English Language And Literature @ Exeter, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

1x 20 min interview & 1x 10 min interview, 3-4 hrs apart

Interview content

Interview 1: literary interests, poem given before; Interview 2: quick questions on book of choice

Best preparation

Practice papers, Googling

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Listen to podcasts; be open-minded, friendly, and yourself.

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: 20 minutes for one; 10 minutes for the other

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

For the first interview, I got 1 hour to read over and annotate a poem (which was around 2 A4 pages long). The interview was 20 minutes, broken down into 2 ten minute blocks. The first ten minutes, we discussed my literary interests and it evolved into a conversation about the literary canon and how books are selected for the national curriculum. The second block, I was asked a series of questions on the poem: my interpretation, the era I thought it was written in, and specific language questions. It was pretty much led by me; I was given the opportunity to take the discussion where I wanted.

My second interview was a ten minute, intimidating, quick-fire round of questions on a single piece of literature. The choice was up to me and we were told in the morning that this would happen, so I had time to consider my options. It was a really intense grilling on the book I chose, but it was over really quickly.

How did you prepare?

I did barely any preparation. I was told by my school that it was impossible to prepare. But I did look over some practice papers and Googled for top tips.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

In terms of prep, I had a couple of practice interviews at sixth form which were quite different to the real thing. They were a lot less intimidating than I expected, and the tutors were friendly and interesting to talk to.

I found listening to podcasts was one of the best ways to prepare as they are often set up like an academic debate- 'In Our Time' is good because it exposes you to several academic opinions.

I think the most important thing is to be open minded with your answers. Show you're capable of offering a wide range of responses and angles to any given question. Also, it's important to just chill and be yourself, they are picking people they want to teach so be likeable and friendly.