Oxbridge Interview Preparation | A Guide to Success

As of this year, Times Higher Education have named Oxford and Cambridge the top two universities in the entire world. So, it might seem a little daunting to apply for a place at one of these two prestigious universities. Oxbridge interview preparation needs to be taken very seriously. This is because places at Oxford and Cambridge are highly competitive across all subjects. Essentially, this means you need to be at the top of your game. Here, we’re going to look at a number of ways in which you can do some self Oxbridge interview coaching and increase your chances of success.

Oxbridge Interview Prerequisites

Before we begin, there are three prerequisites for getting an Oxbridge interview. These are:
1. The predicted A-Level grades required to secure a place at these universities.
2. A strong personal statement that highlights your best academic qualities and enthusiasm for your studies.
3. Scoring at least a pass mark in the Oxford or Cambridge entrance exams.

For tips on how to write a killer personal statement, take a look at How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement | Examples and Advice.

If you meet all of these requirements, you might be invited to an interview. Generally speaking, you will be interviewed by higher-ranking members of the faculty or subject that you are applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a course in English Literature, you’ll be interviewed by lecturers and professors in the department of English Literature.

Now, let’s take a look at some tips for making sure your interview is as successful as possible.

Think of ‘Stress’ as ‘Excitement’ – Oxbridge Interview Preparation

Naturally, the thought of being interviewed at Oxford and Cambridge will be stress-inducing. To an extent, this is a good thing. Being stressed about it shows that you care about the outcome. However, it’s important to make sure that this stress stays as ‘useful nerves’ and doesn’t hinder your performance.

For this reason, it might be helpful to change your thinking about stress. One way of doing this is to start thinking of stress as excitement. As previously stated, being stressed shows that you care. So, try to put a positive spin on your stress as being excited for the opportunity. This might not work for everyone, but you might find that this newfound excitement gives you a push to perform even better than before.

Preparation is Key – Oxbridge Interview Preparation

In the vast majority of cases, you can’t coast your way through an Oxbridge interview. The interview is designed to highlight your strengths and weaknesses, and discover if you’re the type of person that would meet the standards of the university. Since are two of the best universities in the world, you should expect them to only want the very best students. For this reason, you need to prepare.

Expect the Unexpected

The exact kind of preparation you undertake will depend on the course you’re studying. An English Literature interviewee might be asked to critique a popular and current piece of work on the fly. Conversely, a prospective Mathematics student may need to attempt an incredibly difficult problem in a short space of time. Unlike an exam, where you have an idea about what you’ll be questioned on, the Oxbridge interview can contain all sorts of bizarre requests related to your subject. In some cases, the interviewers aren’t necessarily expecting you to succeed in a conventional sense. Instead, they want to see how you respond to the pressure.

For this reason, there’s only so much you can do to prepare in the usual sense. Practise your skills in whatever field you’re applying for. However, be prepared for the unexpected.

Remember Your Personal Statement – Oxbridge Interview Preparation

If there’s one thing you can be relatively sure of, it’s that the interviewers will refer to your personal statement during the interview to test your aptitude and enthusiasm. For example, if you mention that your love for English Literature was born from reading a certain classic novel, the interviewers may request that you speak about it. Whatever the case, make sure that you revise what you’ve written about yourself in your personal statement, so that you’re ready to discuss it at a moment’s notice.


Your Oxbridge interview will be tough – there’s no doubt about it. However, just because you find it challenging, that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to pass it or you don’t meet the interviewers’ standards. If anything, it might just show that the interviewers are pressing you because they believe you have the potential to become an excellent student at their university.

If you’re currently studying for your A-Levels and need an extra push to make yourself an even better candidate, check out our book, Pass Your A-Levels With A*s.

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