If you have an interview…WELL DONE! Your statement and grades are obviously great & you’ve impressed the admissions tutors thus far.
Here are some tips for the interviews – I may have some more soon if I think of any extra! (NOTE: Cambridge will tend to interview you 2 times and you may have a test all at your college – Oxford will tend to interview you over a few days in a number of colleges)
Well, I’ll begin with my story. I was pooled to Robinson from Christs, meaning that there were simply too many applicants for my course that applied to Christ’s who were good enough to be accpeted, so I just got moved to Robinson. It was nothing to do with the fact that my interview was weak etc. Sometimes if you’re pooled and re-interviewed at another college it’s because they don’t think you showed your full potential in the first one – although this didn’t happen to me, but don’t think of it as a bad thing if it does happen to you!
I mean, the best bit of advice I can personally offer is to be realistic. You’re applying to the best uni in the country & although you obviously want to get an offer, remember that you’ll still end up at a great uni wherever you go – it’s not the be-all-and-end-all if you don’t get a place at Oxbridge. I took this attitude when I went into my interview and found that I was a lot more relaxed as a result. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that it will result in you under-performing due to nerves. If you come out of the interview thinking ‘I genuinely did my best under the circumstances’ then you’ll be content no matter what happens.
Another thing is that they may well challenge everything you say (though this depends on your interviewer) – if they are pushing you further & further, it’s probably a good thing as it means that they want you to think even deeper. If you don’t understand something or need it verifying DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK THEM! It’s better to just say ‘I’m sorry, just to clarify/I don’t quite understand what you mean when you say…’ than to think you kind of get what they are saying and then answer the question, when really you have missed the point completely. They aren’t expecting you to know everything. if you don’t know say “I’m not entirely sure that this is correct/what you are looking for but I think it could mean…” (this happened to me in my interview and it was absolutely fine)
Another thing is to know your personal statement inside-out. If you don’t, it won’t come across great because you wrote it! If you have said something in it like “I am interested in theology because of…” and then give a reason, they may well ask you to elaborate on this, so be prepared to talk about anything on your statement. (Saying this, i got asked NOTHING about what was on my statement in both of my interviews, but conversely some of my friends were asked solely about the statement, so it really depends.)
Also, be prepared for some set questions. It’s likely that they’ll ask you things like “Why did you apply to Cambridge/Oxford/this college/to study this course?” So have things ready like “Cambridge/Oxford’s reputation/style of teaching/certain aspects of the course that attract you that perhaps aren’t available to study anywhere else/the communal feeling of the college & the friendly students” etc etc.
If I think of any more things I’ll let you know, but also if you have any more questions about what to wear/ask etc then please ask!