How Can I Prepare for the Cambridge Maths Interview?

You have received an invitation to your Cambridge Maths interview and now have no clue what to do? Worry not! Read this UniAdmissions guide on how to prepare well for the Cambridge Maths interview. You will be just fine (if you follow our advice, of course!).


1. Revise your Maths syllabus

Regardless of whether you do A-Levels or any other secondary school qualification, your Maths course is essential for your interview. Yes, this means brushing up on any topics you feel you could be better. It’s also beneficial going over the basics and making sure you have a good grounding of them. Cambridge maths interviews are unique in that they are very much based on not just what you know but how you use that knowledge. You should demonstrate how you find the answers to what you don’t know.

If you do Further Maths at A-Level, be sure to go through that as well! Previous interviewees have recommended that certain topics such as trigonometric identities, basic formulae, combinatorics, binomials, counting elements, complex numbers, sequences, statistics, mechanics, and physics related questions tend to pop up.


2. Know the structure of the Cambridge maths interview

Based on our knowledge of the Cambridge maths interview (collected first-hand by current Cambridge students), the procedure can vary from college to college. Depending on this, you may be asked to take an examination ranging from half an hour to an hour with up to 10-15 questions. It is not compulsory to answer all the questions (and is often impossible to do so). It’s more important to answer questions to the best of your ability – even if this means skipping a few questions.

Your answers to the questions you did attempt will then be discussed in the interview. More importantly, your interviewers will try to probe you to find the answers to the questions that you failed to answer. They might give you hints along the way. In this stage, they will be able to see your thought process and how you approach problems.

Alternatively, you may also be given maths questions to solve in the interview straight away. If you come across a question you do not know the answer to (and based on our experience, we think you might!), do not panic. Use the information you already know to try to reach a solution. Your interviewer will give you hints to reach the answer easily, take them!

Further information…

Direct resources from the University of Cambridge about what to expect from a typical Cambridge maths interview can be incredibly helpful to prepare.  Watch this mock Cambridge maths interview to get an idea of what to expect straight from the University itself!

Similarly, as part of the Oxbridge Universities, Oxford has a comparable interview technique that they apply for their maths interview. It’s worth seeing what is expected from Oxford, to get a similar idea of what is needed at the Cambridge math interview.


3. Prepare yourself for the increasing level of difficulty

Your Cambridge maths interview may start off with small questions to test your basics and then keep increasing in difficulty until it reaches to a point where you are asked questions even students studying the Mathematics Tripos Part II (third year in Cambridge speak) don’t know the answer to. Fret not, going in with the knowledge that the questions will get harder can help you not to stress out.

You could also take the step further and book yourself onto a maths interview course at UniAdmisisons where you can practice and get used to some of the hard questions that will come up.

Lastly, make sure you go in with a clear mind and a whole lot of confidence! If you have been invited to interview, it is because Cambridge sees potential in you to be a student there.

Put Your Best Foot Forward with UniAdmissions

In order to put your best foot forward for the interview, be sure to have a look at our specialized Oxbridge interview packages. At UniAdmissions, we understand that getting through the admissions process for the likes of Oxbridge and Cambridge is tough. Which is why we have devised customised maths packages specifically for students hoping to secure their place at Oxbridge universities. The course itself takes you on the admissions journey from proofreading your personal statement to how to answer the difficult interview questions.

Through mock interview scenarios and a load of resources at your fingertips, you will be given the skills and techniques you need to be successful in your Cambridge maths interview.

More About this Topic

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