Philosophy And Modern Languages @ Exeter, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

2x 30-40 min interviews, 2 days apart

Interview content

Interview 1 (French): poem given beforehand, personal statement, chat in French about motivations; Interview 2 (Philosophy): argument given beforehand, related questions; Interview 3 (Philosophy): logic problems; Interview 4 (French): short passage given beforehand, personal statement chat in French, modern ethical dilemma (in English)

Best preparation

Think about your subjects a little every day

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Focus on things that interest you.

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: MLAT

Number of interviews: 4

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 2 days

Length of interviews: 30-40 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Interview 1 (French): We talked about a poem I’d been given to read 30 minutes before the interview and texts mentioned in my personal statement; we had a 10 minute chat in French about why I was interested in the subject; I relaxed into it, although I was fairly nervous throughout.

Interview 2 (Philosophy): We discussed the argument I’d been given to analyse 30 minutes before and this led to the discussion of a set of related questions; I really enjoyed this interview - it was tense but very engaging and I left feeling excited about the prospect of coming to Oxford.

Interview 3 (Philosophy, different college): I was given 2 sets of logic problems and the tutors guided me through finding their solutions; this was an emotional rollercoaster of an interview, fairly stressful and very challenging but also enjoyable - I had no idea if it went well or terribly.

Interview 4 (French, different college): We discussed a short passage I’d been given to read beforehand and had a quick chat in French about one of the texts I’d mentioned in my personal statement, but we spent most of the time talking in English about a modern ethical dilemma I had expressed interest in during the discussion of the pre-reading; again I was unsure how this went and left feeling utterly exhausted but pleased I’d managed to get through all 4!

How did you prepare?

To prepare for the test, I did practice papers from WebLearn (website); identified and revised grammar points that recurred (e.g. subjunctive conjugation); studied useful, everyday vocabulary; watched 'Crash Course Philosophy' and listened to philosophical podcasts (e.g. episodes of 'In Our Time', Radio 4; Marianne Talbot’s Intro to Philosophy series on the university website). For the interview, I used lots of podcasts, YouTube videos, and read subject-relevant books and articles (taking some brief notes of things I found interesting).

I spoke to my French teacher for help and emotional support: if nothing else, it’s really calming to know your teachers are aware that you’ve got the application process going on for you on top of school work.

The best thing I did was definitely just thinking about my subjects a little bit every day. I asked myself every now and then ‘Why do I like philosophy and French?’ or thought about points raised in an article I’d recently read. It meant that when it came to interviews, I was secure in my interest and had practice thinking about questions in and around my subjects.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

I wouldn’t stress so much about ‘knowing’ things. Names, dates, etc. don’t really matter to tutors! They’re much more interested in your ability to learn and to think around problems than how much you already know. It’s better to focus on things that interest you than trying to gain a superficial knowledge of the entirety of French literature.