Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic: Tips & Questions for Interview

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Don’t know what to expect in your Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge? Don’t worry! We have spoken to top performing candidates to hear their unique insights about the interview, sharing top tips.

This article will help you prepare for your Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interview at Cambridge. It covers what to expect on the day. It also lists previous interview questions to give you a better understanding of what you could be asked.

anglo-saxon norse celtic Cambridge
Many candidates are worried about their Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, but this article is here to help!

What is the Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Interview structure?

Candidates typically have 2 interviews of 20-40 minutes in length, over a period of a couple of days. Remember that some candidates can get pooled to a second round of interview by another college, so be prepared for up to 4 interviews over 3-4 days! Interviews take place in December.

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Most Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interviews at Cambridge may be held virtually 
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Example Past Questions from Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Interviews

General questions:

  • Why do you want to study Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge?
  • Questions on why I talked about X in personal statement 
  • What is it about Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic that most excites you?
  • What skills would make you suited to be a successful student at Cambridge?
  • Why this college?
  • What have you learnt in school that is relevant to Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge?
  • Why Cambridge University?
  • What can you contribute to college life?
  • Discussion on my EPQ topic (if done)
  • What did you do in your gap year?
  • They asked what modules I was thinking of taking if I got a place 
  • Discussion of my future plans for study and career
  • Why should we give you an offer to study Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic?
  • Summarise a book mentioned in my personal statement and my opinion of it

 Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interview questions:

  • We discussed different sources (such as historical extracts/archaeological finds), discussing what I found interesting about it and what I could infer
  • I had a poem to analyse, and had time before the interview to make notes before having a discussion
  • The interviewers showed me a picture of an item of clothing and was asked what culture it would have been worn in. (They did not expect an exact answer, just to see how I arrived at my conclusion)
  • I had an extract and an image, with the interview centering around a discussion on this (e.g. what takeaways from the information provided)
  • “What is the point in studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic?”
  • “What is the importance of primary sources?”
  • “What is the difference between French and Icelandic?”
  • “How can we date a source if we did not know who wrote it and when?” with a follow up of “can we scientifically analyse ink and parchment?”
  • “What is the difference between literature and history?”
  • What is more useful in learning about different cultures, written artefacts (such as poems), or physical artefacts (such as items of clothing)?
Free Oxbridge Interview Scenarios

    What happens on the day of my Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interview?

    One common recurring interview theme focused on two aspects. Firstly, a discussion on an unseen source, and then a broader discussion on your background and personal statement. 

    Firstly, many tutors gave students material, such as a photograph or an extract of text. Discussion centred around these sources, with a range of follow-up and discussion-based questions, such as “How could we estimate when this poem was written?”, “What country does this artefact originate from?”.

    Secondly, the interviewers asked students about their motivations for applying to the subject and their personal statement. For example, questions on which aspect of the course excited them most, what background reading they had done, why they wanted to study such a niche subject at university.

    What do you have to bring to your Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interview?

    Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in! this could be a full suit/dress or gym clothes. Interviewers are not bothered what you wear (as long as it is within reason!) – they just want to get to know you as a person and have an engaging discussion.

    When are the Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interviews held?

    According to Cambridge University, interviews typically take place during the first three weeks of December, with a small number of candidates interviewing in January. Most interviews take place over a period of 2-3 days, but if you get pooled for another round of interviews then this period could be even longer.

    Tutors then make a decision based on the performance of the applications, and the university sends offers to candidates in mid January.

    What are the interviewers like?

    My interview experience was very positive!

    Initially I was very nervous and anxious about what questions they might ask me. However, the interviewers were very friendly and welcoming which put me at ease.

    Honestly, the interview felt more like a collaborative conversation than a typical interview. Instead of them constantly asking me questions and moving on, we bounced ideas off each other and debated our different perspectives. It felt like two people just discussing a subject we are interested in.

    The interviewers really wanted to push me and wanted me to expand on my answer. It felt very unstructured. If I started talking about a specific area, the interviewers often asked follow-up questions about this area.

    Importantly, it just felt like they wanted candidates to be enthusiastic and engaged about Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic studies. They wanted to see your genuine interest for the subject, and how you would be a good student they would want to teach for the next three years!

    Cambridge course study
    Students reading Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge will typically have 2 tutorials a week with 0-3 other students and a tutor

    Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interview tips?

    Firstly, relax as much as possible before the interview. Do not stay up late cramming last minute revision, instead try to relax and get a good night’s rest.

    Second, double check you have everything ready before the interview starts. Such as all electronics (making sure they are charged!) and anything else you may need in the interview (such as pens, paper and water).

    Finally, be confident! The fact that you have an interview invite shows you are a top student. Remind yourself of this and back yourself going into the interview!

    Tips for the interview itself?  

    1. Try to stay calm! Interviewers will understand if you are nervous, so do not be afraid to take a few seconds to compose yourself and structure your thoughts.
    2. Do not panic if you do not immediately know the answer. Focus on talking out loud, clearly communicating your thought process throughout the interview. Cambridge University states interviewers want to see how you think and apply your current knowledge, rather than just assessing your final answer.
    3. Mock interviews help! Talking outloud and answering unseen questions is great practice for the interview – this can be with a teacher, friend, or parent!
    4. It is not a knowledge test. Most students have not studied the subject previously, so the interviews are designed to be accessible to beginners. 
    5. Show your passion for their subject! Your interviewer could be your tutor every week for the next three years – so make a good impression outside of academics: be engaged, enthusiastic and friendly!
    6. Background reading helps! Because most students have not covered the subjects in school, stand out by showing your interest and passion for the course – read around, watch a seminar, or go to a museum!

    Bonus Tips!

    1. Know your personal statement and EPQ (if applicable)! It is likely the interviewer will want to discuss your personal statement with you, so make sure you are comfortable talking in-depth about anything you have mentioned!
    2. Do not rush! Like with an essay in school, you are not expected to immediately arrive at your final answer. Take your time to think, assess different perspectives and structure your answer.
    3. Enjoy the experience! Being invited to an interview is an achievement in itself, and see this as an opportunity to discuss your interest with leading academics in the field!

    ​Still need more support with preparing for your Cambridge Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic interview? Check out our 1-1 Oxbridge interview tutoring for more information to help secure your place at the University of Cambridge.

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