Philosophy, Politics And Economics @ Corpus Christi, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

3x 30 min interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

Politics: personal statement, comparing statements on sheet, drawing something on board; Economics: questions on graphs and tables; Philosophy: general discussion

Best preparation

Practice papers, TSA book, calculus

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Had Skype sessions with Cambridge student; spoke to people specialised in things mentioned in personal statement. Don't show off your knowledge; show you're flexible and humble; research details of things mentioned in personal statement.

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: TSA

Number of interviews: 3

Skype interview: No

Interview spread: first 2 interviews one day apart; third interview just after second interview

Length of interviews: about 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my Politics interview, they asked me stuff about my personal statement, then a few follow up questions about that. Then, I had to compare some statements on a sheet they gave me and talk about how they were related. I also had to draw something on the board, and was given more follow up questions about what was on the board. It was really nothing I could've prepared for.

In Economics, I had to answer some questions about several graphs and tables.

In Philosophy, it was just a cool, chilled discussion about general topics of philosophy and some examples to examine them.

How did you prepare?

I did basically all of the practice papers I could find. I also bought a TSA prep book. I worked a bit on my calculus too.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

For preparation, I had 4 Skype sessions with a Cambridge girl which lasted like 2 hours each, and she would just ask me questions about myself and about stuff going on in the world. She also gave me a lot of advice about the attitude to have in the interview, but that didn't really help because I was so stressed at the beginning of the interview I just forgot all of it and focused on what they were telling me.

What I'd say was the most useful interview prep was calling people specialized in certain things I'd mentioned in my PS. for example I called a guy who works at the European Parliament (friend of my parents) and we talked about Europe and the UN. In the interview she asked me about it, so I had some interesting ideas to share from that guy.

For the interviews, DON'T show off your knowledge, they hate that. A lot of people think Oxford students are just brainy know-it-alls and Hermione Grangers but every person I met that was a bit like that didn't get in. The questions are meant to help them understand the way you think, the way your brain works, if you're able to reason logically and (don't forget that part it's super important) if you're gonna be nice to work with in tutorial sessions for three years. Show you're flexible, show you're humble, show you're considerate of the person in front of you.

I wish I'd researched more about the details of my personal statement because I mentioned I represented Egypt in a Model United Nations session and the interviewer asked me whose government I represented. I didn't know the name of the guy and felt stupid. After the interview I was convinced it was gonna cost me my admission.