Philosophy And Modern Languages @ Somerville, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

4x 15-20 min interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

French: English poem, short discussion in French, personal statement; Philosophy: Aristotle extract given beforehand, logic

Best preparation

Practise discussing books on personal statement

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts


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

Tests taken: MLAT, Philosophy Test

Number of interviews: 4

Skype interview: No

Interviews spread over 2 days

Length of interviews: 15-20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

For French: I was asked to analyse an English poem, read it aloud, and discuss context and themes and language. Then we had a 2-5 minute discussion in French, about a trip to France I mentioned on my personal statement. We also had a brief discussion of books I’d mentioned on my personal statement (one French and one in translation).

Philosophy: I was Asked to read an extract of Aristotle beforehand. We discussed problems with it, what he might mean by particular sentences, and whether I think he’s correct. I was given a logical sequence and asked to discuss problems with the chain of logic.

All the interviews were nervewracking when I prepared for them, but felt way more relaxed as soon as I entered the room. I was late to one due to a lack of information but this did not matter at all!!

How did you prepare?

I did practice papers, practised grammar/translation of sentences, and wrote practice essay plans.

I had a mock interview at school, but this was not very accurate so I wouldn’t rely on these unless your school knows what they’re doing. It was far better preparation to practise discussing books on my personal statement, with parents/myself! And do practice papers for the MLAT and philosophy essay section.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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