Modern Languages And Linguistics @ St Hilda's, Oxford in 2015

Interview format

3x 30 min interviews, over 1 day; linguistics test

Interview content

German interviews: texts given beforehand, personal statement, some questions in German; Linguistics interview: test given beforehand

Best preparation

Grammar, practice questions

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Don't be afraid to be critical of stimulus.

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

Tests taken: MLAT, linguistics aptitude test taken in Oxford

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: No

Interviews spread over 1 day

Length of interviews: about 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In both my German interviews I had to discuss the written text they’d provided me with shortly before the interview. One was a set of German poems, and one was a long English poem.

In both I had a short section of the interview conducted in German - in the first this was just a general friendly conversation about me and my trips to Germany, the other involved a vocab test and I had to describe a painting.

In both we discussed books that I expressed an interest in on my personal statement.

My linguistics interview was almost entirely a discussion of the test I again was given shortly before the interview, just discussing my answers and findings.

How did you prepare?

My A-level teacher recommended a grammar book to me, which I used to revise. I also had one-on-one sessions with her and she wrote me practice questions in the style of the test.

I spoke to my subject teacher for advice and she gave me conversation practice at a higher level that teachers without a knowledge of the subject you’re applying for can’t do. I made sure I was well versed on the book I’d mentioned on my personal statement. For this I didn’t do any secondary reading (I don’t think I even knew that was a thing yet!), I just developed my own opinions and interpretations.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

The interviewers tend to pick out things you’ve mentioned that they too are interested in or have informed opinions on, so it feels less like a test and more like how a real Oxford tutorial runs because you’re sharing ideas. I didn’t know I might be given a vocab test, so next time I would prepare for that more - the words were mostly unobscure but many were too buried in my mind to produce on the spot in just a few seconds.

I would also say not to be afraid to be critical of the stimulus they present you with but also don’t force yourself to be by thinking that’s what they want - they’ll see through it.