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What should I be doing RIGHT NOW?

By Anna Bodman

If you’ve received a very exciting email in the last couple of days, then CONGRATULATIONS! This is such a big achievement and although you may initially feel the positive emotions that come with being offered an interview, I am sure those instantly gave way to thoughts of dread and, wait, what should I do now?

Here are my top 10 suggestions of ways to prepare for an interview:

1. Annotate your personal statement with as many questions as you can think of. If you can, get a teacher, friend or parent to do so as well, as they may be able to cast a more critical eye.

2. Come up with some answers to stock questions like – Why PPE? Why Oxford? Although these might not come up, it can make you feel more prepared and start thinking in the Oxford way.

3. Sort out all the logistical problems! You’ve probably been sent lots of forms and information from your college, so take time to read this and action anything that needs to be sent back, like health forms for example.

4. Re-read any books you have mentioned! Time may not permit you to look back at all of the texts but try to read those that you feel the least familiar with and look at summaries or your own notes for the others.

5. Keep up to date with the news, especially in areas relating to your subject. Stick it on in the car on the way to college or watch it on your laptop, just make sure you are up to date.

6. Pick some unusual looking articles or essays and read them critically – try to pick something that wouldn’t normally leap out as interesting, or from a source you wouldn’t normally use. The more you can be exposed to unfamiliar sources, the better!

7. Plan your interview experience, as this will make you feel so much more relaxed upon arrival. Sort out transport, write a packing list and perhaps even look up some places to visit in your down time.

8. Talk to anyone who will listen about your subject – parents, teachers, siblings, the dog! It helps to practise verbalising your thoughts, ideas and thinking patterns.

9. Research some key terms that you have mentioned in your personal statement and really go back to basics. I found some of the most challenging questions to be the simplest, such as What is anger? What is feminism? What is utilitarianism? Don’t get caught up in the complicated aspects of your subject before you have the foundations nailed.

10. Don’t. Stress. Oxford tutors are not trying to catch you out and instead want to test you on areas in which you can show your potential. I also found from my experience that they really want to ensure a level playing field, and so the questions will likely be impossible to prepare for anyway! Accept this, take a deep breath and remember what an achievement it is to have made it this far.


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