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Classics Interview


Today we have a special feature with Emma on the Classics interview at Oxford:

Hi Emma, how many interviews did you have?

I had two Classics interviews - the first was with a Classics fellow and a Philosophy fellow at Jesus.

Were you given unseen material?

Yes, I arrived ten minutes before and was presented with a short list of Latin and Greek quotations (with English translations) and was told to prepare to discuss one or two of them - some were famous quotations, some weren't. I didn't know any of them beforehand - the interviewers not testing recall, but novel ways your brain deals with things.

This led into general discussion into Latin literature - which was my main subject of 'expertise' at school - but also occasionally the Philosophy tutor would jump in with questions I thought were very profound about fate and things. I remember just before the interview I googled 'quotations about classics' and to my great embarrassment I ended the interview with the top hit - one from Thomas Edison.

What was your second interview on?

For the second interview i turned up 15 minutes before and was given a classically themed poem in English to make notes on and discuss. I was utterly off the mark - the poem was about light and darkness, I discussed very tenuous things like babies being born - and it turned out that the poem was quite a famous one by Keats about Homer, who was famously characterised as a blind poet. I literally did not clock this, but it was all fine.

There was also an archaeology themed section where they gave me an artefact - mine was a plastic bag with pictures of food on it - and asked what I would say about it if I was from 2000 years in the future and had dug it up. I was also very stuck on that one.

Did the tutors push you outside of your comfort zone?

Yes, overall Ii felt my interviews were pretty challenging. I didn't feel like I showcased myself to my best ability. I think it was the tests - the unseen translation tests, both Latin prose and poetry - that swung it for me, rather than the interviews themselves.

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