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Preparing for Admissions Interviews

Admissions interviews can be nerve-racking for many students, but you’ll be able to increase your confidence if you understand the process and what the interviewers are looking for in a candidate. Whether for admission into a top school or university, interviews are designed to allow teachers or professors to see if you would be a suitable fit for the school and whether you would benefit from learning in this setting. In other words, you should prepare for your interview by practising talking about your interests, but you should also remember to be yourself and listen carefully to the questions!

As part of a Classics admissions panel for an Oxford college, I learnt that the best candidates were those who could think critically and not necessarily those who gave the ‘correct answers’ to set tasks. During the admissions interviews, we would give students unseen texts which they had 20 minutes to review in a separate room. After calling them back, we would ask them comprehension and analysis questions about the sources. This would lead into a general discussion about their studies and related extracurricular activities. The strongest — and most interesting — candidates could talk through an unfamiliar problem with intellectual curiosity and show a genuine interest in their subject. Sometimes they wouldn’t get more than a couple of questions right, but their passionate engagement with the problem, ability to talk through their thinking, and expression of logical arguments were the key qualities that secured them a place at Oxford University.

So is it possible to prepare for this kind of interview? Yes and no. The reality is that successful interviews are the result of long-term efforts and engagement with the subject. Learning to think critically and discuss unseen texts doesn’t happen overnight, but you can work on these skills through wide reading and by practising analysis of new texts. And you can do this at i-Learner by taking Voyage and Discovery courses as well as Critical Reading and Writing, which have been specifically designed to train these skills and help students on their journey to academic success at the highest levels.


For more information on applications to top overseas schools, check out our collection of Overseas Admissions articles, or book a consultation with i-Learner Overseas Education Services.