You are now very close to making your dream come true and getting into Oxford or Cambridge. You have finished your tutoring sessions, learned your subjects, prepared your documents, and written a motivational letter. You are now eager to encounter Oxbridge tutors to start your Oxbridge tuition.
But now you have to go through an interview to get in. So let’s break down the “terrible and merciless” Oxbridge interview, which is the most mysterious and exciting part of the admissions process, and talk about the practical issues in a question-and-answer format.
What is an Oxbridge interview?
When will I find out if I’ll be asked to come in for an interview?
After applying to Oxford or Cambridge and through a centralized UCAS system by the middle of October, applicants will not know if they will be invited for an interview for a while. So, at the end of November or the beginning of December, both universities make lists of the people who passed the first selection round.
Most letters of invitation arrive at the beginning of December. But sometimes, an interview invitation doesn’t come until a week before the interview. So, you need to make sure you are free right now and ready to spend a few days in Oxford or Cambridge as soon as possible.
If I’m invited, when can I expect the interview?
In the first half of December, interviews happen in Cambridge, while discussions usually occur in the middle or end of December in Oxford.
Who is invited to an interview?
Most applicants to Oxford and Cambridge are asked to come in for an interview. For example, the Cambridge website says that about 75% of applicants are invited. But at Oxford, there are fewer interviews because most colleges and programs first choose students based on tests.
What will the number of interviews be?
The number of interviews varies, but Oxford has more interviews than Cambridge in general. That’s because the ways the two universities choose candidates are different.
For example, a college in Cambridge interviews everyone who sends them their application materials and then chooses the best candidates based on these interviews. But other strong candidates who came after them would be a better fit for the whole university, so there is no longer a spot for them in the college.
Such candidates are sent to the public pool, where colleges with fewer applicants can find students to fill their classes. Most of the time, these candidates get an offer from another college that wants them, and sometimes they have to go through another interview.
At Oxford, on the other hand, the system is set up so that the candidate is interviewed by several colleges, which then decide if they want to invite him. The candidate can stay at the university for three to four days and visit different colleges.
When it arrives at the actual interview, it’s usually about a particular subject. You’ll meet with the head of your chosen course and another college staff member for a more general discussion.
Upon my arrival for an interview, where may I stay?
The college where the interview will be held will give you a place to stay and food while you are there.
How should I dress?
You can wear whatever you require, but keep in mind that your outfit should be suitable for an interview. Wear something that creates you feel good about yourself and gives you peace of mind. It is important to remember that the candidate doesn’t have to look formal.
Should I bring something?
Depending on the course item you choose, you might be asked to bring something. Most of the time, these are copies of your schoolwork, which you said you would send when you applied. You might also want to bring a motivation letter since you are likely to be asked about it. Also, it will help to review what you already know before you meet with a member of the selection committee.
What exactly happens in the interview?
So, what does an interview at Oxbridge look like? First, it depends on which path you take. Most of the time, the academic part of the interview is made up of a conversation and a task that can be done in real life. For example, mathematicians might have to solve an equation, musicians might have to play a piece of music, and people who study ancient civilizations might have to translate and analyze a text they don’t know.
An interview like this gives the admissions committee a chance to judge the applicant. Still, it also allows the applicant to find out if the university is a good fit for him. Also, it’s essential to know that Oxford and Cambridge have seminars or “mentoring” sessions that go along with the lectures.
The teacher or master of the course meets with small groups of students to talk about writing essays, study modules, and other training-related topics. At these kinds of meetings, people who want to talk to each other, debate, think critically and analyze, and come up with solutions that aren’t the norm are very welcome.
In some ways, the selection interview is like one of these sessions, and it gives the members of the commission an idea of how well the candidate will be able to adapt to this way of learning and Oxbridge in general.
The interview is just one part of a more extensive evaluation
But don’t forget that the interview is just one of the steps in the process. When you walk into the college, the staff and teachers will already know what they think about you based on the documents you brought with you. So, your job is to either strengthen the good impression or get rid of the bad one.
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