Modern Languages And Linguistics @ Worcester, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

4x 30 min interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

German 1: Discussion and translation of poem given beforehand (no dictionary), discussion in German based on personal statement; German 2: choice of texts given beforehand (with dictionary), personal statement; Linguistics 1: discussed translated sentences in another language, personal statement; Linguistics 2: personal statement, problems

Best preparation

Practice papers, personal statement, mock interviews

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts


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: 4

Skype interview: No

Interview spread: 2 one day, 2 next day

Length of interviews: 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

German 1:
I was given 15 minutes to look over a poem (with no dictionary). When I went into the interview I was first asked to read out a bit of it, then talk about it in general, before translating as much of it as a could (with help from the professor with any vocab or phrasing). After this the other interviewer asked me some questions in German which were based loosely off of my personal statement.

German 2 (which was at another college): I was given 20 minutes, 2 dictionaries and a choice of texts (poems and prose). The discussion of the text involved me reading out a part of it, giving a summary and then answering a couple of linguistic questions (such as identifying the subjunctive or working out an unfamiliar past participle). I was then asked a couple of questions (in English) prompted by my personal statement. The atmosphere and setting was far more relaxing than my first German interview. This time I was sat on a sofa in a sitting room rather than at a desk in a more office-like setting and the professor conducted the interview in a more informal manner so I felt like it was more of a balanced discussion than a question-answer. Linguistics 1: I was given about 20 sentences in another language I had never encountered before and their English translations and I was asked to comment on anything I found interesting. I was then asked a few direct questions about the grammar of the language. The second half of the interview was a discussion based on my personal statement. Linguistics 2 (which was at another college): The interview opened with a question or two on my personal statement (which I believe was done to put me at ease at the start of the interview by discussing a familiar topic). The rest of the interview revolved around two linguistics problems which I worked through with prompts from the interviewers, who would question my answers, or present another way of looking at things for me to comment on. I did not 'solve' either of the problems, but I think the point was more to discuss them rather than answer them
How did you prepare?

I did practice papers, which were marked by a language teacher at my secondary school.

Preparing was difficult as I had no idea what to expect. I knew a German speaking aspect would be involved, so I had some German speaking practice with teachers at school and made sure that I would be happy expanding on anything in my personal statement in both English and German. Most of all I expanded on topics I had researched surrounding German and Linguistics so I had some 'specialist subjects'.

A practice interview with teachers at school was the best preparation for me, even though the subject matter was entirely different to my actual interviews, because it was important to practise coping with being put on the spot.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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