‘What’s most interesting about squirrels?’ asks Admissions book

first_imgA book detailing bizarrequestions that have been asked at Oxbridge interviews has been produced by thecompany Oxbridge Applications. Tell Me About a Banana…So You Want to Go toOxbridge? is comprised of questions collected from over 15,000 Oxbridgeapplicants over the past five years. The book cites examples such as ‘Whatis the most interesting thing about a squirrel?” addressed to a prospectivePPEist.Asma Nizami, an undergraduatelawyer at Wadham College said, “I think, nowadays,candidates are far more aware that they have a right to be interviewed fairly.”One second year, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was “extremelyshocked” when she walked into her interview and was faced with an Oxford tutor on a spacehopper.Oxford Admissions and admissions tutorsthroughout the University refuse to comment on whether such unconventionalinterviews take place, querying the authenticity of some of the more extremequestions from the book. For example, the book states that the question ‘Ifancient history was a shape, what shape would that be?’ had been posed tocandidates applying to read Ancient and Modern History. ProfessorHoward-Johnston, an Ancient and Modern History lecturer from Corpus Christi Collegesaid, when asked whether this would be a likely question, “I find it rather odd”and that he was “surprised that someone could be asked that.” ProfessorHoward-Johnston’s own answer to the question was that if ancient history was ashape it would be like a “Loch Ness monster or a three-humped camel because thehumps would represent the Greek, Roman and Christian Empires.” Tutors also commented that eventhough many questions sound unusual, they were a relevant method of assessmentwhen put in context. For instance, in reply to “What does George Bush have incommon with a monkey?” in a Human Sciences interview, a tutor suggested in anarticle in The Times that “the candidate might talk about evolution or taxonomy.”When asked about its positionregarding the book, the University said, “We do not endorse any commercial operationsor publications offering advice or training on our admissions process, nor dowe guarantee the accuracy of any such company’s information.”ARCHIVE: 2nd week MT 2005last_img read more