Biochemistry @ Brasenose, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 35-40 min interviews, a day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: problem sheet, physical models, personal statement; Interview 2: mathematical problem sheet

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Read over A Level notes, start early.

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 1 day

Length of interviews: 35 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Both my interviews involved a number of problem sheets (some with pictures of biological processes that I was asked to identify, others with graphs that I was asked to analyse and give an answer based upon). At my first interview I was also given physical models and asked questions based upon structure and function, and had an applied mathematics question in which I had to draw a graph. After about 5 general subject questions we had a discussion about a scientific book I mentioned in my personal statement, which turned into a more fluid discussion about topics I was particularly interested in and had in common with the interviewers.

The second interview was more structured and mathematical, and was heavily based on my understanding of A Level Chemistry topics, which was then expanded upon.

I relaxed into both interviews, as both sets of interviewers were very friendly and did not pressure my answers. They would also provide prompts or direction at points where I struggled.

How did you prepare?

No test.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

I read through my A Level biology and chemistry revision notes to refresh my knowledge, as well as my personal statement and the books I mentioned. I also watched videos made by those who had been interviewed in previous years to familiarise myself with the types of questions that might be asked. Both of these things helped me feel prepared and reduced how nervous I felt going into the interviews, and refreshing my knowledge by reading notes was key in being able to answer the questions as they were all very academic.

I would advise applicants to start preparation early to reduce nerves and definitely brush up on chemistry topics as they featured prominently in my interviews.

The interviewers aren’t looking for the perfect student who knows all the answers straight away without any problems, they’re looking for people who can work their way through a problem that they’re not familiar with through applying what they do know and going from there. It’s about being able to talk through the way you get to an answer rather than just giving the correct answer. It’s also about being passionate and being able to convey how interested you are in the topics and the subject as a whole - they want to be teaching people who actively enjoy what they’re learning!