Biochemistry @ Corpus Christi, Oxford in 2016

Interview format

2x 20 min interviews, 1 day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: problem-solving questions, chemistry question; Interview 2: problem-solving questions, image

Best preparation


Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Reviewed A-levels; Googled interesting things; had some practice interviews. Ask questions; don't be afraid to say you don't know.

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: 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

1st interview: I sat down around a large table with two young tutors. Both were friendly and welcoming- and understood that I was nervous. It felt a bit like sitting down at a kitchen table, not like an interview panel as I imagined. We started with a couple of problem solving questions, one tutor explained the action of an enzyme using some props and asked a few questions for me to analyse it. The impression I got was that it was a discussion you could take as far as you wanted it to go. The second tutor then asked a more chemistry-based question that he drew out on paper, building on what we had learned at A level. After these we talked a bit about my personal statement/ anything they had flagged that I found interesting, and we finished by talking about what I loved about biochemistry. They asked if I had any questions, and I asked the same to them.

2nd interview: This was hosted in a different college than the one I was staying in. It was in a small office with three sofas in, which I found bizarre and informal for something that felt like such an important moment. There were two older male tutors, which felt more intimidating for some reason. I was at the end of a long day, and they seemed tired. I can’t remember this one so well, but I think they mostly asked problem solving questions- though these seemed more detailed and molecular, and I felt they assumed I had more knowledge than I did. Even so, they were helpful in guiding me to think how to solve the problem, but I definitely had to say 'I don’t know' a few times. I think they showed me an image of some lab results and asked me to analyse this data too.

How did you prepare?


What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I didn’t really prepare much apart from making sure I was fairly solid on my A Level content. Also, I had been reading science news for the last ~6 months, and doing some Googling on what I found exciting and interesting. Also, I made sure I really knew about what was in my personal statement, in case I was asked any questions on it.

I had a couple of practice interviews with my science teachers, but these were much more based on A Level content. These helped with the nerves a bit, I think. I did a bit of Googling on student forums about previous Biochem questions in Oxbridge interviews, but lots of these were not like the ones I had, and they just freaked me out to be honest.

The interviews were broadly more enjoyable than I expected, as in some ways they were just an exciting discussion about biochemistry. I think the interviewers wanted to try and go beyond what I had learned - as I’m sure many people can regurgitate an A Level textbook - and then to try and use those concepts to think further outside of the box.

My advice would be to ask questions- it’s a discussion, and this also shows your enthusiasm. Also, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer. Try and suggest any ideas you might have, but if you want clarification, ask for it.