about the books I was reading at the time by a critic of Islam. We also discussed secularisation, Christian doctrine and other such topics, but I especially enjoyed having the space to talk about the things I was really interested in.

How did you prepare?

Reading loads of different books on things I was genuinely interested in really helped me. In my desire to learn more about Islam, I read an article about the formation of Daesh, books by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the novel 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' and then sat down and made links between them all and what I saw in the media, and thought about how reading these books had changed my perception. I also made a list of questions I was asking based on my reading, thinking about things I'd like to learn in the future.

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

I skipped out of my second interview because I enjoyed it so much. When I talked to other people who were applying to Oxbridge, they said that was a really bad sign, and all successful interviews go terribly! At that point, I thought I wouldn't get an offer, but I shouldn't have listened. I feel that (especially in humanities) interviewers aren't looking for you to know everything about your subject, they're more looking for evidence that you have taken the initiative and have such an interest for the subject that you've thought deeply about it on your own, and researched what you're interested in. This could be a novel that's thrown up a ton of questions for you, an article, or even something you saw on TV.