English Language And Literature @ Worcester, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x 30-45 min interviews, 1.5 hrs apart

Interview content

Both interviews: extract (prose/poetry) given beforehand, personal statement; Interview 2: general discussion of literature

Best preparation

6-7 practice papers, help from mentor

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Got help and mock interview from Access Oxbridge mentor; kept book journal; believed in myself and adopted 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: about 1.5 hours

Length of interviews: 30-45 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

For both my interviews I had to read something in an assigned room 10 minutes beforehand (a prose extract for one interview, a poem for the other). Both interviews began with a discussion of my ideas of the texts I’d just read. We then moved on to discuss books/ideas from my personal statement - I felt that both interviews were quite focussed on my personal statement, but the second interview developed into a wider debate/more general questions about key debates in literature.

The atmosphere was really welcoming and I felt a LOT more relaxed than I imagined I would! The interviews were also over really quickly and on the whole nowhere near as scary or intimidating as imagined. I didn’t know what some of the words meant in the poem I was given, so I asked for clarification and my tutor was more than happy to explain; so one of my biggest pieces of advice is to remember they’re not expecting you to know everything, and that you’re allowed to ask questions!

How did you prepare?

Practice papers!! I did about 6 or 7 in total. I also had help from my mentor from ‘Access Oxbridge’, a similar program to this program.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Access Oxbridge helped me massively as it allowed me to have access to a mock interview with a current Oxford student (mock interviews weren’t available at my school). The majority of my advice came from my Access Oxbridge mentor.

I also prepared by keeping a book journal in which I jotted down anything I found interesting from books in my personal statement and some ones I’d read since then, so that I could remind myself quickly of the key themes/issues in each book. I re-read my personal statement countless times and made sure I could speak with relative confidence on all the books I’d listed.

Probably the best thing I did - sounds cliché but it’s true - was believing in myself and my ability to gain a place despite all the odds. It’s undoubtedly a nerve wracking time but you have to remind yourself that the interview is on a basic level an interesting conversation with someone who is super passionate about a subject you’re also super passionate about. Thinking of the interview in these terms really helped to calm my nerves.

Looking back, I would say interviewers are looking for someone who is passionate and motivated about their subject, and can debate or defend their beliefs on topics within that subject. They’re looking for someone who they think will be interesting to teach.