Shanae is a fourth year Classicist at Oxford University who took part in the Oxford University Micro Internship Opportunity with Oxbridge Applications in June 2021.
Hello! I am a currently a fourth year Classicist at Oxford University and I am writing this blog article as part of my internship at Oxbridge Applications. As an international student from Canada, I took the AP exams, not A-Levels or IB. While my application process was a little different from other students, I thought it was still important for me to share my interview experience so that others can hopefully learn some helpful tips!
I decided to apply to Oxford because I knew that they are the best university in the world for me to study Classics. Studying at Oxford would give me the opportunity to learn from the top scholars in the field, and I was also excited at the possibility of moving abroad. I was able to travel to both Oxford and Cambridge with my family before applying, which allowed me to have a taste of what it would be like to live there while studying. My school encouraged me to apply to Oxford over Cambridge, but my decision was also based on personal preference; after doing my own research I decided that I would enjoy learning more at Oxford.
I was interviewed in 2018 and I did an open application and was ‘pooled’ to Somerville College, so I stayed in one of their residences during the interview process. During the week, they provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Hall and I enjoyed getting to chat to different people applying for Classics or other subjects.
I had three interviews at Somerville which were spread over the course of a week, and each one was for a specific topic. My first interview was for Philosophy and Archaeology, and they gave me an article and a photo to analyze for 30 minutes. Two tutors interviewed me and in the first half, I was asked to discuss what the author’s argument was. I thought the first half of the interview went badly because I didn’t know how to answer the questions that the tutor was asking me; however, I felt better when I asked for clarification on what the article was talking about after the interview. In hindsight, I should have asked during the interview: what I would recommend is not being scared to ask for clarification or being worried that you don’t know the right answer. The interviews are for the tutors to understand your thought process, and by asking questions or admitting that you’re stuck means that they can help guide you in the right direction.
My second interview was for Literature, and I was given a poem to read 30 minutes beforehand. this interview, I was asked questions about the article, and I was also asked questions about the reading that I had mentioned in my personal statement. This interview went much better because I asked for clarification when I didn’t understand, and I left feeling more confident.
My final interview was on Linguistics, and they asked me to answer questions from a past CLAT test, which was the assessment I had to do before interviews. Past paper questions can be found online, and I would recommend doing a couple practice exams or at least glancing at them before the interviews so that it’s not such a surprise. I remember thinking “I wish I had checked the answers on the website” because I would have felt more confident with my answers. They also asked me questions on how I would handle learning Latin intensively for two terms and general questions about language in general.
My general tips for interviews would be (as mentioned before) to ask for clarification and to treat it like a conversation. I would also recommend going over your personal statement beforehand because they can discuss things that you’ve written and making sure to look over past assessment papers.