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How would you do in an Oxford interview? Watch

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    Oxford have released another batch of interview questions. How well would you do?

    Classics: Why do you think Dido kills herself in Aeneid 4? Couldn’t she just have gone back to her old life?
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    Interviewer: Gail Trimble, Trinity College
    I would never ask a question like this without the student mentioning the text first, as we don’t assume that all applicants will have read the same things. Many candidates have never studied Latin or Greek before at all, so we certainly wouldn’t assume that they had any particular knowledge. I would open this part of the interview by asking the applicant to choose a Classical text that they have enjoyed. This could be something they have read at school/college or on their own, in the original or in translation – it just needs to be something that they found interesting and that they would be happy to discuss.




    Computer Science: How do pirates divide their treasure?
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    A group of 7 pirates has 100 gold coins. They have to decide amongst themselves how to divide the treasure, but must abide by pirate rules:
    • The most senior pirate proposes the division.
    • All of the pirates (including the most senior) vote on the division. If half or more vote for the division, it stands. If less than half vote for it, they throw the most senior pirate overboard and start again.
    • The pirates are perfectly logical, and entirely ruthless (only caring about maximizing their own share of the gold).
    • So, what division should the most senior pirate suggest to the other six?





    Engineering: The ruler
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    Place a 30cm ruler on top of one finger from each hand so that you have one finger at each end of the ruler, and the ruler is resting on your fingertips. What happens when you bring your fingers together?




    History: Is violence always political? Does 'political' mean something different in different contexts?
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    This pair of questions allows the interviewer to deal with historical material from any period the candidate is studying or knows about from more general reading. It could also be answered extremely well from contemporary or current affairs knowledge. The aim of the question is to get the candidate to challenge some received notions about what constitutes politics, and to think about how political history might be studied away from the usual kings, parliaments etc. A good candidate would, with assistance, begin to construct categories of when violence looks more and less political. A very good candidate would, with assistance, begin to construct a useful definition of 'political', but this is challenging. The main aim would not be to solve these problems, but to use them to find some new interest in a subject that the candidate already knows something about.





    Medicine: Put these countries in order by their crude mortality (deaths per thousand of the population): Bangladesh, Japan, South Africa, the UK.
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    Interviews for Medicine aim to gauge candidates' understanding of the science underpinning the study of medicine, as well as skills in scientific enquiry. This question invites candidates to think about a public health question and epidemiology that can be approached in many different ways, without necessarily knowing anything about specific mortality rates around the world. We would expect the initial discussion to probe the differing causes of death that contribute to mortality rates – such as those 'Western diseases' heart disease and cancer – and how they compare to those found in developing countries (high infant mortality, infectious diseases, poor nutrition, high rates of HIV etc.).





    Modern Languages: Should poetry be difficult to understand?
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    This question arose out of discussion of a few poems that a candidate said he had read, and we were talking through how these poems were conveying meaning (through things such as tone and the imagery they used). We wanted to push the candidate into more conceptual thinking to test his intellectual curiosity and how he would handle moving from familiar particulars (the poems he knew) to less familiar ways of approaching them. What's important for candidates to realise is that we don't expect a single correct answer to such a question; it's a starting point for a new direction of discussion: what sorts of 'difficulties' might we have in mind? Are these specific to poetry or do they also feature in other types of writing? And so on.





    PPE: Are our deaths bad for us?
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    Interviewer: Tim Mawson, St Peter's College
    I quite like this question because whichever way one answers it, new questions open up. One can distinguish between the process of dying and the state of being dead. The first seems non-problematically something that might well be bad for us (involving suffering), but the second is harder to assess – not least because one can have differing understandings of what the state of being dead is: is it permanent annihilation? Is it somehow waiting unconscious for a resurrection? Is to die simply to be transported instantaneously to some new realm? Or is it something else again? And can one know which? Whichever way the discussion goes, interesting topics branch off. These can include the nature of the self and personal identity; the rationality (or otherwise) of religious beliefs.




    NB. Often there's no right or wrong answer - it's your thinking they are interested in.

    More questions (and some answers to the above) here:
    https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...content-tab--4
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    How do pirates divide their treasure?
    At the back of the cinema while filming.

    :getmecoat:
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    (Original post by UWS)
    At the back of the cinema while filming.

    :getmecoat:
    Har! har!
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    Modern Languages: Should poetry be difficult to understand?*


    Agonising the martyred stone-claws
    Until the agenbite of inwit throbs
    Clench clench there is the wench
    Shatter the astrolabe of dank

    *Yes
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    Gail Trimble... she's now a tutor at Oxford? I remember her appearing on University Challenge some time ago... she was just unbeatable.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Oxford have released another batch of interview questions. How well would you do?
    They are hardly original - the ruler one is something I do in week one of Applied Maths or sometimes on an Open Evening for Year 6s.

