Music @ St Hilda's, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

4x 15m-1h interviews, over 3 days

Interview content

Harmony and piano skills; 5-10 minute audition; prepared questions based on music and text given beforehand

Best preparation


Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Go over personal statement and figure out what interests you most in subject; read some academic literature; get a friend/teacher to ask you some 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

Number of interviews: 4

Skype interview: No

Interviews spread over 3 days

Length of interviews: 15 minutes to 1 hour each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

For music we had one interview based on harmony and basic piano skills, which only lasted for 15 minutes. I had to look at a Bach chorale, play through it and talk about it with prompted questions.

I had an audition where I played for about 5-10 minutes in front of a panel of around 4 people.

The other two interviews started with a prepared question that we'd been given beforehand. We had between 10 and 30 minutes (depending on which college) to have a look at / listen to a piece of music and a page of literature and that was how the interview started. After discussing the questions with two tutors, we moved onto my personal statement. I elaborated on parts of it, explained more and gave examples - it felt just like a friendly conversation.

At the end of all of my interviews I got asked if I had any questions. I always made sure I had prepared a question beforehand!

How did you prepare?


What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I had very little interview practice or ideas of what it would be like before going. My advice would be to go over your personal statement and find what it is about the subject that you find most interesting.

At the end of the day it's not really a test. They want to find out about you, be interested in your interests, and don't want to hear the same prepared interview answers from every person. Think what makes you different and just be enthusiastic.

I would advise looking on the faculty websites and researching the tutors a bit, especially when you know who your interview is with. Then you can be prepared for them to ask and talk about their areas of interest.

Read some academic literature if you can but don't over prepare. Often having a friend or teacher asking questions is good to do, even if they don't know anything about the subject. It's useful to practise speaking to someone and being able to answer questions and bring in experiences at the same time.