Oxbridge Interviews – Complete Guide and Tips

by the team of Road to Abroad

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What is Oxbridge?

Oxbridge is simply a blend of the words ‘Oxford’ and ‘Cambridge’. The two are often referred to as ‘Oxbridge’ due to the level of academic excellence associated with them, setting them apart from other universities in the UK. The two universities rank well in the QS World University Rankings 2020, with the University of Oxford placing fourth in the world (first in the UK) and the University of Cambridge in seventh place in the world (second in the UK).

When will I find out if I’ve been invited to an interview? 

‘You will receive a letter or an email indicating whether or not you have been invited for interview in mid to end of November’ says the University of Oxford website. 

‘Courses holding interviews in early December will issue invitations in mid-November and those holding interviews later in December will issue invitations towards the end of November.’ 

The University of Cambridge website says, ‘The majority of interviews in Cambridge take place in the first three weeks of December (some may be a little earlier).’ 

Also Read: How to apply at Oxford University

How many people get to the interview?

According to the University of Oxford’s website, the university receives an average of 20,000 applications for the 3,250 places on offer each year and carries out around 10,000 interviews. In Cambridge, according to their website, ‘Everyone with a realistic chance of being offered a place is invited to attend an interview’, which, they say, amounts to around 75 percent of applicants.

What kind of person are Oxford and Cambridge looking for?

The universities claim that all they are looking for in potential students is a strong mind and a passion to learn. Oxford University writes: ‘The only things that Oxford students have in common are academic ability and intellectual curiosity. Our students come from all over the world and bring with them an amazing range of backgrounds and interests.’ 

Cambridge university writes that they’re looking for people with good ‘problem solving abilities, an assimilation of new ideas and information and intellectual flexibility and analytical reasoning’ 

Also Read: Cost of Studying in UK

Who will be interviewing me?

In the University of Oxford, academic tutors will most likely be interviewing you. ‘They teach and research at the university and have an in-depth knowledge about the subject.’ 

Similarly, the University of Cambridge says interviewers will be ‘specialists in the subject you’ve applied for, one of whom is usually the College Director of Studies who would oversee your academic studies and progress at Cambridge’ 

“I had a preliminary interview on Skype where I interviewed with my potential supervisor and 3 of his colleagues including someone from HR on the project/funding/lab”, said the director of Road to Abroad, who was once interviewed by Oxford University in 2014. 

Will I have to sit a written assessment?

In Oxford, depending on what is relevant for the course you are applying for, you may be given a text, a poem, or an object and asked to answer questions about it.

In Cambridge you will be required to complete a written assessment for all courses except for mathematics and music. 

Also Read: Free Master’s Degree in UK

How should I prepare?

Brush up on your knowledge of world affairs and any recent news related to your subject. You should also have a solid knowledge of your subject and do some extra reading around it. 

If you haven’t studied the subject before, Oxford advises thinking about the reasons that you want to study it and doing some general reading around the subject. However, you won’t be expected to have in depth knowledge of the field, and interviewers will be assessing your skills and aptitude rather than specific knowledge. 

Will I get asked any wacky questions? 

Oxbridge interviewees have reported being asked a variety of crazy questions, including ‘Is it moral to hook up a psychopath (whose only pleasure is killing) to a reality-simulating machine so that he can believe he is in the real world and kill as much as he likes?’ for philosophy, ‘Why might it be useful for an English student to read the Twilight series?’ for English literature and ‘Are you cool?’ for economics. 

In your interview you may be asked questions about your personal statement, your essay (if you submitted one) and the subject you’re wishing to study. Occasionally interviewers might ask a purposefully difficult question to see how you react to solving problems. When these questions are asked, interviewers expect interviewees to calmly go through their thought process.  

Also Read: UK Point based immigration system

What should I wear to the interview?

For the interview you should wear something smart, but that you feel comfortable in. 

What happens after the interview? 

In early January the ‘Winter pool takes place and decisions are posted to applicants. A small number of applicants may be asked to attend a further interview’ says the Cambridge website.

‘Most applicants who were interviewed in December should have heard whether they have been accepted conditionally or unconditionally or have been unsuccessful before the end of January.’

Have you interviewed for Oxford or Cambridge? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

We hope that this blog informed you about Oxbridge Interviews. Road to Abroad experts can be your guide in preparing for interviews for undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD applications. Also, if you need help in applications, feel free to contact us. We have a special team dealing with Oxbridge University applications.

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