How to Analyse a Written Source in an Oxford Interview

Do you want to know what type of questions will be asked in your Oxford interview? In this article, we will go through Oxford interview example questions when given a written source to analyse.


A technique often used for Oxford interview questions is giving the student a prompt, often a written source such as an extract from an article, book or journal.

Although you can never anticipate what the source might be, which is, of course, the aim of the interviewer, you can prepare a good technique for how to approach these prompts which will really help to smooth over the process of answering Oxford interview example questions. Here are our tips:


  1. Preparation time: Write down everything!

If you are asked to analyse a source as part of your Oxford interview, you will be told to collect it in advance and you will be given time to read it over.

The way to make the most of this preparation time is to write down as much as possible! This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write all over it straight away, but it does mean bringing a highlighter would be great, in order to pick out key words and any quotes you might later want to refer to. You can annotate any arguments you think are good or bad, and you can also write down relevant names of books or articles you’ve read so that when you are under the pressure of Oxford interview questions, you can look down quickly and see what your thoughts were.


  1. Practise the process with Oxford interview example questions

It’s really useful to go through the exercise of analysing a written source at least once or twice with some Oxford interview example questions before the actual interview. That way, you will be able to manage any time constraints and nerves before the day. As well as get more of an understanding of what they might ask at your Oxford interview. However, if you have a technique sorted to start with you will be much better at handling whatever the interview throws you.

One way to practice answering the typical questions is to pick an article from the news, or an extract from a book or journal. Opinion pieces, even from the media such as the Guardian, the FT or the Independent to name a few would work fine. Then to go through the following Oxford interview example questions:


  1. Be able to summarise the article. What is the main argument?
  2. Look at where the source is from. What are your thoughts about this?
  3. Look at the date. What are your thoughts about this?
  4. Which bits of the article do you agree or disagree with?
  5. What questions might you ask about this article?


The fifth step can be quite a good prompt for you to ask the tutor at the end of your Oxford interview. This way, you show that you have engaged with the session, you are curious, and that you have read the source carefully.


3. Reference your Findings

When you are performing an analysis of any text, the difference between a good answer to the Oxford interview questions and a bad answer is backing up your argument with relevant sources which you have read.

If you think the opinion you have been given is wrong, why? Which piece of reading would you rely on to support your argument? If there is an interesting point in the article you have been given, and you have read about the topic elsewhere, say so! Bringing in your own reading material and being able to substantiate your opinion is very important. Don’t be afraid of saying, “I read…. which supports my argument because ….”. The more you can say that, the better!

Overall, you should try and enjoy this part of answering Oxford interview questions as much as possible. Often the sources chosen are very interesting and designed to provoke debate. If you can give your thoughts coherently and backed up with sensible reasoning, you will be well on your way to a good Oxford interview experience. It’s always a good idea to start preparing for you interview early and get to grips with types of questions and sources you may be given.

Book onto the interview preparation course

Do you need to practice analysing written sources?

If you would like to get to grips with the process of the Oxford interview and gain confidence answering the tricky Oxford interview questions, take a look at this course.

We will take you through Oxford interview example questions in a mock interview setting. Working closely with expert tutors, you will be presented with selected sources and material that may come up at your interview. These sources will be personally picked depending on your chosen subject so that you are tested on topics that are likely to come up at your interview.

Take and look and get booked onto a UniAdmissions preparation course.

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