Cambridge Engineering: Questions & Tips for Interview

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Cambridge Interview questions engineering
Studying Engineering at the University of Cambridge

In this article we will guide you on how to prepare for your Cambridge Engineering Interview. This includes guides on past Cambridge Engineering interview questions, interview tips, mock examples and real experiences from students who have sat the Cambridge Engineering Interview.

Here is a link about what to expect about the Engineering course at Cambridge

What are the Cambridge Engineering interview dates?

According to the official Cambridge Website, the majority of interviews will take place in the first 3 weeks of December.

Cambridge Engineering interview questions

  • What are the fundamental differences between Engineering and Physics?
  • Why did they use to make the mill chimneys so tall?
  • If you are in a room with 5 people and guess all their birthdays, what is the probability of getting only one correct?
  • How does a fridge work?
  • Explain the following to someone with no knowledge of physics: force, momentum, power and work 
  • Explain the terms voltage, electricity and power
  • What challenges do you think you would face as a Formula 1 engineer in 10 years time
  • Questions on topics mentioned in personal statement
  • Sketch a velocity-time graph for a skydiver jumping out of a plane 
  • Show the forces acting on a ladder 
  • Why do sausages split lengthways, rather than around the circumference?
  • How small can you make a computer? What are the limiting factors?
  • How would you design a gravity dam for holding back water?
  • What would happen if you drilled through the Earth all the way to the other side and then jumped into the hole?

Further Cambridge Interview Engineering Questions

  • Why did they used to make the mill chimneys so tall?
  • If you had a cylinder sealed at both ends, with the pressure rising inside, would it blow at the end or split along the side first?
  • Differentiate: y = sinx + cosx + tanx
  • Are bridges more stable on concrete or on soil – why?
  • Derive the equation that links voltage, charge and capacitance?
  • How do aeroplanes fly? Why can some fly upside down?
  • How do trains go around bends?
  • How does earthquake proofing work?
  • Derive the formula for the area of a circle 
  • Talk about a light bulb 
  • What are the main assumptions made when modelling potential flow?
  • What is Moore’s Law?
  • What limits the size of a computer chip?
  • What is the strongest naturally occurring material? How can it be cut?
  • What is the significance of superconductors?
  • What would be your first invention?
  • Why do windmills never appear stationary?
  • What would be the difficulties with building a bridge that connects the UK and Canada?
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    Insider Guides: Cambridge Engineering Interview

    What happened on the day of your Cambridge Engineering interview? 

    On the day of the interview, admissions tutors emailed me a Zoom Link about 30 minutes before the start time of my Cambridge Interview.
    I had 2 interviews. The first was focussed on my personal statement and interest. The second was about the subject I was applying for. Prior to my Cambridge Engineering interview, I was in a breakout room with 2 other students to check if my mic and camera were working properly. 

    engineering cambridge interview questions

    What do you have to bring to your Cambridge Engineering interview?

    Dress code does not matter at all. The tutors are interested in what you say, not what you look like! For my Cambridge Engineering interview, as it took place online, all I required was my laptop and access to Zoom but I also ensured that I dressed smartly. I also had a piece of paper and some pens with me for any calculation questions that were posed at me. 

    What is the Cambridge Engineering interview setting and how long is it?

    Both my Cambridge Engineering interviews took place online. For both my interviews, there were two tutors present with one asking the questions and the other making notes. 

    Each Cambridge Engineering interview lasts approximately 30 minutes in total.

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    What are the Cambridge Engineering interviewers like?

    My Cambridge Engineering interviews had a variety of interviewers – all of which I found to be quite friendly and warm. Overall I would say the interviewers were quite relaxed. They helped me settle into both my interviews and then proceeded to aid me when answering questions that I was stuck on by giving me hints. 

    In my first Cambridge Engineering interview, there were definitely more pre-determined Cambridge University engineering interview questions. As soon as I finished answering one, the interviewers would move onto the next one. My second interview was a bit more varied. The main problem I was asked to solve took a long time. The follow-up questions depended on my answer, with the aim of guiding me to the right answer. 

    engineering interview questions cambridge

    Are there any academic or challenging Engineering questions at the Cambridge Interview?

    For my Cambridge Engineering interview, the initial questions were quite basic and easy to answer. As we went deeper into understanding the main question at hand, the other questions got more challenging as they required more thought and I found that I struggled more with them. However, the interviewers were there to guide me in case I went in the wrong direction.

    Are there any personality, work experience or extracurricular based Engineering questions at the Cambridge Interview?

    Majority of the questions I was asked in my Cambridge Engineering interviews were focussed on the technical part of my personal statement. In my personal statement, I mentioned the theory of how lift is generated on wings and I was asked to elaborate on that. 

    In my second interview, I did not have any personality based questions but I was asked about my proudest achievement and some of the work experience I had mentioned in my personal statement. 

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    How to Prepare for Cambridge Engineering interview 

    • Read your personal statement: Read your Oxbridge Engineering personal statement and know it in and out. This allows you to talk about any work experience, extracurriculars or engineering related activities you have undertaken. 
    • Use online resources: Use online resources and question banks to practice a wide range of engineering interview questions to help you prepare for what to expect on your actual interview day.
    • Practice with people: Practise speaking your answers out loud with friends, family members or other people that are applying to Cambridge for the same subject. This will allow you to slow down your thought process and think about how you will critically approach questions that are presented to you on your interview day. Focus on making the information clear and concise and highlight your entire thought process of how you were able to arrive at your final answer.
    • Talk to someone who is studying your course: Try and find someone who is studying your chosen course or contact an expert for Oxbridge Engineering interview tutoring to gain a better understanding of what to expect on your interview day 
    • Stay calm: Believe in yourself! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage with some of the top educationalists in the field so enjoy the intellectual conversation. 

    Top Tips for the “Why Cambridge” interview question

    1. Research Cambridge and think about why you really want to go there – this cannot be simply because it is one of the world’s top universities. You should find something unique or rare about Cambridge that makes you want to study there.
    2. You must also think about your specific subject. For Engineering, you should research the way the course is delivered, making sure to have a few pointers in mind which you would love to come to Cambridge to study.

    My favourite things about studying Engineering at Cambridge University 

    My favourite thing about studying Engineering at Cambridge University is the way the course is structured. It allows you to get a full picture of what being an engineering student is like before deciding what career path you want to get into. The first 2 years of my course were very general engineering focused which allowed me to gain a better insight into multiple areas of engineering before specialising later on. 

    Remember that you can call us to see how we can help you to prepare for Cambridge University chemical engineering interview questions with our Oxbridge tutors.

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