3x 20 min interviews
Interview 1 (physics): small talk, personal statement, motivation, mechanics problem based on diagram; Interview 2 (maths): just maths questions; Interview 3: combination of maths and physics questions
Check specification and structure of PAT, since these often change
Interviews go surprisingly fast!
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.
Number of interviews: 3
Skype interview: No
Length of interviews: about 20 minutes each
I had three interviews altogether, a physics interview and a maths interview at Oriel, and another general interview at Worcester.
The first one was the physics interview (although it still involved a lot of maths), conducted by the senior
The second interview was conducted by a different tutor and a different PhD student, and only involved maths, with similar question styles, giving you a piece of paper to work something out or sketch something. If you’re not going in the right direction the interviewers give you guiding points; don’t worry about not being able to do a question and the tutors sitting there in silence, that won’t happen.
The final interview (at Worcester) was a mix of physics and maths questions in the same vein as the first two. One final piece of advice I’d like to reiterate is to explain your train of thought and what you’re writing down to your tutors. They want to see how you perform in a situation where you talk through solutions, as happens in
Over summer I learnt the year 13 content and revised the year 12 content needed for the test. I went through the past papers and noted which questions I didn’t get right (after having looked at the solutions at oxfordpat.wordpress). Then, once I’d done all the papers, I went back through and redid the questions I didn’t get the first time, which took me up to about the start of year 13. In the remaining time I repeated this, so I’d done every paper at least twice, and also had a look at some extra question sources, e.g. from the Physics Olympiad, although I did stick mainly to the past
My school didn’t provide much advice or support in my application, but I did find especially helpful the sessions held in a nearby school run by my regions’s associated college: an evening talk about applying to Oxford early on in year 12, and closer to application time a session about personal statements. The college (Queen's) also ran a science residential in Oxford during Easter of year 12.
As well as preparation for the PAT, I also increased my general knowledge of physics by reading around the subject, and discussing the books I’d read formed an integral part of my personal statement. Before interviews I had a look over my PAT past papers to help with the interview questions, as well as re-familiarising myself with the books I’d mentioned in my personal statement, especially the particular sections I’d mentioned - don’t get caught out by talking about a book you haven’t fully read!
Having properly prepared for my interviews, once at Oxford I could almost ‘relax’, as I wasn’t having a last minute panic over whether I remembered something I might be tested on, and took the time to have a look round Oxford.
One thing I was surprised at was how quickly interviews seem to go. Twenty minutes does fly by when you’re concentrating on the questions.