Physics @ Worcester, Oxford in 2015

Interview format

3x 30 min interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

Short problem-solving questions on maths and physics

Best preparation

Revised A-level content learnt so far; sketched graphs

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

At interview, show you can pick up new info and apply it.

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: PAT

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: No

Interview spread: 3 interviews in 2 days (1 at another college)

Length of interviews: 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

All 3 interviews were solely problem solving (except 1 minute of initial ice-breaking chat). One person asked questions, while the other took notes. The two interviewers switched roles for each question. They were all physics/maths problems that could be answered in 5 or so minutes each.

How did you prepare?

For the PAT, I did 5+ past papers and quickly revised the A level content learnt so far.

For the interview, I did a few things. I practised graph sketching with a sheet of 40 different equations to sketch. I also had a couple of mock interviews with my school physics teacher, as well as receiving advice from my teacher who went through the same process for Oxford Physics. I had a very quick scan through the A-level textbook to see if there was anything I had forgotten (only looking at content I had learnt so far at school).

Overall, my preparation made me more confident going in. It's useful to know the general style of answering the questions and getting help from the interviewer, as most people won't have done problem solving in this kind of setting before.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

My advice would be to not overprepare as this is easily seen through by the interviewer. You also don't want to get accepted into the university, only to find yourself struggling to stay afloat because you got in due to having prepped far more than a typical student here.

I wouldn't have done anything differently.

Many people stress that they want to see HOW you think, not just the answer. However, what is arguably more important is demonstrating that you can listen to the help/information given by the interviewer, understand it, and then use it. The whole point of the degree is to gain knowledge and apply it. It is very quick here too, so showing you can pick up new stuff in the interview and use it is great.