English Language And Literature @ Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

2x 20 min interviews, over 1 day

Interview content

Interview 1: personal statement, recent work; Interview 2: poetry analysis

Best preparation

Wrote essay plans for past paper questions; looked at old A-level notes

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Revised and annotated personal statement and written work; took notes on reading since then; used student forums. Not good to sound overly staged, so don't worry if you don't feel very prepared.

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

Interview spread: same day - 1 at 09:30 and 1 after lunch

Length of interviews: about 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My first interview was based on my personal statement - I wasn’t asked anything about the written work submissions we had to do as part of the Oxford application, which I was surprised about. I was asked quite detailed questions on most of the books/critical works I mentioned in my personal statement. The tutors seemed interested in my opinions, rather than just my historical knowledge and accuracy. As I applied on my gap year, I was also asked about what extra reading/work I was doing at the moment.

My second interview was poetry analysis - I was given a short poem (without author/date context) about 15 minutes beforehand, which I brainstormed some notes/thoughts on. I was basically asked to go through each line of the poem and talk about my ideas: what it meant, which techniques had been used, metaphors, meter, form, interesting language, etc.

How did you prepare?

I looked at ELAT past papers online, and wrote brief plans of what I’d answer for each essay. I also looked over some of my old revision notes for A Level poetry analysis.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I applied to Oxford very last minute, so I couldn’t do as much preparation for interview as I would’ve liked. I mainly revised and annotated my personal statement and written submission work in as much detail as possible. I revised any texts mentioned in my personal statement, and noted down anything extra I’d been reading/doing recently.

If, like me, you don’t really have anyone to ask for advice in person, I’d recommend online forums like The Student Room! Loads of people have recorded their experiences/advice on there.

In a way, I think my slight lack of preparation was helpful because interviews are largely about thinking critically on the spot - you don’t want to sound overly rehearsed or staged, if that makes sense. The tutors were much friendlier and smilier than expected. Overall, I think they are looking for enthusiastic applicants who can generate interesting academic conversation.