Classics @ University, Oxford in 2016

Interview format

3x 20 min interviews, over 3 days

Interview content

Interview 1: personal statement; Interview 2: linguistic ambiguity; Interview 3: poetry analysis, philosophy questions

Best preparation

Practice translations

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Read recent news around subject; spoke to tutors at open days; had practice interview; read around subject. Interviewers want to see your thought process.

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: CAT

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: No

Interview spread: 2 in one day, 1 two days later

Length of interviews: about 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my first interview, we talked exclusively about things from my personal statement.

In the second I had to look at a deceptively badly written newspaper article and talk about linguistic ambiguities.

In my third interview I had to analyse a poem and discuss a couple of philosophical questions.

The personal statement one was comfortable ground for me, the linguistic one less so. I relaxed into the philosophy one, as the step by step process was reassuring.

How did you prepare?

I practised unseen prose and verse translations by various authors.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I prepared by reading recent news articles around my subject in case they were brought up and to show I was keeping up to date with recent discoveries.

I spoke to tutors on open days and had a practice interview with my school teacher. I didn’t really use any other resources.

I think reading around my subject was most helpful, and I think preparation is useful to the extent that you appear competent and interested - you won’t get in because you have learned the most, but because you’ve made the most of and properly explored what you have been able to do.

I hadn’t expected the interviews to be so centred around me and what I could already do - anything I was unfamiliar with I was helped with, which was much more reassuring. Interviewers are looking for how you respond to a question rather than for you getting the exact answer, they want to see your thought process.