Philosophy, Politics And Economics @ Worcester, Oxford in 2017

Interview format

2x 25-30 min interviews, over 2 days

Interview content

Interview 1 (politics and economics): personal statement, justice and criminal responsibility; Interview 2 (philosophy): logic questions, passage

Best preparation

Timed practice papers, questions from practice book

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Re-read books in personal statement; had practice interviews; wasn't expected to know much already at interview.

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: 1 day (two consecutive mornings)

Length of interviews: 25-30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In my first interview, I was asked a little about the books I had written about on my personal statement for Economics, and which bits I had liked the most. I was then questioned a little on asymetric information, because I had talked about this in my personal statement. Then the politics tutor took over, and asked me a little about arguments against democracy, which I had written about on my personal statement. She then questioned me thoroughly about justice and criminal responsibility, which I had never studied or read about, but was eased into.

My second interview was a philosophy one. I was initially given some verbal information about logic and then asked a series of increasingly difficult questions about what I had been told. I found this really hard but also quite fun. I was then given a minute to read a passage on ancient philosophy and summarise it verbally, before being asked a few basic questions about it.

How did you prepare?

I looked at the website for the TSA intially, which has all the past papers and a guide for the essay writing. Essentially, I completed all the past papers, the latter half under timed conditions. I also got hold of a TSA practice book which had more practice questions and some tips and techniques. Most of the difficulty with the TSA is time. I fully reccommend making sure you practise timed papers, because it is a really tight test for time.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

For preparation, I focused on rereading the books I had talked about in my personal statement. I also looked at the guide on the Oxford website, which had a suggested reading list, so I tried to get hold of some of those books and have a skim through. I also brushed up on some of my maths skills in case the economics interview called for them.

My school gave me two practice interviews, but they didn't resemble the real thing at all, and were mostly questions about my motivations for applying, which didn't come up in my real interviews at all.

My expectations were pretty much met. I thought the interviews would be hard but reasonable and they were hard but reasonable. I was pleasantly surprised by them asking about my personal statement so much. I also was happy at how little they expected me to already know. I didn't study any of the relevant subjects for A Level so had little base knowledge, and was worried that would disadvantage me. In fact, the tutors just mostly seemed to be interested in hearing my opinions, why I liked the subjects, and in testing how I reacted to new information that I had not come across before. They also liked testing whether I would change my opinion when presented with new information- something that is really important to do in tutorials!