Tell us about your Oxford Psychology, philosophy and linguistics interview(s)
- How many interviews did you have?
I had two interviews. One was at the college to which I applied, and another was at a college down the road.
- What was the most interesting interview question that you still remember?
‘What does it mean to know something?’ – my entire second interview was just a discussion of this question and some possible answers.
- What was the most difficult?
‘What do you think of the later Wittgenstein's critique of his own earlier work – that language is not always truth-functional?’ – this question is a reference to the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, a book I mentioned on my personal statement. I had read the book, but I hadn’t read the author’s later work, in which he criticises his earlier positions; I was caught off guard.
- How did you approach the question? Did you get it?
I admitted that I had not looked very much into Wittgenstein’s later work; nevertheless, we were able to discuss some of the relevant issues.
- Was there any question from your personal statement?
In my first interview, I got several questions about my personal statement. The above question about Wittgenstein was from my personal statement – I mentioned that I had read his book. Interestingly, I also got a question about what I wrote on the TSA. In my second interview, we didn’t talk about my personal statement at all.
- Which aspect during your interviews do you feel appealed the most to the tutors?
In my second interview, we talked about truth and knowledge. I was lucky enough to have studied these things in high school philosophy, so I was able to reason and hold a conversation.
Tell us about your Oxford Psychology, philosophy and linguistics interview preparation
- What resources have you used beyond school textbooks to prepare for the unpredictable Oxbridge interview questions?
I read a number of books that are significant in the history of philosophy and linguistics, and mentioned these on my personal statement. I also read some from the suggested reading list for new undergraduates at Oxford (this can be found online). I attempted to absorb as much as I could about these books and their authors. I also looked up the interviewers and discovered their specialties; this ended up being quite fruitful.
- How much time have you spent on interview preparation in the 1-2 months leading up to the interview relative to you school work?
An hour a day on most days.
- Since when did you know you wanted to study Oxford Psychology, philosophy and linguistics? What were the aspirations/motivation?
I knew that I wanted to study philosophy and linguistics when I was just in high school. I became very interested in philosophy of language and literature, and believed that its problems were incredibly important and needed to be answered. A degree in philosophy and linguistics seemed like an ideal way to continue to engage with them.
I applied to study at an Australian university, but I thought that moving to Europe would be an interesting experience, so I also applied to Oxford, not expecting to get in.