How To Prepare For The Cambridge Economics Interview

The Cambridge Economics Interview. What will it entail? How can I read ahead and prepare? Is my Personal Statement going to come up? Today we’ll go through these questions to give you some more clarity on the Economics Interview process at Cambridge.

Author: Rebecca Smith

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So, you’re thinking of applying to study Economics at Cambridge, or perhaps you’ve already applied. This means you’re probably already looking ahead to the Cambridge Economics Interview.

Many students find the Interview the most daunting part of the whole process of applying to Cambridge. What will it entail? How can I read ahead and prepare? Is my Personal Statement going to come up? Today we’ll go through these questions to give you some more clarity on the Economics Interview process at Cambridge. 

Why Does Cambridge Interview For Economics?

All the applicants will have been predicted top grades, so it is difficult to fairly select based on their UCAS applications alone. Therefore, interviews are the way forward.

There is no set mould for the ideal Cambridge student. Everyone is assessed individually, meaning the Admissions Tutors are looking for something different in each student.

Admissions Tutors, are looking for students who they feel have the most academic ability and potential, are best suited to the course, and who will benefit from the learning environment that Economics at Cambridge offers them.

The key thing they are looking for is that you can show interest in and commitment to Economics, and the ability to think critically and independently.

How do I prepare?

You will need to be engaging with economic writing beyond the A-level syllabus. For the general Cambridge Economics Interview, this means reading economics books published by prominent economists, for instance, Nobel Laureates. It is also worth engaging with the research published by institutions such as the Bank of England.

Make sure you re-read your Personal Statement and any coursework you are providing. Anticipate questions that may arise from these and prepare them in advance. Don’t get caught out! 

For the applied Cambridge Economics Interview, it is important to not only review core maths modules from the A-level syllabus but also apply these to economic problems. Spend time working through practice questions to give you a solid idea of what might come up and save yourself from being caught out. 

Some people who have been through this interview process advise preparation in maths, further maths, and economics specifically when discussing their experiences. They also suggest an array of reading material in addition to the books already mentioned. The Economist and a respected business news section, such as the Financial Times, can be very helpful.

When preparing, make sure you are explaining your thought processes out loud, even if it is just to yourself. This is crucial for the Interview itself as you need to explain the journey, not just say the destination. It doesn’t particularly matter if you end up getting it wrong. Cambridge Economics interviewers are far less interested in what you know, instead, they are really interested in what you can do with what you currently know. 

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The Cambridge Economics Interview: a tale of two parts

The Cambridge Economics Interview process is broadly split into two distinct parts:

The first part is an Interview that covers your conceptual understanding of economics. This is macroeconomics, microeconomics and potentially covering the global economy, including development economics.

These are the broad themes of the A-level syllabus and so it will be necessary to not only have a strong grounding of the concepts in these areas, but also to reach beyond the confines of class textbooks and read some of the work economists in the real world are producing.

As well as these concepts, the interviewer may touch upon the contents of your Personal Statement, so make sure you’re familiar with the readings and theories you discussed in there. If you talked about QE, monetary policy or the 2008 recession, it is advisable to have a good understanding of these topics as they are the potential basis of the Interview conversations.

Here is an example of a potential question that could come up for students who mentioned globalisation in their Personal Statements. 

You’ve mentioned globalisation in your Personal Statement, how would you define it, and what would you say the benefits of it might be to ordinary people?

The second Cambridge Economics Interview tends to be more applied, involving applied maths and problem-solving questions. It is useful, therefore, to have covered the A-level maths syllabus again, including Core modules and Statistics. It is typical that a question may incorporate differentiation, for instance, in the context of an economic problem.

Below is an example of an Economics Interview maths question taken from King’s College, Cambridge. 

A fair coin is tossed but you cannot see whether it is heads or tails. In order to learn the outcome, you ask three friends who all see the outcome clearly. Each friend has a habit of lying one-third of the time at random. If all of them say that it is heads, what is the probability that it is indeed heads?

What kind of topics tend to come up?

The range of topics is, inevitably, very wide. The topics below gives some overarching themes based on our experience from the Cambridge Economics Interview:

Here are two examples related to your Personal Statement and academic references that you could be asked:

You mentioned having good thinking skills in your Personal Statement, can you tell me how many golf balls can you fit in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner?

How will your experiences from the Duke of Edinburgh scheme benefit you during your time at university?

Conclusion

It is the final stage of the application process, and often what sways the admissions team’s decision so being prepared is essential and vital to having a successful interview.

The interview is not designed to be a thorough test of your knowledge of the subject. Rather, it is about how you would fit in at Cambridge and your teachability. 

But overall, the key thing to remember is to just be yourself and show off your passion for Economics. The tutors just want to find out what you think and how you think.

Confidence is the key to shining on the day, which can be gained thanks to the help of practice. Being prepared for such a competitive interview will make the difference between getting accepted or not.

How do I prepare for the Cambridge Economics Interview to perform well on the day?

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