Whilst a potential Oxbridge interview might seem far, far away, now is the time for you to start laying the ground work in order to ensure that by the time of your interview your knowledge base is impressive in both breadth and depth.
Many students make the mistake of only preparing for their interview and reading articles on topics outside of the curriculum in the few weeks before their interview. This superficial knowledge is easy to see through for Oxbridge interviewers, which is why it is important to begin preparing well in advance. By doing so, you can build up a library of articles, and follow topics/stories through, meaning that by the interview you will have a better perspective of how events have developed and can then use this knowledge in order to offer insights and evidence that you have been interested in current affairs and have had a passion for your subject for more than just a few weeks.
When it comes to your Oxbridge interview, you should be prepared with three topics that you could speak passionately and comfortably about for around five minutes each. Over the course of the next few months, I will explain how to control your interview to ensure that you get to speak about these topics but the idea is to have three (or four!) topics that you have strong knowledge on. In order to pick these, look at your subject syllabus, the suggested reading from your chosen university (this can often be found online or by contacting the faculty for your chosen subject) and the first year course material for your chosen course. These will all give you ideas for topics that could interest you enough to inspire you to talk for five minutes. When choosing three topics, make sure that you have chosen in a manner that shows the breadth of your interest and passion. For example, if you are applying for PPE, don’t just pick three different philosophers or three different political issues- make sure you have a varied list of topics to discuss. You should also think about options that show off different skills and strengths. For example, if you are applying for Economics, perhaps choose some game theory to demonstrate mathematical and analytical skills, as well as development economics to demonstrate your understanding of global concepts and poverty and then a political/current affair to exhibit your understanding of how politics and economics are often interdependent.
Your topics may be extensions of things contained in your A-level syllabus but you must ensure that you broaden this to beyond the syllabus in order to show in your Oxbridge interview that you are able to engage with topics and then build on your knowledge yourself.
Once you have chosen your three topics, begin to build up a library of information. Given that AS exams are just around the corner, you won’t want to devote too much time to increasing your knowledge now, but you do need to be smart about your preparation. Every few days, flick through the newspaper (ideally not The Metro, Daily Mail or The Sun!), the Economist or any relevant magazine and if you see anything relevant to your chosen topics, tear it out and file it away. Create three packs of articles so that after your exams, when you have free time, you have a collection of articles that will offer you the changing perspective on your chosen topics. This will provide you with the ability to offer intelligent insights and the detailed context of issues you have chosen, which are far more likely to impress your Oxbridge interview, than short-term efforts to increase knowledge in the weeks before the interview; and once you’ve impressed the tutors, you’re halfway there.
All views and ideas represented in this blog post are exclusive to Resham, and do not represent those of any other third party.