Oxford interview questions - revealed

University of Oxford last week dispelled some of the myths surrounding the famously tough interview process by releasing some examples of the types of ‘curve-ball’ questions they may ask prospective students.

There have always been rumours surrounding the University of Oxford interview process, with claims of interviewers asking preposterous questions to put nervous candidates on the spot. In online discussion forum ‘New Media Medicine‘ one user claimed to have been asked in their interview “Why do cows not laugh?”.

The release of the questions comes after a disappointing result in last weeks Times Higher Education World University Rankings which saw University of Oxford slip to joint fifth place, whilst Cambridge climbed to second place.  Oxford decided to release the sample questions along with guidelines as to what they are looking for in an answer to help candidates prepare themselves and to dispel the “trick question” myths. Oxford’s Director of Admissions, Mike Nicholson said:

“The interviews are all about assessing academic ability and potential. The aim is to get candidates to use their knowledge and apply their minds to new problems while allowing them to shine. No special knowledge is required and there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.”

Amongst the sample questions were:

Biological Sciences – If you could save either the rainforests or the coral reefs, which would you choose?

Engineering – How would you design a gravity dam for holding back water?

English literature – Why might it be useful for an English student to read the Twilight series?

Geography – If I were to visit the area where you live, what would I be interested in?

Law – If the punishment for parking on double yellow lines were death, and therefore nobody did it, would that be a just and effective law?

Medicine – Why does your heart rate increase when you exercise?

Modern languages – In a world where English is a global language, why learn French?

How would you cope with some of these questions? Have a go in the comments below.