    Pretty uninspiring really ...
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Engineering: The ruler
    Spoiler:
    Show




    Place a 30cm ruler on top of one finger from each hand so that you have one finger at each end of the ruler, and the ruler is resting on your fingertips. What happens when you bring your fingers together?



    Anyone who's had an A Level physics or maths M2 lesson on centre of mass has probably tried this after a teacher demo

    I assume the interviewer would be looking for a bit of "why" as well as "what happens".
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Medicine: Put these countries in order by their crude mortality (deaths per thousand of the population): Bangladesh, Japan, South Africa, the UK.
    They missed out a timescale....unless one of these countries has immortals then the deaths/1000s will all be 1000/1000

    *awaits rejection letter for pedantry*
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Oxford have released another batch of interview questions. How well would you do?

    Classics: Why do you think Dido kills herself in Aeneid 4? Couldn’t she just have gone back to her old life?
    Spoiler:
    Show




    Interviewer: Gail Trimble, Trinity College
    I would never ask a question like this without the student mentioning the text first, as we don’t assume that all applicants will have read the same things. Many candidates have never studied Latin or Greek before at all, so we certainly wouldn’t assume that they had any particular knowledge. I would open this part of the interview by asking the applicant to choose a Classical text that they have enjoyed. This could be something they have read at school/college or on their own, in the original or in translation – it just needs to be something that they found interesting and that they would be happy to discuss.





    Computer Science: How do pirates divide their treasure?
    Spoiler:
    Show




    A group of 7 pirates has 100 gold coins. They have to decide amongst themselves how to divide the treasure, but must abide by pirate rules:
    • The most senior pirate proposes the division.
    • All of the pirates (including the most senior) vote on the division. If half or more vote for the division, it stands. If less than half vote for it, they throw the most senior pirate overboard and start again.
    • The pirates are perfectly logical, and entirely ruthless (only caring about maximizing their own share of the gold).
    • So, what division should the most senior pirate suggest to the other six?






    Engineering: The ruler
    Spoiler:
    Show




    Place a 30cm ruler on top of one finger from each hand so that you have one finger at each end of the ruler, and the ruler is resting on your fingertips. What happens when you bring your fingers together?





    History: Is violence always political? Does 'political' mean something different in different contexts?
    Spoiler:
    Show




    This pair of questions allows the interviewer to deal with historical material from any period the candidate is studying or knows about from more general reading. It could also be answered extremely well from contemporary or current affairs knowledge. The aim of the question is to get the candidate to challenge some received notions about what constitutes politics, and to think about how political history might be studied away from the usual kings, parliaments etc. A good candidate would, with assistance, begin to construct categories of when violence looks more and less political. A very good candidate would, with assistance, begin to construct a useful definition of 'political', but this is challenging. The main aim would not be to solve these problems, but to use them to find some new interest in a subject that the candidate already knows something about.






    Medicine: Put these countries in order by their crude mortality (deaths per thousand of the population): Bangladesh, Japan, South Africa, the UK.
    Spoiler:
    Show





    Interviews for Medicine aim to gauge candidates' understanding of the science underpinning the study of medicine, as well as skills in scientific enquiry. This question invites candidates to think about a public health question and epidemiology that can be approached in many different ways, without necessarily knowing anything about specific mortality rates around the world. We would expect the initial discussion to probe the differing causes of death that contribute to mortality rates – such as those 'Western diseases' heart disease and cancer – and how they compare to those found in developing countries (high infant mortality, infectious diseases, poor nutrition, high rates of HIV etc.).






    Modern Languages: Should poetry be difficult to understand?
    Spoiler:
    Show





    This question arose out of discussion of a few poems that a candidate said he had read, and we were talking through how these poems were conveying meaning (through things such as tone and the imagery they used). We wanted to push the candidate into more conceptual thinking to test his intellectual curiosity and how he would handle moving from familiar particulars (the poems he knew) to less familiar ways of approaching them. What's important for candidates to realise is that we don't expect a single correct answer to such a question; it's a starting point for a new direction of discussion: what sorts of 'difficulties' might we have in mind? Are these specific to poetry or do they also feature in other types of writing? And so on.






    PPE: Are our deaths bad for us?
    Spoiler:
    Show



    Interviewer: Tim Mawson, St Peter's College
    I quite like this question because whichever way one answers it, new questions open up. One can distinguish between the process of dying and the state of being dead. The first seems non-problematically something that might well be bad for us (involving suffering), but the second is harder to assess – not least because one can have differing understandings of what the state of being dead is: is it permanent annihilation? Is it somehow waiting unconscious for a resurrection? Is to die simply to be transported instantaneously to some new realm? Or is it something else again? And can one know which? Whichever way the discussion goes, interesting topics branch off. These can include the nature of the self and personal identity; the rationality (or otherwise) of religious beliefs.





    NB. Often there's no right or wrong answer - it's your thinking they are interested in.

