Philosophy, Politics And Economics @ St Hugh's, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

3x 15 min interviews, over 1 day

Interview content

All interviews: personal statement, problem, follow-up questions / discussion

Best preparation

Did practice papers; practised basic maths; watched debates online; wrote essay plans.\

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Practise answering interview questions (e.g. with family/friends); get into mindset of thinking about your subjects.

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: 3

Skype interview: No

All interviews on same day

Length of interviews: about 15 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My interviews all had a sort of ‘warm-up’ question, which was catered around my personal statement/the straightforward theory of something in the news. Then there was sort of the ‘main problem’, which I was invited to work through. This had follow up questions and basically led into any further discussion.

I was super nervous for my interviews, but I found the questions quite interesting, which helped me to relax as I worked through them. It wasn’t like the kind of interview you might have done before where the interviewer just writes down your answers- you get more feedback which, although scary at first, makes the process a bit more fun/rewarding (plus you know you’re not going off in totally the wrong direction).

How did you prepare?

I did practice papers every morning in the lead up to the exam. I also practised basic maths (literally my times tables) over the half term to speed up when I didn’t have a calculator. I watched some debates online on topics that felt kind of TSA-ish and decided what I thought about the key points. Instead of spending ages writing different essays, practising essay planning can be useful too!

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

If you can, I would try and do some practice interviews, even with a relative or friend (extra points if you don’t know them super well). There are practice questions on the Oxford website which they could literally read out. That helps you get into the flow of answering questions which you don’t know the answer to and means you might relax a bit more in the interview. At the end of the day, they’re looking for someone they want to teach, so don’t stop your interests and personality from shining through.

I also read a lot before my interview to make sure I was confident on my personal statement. You don’t need to reread everything but getting yourself into the mindset of thinking about your subjects is definitely really valuable.