Cambridge Psychology Interview Questions & Overview

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Interview Essentials

If you’ve applied to Study Psychology (technically Psychological and Behavioural Sciences) at Cambridge, you’ll likely attend an interview, with about 75% of applicants across the university being invited to interview. Expect to sit either one or two relatively brief interviews for Psychology; many previous students report shorter interviews than those found in other subjects.

Admissions Statistics

In the latest data available, there were 547 applications to the course, with 107 offers being made, and 96 students being able to take up their place at the start of the year. That means a success rate of 17.6%, making the course highly competitive even by Cambridge standards. The typical offer is A*AA, or 40-42 points at IB with 776 at Higher Level. There are no specific subjects required by all colleges, although some do require an A level in either one or two Science subjects.

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Interview Key Dates

As with any Cambridge course, you’ll likely be interviewed in the first three weeks of December, although some students are interviewed at the end of November. Additionally, after the Winter Pool decision making process takes place over the Christmas period, some students will be invited to a further interview in January, although this is rare.

Interview Format and Purpose

From previous students, you should expect either one or two interviews. If you have two, you will typically face one more academic interview, with a particular list of questions designed to test your suitability for the course, while the other interview is more likely to be a more relaxed and free-flowing discussion. These interviews might take anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour each. Others report having only one interview of thirty minutes, focused on broad concepts like designing experiments, as well as problem solving questions and the infamous Oxbridge-type questions that are designed to make students think on their feet.

Some students report that their personal statement was the focus of one of their interviews, so you should prepare thoroughly and ensure that you know all the content covered in it, and have researched any recent developments or hot topics. Expect to cover general topics in psychology as well. When discussing general topics, you should be prepared for the tutors to make you ‘dig deep’ and think hard about them – they will pose follow-up questions and try to get you to consider new information. Through doing so, they simulate what a real tutorial would be like if you were to get into the college.

Other students report having a general interview as well – one that focuses on their desire to study at Cambridge, and their ability to study new information and discuss it. This information is unrelated to psychology – expect a philosophical or logical debate, in a friendly atmosphere.

Overall, it’s clear that there is no ‘typical’ Cambridge Psychology interview, and no two colleges or two years will be the same.

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Additional Assessments

As well as the interview, certain colleges will expect you to submit some written work. You won’t need to register for this, and the college will tell you about it in due course so that you are able to prepare and submit. The written work ought to be an example of your school work, and should be a true submission that has been made to your teachers, and then marked by your teachers. If this is requested of you, expect to have to discuss this work as part of your interview as well. Any specifics, like the exact kind of work required, will be provided to you. Remember to select not only a piece of work that you excelled in, but one that you would feel confident discussing at interview. Keep a copy of the work and revise it to prepare for the interview discussion.

Previous Psychology Interview Questions

  • Explain what it means to ‘be conscious.’
  • How does the way you think determine who you are?
  • Draw a graph of learning against time/stage of life.
  • If a psychologically ill person commits a crime, are they a criminal?
  • If you had to give human rights to one of either chimpanzees, dogs or elephants, which would you choose?
  • What do you like most about the brain?
  • How would you design a better brain?
  • How much of human behaviour is genetically determined?
  • What is courage?
  • How many people believe in evolution in the United States?
  • Can we think without language?

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