English Language And Literature @ Somerville, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

4x 30 min interviews, over 3 days

Interview content

Books on personal statement, books being studied, text given beforehand

Best preparation

Practice papers, speaking to people who had previously taken test

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Know your personal statement very well; reread texts mentioned in personal statement; but don't over-prepare.

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: 4

Skype interview: No

Interviews spread over 3 days

Length of interviews: about 1 hour each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

We went through my personal statement and the texts. I chose to express why I wanted to take English. We also spoke about some of the texts I was reading for my course and how they related to each other - like common themes.

In another interview I was given about 30 minutes to annotate and read a text and make some inferences about the text based on that time. Throughout the interview, I was asked questions about the text and what I thought about it.

The first interview was really nerve racking but after a few you get into a sort of routine and it becomes less intimidating. I think it’s really important you put yourself in the right mind frame and approach the interviews as an opportunity to talk about the subject you enjoy and would like to study.

How did you prepare?

I did practice papers and spoke to people who’d done the test before.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I prepared by reading through my personal statement until I knew it inside out, so I’d be prepared to answer questions about it. I made a separate list of all the relevant texts I’d read and key themes they linked to in my personal statement.

Make sure you look back over at the texts you mentioned, in case you get specific questions referencing parts of the texts, so you’re not caught off guard.

I think one of the best things I did for myself was not over-preparing! You need to be ready to think on your feet and explain your thinking process to the tutors. This is so much more valuable to them than a script you’ve prepared and memorised to vomit back out! Remember that they want you to be the right candidate for the course!!!