2x 45-60 min interviews, over 2 days
Interview 1: Latin poem (with translation) given beforehand, personal statement, CAT; Interview 2: philosophy questions given beforehand, personal statement; Interview 3: English - poem, personal statement
Practice papers, Latin translation sessions, vocab learning. Don't worry about doing everything.
Reading academic articles can be useful practice; research the interview process a bit; don't go crazy with breadth of further reading; mock interviews are useful, if you can get them.
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.
Number of interviews: 3
Skype interview: No
Interview spread: 1 on first day, 2 on next day
Length of interviews: 45 minutes to 1 hour each
My first interview was a literature interview for Classics. I found the
I also had an ancient history and philosophy interview (despite this not being a part of my course) where the prepared work was thinking through some philosophical questions. This was followed by more questioning on my personal statement.
Finally, I had an English interview with two LOVELY and down-to-earth tutors, which focused again on a discussion of a poem and then some very gentle discussion of my personal statement that didn't feel nearly as gruelling as my Classics interview. But I have heard very different experiences too!
Despite how nervous I was, they honestly ended up feeling much too short! I think they were all about 45 minutes - an hour, which isn't very long at all because there's quite a lot going on in each interview - usually discussion of an unseen text, followed by discussion of the personal statement - potentially separate lines of enquiry by the 2 interviewers - and I got a couple of grammar questions in one classics interview too!
I only did practice papers for the
Getting used to spending your free time reading scholarly articles and thinking about your response to them is some very helpful (if slightly sad) practice.
I think it's very worthwhile doing some research specifically into the interview process, and if you come from the type of school which rarely sends pupils to Oxbridge and doesn't have any teachers who went there, I would take everything you're told with a pinch of salt because I've heard some quite shocking misinformation coming from people who should be trustworthy... including literally dozens of people that I know of alone who were discouraged from applying at all by their school, who not only were serious candidates but got in! If you want to go and you think you have a chance, just go for it! They will not be expecting the same level of preparedness from you as from some old Etonians, etc, and despite the skewed statistics, state school pupils are still the majority.
I was also told that there's no need to go crazy with the breadth of your further reading. Depth is more important, and they'll only ask you about what you've told them to on your personal statement. Having said that, if you're not willing to spend any of your free time reading about your passions, you won't enjoy the next 3/4 years at Oxford anyway! So you should be doing enough just by virtue of your passion and your desire to get in. The psychological strain of the application process is quite intense, so it's much more important to focus on keeping yourself on the ball, because at interview it will be much more important to respond on the ball than to know endless quantities of information.
In that light, the best preparation I did was