English Language And Literature @ Christ Church, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 30 min interviews, 3-4 hrs apart

Interview content

Both interviews: poems given before, personal statement

Best preparation

All practice papers, sessions with school teacher

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Speak to someone already there, if possible; read widely around texts; going through personal statement was useful; adopt a positive mindset.

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: ELAT

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: a few hours

Length of interviews: about 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In both interviews I had to speak about a text I'd been given 20 minutes before. Both texts were poems: one was Shakespeare and one was Hardy. I didn't find them that difficult to read / think about, so it was more a question of finding something interesting to say that no one else would say. After we spoke about the poem, I was asked questions about my personal statement, where I had to carry on from what I'd written. This was hard, and it felt quite waffley at times, but the interviewers were all nice and friendly. In one of my interviews, we ended up talking about Lily Allen, randomly. The atmosphere in the room was relaxed, and I felt like I was having a nice chat most of the time. I came out of both feeling OK - not too bad, not too good. I think that is more a reflection of me than my interviews, however.

How did you prepare?

I did the practice papers (all of them) and went to sessions with a teacher from school.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Try and speak to someone already there, if possible (I know that's not always possible). Make sure you know your books - and engage with wider reading around your books. I watched loads of lectures online, read criticism and read reviews to make sure I had different opinions to hold about each text.

I also went through my entire personal statement and turned every sentence I'd written into a question. Then, I went through and answered each question, talking to myself out loud. That way, I was fairly prepared for most questions they had for me about my personal statement.

I think the interviewers just want to see how you think, and how you engage with literature. They're not trying to catch you out, or test you. The best thing I did, I think, was to treat each interview like a chat with very very clever people about the thing I was most interested in. That way, I was relaxed, and so I did better.