History And English @ St Catherine's, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 1 hr interviews, 30 min apart

Interview content

Interview 1 (English): books studied at school, general discussion; Interview 2 (English): poem given beforehand; Interview 3 (History): personal statement; Interview 4 (History): source given beforehand

Best preparation

Practise talking about books and concepts mentioned in personal statement

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

For Skype interviews, enunciate clearly.

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

Skype interview: Yes

Time between each interview: 30 minutes

Length of interviews: 1 hour each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

English: I was asked about books we studied at school and asked to compare them. We went through both older and more contemporary works, and I think the tutors were focussed on gauging my interests within literature. In a separate interview later I was given a poem beforehand to analyze, and in the interview the tutors probed me on questions related to my analysis.

History: In the general interview I was asked about interests and readings I listed in my personal statement, and the tutors were especially interested in my opinions on certain books. In the other interview I was given an excerpt on the Vikings and asked to talk about historical information I can gather from the source.

I did both interviews via Skype at my school; the internet connection was good and generally I felt more relaxed than I had imagined. The questions and discussions were genuinely interesting, and I did not feel too intimidated.

How did you prepare?

1. Do past papers.
2. Practise talking about specific books and concepts you mention in your personal statement.
3. If possible, do a mock interview with a teacher/counsellor/fellow applicant/trusted adult who understands the process.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

If you are having a Skype interview, it is immportant to have clear enunciation.