Classics @ Wadham, Oxford in 2016

Interview format

1x 20 min interview, 1x 30-40 min interview; a day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: Latin textual extract: grammar and content; Interview 2: personal statement topics, some unseen material

Best preparation

Practice translations

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Do some preparation, but most importantly, show your excitement about the course. Try to avoid overthinking and try to enjoy the experience.

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: CAT

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 1 day

Length of 1st interview: about 20 minutes; Length of 2nd interview: 30-40 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my first interview, there were 2 interviewers. I was given an unseen extract from a Latin poem. I was asked to read it and describe what it was about and what was happening. I was then asked a few specific grammar questions about the passage. We then talked about the work the extract came from (the Aeneid), where this passage was in the story and why it was important. This interview went quite quickly and was a bit scary, but the atmosphere was fairly relaxed. I was corrected when I made mistakes about grammar.

In my second interview, there were 2 interviewers, one of whom had been in the first interview. One interviewer gave me a poem (by a writer I had mentioned in my personal statement) with an English translation and we talked about the themes in it, what jumped out at me, stylistic choices of the poet and the portrayal of gender. Then the second interviewer talked to me about Bronze Age archaeology, which I'd mentioned in my personal statement. They then gave me a photo of a pot with an inscription on it. We talked about the possible owner of the pot and the material it was made of, where it had come from, whether it was a cheap or expensive object and how this related to the inscription on it. This interview was more relaxing, partly because I'd already done one so knew what to expect. Both interviewers were patient and allowed me to approach what I was given in my own way - I enjoyed this one.

How did you prepare?

Search online for the CAT past papers, and see what authors are on there. Practise translating other passages from that author and other similar authors.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Some language prep will definitely help if you are applying for Course 1 Classics (with Latin and/or Greek). Practise translations and study the grammar within texts.

My school was kind enough to give me a few practice interviews. I had a very good Latin teacher who got me engaged in lessons and recommended documentaries and texts.

The best thing I did was to get excited about parts of my course (e.g. Catullus, archaeology) and thinking, reading and talking about them. Any reading, documentaries, museums, exhibitions and podcasts around your subject will help get your head in the right place.

Always listen and don't be afraid to take time to think in the interview. The college I interviewed at was very friendly and I tried not to lock myself in my room to avoid overthinking - I would recommend that. You can't know what will and won't get you a place, it's at the personal discretion of the interviewers and intensive interview prep won't necessarily help you. I tried not to take it overly seriously and I found that helpful.