Modern Languages And Linguistics @ Somerville, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

3x 1hr interviews, each 1 day apart

Interview content

Interviews 1 and 2 (language): poems given earlier, personal statement, conversation in language; Interview 3 (linguistics): problem sheet, personal statement

Best preparation

Practice papers

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Reread personal statement; remember they are more interested in your thought process than your answer.

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: MLAT

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 1 day

Length of interviews: 1 hour each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The atmosphere was relatively formal: 2 interviewers sat opposite me for all the interviews.

For my language interview, I had 15 minutes to prepare a short poem. The first poem was presented without a translation, and I just had to make notes on metaphors, rhythm, structure etc. The second was presented side by side with a translation, and I was asked to comment on both the poem and the changes made by the translator.

In the linguistics interview I had 15 minutes to answer a problem sheet, where I was presented with a series of words and their translation in an unfamiliar language and then asked questions on which parts of the word meant what.

The remaining two thirds of the language interviews were split evenly between speaking the language and questions on my personal statement. I was asked about books I had read, how I came to learn the language and my personal interests.

In linguistics, I was asked on my interest in linguistics and which works I had read. At the end I was given the opportunity to ask questions on the course.

I found the interview pretty stressful, so afterwards I crashed from all the adrenaline.

How did you prepare?

I did some practice papers that were available online.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I briefly reread my personal statement and what I had written on that, but other than that I went in with an open mind.

What reassured me the most was the fact that interviewers aren’t looking for you to necessarily be right on the first go - they’re looking for your thought process, to see the way you learn and respond to new information and challenges. Thus, they’re often willing to let you change your answer to a question once you’ve talked them through the process of why. This really reassured me, and made me feel that even if I did get something wrong at first I was still able to work through it and wouldn’t be discounted for a wrong answer.