Philosophy, Politics And Economics @ Somerville, Oxford in 2016

Interview format

2x 20 min interviews, a few hours apart

Interview content

Interview 1: economics maths questions and scenario, philosophy reading given earlier; Interview 2: politics reading given earlier

Best preparation

Practice papers, guide books

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Be yourself!

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: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: a few hours

Length of interviews: 20 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

Philosophy and economics were in the same interview. I was given some pre-reading for both: for economics, I was given maths questions and, for philosophy, a reading. The philosophy part consisted in discussing the reading. The tutorwas strict and challenged and interrupted mebut the key is to not get discouraged or start second guessing yourself: don't be afraid of revising your initial position, but be ready to defend it too.

For economics, the tutor created a scenario and asked me to analyse it. It was enjoyable and I started to relax more. In the end I think it is much more about how you articulate and defend your arguments under pressure than about how original or defensible they are.

Politics was a separate interview, where I was also given a reading about 20 minutes beforehand to read through and discuss in the interview. It didn’t feel very formal and I let myself relax and enjoy the conversation. Just think that it’s not everyday you get to talk about these things that interest you with the people at the top in the field!

How did you prepare?

I did some practice papers from online and found guide books helpful for revision.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Be yourself - there isn’t one type of “Oxbridge student” that the tutors are looking for.

They want to see potential more than knowledge - it is more about showing how you think than what you know!