Chemistry @ Christ Church, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

3x 30 min interviews, each a day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: inorganic chemistry; Interview 2: organic and physical chemistry; Interview 3 (at another college): graph of trends

Best preparation

Practice papers; TSA answer walkthrough textbooks (returned after use)

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Review A-level / similar content. Found it helpful to look at past questions for general interviews and prepare answers.

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

Test taken: TSA

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: No

Interviews spread across 3 days

Length of interviews: 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

I was not asked about my personal statement in any of the interviews, although some of the other chemistry interviewees were.

My first interview was only on inorganic chemistry. The room was very comfortable and it was very informal because we were just sitting on sofas with a piece of paper on the table. They asked me some redox chemistry and trends across the periodic table. It would kind of progress into questions I had not seen before, but they prompt you really well and you just need to use your logic and basic understanding to figure it out. It is useful to go over your A level content. Try to do some of content from the beginning of Year 13 too, but it's not completely necessary.

My second interview was based on organic and physical chemistry. The first half was on physical chemistry, where we looked at graphs and had conversations relating to physics. I found this hard because I have not done A level physics, but if this is the same for you then maybe just go over GCSE physics a little and that will suffice. The organic interview was on a basic mechanism, and then we expanded on it to harder questions. You just need to use what you already know. The atmosphere was also relaxed here.

My third interview was at a different college and I did find this harder, but it is very normal to have a few hard interviews. It was looking at a graph of trends and another harder mechanism, but just never give up and keep giving answers and you will be fine. The key is to know the first year of A level content inside out, and some of the Year 13 content too. And remember that these tutors are looking for people they would like to work with too, so just be yourself and think of it as if you are going for a class or tutorial, rather than some intense nerve racking interview, because it really isn't that :)

How did you prepare?

I did as many past papers as I had time for. I also bought the online versions of some TSA answer walkthrough textbooks through Amazon and then returned them after I was finished. This was all I did and could do in the time I had.

I also watched some YouTube videos for further tips, and I had a booklet to help me, but the online guides are really, really useful because they teach you the thinking process you need for these questions - I only had to complete section 1 - which are very unusual.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Preparation is very important for the sciences, at least in my experience. The best thing is to go over your A level or similar qualification because they do ask you on that, and then they expand on it, so you want to be very confident with that. I also prepared answers for my personal statement and made sure I knew what I would answer, although I was not asked about it at all. So it was basically revision.

My resources were basically research on Google and YouTube, and my A level material, like my notes and CGP revision guide. I think my preparation made a huge impact on my experience with the interview process. I now understand how the interviewers are looking for confident individuals who can just expand on the knowledge they know already into something more complex.