Oxford Uni exam secrets revealed
Published 19/10/2010 | 14:49
What's "normal" for humans? and why do a cat's eyes appear to glow in the dark?
These are the types of questions that prospective Oxford University students have been asked at interview.
The prestigious institution has long been known for its unusual and inventive techniques for assessing applicants, and now it has released some sample interview questions to explain the reasoning behind them.
The questions have been gathered from the tutors who conduct the admissions interviews.
An English Literature candidate could be asked: "Why do you think an English student might be interested in the fact that Coronation St has been running for 50 years?" A student hoping to study biological sciences could be handed a cactus and asked to tell the interviewer about it.
Martin Speight of St Anne's College, who posed the question, said he was looking for observation and attention to detail.
A psychology question put forward by Dave Leal of Brasenose College asks: "What is 'normal' for humans, and a biomedical sciences question from Jan Schnupp at St Peter's College asks: "Why do a cat's eyes appear to glow in the dark?"
Theology students hoping to study at Pembroke College could be asked: "Is someone who risks their own life (and those of others) in extreme sports or endurance activities a hero or a fool?" Potential music students at Merton College may be asked: "If you could invent a new musical instrument, what kind of sound would it make?"
Mike Nicholson, Oxford's director of undergraduate admissions said: "We want to show what it's really like having an admissions interview at Oxford, as they are such a unique and important part of our admissions process. The interviews are designed to assess academic ability and potential. While this sounds intimidating, their aim is to get candidates to use their knowledge and apply their minds to new problems while allowing them to shine.
"There are many myths surrounding Oxford interviews, and they can be the most anxiety-provoking part of the Oxford application process for students. These questions show that the interviews are not designed to see how quickly students get the 'right' answer or show off specialist knowledge, but to gauge how they respond to new ideas."