Human Sciences @ Magdalen, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

2x 20 min interviews, a day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: A-level type questions, sociology and genetics questions, graphs; Interview 2: Comparing images, current affairs

Best preparation

Past papers

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Podcasts; mock interview (questions)

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: TSA

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 1 day

Length of interviews: 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my first interview they asked me some basic evolution questions they knew I’d have studied at A-Level to ease me in. From there I was asked a few sociology and genetics questions, on the research topic of the interviewer.. Finally, they showed me two graphs with some crucial information missing and asked me to discuss them. I never got to the right answer with the graphs but they were more interested in my ideas than the correct answer.

In my second interview, the interviewers were much more relaxed. I was asked to compare two different images of the same idea and discuss why they were different. They also asked me briefly to discuss the course I was applying for in the context of current events. I found this interview much less stressful, and felt more confident to express more unconventional ideas.

At no point was I asked about my personal statement.

How did you prepare?

I did practice papers from online.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I found podcasts were a really good way to pick up bits and pieces that I could draw on in my interview. Books take way too long to read! Having those ideas makes you more confident in interviews as you can refer to them, and therefore have a basis to your answers.

My head of sixth form didn't give me a mock interview, but my biology teacher, who knew nothing about Oxbridge interviews, looked up some questions and asked them to me in an attempt at a mock interview. It wasn’t exactly accurate and we kept laughing, but it definitely helped me get experience thinking on my feet and explaining ideas out loud.