1. Your interviewer is only interested in catching you out.
FALSE. The interviewer is there to help you and to encourage you in your thought processes. It is best to think of the interview as a stimulating discussion between applicants and the interviewer. It is nothing more than an opportunity for you and the interviewer to get to know one another and to expand on any ideas relevant to your university course that you find interesting and want to find out more about.
2. The interview is the most important part of the Oxbridge admissions process.
FALSE. The interview is just one element of the admissions process, which also includes applicants’ personal statements, their past and future predicted academic grades and academic references. In fact, Cambridge University explain on their website that they look at applications holistically, which shows that the interview is certainly not the be-all and end-all of the admissions process.
3. You are required to have extra preparation outside of school hours to prepare you for the interview.
FALSE. As with working towards any exam or interview, the Oxbridge interview can cause stress and worry for prospective applicants. Although it is worthwhile – and encouraged by the university – to prepare for the interview, there is absolutely no need or requirement to spend all of your time solely on preparing for the interview. The admissions tutors are aware that applicants will always be focussed on preparing for academic work and exams apart from the interview, as well as finding time for hobbies and relaxing. It is worthwhile thinking about what elements interest you specifically in your chosen subject that you are applying to study, and why you are interested in these elements, in order to have material for a discussion at the interview.
4. All of the other interview candidates will have read far more material and will know far more about their subjects.
FALSE. Whilst some may give the impression that they have swallowed several encyclopaedias and some may indeed have read more, please don’t let this put you off. The interview is the perfect opportunity for you to think about what interests you and what you enjoy abnout your chosen subject, rather than worrying about whether you have read The Oddysey back-to-back and can recite all of Shakespeare’s sonnets whilst standing on your head. The interview is the chance to focus on yourself, expand your knowledge of your chosen subject and, most importantly, not to panic.
5. The interview is a taster of university life at Oxford and Cambridge.
TRUE. The interviews are a chance for applicants to see the reality of academic life at Oxford and Cambridge, where students discuss ideas in small groups that are called supervisions, in Cambridge, or tutorials in Oxford. The interview is a chance for applicants to see whether this system suits them and whether they find this enjoyable and useful.