English Language And Literature @ St Hilda's, Oxford in 2019

Interview format

ELAT; 3x interviews.

Interview content

Interview 1: recent reading, unseen poetry; interview 2: personal statement, unseen poetry; interview 3: annotating poem beforehand, talking about it in the interview.

Best preparation

Practice interviews; unseen sources.

Final thoughts

Think and reason out loud.

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: English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)
Number of interviews: 3
Time between interviews: I had two interviews on the first day and one on the second day. They were split into morning and afternoon.
Length of interviews: 30-40 minutes
Online interview: No

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my first interview we talked about the books I most recently read and looked at an unseen poem. My second interview was more focused on my personal statement but also there was unseen poetry. My third interview was at Jesus College and I had 30 minutes before to annotate a poem, and then we talked about that. The most important thing for interview is to know the topics you mention in your personal statement and be ready to explore them.

How did you prepare for your interviews?

My teachers held practice interviews for me, and sent me poems I’ve never seen before to annotate and talk about. Looking at unseen sources was helpful because this is an aspect of the interview that can be scary if you aren’t prepared for it.

If you took a test, how did you prepare?

Taking test papers in exam conditions- it’s only one question so it shouldn’t take too much time, but not any A-level questions need you to compare so it’s important to look at past examples.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

‘Stay calm’ is terrible advice because you feel like you don’t have control over that, but the worst thing that can happen in interview is that you don’t have an answer, and the tutors will give you time to think! If you’re not sure say your ideas out loud and reason through it so the tutors can tell that you’re thinking about it. You might not get to talk about subjects you like, and you might be asked questions that don’t have anything to do with your personal statement, but that doesn’t mean the tutors don’t like those things. They want to see how you deal with completely unfamiliar topics.