Biochemistry @ St Hugh's, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

2x 30-40 min interviews, 5 hours apart

Interview content

Interview 1: motivation, discussion, problems; Interview 2: discussion, problems

Best preparation


Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

My interviews were much more relaxed than expected. Know your basics, but don't worry about knowing everything; watching YouTube videos was helpful.

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: 5 hours

Length of interviews: 30-40 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The interviews were structured differently at each college, but each college did the exact same interview for each candidate.

At my first interview, they first asked me about why I chose my subject - something which a friend's dad had asked me before.

The rest of the interview was half going into more depth about things I’d name dropped in, maybe in the personal statement. These questions were difficult but started off by building from things I already knew. This bit was in both interviews.

Then they asked unseen questions - in the first one I had to get up at the whiteboard and they guided me through something, in the second one they had paper questions and I had a pen and paper (and calculator?) to work through them.

I found it was important to talk aloud as you’re working things out. I definitely had relaxed in both interviews, by the time it got to the unseen questions the vibe for me was a bit more like just being back in the classroom when the teacher asks you to answer something.

You could tell they want you to do well, all four tutors were really nice. At the end they asked if you have any questions. Some people asked about the course, but I felt it was important to show further interest by asking about the research that the tutors conduct in their personal work.

How did you prepare?


What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I expected a more question-and-answer, quick-fire, me-doing-a-speech type thing. It was much more relaxed and class-like. Imagine a private tutoring session. This is what the aim of the interviews are, as the tutors just want to know if they will like to teach you.

I had heard (wrongly) that they could ask me any question and expect me to know the answer if it was on the A level specification of any exam board! This was scary, and an impossible task as I was only half way through the content of one exam board. I tried to read ahead in my textbooks about topics which overlapped with my personal statement or that I felt were relevant. I think this may have helped, but it was a very stressful task and if I were to do interviews again I would put less pressure on myself and focus on my personal statement in more depth. It was important to know the basics really really well, but only like to GCSE standard - e.g. to know the structure of a cell.

I read a book, this was completely unnecessary and was not even mentioned in either interview. I also watched lots and lots of YouTube videos, like cartoon ones with voiceovers about DNA, genetics, cellular processes, etc. This actually really helped as it allowed me to cover lots of content and it was easier to recall than just reading a textbook. It gave me some extended understanding too.