Philosophy, Politics And Economics @ Merton, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

3x 20-30 min Skype interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

Politics: problem sheet, general discussion; Economics: problem sheet; Philosophy: general discussion, problem

Best preparation

TSA and A-level Thinking Skills papers, critical thinking books

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Enjoy your subject and read widely around it; practise 'thinking on your feet'.

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: Yes

Interview spread: 2 interviews, four hours apart, on first day; 1 interview on second day

Length of interviews: 20-30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

I had three interviews for each of the subjects (Philosophy, Politics and Economics).

For the Politics interview, I was given a problem sheet and asked to formulate responses to some questions on it. We then moved on to a general discussion on a particular aspect brought up by the problem sheet.

For the Economics interview, I was also given a problem sheet which required sketching on a whiteboard.

For Philosophy, we had a general discussion on philosophical concepts, before moving on to a problem statement and discussing it.

The atmosphere for most of the interviews was relaxed - the tutors are very friendly and would help calm your nerves. Over time, most candidates would relax into it.

How did you prepare?

I used the official TSA past papers and A Level Thinking Skills papers, as well as reading critical thinking books.

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

I read widely. First, I read some books on the Oxbridge interview process and discussions on previous questions (e.g. 'So, You Think You're Clever', but the responses there are not structured and much more freeflowing). I also read many books around my subject areas, particularly those mentioned in the suggested reading list published on the Oxford website.

I also had a mentor through Project Access, as well as a former teacher from my school who gave me interview preparation. Prep definitely helps, and I encourage those who are afraid of the interview to be a) enjoy their subject and read widely around it and b) practice "thinking-on-your-feet" responses to past interview questions.