2x 15 min interviews, over 1 day
Interview 1: poem given beforehand; Interview 2: personal statement
Practice papers, annotating poems and even pop songs
Read as much as possible; be honest about what you like; don't worry about being challenged at interview.
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.
Number of interviews: 2
Skype interview: No
Interview spread: 1 in morning, 1 in afternoon
Length of interviews: 15 minutes each
For my first interview I was given a poem 5 minutes before it and asked to analyse it. I wrote notes and decided on a few things to say, and then made my way in. Both
I found my second interview much more challenging. I was asked questions about my personal statement, and the
I was asked to arrive the day before and to wait before I left once interviews were over in case I was asked to do one at another college, but I wasn’t (this could either be a good or bad sign, so don’t read too much into it, whatever happens to you!).
I did a few practice papers, but for the most part I just printed out poems (and sometimes even pop songs) I liked and tried to annotate and analyse them. I found it useful to be able to identify poetic techniques, overarching themes, etc.
I would advise not overdoing it as the aim of the test is to find out your natural ability, and overthinking it would have only confused me more!
This one’s probably obvious, but read as much as you can! Read from every genre, read from every time period, figure out what you like and don’t like. Interviewers like opinions. And don’t confine yourself to novels! Read poetry and plays and graphic novels and comic books!
Be honest about what you like. I was terrified when asked who my favourite poet was that I’d be judged for it not being intellectual enough or it being too much of a teenage cliché. Don’t tell interviewers what you think they want to hear - I guarantee they’ve heard it a million times already. They’ll prefer you talking passionately about something different that you genuinely enjoy.
Don’t get too flustered at interviewers challenging you. They want to see how you respond, it doesn’t mean they think your opinions are invalid or stupid.