Chemistry @ The Queen's, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 30-45 min interviews; 45 min apart

Interview content

Interview 1: graphs/molecules; Interview 2: text given before

Best preparation

Practice papers; "Think You Can Think?" book

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Advice from teachers for harder questions; never just say "I don't know", try to show how you think

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: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: about 45 minutes

Length of interview: 30-45 minutes

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

I was really nervous in my first interview. The tutors were really nice but they still felt quite intimidating to me. That being said, about half way through, I had really relaxed into the experience and was just giving all of their questions my best effort.

This (first) interview was split into organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry and for both they gave me graphs/molecules to look at and discuss. A lot of this interview was about building upon A-level knowledge and trying to push me further. I don't think I got a single question right the first time, but letting them see how I thought and where I was getting stuck was enough for them to see my problem-solving abilities.

My second interview was significantly more relaxed, but that was mostly just because I felt so much more comfortable having got one interview out of the way. In this interview, I was given 15 minutes of pre-reading time in which I studied a sheet teaching me topics which I had never really seen before. The content of my interview was then the tutors teaching me content and asking me to apply it. It really allowed them to see what having me in a tutorial would be like. None of my tutors asked about my personal statement, but that's most likely as a result of me being a science student.

How did you prepare?

I completed all the practice papers online and also read the book 'Think You Can Think?'

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I spoke to both of my chemistry teachers for advice and got them to point me in the direction of some more challenging extension questions for A-level chemistry.

I think this preparation helped to some extent, but I think the real key piece of advice that I would give is never to just say 'I don't know'. It's fine to not know the answer (I didn't 90% of the time), but try to phrase it as 'I don't know because...' or 'The reason I'm confused is...', as this will really allow the interviewers to see how you think.