The weirdest admission interview questions you get asked at Oxford University

They are designed to give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential

Monday 04 April 2016 16:35
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At Oxford University, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, admission interview questions often move past the norm.

"Interviews are not about reciting what you already know," Samina Khan, director of undergraduate admissions said in statement. "They are designed to give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential, which means candidates will be encouraged to use their knowledge and apply their thinking to new problems in ways that will both challenge them and allow them to shine."

In answering them, it's not about what's "right", Khan explains, but "responding to new ideas." There are loads of example questions — many of them straight-lined — but we selected some of the wackier ones for you to test yourselves on. Remember, there's no perfect response.


Question: Is it easier for organisms to live in the sea or on land?

Subject: Biological Sciences


Q: What makes a short story different from a novel?

Subject: Modern Languages


Q: Imagine we had no records about the past at all, except everything to do with sport – how much of the past could we find out about?

The Natural History Museum has selected a new director – and it's a man

Subject: History


Q: Why do human beings have two eyes?

Subject: Experimental Psychology


Q: Should poetry be difficult to understand?

Subject: Modern Languages


Q: Is violence always political? Does 'political' mean something different in different contexts?

A year of revolution: An Egyptian protester waves his national flag while making the victory sign outside the parliament building during clashes with soldiers near Cairo's Tahrir Square

Subject: History


Q: Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?

Subject: Biological Sciences


Q: If the punishment for parking on double yellow lines were death, and therefore nobody did it, would that be a just and effective law?

Niall and Amanda McCarthy received the £35 ticket on Tuesday, which increases to £70 after 28 days (file photo)

Subject: Law


Q: Why do you think an English student might be interested in the fact that Coronation Street has been running for 50 years?

Subject: English Literature


Q: What is 'normal' for humans?

Subject: Psychology


Q: Would it matter if tigers became extinct?

Baha the female Sumantran tiger

Subject: Biological Sciences


Q: If you could invent a new musical instrument, what kind of sound would it make?

The court was told that the pianist was “continually overwhelmed by his traumatic antecedents, associated with both his and his parents’ traumatic past”

Subject: Music


Q: Here’s a cactus. Tell me about it.

Cacti conserve water in order to survive in hot and dry environments

Subject: Biological Sciences

This piece was originally written by Joshua Barrie.

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