Academic | Posted 23.11.2018

The Bayley room was the venue for the majority of our individual Oxford, Cambridge and Medic mock interviews which took place during the week commencing 12th November. All were given individual feedback and advice on steps they should take to improve further.

On Monday, Physics candidates were put through their paces by Mr David Lewis. Discussion based on the candidate’s personal statement was followed by some challenging mathematically based physics problems. Subject specific mock interviews for Oxbridge and Medical candidates took place in the Bayley room during the week commencing 12th November.  Alternative interview arrangements with appropriate subject specialists were made for 2 candidates applying to read Computer Science and Chemistry.

All were given individual feedback and detailed advice on steps they should take to improve further.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Peter Anwyl and Colin Edmundson worked in tandem interviewing a total of thirteen candidates over the two days. As ever, they came well prepared to challenge the candidates across a range of subjects:

  • Medicine – 5 candidates
  • Economics – 3 candidates
  • History & Economics – 1 candidate
  • Classics – 1 candidate
  • English – 1 candidate
  • Experimental Psychology – 1 candidate
  • Architecture – 1 candidate

Peter and Colin gave one to one feedback to every pupil at the end of their interview. Written feedback on each candidate’s performance was sent to Mrs Fisher for discussion with pupils on a one to one basis.

Interviewer Peter gives his account of the interviews below:

“November 13/14 was an important period in the term for 13 of our Rhetoricians as they faced up to their Mock Oxbridge and Medical interviews conducted by Mr Colin Edmundson and Mr Peter Anwyl. This is an annual event designed to offer constructive advice to our candidates, to help them avoid any interview ‘howlers’, as well as to prepare them for the real event in so far as possible. These days all universities are coming under pressure to be more inclusive in their admissions decisions, so one of the purposes of this rehearsal was to remind candidates that they had to be prepared for some unfriendly questioning based around perceived ‘privilege’ and background.

There was a challenging range of disciplines to cover: Medicine, History, Economics, Management, Architecture, English, Classics, and Experimental Psychology. All 13 impressed by their grasp of subject, articulate responses, and careful attention to the content of their Personal Statements. As a result there was a genuine dialogue rather than a Q&A session. We have every reason to hope that a good number of the candidates will be called for interview.

In addition to the questions which emerged naturally from their Personal Statements the candidates had to wrestle with some topics taken from previous Oxbridge interviews. For example: would humans benefit from 4 legs; why do humans have 2 eyes; on what basis can we call a modern piece of writing a ‘classic’; what role does ethics play in medicine; can a thermostat think; should students be able to ban speakers with whom they don’t agree; should children’s literature be studied at university”; and others of a similar ilk. These questions enabled the interviewers to remind candidates that they are not being asked to solve issues, but to display how they apply their existing skills to a new concept. They were not expected to provide right/wrong answers. Their thought process was under scrutiny.

All 13 interviewees should take a bow as Colin and Peter went out of their way to commend them for their all-round skills, their composure, and being such good company.”

General Feedback from the interviews: candidates were well presented and courteous. It was encouraging to note that the personal statements were better structured, more relevant, and more accurately captured the candidates’ interests and personalities than had previously been the case. This can only be an advantage. We enjoyed our work and were impressed by the qualities of the young people we spoke to. It should be said that the overall standard was appreciably better than last year such that we feel that a number of candidates, were they to be called for interview, are well placed to give a good account of themselves.