Theology, Religion, And Philosophy Of Religion @ Sidney Sussex, Cambridge in 2015

Interview format

3x interviews

Interview content

Interview 1: unseen reading; Interview 2: personal statement, written work; Interview 3: personal statement, subject questions

Best preparation

Reading about what interests you

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Try to stay relaxed and confident

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<\p>

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: no

Time between interviews: about 1 hour

Length of each interview: 20-30 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview was a piece of unseen reading. I had 20 minutes to read and study it and then went into the interview. She asked me straight away if I knew who it was by and when it was written - I made educated guesses because I didn't know as it was very obscure. The lady was really nice and welcoming.

The second interviewer again was so nice, I felt really at ease. He asked a lot about things I had written on my personal statement and my written work which was sent in with my application. I had the opportunity to direct the interview to speak about my interests. He also asked me about the name of the course (which has been changed since my interview).

After that I had another interview at Queens' College (it's normal for small subjects like theology and classics to make you interview at 2 colleges). This interviewer was harsher and scarier but nonetheless nice, just very eccentric. We talked about history and the reformation, we also talked about my personal statement and written work. He challenged me a lot on my ideas and pushed me - I think I even remembered him saying "no that's wrong". After I got in he ended up teaching me and told me he pushed me because he saw potential - so don't worry if your interview seems harsh - it may mean you are doing well!

How did you prepare?

My advice is to find out which part of your subject excites you most and read loads into it. Also try and demonstrate your interest in other ways - I did an essay competition for example. It's a good idea to have a diverse range of sources of information - books, programmes, podcasts, academic journals and even tweets.

The thing that set me apart I believe was my individuality. It's good to read about what YOU are interested in, not just read stuff because it's the classic thing to read and you think that you have to. Don't be afraid to be bold too, my teachers told me my personal statement was unconventional, and now they use it as an example! There is no blueprint, Oxbridge just wants interested, passionate people and if you are that you will be fine!

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Try to remain relaxed at interview - they actually want you to do well, just show off your best. Do your best to be confident because it's not everyone that gets an interview so YOU deserve to be there.