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How to Pass the Oxford University Entrance Interview: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re reading this, you are probably reeling off the success of your Oxford entrance exams. The finish line is in sight! However, there is one more hurdle you need to overcome; the dreaded Oxford interview. If this is the last step in your application journey, or if you’re thinking about applying to Oxford, let us help you pass the Oxford Interview, and secure your spot this upcoming term. 

What is the Oxford Interview? 

The Oxford Interview is the penultimate step in the Oxford University Application Process. Oxford describes their interview process as akin to a guided conversation about your chosen subject, which measures your ability to both retain material, and engage in discussion about it. Performance isn’t solely based on your ability to appear professional and show good manners, but rather serves to evaluate your enthusiasm and grasp of the subject at hand. 

Invitations to interview usually come around November in the application cycle. Applicants will be interviewed directly by a college at Oxford, and some colleges will interview applicants that didn’t necessarily apply there. Sometimes, applicants will be invited to multiple interviews by multiple colleges. Don’t feel overwhelmed, even if it seems that way! The Oxford interview is an immense privilege, and despite how daunting the task may seem, the payoff is well worth it. 

How does the interview work? 

The Oxford interview is likened more to a guided conversation than any interview you might’ve had for a job or scholarship. While every interview can have their individual differences and quirks, the general premise is centered around your chosen subject. Oxford University’s website has many FAQ’s on the interview process, but in summary, here’s what you can expect; 

  1. Expect to be challenged. The interview is meant to test your skills and abilities in both disseminating the material, and approaching it in new ways and with unexpected perspectives. 
  2. Different subjects often required different approaches. Mathematics-oriented classes will rely heavily on questions geared towards quantitative reasoning, whereas literature and art classes rely on subjective interpretations of material. 
  3. Questions will pertain to both factual answers and interpretive responses. Sometimes a right answer simply doesn’t exist, or you’ll have to develop an interpretive answer on the fly. Expect to study your interview topic thoroughly beforehand.
  4. Some materials may be given beforehand, such as lines of prose, poetry, and art. If this happens, Oxford says that the interviewer will describe what you should focus on. 
  5. Don’t expect to just skip out on personal questions either. Oxford isn’t looking for academic drones; they want well-rounded students who can offer more than just good grades. Prepare to talk about you; your achievements, successes, and failures. You might learn a little bit about yourself in the process. 

One example of an Oxford interview question, taken from ThatOxfordGirl’s “50 REAL LIFE Oxford Interview Questions?”, could be “What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?” In cases like this, the answer is relatively clear-cut, and an interviewee might plainly say that the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is that type 1 diabetes inhibits insulin production, and type 2 diabetes prevents a person from absorbing insulin properly. However, another example could come in the form of a question such as “What is the point of ‘difficulty’ in tests?” Here, the answer is far less obvious, and takes into account both your personal experience and your knowledge of perhaps multiple subjects. Regardless of whether or not you know the answer, you should still try your best to answer the question. After all, many Oxford students say they learn even more about their subjects in the interviews themselves. 

The Bottom Line

The Oxford interview may seem like an extraordinarily daunting task, and it’s difficult for good reason. However, Oxford wouldn’t make an impossible interview, and this guide should serve to both empower you, and get you ready to anticipate any question thrown at you. If you’ve made it this far in the application process, what’s to say you can’t finish it on a high note?

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