How are students selected for interview?

Applications to Oxford University are competitive, and not all students that apply will be offered an interview. Applicants who fail to meet the published selection criteria to a high standard will not be called for interview. Students are selected for interview from their UCAS forms on the basis of:

• Examination scores (achieved and predicted) • Referee's report • Personal statement – showing an interest in, and an academic potential for Biological Sciences

If invited for an interview for Biological Sciences, you will stay at least one night (maybe two) in your first choice college (whether you chose it yourself, or were allocated it by the University as part of an Open Application doesn't matter). Do check the dates of the interviews on the University of Oxford website at the earliest opportunity; these dates are set in stone. You will have one interview of half an hour or so in the first choice college, and a second one at the allocated second "choice" college. Applicants from far-afield, such as Asia or the USA, are encouraged to come for interview if time, finances and visas permit, but if not we will attempt to talk to you over the internet.

What can I expect at interview?

Interviews are designed to enable applicants to show enthusiasm for biology plus ability and potential to study. We are not testing factual knowledge but ability to think. If a student expresses an interest in a particular aspect of biology, they should be prepared to talk intelligently about it, showing knowledge of current affairs and recent developments in the field, and to have opinions about the topic. It is important, by the way, not to try to guess what the interviewer might want as an answer, but to have personal views which are logically expressed. The process is rigorous, but sympathetic, so that you can show us your best. There will not be any written tests, but you may be asked to interpret a written passage or a simple set of data given to you before the interview.

There will normally be two interviewers, both of whom will be Oxford biology tutors. Interviewees may be shown an object, living, dead or inanimate. For example, they may be asked to describe a cactus presented to them, and to comment on its various features, suggesting reasons why these features have evolved. Alternatively, graphical representations of population data may shown, and comments asked for as to the real-world application of different plot shapes. Applicants should certainly be able to discuss the pros and cons of topics such as GM crops, stem cell research, global warming, power generation, or animal experimentation.

What next?

After the college interviews, all College Tutors meet together to discuss the gathered field of interviewees. First choice colleges always have the right to select students they like first, followed by second "choice" colleges, but any college can make an offer. There is also a Pool system whereby a small number of applicants are offered a place to read Biological Sciences at Oxford, but their college will not be determined until A-level or equivalent exam results are published in the summer of the following year. Students are offered places on the course (conditional on examination grades meeting the required admission standards) based on their interview performance, including:

• Interest in, and enthusiasm for Biological Sciences • Description/discussion of a biological topic • Problem solving ability • Ability to present a reasoned argument • Demonstration of academic potential

Mock Interview Video - June 2013

cactus Specimensgraphs Cell cultureJungle fowlwind