Biology @ Merton, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

3x 15-20 min interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

Personal statement, shown something (video, bird skull, graph) then discussed

Best preparation


Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Heard talk about interviews; reread personal statement. Interviewers are looking to see if you would learn well in a tutorial environment.

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: 3

Skype interview: No

Interview spread: 1 at Merton on first day; 2, about 20 minutes apart, at different college on second day

Length of interviews: 15-20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

All of my interviews began with a cute handshake and a little introduction by each of the tutors. They then asked me about my personal statement, just asking me to expand on some research that I had mentioned in my statement. They then each showed me a little something - one was a video, one was a bird skull, one was a graph, other things like that - and I was basically asked to talk about it. I was asked to comment on anything about what had been given to me and try to guess what it was. For the skull I was allowed to pick it up and touch it and have a closer look. Once I’d gotten into talking about it, I was really relaxed and didn’t really worry too much. A lot of the tutors were really down to Earth, not as prom and proper as I was expecting.

How did you prepare?


What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Someone came into my sixth form a week before interviews and gave a talk about them, which was really helpful.

I reread over my personal statement, and made sure I had refreshed my memory on everything I had mentioned.

The interviews are really similar to tutes, and the tutors select you on if the interview was successful and they feel like you would learn well in that environment, in tutes. I knew this at interview and it was really calming to know that, because, if I were rejected, I knew the tutors didn’t think Oxford was right for me, or if I was accepted, then they would be confident I would thrive.