Sticking with our university theme, could you describe what a rock looks like?
This is one of the many sample questions that Oxford University releases so that prospective students have an idea of what to expect at interview.
Other sample questions include:
- What can historians not find out about the past?
- What are the different ways in which you listen to music?
- How does that change the way in which you think about what you’re listening to?
- Is religion of value whether or not there is a God?
- How many different molecules can be made from six carbon atoms and twelve hydrogen atoms?
- How can we estimate the mass of the atmosphere?
- How does the composition of the atmosphere allows us to calculate its weight?
- The viruses that infect us are totally dependent on human cells for their reproduction; is it therefore surprising that viruses cause human diseases?
Oxford university states that interviewees should not be unduly concerned by a potential interview, or any questions they might be asked.
“We emphasise in all our outreach activity that the interview is primarily an academic conversation based on a passage of text, a problem set or a series of technical discussions related to the course students have applied for,” says Dr Samina Khan, director of admissions and outreach at the university.
The university releases these questions so that students can become familiar with the type of questions they might be asked, and also to reduce any worries – especially being in an unfamiliar place.
Each question has a purpose, which is generally to see how the student:
- Thinks abut their subject; and
- Responds to new information or unfamiliar ideas.
During interviews, students are not left to flounder. The interviewers will provide suggestions and small questions to help guide the conversation at various points.