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Experiences of a Cambridge Interview

Students » Sixth Form » Experiences of a Cambridge Interview

One of our Yr13 students has provided me with some feedback regarding her Cambridge Interview. Her experiences were as follows:

1. General Interview (30 mins – 1 person).
2. Subject Interview (45 mins – 2 persons).

The General Interview.

• Tell me about your extra-curricular activities and how they could benefit my college.
• Why did you choose to apply to this college in particular?
• Why do you want to come to Cambridge?

All of these are standard questions designed to relax the applicant but do illustrate the need to be a ‘rounded’ student who has a variety of extra-curricular activities to offer.

The Subject Interview.

• What have you been learning about recently in school?
• Tell me about an area of biology which interests you.

With these questions they pick up on what you say, asking follow up questions that become more complicated and are designed to make you think about your ideas/answers in different ways. In this candidates case she experienced deviations from her subject questions that took her into the following areas:

• How have the features of Water Fleas evolved?
• How would you design an experiment to test a hypothesis?
• How would you analyse the data you collect – statistical analysis.
• How would you trace genetic illnesses?

The student felt that they probably gave these questions to everyone then compared how they fared.

Mathematics questions

• Solve this equation. This required an understanding of laws, logs, and the difference between two squares.
• How does maths apply in a biological context?

Words of advice.

- Think aloud, even if you don’t have a clue. This is especially true with maths questions.
- If you can – name drop the title of a relevant book you’ve read into the conversation they seem to like that (but make sure that you have read it).
- Be enthusiastic!

This student was made an offer – the standard offer of 3 Grade A. She was not ‘pooled’. Pooling is something that the colleges do when they like you in interview but cannot offer you a place. You are then interviewed by other colleges at Cambridge to see if you are a suitable candidate