    More questions (and some answers to the above) here:
    https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...content-tab--4
    Thankfully I've read enough stuff to have seen both the computer science (although that version goes into what happens with 500 pirates - it's very interesting indeed) and the engineering problems before. Let's hope my future interview will be a straightforward...
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    (Original post by Mystelle)
    Gail Trimble... she's now a tutor at Oxford? I remember her appearing on University Challenge some time ago... she was just unbeatable.
    Yup - one and the same. Shame her team was disqualified after winning the final.
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    (Original post by Notnek)
    Anyone who's had an A Level physics or maths M2 lesson on centre of mass has probably tried this after a teacher demo

    I assume the interviewer would be looking for a bit of "why" as well as "what happens".
    Yep...

    Spoiler:
    Show

    This would never be the opening question in an interview - we usually start with a first question that gives the candidate an opportunity to get comfortable by discussing something familiar. We then ask more technical questions based on material in the GCSE and A-level syllabi. This question would come later in the interview, when we present candidates with an unfamiliar scenario and ask them to use what they know about familiar concepts (such as friction) to explain something.
    Almost everyone in this example will expect the ruler to topple off the side where the finger is closest to the centre to the ruler because they expect this finger to reach the centre of the ruler first. They then complete the 'experiment' and find both fingers reach the centre of the ruler at the same time and the ruler remains balanced on two fingers. We like to see how candidates react to what is usually an unexpected result, and then encourage them to repeat the experiment slowly. This helps them observe that the ruler slides over each finger in turn, starting with the finger that is furthest from the centre. With prompting to consider moments and friction, the candidate will come to the conclusion that moments mean that there is a larger force on the finger that is closest to the centre of the ruler. This means that there is more friction between the ruler and this finger and therefore the rule slides over the finger furthest from the centre first. This argument will apply until the fingers are the same distance from the centre. The candidate should then be able to explain why both fingers reach the centre of the rule at the same time as observed. In some cases, particularly if we have not done a quantitative question already, we might then proceed with a quantitative analysis of forces and moments. We might even discuss the fact that the coefficient of static friction is higher than the coefficient of dynamic friction and therefore the 'moving' finger gets closer to the centre than the static finger before the finger starts to move over the other finger.
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Yep...
    "Almost everyone in this example will expect the ruler to topple off the side where the finger is closest to the centre to the ruler because they expect this finger to reach the centre of the ruler first."
    I'm not sure about "almost everyone" since this is a very common teacher demo plus it was on QI. Maybe students pretend that they've never seen it before - that might be what I would do in this situation

    On a side note, if I saw that Gail Trimble was my interviewer, I'd probably get star struck and wouldn't be able to function :lol:
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    (Original post by Notnek)
    On a side note, if I saw that Gail Trimble was my interviewer, I'd probably get start struck and wouldn't be able to function :lol:
    You'd be fine - she's terrible at maths.

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    I have no idea if this is true!

    And I guess a similar double-take would occur if Mary Beard, David Starkey or similar turned up. Grief, imagine being interviewed by Starkey...
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    (Original post by Doonesbury)
    Grief, imagine being interviewed by Starkey...
    Haha that would be hilarious! I think I'd literally lol.
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    Do they only release questions for a few subjects or are there new questions for other subjects as well?
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    (Original post by PQ)
    They missed out a timescale....unless one of these countries has immortals then the deaths/1000s will all be 1000/1000

    *awaits rejection letter for pedantry*
    I guess you get a point for pointing out they should have asked about mortality rate. Commonly how many deaths per 1000 or 100,000 per year.
    However it is a common mistake among politicians who genuinely believe they can spend money 'preventing death'.
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    (Original post by TheBirder)
    Do they only release questions for a few subjects or are there new questions for other subjects as well?
    The link has questions for other subjects preety much all
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    (Original post by SuperHuman98)
    The link has questions for other subjects preety much all
    They're not new questions though. I was thinking that there might be new questions for the other subjects considering this is 'another batch of interview questions' but it seems that's only for a few subjects.
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    Ooh the modern languages questions are so interesting! :heart: If I got that question on poetry I'd probably talk about how ambiguity can be a useful poetic device since it leaves more up to the reader's imagination, whereas if the reader understands exactly what is going on in the poem and has a fixed interpretation of all the language, there is less room for "shades of grey" to be conveyed and less room for double meanings, subjective interpretations and general complexity. However, that may be useful, depending on what the poet intends to achieve. Also, the difficulty of a poem to be understood is subjective to an extent, because "understanding" does not solely comprise lexical comprehension but also emotional comprehension and empathy. One might find archaic language difficult to understand, but understand the gist of the sentiment conveyed by e.g. a Renaissance poem so well that it doesn't matter.
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    (Original post by TheBirder)
    They're not new questions though. I was thinking that there might be new questions for the other subjects considering this is 'another batch of interview questions' but it seems that's only for a few subjects.
    Which subject?

    Did you check the link:
    https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...content-tab--4
 
 
 
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