Oxford and Cambridge traditionally favour teaching in small groups, known as tutorials, and this shapes the interview systems for both universities.
Oxbridge interviews assess your academic potential, your independent thinking, whether you are logical and flexible, capable of defending your point of view and able to make a significant contribution to the tutorial group. Interviewers are more interested in how you think rather than how much you know or have memorised from school curricula.
Everyone who could potentially get in to Oxbridge is interviewed – which means that while an interview does not guarantee you a place – your odds are I:3 in Oxford 1:4 at Cambridge at this stage – everyone who is eventually offered a place has been through the interview process. You may have to stay in college for up to three days, and if this is the case, you will be provided with accommodation and food.
You will have between one and three interviews, depending on the course and the college you have applied to, and each will last for up to 45 minutes. Some colleges require you to send in essays before the interview, and it is likely that they will form the basis of some of the questions you are asked. The interviewers are academic tutors – usually two people – from your field, but if you are applying for a joint or combined degree, you may be interviewed by representative tutors from each subject. Remember, these people are your potential tutors, and they are looking for students who show they have something to offer, are highly enthusiastic about their subject and demonstrate that they can be creative and innovative members of the faculty. It is essential that you read around the topic right up to the day of interview, so you cannot be caught out and asked for your opinion on a statement, event, document or controversy you have not heard about!
It is a good idea to look at online mock interviews and video diaries posted by admissions tutors, along with the sample questions Oxford is making available online. But remember, these are just sample questions , signposts to what the tutors are looking for and the skills they are trying to elicit from applicants. For example, I was once asked at interview how I would prevent foxes from carrying rabies into the UK via the Channel Tunnel. The answer was, from memory, fairly unrealistic, but I did defend it well and thought on my feet, changing details as the tutors pointed out weaknesses in my argument. And that is what is expected of you!
Once you have prepared for interview by getting up to date information and revisiting your subject, you may think you are ready for whatever comes. However, it is a far better idea to talk to someone who has been through the process, and this is where elab’s mentors can help you. Our mentors are all currently studying at Oxford and Cambridge and are in a great position to give you hints, information and tutor you for the interviews.
Call Elab and find out about our mentors and let us find you the ideal mentor for your college and course. We are only an email or a phone call away!