History @ Christ Church, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 30 min online interviews, 30 mins apart

Interview content

Discussion of personal statement and a source

Best preparation

Prepared to talk about favourite topics; looked at website for how interviews work

Final thoughts

Try not to be too stressed, maybe slow your speech down if you normally speak quickly

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: HAT
Number of interviews: 2
Time between interviews: About 30 minutes
Length of interviews: About 30-45 minutes each
Online interview: Yes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The two interviews, one was on the personal statement, one was on a set unknown text and my response to it. I did my interview over Skype in a designated location in my country, so it was a bit intimidating but the interviewers are the tutors (teachers) who would probably teach you in the future, so just treat them as fellow human beings and have a conversation! The interviewers aren't out to get you, they want to hear about your perspectives, and they will insert their questions to further prompt you to develop your points or your thoughts! Just go with the flow!

History interviews are more about discussing your perspectives on the set texts, so it is more of a conversation than a one way street of you taking up most of the talking time! Remember to listen to what the tutors say, and feel free to build upon or disagree with the points they raise, be it concerning your on views on history or a subject, or regarding the reading of the text.

How did you prepare for your interviews?

I tried to read up on my own history notes, to be familiar with the historical subjects I was more interested in within my school syllabus. The best thing I did was to just focus on topics I really enjoyed, and to think about why I liked thinking about those topics in history (eg about Southeast Asian politics). This was helpful for the interview that asked me about my personal statement, where I was asked to elaborate on why i mentioned certain historical periods or topics and what I enjoyed or found most interesting about them.

Also I read up from the oxford website on history, to figure out how the interviews would run. They mentioned that I had to be prepared to respond to an unknown text, so I was prepared to just try my best, and unpack as much of the text based on the given guiding question. There is probably no point in preparing content knowledge because the text will be about something completely unknown (ie about a time period or location you have never studied before). Therefore, they are looking more at your analytical skills and ability to figure out why things were written in a certain way, why certain events or people were portrayed in certain ways, and what the unwritten or unmentioned parts in the text (eg the motives, or the people 'excluded' from the narrative) mean for us trying to answer the guiding question.

Don't be afraid to speak your mind, pause to reflect on the questions the interviewer asked, or to ask further clarifying questions before you reply. This is because it shows consideration as well as thoughtfulness, and calms your nerves in the process!

If you took a test, how did you prepare?

I didn't prepare more because I did not know how to prepare

What advice would you give to future applicants?

Do not be too stressed over not knowing enough, because honestly you just need to bring in your knowledge and experience with the subject of history from your school/country, and apply the skills to the interview text or to the conversation. Perhaps I would speak more slowly if you tend to speak very quickly as I do. This is because for skype interviews, the video and audio may be mismatched or lag.

I think interviewers are really looking to hear your perspectives, even if they are not familiar with that particular aspect of history you learned in school! For me, I found it cool how the interviewers would link the topics I mentioned to the field of study that they specialised in, and it was these applications of the concept of one region or period of history to another that I found really interesting about the interview!

Also the interviews for history, are kind of a taste of how your future lessons (tutorials) in Oxford will proceed! It will be about a conversation, where you and your fellow students (probably a very small group or even just yourself) would talk to your tutors and have discussions on a topic which you have written an essay for. You will learn much of the content from these discussions and questions. So if you do not feel that you are very comfortable with this teaching style, or if you felt after the interview that that isn't really how you want to learn, that is alright too!

If I could have done one thing differently, is to reconsider if joining the university was really the best course or only course of action for me. This is because the prestige associated with the university is one thing, but your student life and experiences studying the subject is another, and sometimes I do struggle with this teaching format. Oxbridge aren't the only 'best' universities you can go to, because honestly, your experience in a university or studying a degree is more shaped by your attitude than the resources and teachers they can provide you! Definitely teachers and resources help, but any degree is difficult to study and master, so it would be helpful to explore and consider the types of teaching that each university provides on top of considering the content! I would definitely spend more time considering these aspects if I could turn back time. :)