Oxford Psychology Interview

Raymond Ho, Oxford Psychology 2016-
15 Nov 2017

<Extracurricular Activities>

High school academic achievements
*If A-Level, please specify % score for AS, A2, EPQ subjects
AS: AAA (Bio, Chem, Phy)
A2: AAAA* (Bio, Chem, Further Maths, Maths)
IRP (EPQ): Highly commended (no grades given, only awards to selected few)
(i)GCSEs (9A*, 2A format please): N/A
Awards: Finalist of National Engineering and Science Fair


Q. Can you tip on any ‘Must mention’ areas in personal statement, e.g. society activity, degree related readings, work experience, academic competitions?
A. Its quite general to be honest, a psychology personal statement would usually consist of “Why did xx inspire you to study psychology?” Did you read any books or journals that are relevant to psychology that you would like to talk about? (DO NOT- Mention Oliver Sack’s The man who mistook his wife for a hat, that is a very cliched book in personal statements and if you’re not familiar enough with the book, you’re in potentially big trouble, as tutors are almost certain to know about it and could potentially quiz you on it during the interview.
Book-wise I would recommend Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct, Oliver Sack’s Musicophillia, Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science and Dan Ariely’s Irrationally Predictable (see book review I wrote as well!), they should cover most relevant interdisciplinary fields overlapping with psychology as well as inspire you to study psychology (maybe not phillosophy)). Any competitions/awards you get are worth mentioning, as well as work experience (I put both) and perhaps also why your current A-Level choices (if this applies) have inspired you to pick Psychology would also be helpful, as well as any relevant experiences you have had related to psychology. The biggest hint would be not to mention anything that you’re not and not familiar with. The Personal Statement isn’t the extent of your knowledge, it is the potential and minimum of your knowledge and skills.

Q. Since when did you know you wanted to study Psychology? What were the aspirations/ motivation? In terms of timeline, when did you start the application preparation?
A. I’ve always found that the organised system of scientific research (falsification) combined with the creative (and surprising) ideas that comes out in psychology to explain the intricacies of the unknown human mind a beautiful concept, and the fact that I’m study where miracles like these happen is what makes my day.

Aug: Read psych-related books and did IRP/EPQ
Sept-Nov: Did TSA, Personal Statement
Dec: Prepared and went to interview
Jan: Had fun on results day

<Admissions Tips>

Q. Which aspect during your Oxford Psychology interviews do you feel appealed the most to the tutors?
A. My undying passion for psychology. Even with the consequence of sleeping at 3am each day now that I’m living the dream!

Q. What was the most interesting interview question that you still remember? (As specific as possible)
A. This question is one that my tutor wrote, and posted on the Oxford Interview Sample Questions, but to this date still remains my favourite question:

Imagine that 100 people each put £1 into a pot for a prize that will go to the winner of a simple game. Each person has to choose a number between 0 and 100. The prize goes to the person whose number is closest to 2/3 of the average of all of the numbers chosen. What number will you choose, and why?
It showcases the ability of the candidates to use their numerical and analytical skills in answering this question, while showing their passion in psychology through engaging with the tutor(s) in thinking about what answers to this question would mean, discuss with the tutor(s) which would be possible reasons for this to be and evaluate their arguments, i.e. explain their thoughts on why that number would be the most rational/likely choice (depending on definition). For example, if you allow this process to go on and on, the number will eventually reach 0. Is that a reasonable/rational answer?

Q. How did you choose your college? As a current student with prior successful Oxford Psychology admissions experience, which college would you recommend to a prospective applicant?
Obviously my college is the best. Hands-down no contest. You simply cannot beat Univ’s mighty tutors, with the hilarious and wonderful, wonderful stats tutor, the informative, and organised Neuro tutor (he makes sure there is not a single concept he is telling you goes non-understood), and the engaging yet thought-provoking Psychology tutor, they are simply the best team of people you will ever have the pleasure to learn from.
If you’re looking for a Tutor with loads of papers published would recommend Queen’s and New. You’re be reading papers written by Queen’s Psych tutor in 2nd year for primary readings and the textbook for Social Psychology Prelims/FHS is written by one of the Professors at New!
If you like short walks to department but long-long walks to city center perhaps LMH and St. Anne’s, if vice versa, then Worcester, St John’s would be lovely. Univ is right in the middle of both so we are quite frankly the best for everything on average (NEVER use this word in stats).

Q. Since when did you prepare TSA?
A. I started preparing during the summer. There are plenty of good books out there along with the TSA papers online. Practice makes perfect guys! And be on the lookout for time when doing the papers. It’s really just a general logic test so no pressure!!