4 x 25 min interviews
Explaining graphs, designing experiments, asked about what I learned from a school trip that my teacher mentioned in my referee statement, philosophy interview involving lots of hypothetical questions and scenarios and I was asked about psychological ethics
3 mock interviews, kept up to date with current affairs with my subject
Practice papers so I could get used to the question style.
Say what you're thinking!
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.
Test taken: Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)
Number of interviews: 4
Time between interviews: 2-8 hours
Length of interviews: 25 mins
Online interview: No
A lot of what I was asked in my interview related to new information I was given during the interview. For example, in every interview I was given graphs to explain on the basis of some background information. These were not questions that required any previous A Level knowledge. I was shown information (graphs, hypothetical experiment) that my tutor said she gave out in her tutorials and questioned about what it may show. In most of the interviews I was asked to design an experiment with certain given parameters. I was also asked about the different experimental methods for investigating the brain (how I thought we could investigate the brain) etc. I wasn’t asked about my personal statement at all but I was asked about what I learned from a school trip that my teacher mentioned in my referee statement! Since psychology is taught alongside philosophy and linguistics in first and second year, I also had a philosophy interview and this interview involved lots of hypothetical questions and scenarios and I was asked about psychological ethics. To be honest most of the interviews felt like a discussion. I remember before my interviews I felt really nervous. However, in all but one interview I was settled into the style of the discussion when the tutors provided some reassuring opening questions like where I was from, what subjects I was doing, what my favourite part of psychology was etc. These made me feel more at ease and before you know it, the interview is over. I would say by trying to calm yourself down at the start of the interview it really also puts the tutors at ease and makes them feel they can engage with you better. I tried to do this and to be honest the atmosphere in the room just felt encouraging and supportive! I didn’t feel like I was being tripped up or made to feel stupid. If ever I had a question, I felt confident I could ask without them laughing or something.
I had three practice interviews. The first was at a nearby school where they were conducting interviews and I was lucky enough to be invited, the second was with a lecturer from Cambridge that one of my teachers knew and the third was a short session with my psychology teacher to get me used to the style of the interview. It’s important to really ask around for anyone to give you and interview even if they don’t do your subject (like most of mine didn’t!) because I found it really useful to be quizzed on my personal statement and just get used to the whole experience. I also kept up to date with current affairs with my subject (note: I was actually asked in my real interview “what current psychology-related news story do you think everyone should know about?”) and I revised from the website that Oxford had produced where they have lots of sample interview questions.
Lots of practice with past papers so I could get used to the question style.
Really speak out loud what is going on in your head! If you get stuck ask a question and don’t feel ashamed. Take onboard the interviewer’s opinion, especially if they tell you you’ve made a mistake, and consider multiple points of view for every answer to every question. If you’ve made it this far, the tutors just want to see whether you will enjoy a tutorial style teaching setting - they already know you’re smart so there’s no need to read every book written about your subject beforehand!