Psychology (Experimental) @ Corpus Christi, Oxford in 2019

Interview format

2 x 15-30 min interviews

Interview content

EPQ, probability/statistics, study/experiment, logic puzzle

Best preparation

Get used to talking about your subject, and I focused on reading around more in the areas of personal interest

Final thoughts

The interviewer is not expecting you to be right all the time, they want to see how you think and how you approach problems

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: Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)
Number of interviews: 2
Time between interviews: I had one interview on my second day in Oxford and one on my third day.
Length of interviews: 1st - 15 min interview 2nd - 30min pre reading 30 min interview
Online interview: No

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

My first interview was at Corpus Christi - I was super nervous but the interviewers were very nice so I felt better as we got on with the interview. I was asked some questions about my EPQ by the first interviewer. The second interviewer asked me some maths questions - it was fairly basic probability/statistics and I made a really obvious mistake but she was very nice about it and encouraged me to take another look at my answer, which led me to the right one eventually! The third part of the interview was some questions about a Psychology study that they gave me to read - they asked some stuff about experimental design, interpreting data and drawing conclusions. The whole thing was over in about 15 min and it was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. My second interview was at Univ. When I arrived I was given half an hour in a quiet room to read through the details and results of a Psychology experiment and was also given a logic puzzle to solve. The first half of the interview was one of the interviewers asking me all kinds of questions about the experiment - data analysis, experimental design, evaluating conclusions etc. The second half was the other interviewer discussing the logic puzzle with me. I managed to solve it in the pre-reading time so he had me explain my thought process. Then he suggested several changes to the puzzle and asked me to think about how this would change how I got to my answer, or if it would even be possible to answer. I did find this difficult and struggled to articulate my thoughts clearly at points but the interviewer was very nice and encouraging. After half an hour the interview ended. Again, both interviewers were really nice - they weren’t trying to catch me out or make things overly difficult, they were just trying to see how I thought about things.

How did you prepare for your interviews?

I read a lot of resources online and watched some example interview videos - whilst these weren’t for my subject it still helped to get rid of some nerves about what to expect from the general interview scenario. I hadn’t done Psychology A level so I focused on reading around more in the areas of personal interest I mentioned in my personal statement - I reread the books I mentioned and looked for some more things to read as well. I also arranged a couple of meetings with a Psychology teacher at my college to talk through some basic ideas that I would need to understand in Psychology, as well as talking through a few sample interview questions, and the stuff on my personal statement, especially my EPQ. It’s super useful to get used to talking about your subject like this - talking to a teacher in the subject would be great but even talking through stuff with a friend or parent/guardian, for example, would be helpful in my opinion.

If you took a test, how did you prepare?

Practice papers! I did as many as I could to the time constraints of the real exam. I also wrote practice essays (again to time - it’s a really short time allowed for the essay so practicing to time is essential) and got people to read them to check they made sense.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

My biggest piece of advice is don’t be afraid to be wrong! The interviewer is not expecting you to be right all the time, they want to see how you think and how you approach problems. So talk through your thought process clearly and if you come to a wrong answer that's okay - you can give it another go and demonstrate your thinking skills in that way. The interview is not as much to assess how clever you are or whatever - they know you are academically capable from your predicted grades, your admissions test result etc. They are trying to see if you are going to be teachable in the way that Oxford teaches and if the teaching environment at Oxford is one you will be able to do well in.