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Intro


Interviews


Tutors aren’t trying to catch you out, but they are trying to see how you think and what skills you have.


The interview itself


No two interviews are the same, but there are some common themes. Tutors aren’t trying to catch you out, but they are trying to see how you think and what skills you have. In Arts subjects you may well be given some time to look at a passage of text ahead of the interview which you then have to discuss. In science subjects you could be asked factual questions. The tutors could also focus on topics which you haven’t studied to see how you respond to new ideas.


Don’t panic if you can’t think of answers to everything which you are asked – there are rarely ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers and it’s fine if you take time to answer questions and ask for clarification if you’re unsure what a tutor is asking. You may well have to work through your train of thought towards an answer. This is very similar to what happens in Oxford tutorials, so don’t be surprised if your line of thought changes during the interview itself. Although tutors may ask about any extracurricular activities which you have put on your personal statement, they are primarily interested in your academic potential and it is this area on which your interview will focus.


Although the interview environment can be in- tense, it’s probably best not to compare notes on interviews with other applicants afterwards – interviews may well not have gone in the way which you think they did. Try not to second- guess everything that’s happened as ultimately neither you nor your fellow applicants will know how you did until you receive letters from your tutors.


What’s next?


All interviewed applicants are contacted in December or January to be told whether or not they have been successful. Offers are typically conditional on certain grades being achieved in your final exams at school, although you may be accepted by a college different than that to which you applied. The similarities between colleges are far greater than the differences between them, so don’t worry if this ultimately happens to you.


Every year many thousands of applicants are not offered places. These inevitably include many talented individuals who would have thrived at Oxford. Many people reapply to Oxford after a gap year or apply for gradu- ate study after going to a different university. If you don’t ultimately get into Oxford, then remember that there are many other excellent universities where you will have a fantastic time.


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