Interviews at Oxford and Cambridge are slightly different interviews at other universities. They're really testing you to see if you're the right person for that college.

When they decide who to interview, they're going to be looking at your predicted grades. They're going to look at your personal statement, your references, and for Cambridge, the supplementary additional questionnaire (SAQ) as well. And if you are invited, these interviews happen in the first three weeks of December. These are interviews within the college that you have applied to or the college you've been allocated to if you've made an open application. The subject tutor, the director of studies, the person in the college who is actually responsible for the teaching of that course within the college is going to be the person leading the main interview. You may get a second interview or a third interview with the admissions tutor for that college as well. The exact details are going to vary ever so slightly depending on which college and which subject you apply to. Between one and three interviews, and they could last between 20 and 45 minutes. You could have a more academic and subject-based one, and then you might have a more general one as well. If you get invited for interview, you will be given details of exactly what to expect so it won't be a surprise when you arrive there on the day.

Some subjects are going to ask you to do a written test on the day, and that will be the same day as you have your interview. The main interview, the subject, the academic interview, is more going to be like a conversation about the subject. It's really going to be in the style of tutorials or supervisions at Oxford and Cambridge. So that the admissions tutor can really see whether you're going to be suited to academic life there. The questions are going to be based around your subject, but they're not always going to be straightforward. And the admissions tutor isn't going to expect you to have covered this in school. They're not going to expect you to know what the answer is straight away. They're interested in talking through the problems with you. They're interested in how you get from point A to point B.

If you don't understand something, then just ask the tutor to explain it to you. This isn't a test on how well you know everything. It's more logic, it's more can you think things. They know people are going to come from very different backgrounds, have different educational experiences, so it's not about how much you know because your grades will show that. Something that may not come through in your grades or in your personal statements. The questions aren't going to be trick questions. They're not designed to trip you up, but they are going to be tricky questions. You're going to need to show that you can apply logic, bring different things together, and that you can adapt to changing situations, that you can adapt quickly and assimilate new information and deal with it without getting flustered. They can ask you questions about the subject you've applied for, the wider subject area, or things you've written in your personal statement. It's a really good idea to go over your personal statement again, look at any notes you've made from your work experience, look at any notes you've made that you've passed on to your teachers about things that you're really interested in. It's really important you don't lie in your personal statement.

The interview style is going to be very similar to the teaching style within the college. So not only is it a chance for the college to see whether you're suited for it, but whether you are suited to it as well. It's going to be very intense, possibly intimidating situation. If you are accepted to the college, you're going to be going through these tutorials, supervisions, on a weekly basis, and if you don't like it, now is the time to work it out.

For Oxford they may send you for a second college for an interview if you might be reallocated and placed somewhere else. They may send you to a certain college if they're oversubscribed for that subject or if they think you're a good candidate but not quite the right fit for the college.

Oxford do it all in one day. Cambridge put you into pool system and do a second interview day in January. Being put into the pool or being sent to a different college for an interview doesn't give you any indication about which college is going to offer you a place, whether you're going to get a place or not, or where you're going to end up.

Depending on how long you're expected to stay, most colleges will offer you accommodation and meals and some circumstances they will reimburse you for travel as well. If you're an overseas student, there are lots of overseas locations, lots of overseas tutors who do the Oxford and Cambridge interviews over there.

Oxbridge interview timeline and dates

BMAT registration deadline; 1st October

UCAS applications deadline; 15th October

Pre-interview assessment registration ends; 15th October.

COPA deadline; 19th October

SQA deadline; 22nd October

Date of pre-interview assessments; 31st October

Interviews; early December

Pool interviews; early January

Decision; end January