Stand and Deliver


At many other universities you may be able to hide in the back of the lecture hall comforted by the fact that you won’t be called upon to answer a question. That’s pretty easy in a room full of a hundred people but not so easy at Oxford, where weekly tutorials may only involve you and your tutor. Zoning out, flicking through your Facebook newsfeed or doodling on your papers are a no go because the spotlight is all on YOU.

So, what exactly does an Oxford tutorial entail?

Students tend to meet their tutors at least once a week in ones or twos to discuss their weekly essay. Every tutor has their own personal way of doing things but the essay is often used as a starting point for discussion.

Tutes are really very much like interviews, the tutors ask more and more difficult questions in an attempt to push you, to broaden your thoughts and help you to better understand the topic.

What are the tutors like?

Every tutor is different but they are all experts in their field. You’re going to be sharing your opinions with the people who have devoted their whole lives to the topic which can be pretty terrifying but also a truly enriching experience.

Where are tutes held?

They are usually held in the college where your tutor is based. They usually take place in the tutor’s personal office, often stereotypical Oxford scenes of antique sofas, historic art hanging on the walls and shelves dripping with books.

How long do they last?

Tutes normally last half-an-hour to an hour.

Top Tips

  • Decide whether you think the tutorial system is for you.

  • Make sure you can meet deadlines; you can’t get away with not handing your essay in on time at Oxford.

  • Brush up on your time-keeping; the tutors won’t take kindly to you wasting their time.

  • Find your voice; there is nowhere to hid.

  • Justify everything; this is just as important in tutes as in interviews.

  • Prepare to be challenged.

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