A sample of an interview for the Education Tripos with English and Drama Undergraduate course at Cambridge University.
Given by a former pupil of the course.
Education Tripos with English and Drama Undergraduate, Cambridge University
Questions in the Interview:
I had two interviews: one for Education and one for English & Drama.
Each of the interviews consisted of a short discussion about my current studies and interests relating to the course, my expectations of the course and reasons for applying and an academic discussion. For my Education interview this was discussing an issue of educational debate, for my English & Drama interview I examined and discussed a short dramatic text I had been presented with in the pre-interview ‘workshop’ (a glorified script reading).
The purpose of the interview is to get a sense of your personality, to see if you are the kind of person who would benefit from the course and the college environment, and to also guage your personability, social competence and confidence.
Advice for future candidates
Relax– it is very important to be relaxed so that you can respond genuinely and sensibly to your questions and so that you can have a human conversation with your interviewer(s) who, after all, is just another person.
Research– it is important to know as much as you can about the course so that you can ask insightful questions and are aware of the different modules and components of your tripos. If you are given the names of your interviewers in advance it is worth googling them to see what their specialism is, just so you know a bit about them and the kind of things they might be likely to discuss with you. Also think ahead to the kind of questions that might be asked – why do you want to do this course? What have you most enjoyed about your A-level subjects? Why have you chosen this college?
Be honest – the interview is about getting to know you so don’t be someone you are not. There is no point second-guessing and trying to give off the impression that you are the platonic “ideal candidate”. Cambridge are looking for people who really love their subject, if you do then talk about why you love it, be honest about what motivates you, what you dislike and what you enjoy – you need to show that you are an independent mind who is developing its own interests and tastes (If you don’t really love your subject then Cambridge might not be the place for you, the workload is unbearable if you don’t enjoy it and you are more likely to be happier at a different university). Independence is key to success at Cambridge: you need to be strong to manage the demanding workload and make the most of the extra-curricular opportunities, you need to be original to be a high-flyer academically. Being independent also means being confident enough to be yourself, to be honest, to admit areas of yourself or your knowledge in need improvement, to ask questions as well as knowing your strengths and advocating your competencies, and developing beliefs and opinions about your subject.