• TOG

The Stuff they might not tell you...


My biggest piece of advice for Oxford interviews is 'Be prepared to be unprepared' - the whole point in the interview system is to work out how you think and to try to assess your potential. The tutors aren't just looking for students who can regurgitate the school text book, they want to see a bit of YOU and the best way to do this is put you in scenarios you've never faced before.

Let me familiarise you with some of the things to expect, so it hopefully doesn't seem quite so daunting when you get there:

* Each college has an entrance at the front called a 'Porter's Lodge' - the porters will be there to greet you when you arrive, along with student helpers who will take you to your room.

* You'll be given your own room and food and accommodation will be covered by the college you initially interview at. If you have any dietary or access needs, make sure you inform your college beforehand.

* There will be lots of subjects interviewing at the same time, so you'll meet other students all applying for different things.

* Everyone is nervous deep down - some people are just better at hiding it - so don't be taken in by the bravado.

* Your interviews will usually take place in a tutor's office, there may just be one tutor interviewing you but there could be a lot more - in my Jesus interview I had four.

* The tutors aren't interested in what you're wearing, so wear what you feel comfortable in.

* 'Do I shake their hand?' this was one of the big dilemmas on my list but it's not worth stressing about. If it feels right, go ahead but there is no expectation to do so. I did in some and didn't in others, you can also take the lead from the tutors.

* Be prepared to be given an unseen extract before you go into the interview room - some colleges may give you five minutes to look over this, at others it may be half an hour. My advice would be to write all over it, so you have something to jog your thoughts once inside the interview.

* Be prepared to not know the answer - Oxford interviews aren't about reaching the correct answer, quite often there isn't one. They are about assessing the way you think, so get used to describing your thought process out loud.

* You may have just two interviews or multiple - try not to read into this!

* You may just interview at the first college you arrive at or you could be sent elsewhere.

* Your interview times will usually be posted on a board - you'll be told where this is and make sure you check it regularly, as new interviews can pop up at the last minute.

* If you get lost on route to the interview in the city or in the college - make sure you ask - this isn't a test of your navigation skills!

* Some applicants are spontaneously presented with an exam before their interview - so get used to looking over unseen material and working under pressure.

* I was asked to fill in a book list of everything I'd read in the last year when I arrived at my interviews - so have these at the forefront of your mind.

* There will be optional activities on in between your interviews to keep you entertained, it's totally up to you whether you choose to take part in these.

Hopefully that helps to demystify the process a bit - more tips later in the week!

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