Interview

Oxbridge applicants are required to attend interviews. Infamously challenging and unpredictable, they are designed for students to showcase their thinking. We provide comprehensive preparation courses to help students excel in maths-based interviews.

Next Interview
Late November-December
Prerequisite knowledge
Flexible
Download our comprehensive Interview Handbook
For students, parents, and teachers

About Oxbridge Interviews

Applicants to Oxford and Cambridge are required to attend interview in late November or December as part of the admissions process. Other than standard A-Level/IB exams, this is usually the final hurdle in the admissions process, although Cambridge also requires mathematics applicants to take STEP in June of Year 13.

A heavy emphasis is placed on creative mathematical problem solving, and interview questions are designed to allow students to showcase their style of thought and mathematical flare. Communication is crucial as students must explain their thought process and engage with hints. The questions are designed to challenge even the strongest students, and the interviewer will want to see tenacity and perseverance.

Problems are generally based on A-Level/IB mathematics material (including second year content), but you are not being assessed based on the order in which your school covers material - the interviewer will be prepared to make adjustments if their question uses ideas you haven't met.

For applicants to read Computer Science, it is worth noting that due large variations in technical knowledge between candidates, interviews are still likely to be very mathematical in flavour, rather than emphasising specific technical knowledge. However, they often place heavier emphasis on ideas like recursion.

Format and Content
Key Information

Interview Information

  • The number and length of interviews will depend on the college, but you should expect to have at least two and they are typically 30-45 minutes long. Most colleges provide this information on their website or on interview invitations.
  • Applicants to Oxford should expect to be interviewed by at least one college in addition to the one they applied to.
  • Some colleges include a short written test, with your attempts to be discussed in the interview.
  • Although there may be some questions about interest and motivation, these predominantly serve as ice-breakers and the overwhelming focus of the interview will be problem-solving exercises.

The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge interview all candidates as part of the undergraduate admissions process.

Vantage Preparation Courses for Interviews

Interviews can be a particularly daunting aspect of the application process. It can be very difficult to know what to expect, to find useful practice questions, or to master all-important interview technique. Vantage courses have been designed in light of hundreds of real interview questions which we have collected from our students, and equip students with comprehensive preparation for every aspect of the interview. Vantage courses for interview preparation consist of three elements, which give students the best chance of success:

Interview Primer Course

From our wealth of experience having prepared students for interviews in mathematics and computer science, we have identified several key tricks and ideas which tend to recur. Crucially, these are ideas which are often not covered in school and are unique to interviews, so that even thorough past paper practice for an exam like the MAT or TMUA may not provide preparation. The Interview Primer Course consists of six taught lessons (available in the form of video lessons and written notes) which provide a systematic introduction to these ideas, and each is accompanied by a worksheet which enables students to achieve complete mastery. For students who study this course, it is very likely that at least some of the questions in the interview will be familiar.

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Interview Question Bank

Past interview questions are not publicly available, and many interview questions listed online are inauthentic in style. This can make it very difficult for students to practice on questions of the right style and difficulty. We have been able to collect a large number of authentic interview questions from a range of Oxford and Cambridge colleges. All Vantage students are given access to a bank of real interview questions from the past five years, which enables them to familiarise themselves with the style of question, hone their problem solving skills, and gain further exposure to the ideas and tricks which tend to recur. Detailed solution booklets are provided so that students can come away from each question with a full understanding of how to apply the relevant ideas.

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Authentic Mock Interviews

An Oxbridge interview will almost certainly be unlike anything a student has faced before, and it is therefore essential that well-prepared candidates go into their interviews having already experienced authentic simulations of the real thing. All Vantage students receive mock interviews, including with a team member who has served as an interviewer for several Cambridge colleges. Mock interviews use questions taken exclusively from the past two years of admission rounds, and after the formal mock interview is finished, students are given detailed feedback both in terms of problem solving approach and all-important interview technique. Mock interviews are tailored according to the subject a student is applying for, and also take into account their college choice.

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We offer a comprehensive course for interview preparation. Interview tuition and mock interviews are also available to book on an ad hoc basis.

£1499
Interview Course

Course Summary

Our flagship interview preparation programme equips students with all the skills they need to excel in their Oxford and Cambridge interviews. The programme combines taught material and worksheets with access to a groundbreaking question bank of recent, real Oxford and Cambridge interview questions and an authentic mock interview experience.

Includes:
  • Access to our Interview Primer Course, comprising more than 11 hours of video lessons (with typed notes) covering crucial theory.
  • Technical worksheets including more than 150 original questions, with detailed solutions supplied, to ensure full mastery of the material from the Primer Course.
  • Interview question bank with 80 genuine Oxbridge interview questions, tailored to your course, and complete with detailed solutions.
  • A mock interview experience, consisting of two 30-minute interviews, one with Vantage's founding director and another with a real Cambridge interviewer. Each is followed by 15 minutes of discussion for feedback and coaching.
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£300
Mock Interviews

Summary

Interviews are unlike anything most students have experienced before. Students wishing to supplement the mock interview included in our main course, or those wishing to take stand-alone mock interviews, are able to book authentic mock interview experiences, allowing them to master interview technique and familiarise themselves with the types of questions.

Includes:
  • Includes two 30-minute mock interviews, one with Vantage's founding director and another with a real Cambridge interviewer, each followed by a 15-minute discussion for feedback and coaching on technique.
  • Each interview is tailored to the course you are applying for and uses real interview questions from the last two years.
  • Hints are given in the same manner as in a real interview, allowing students to practice explaining their thought process to the interviewer and responding wisely to guidance.  
  • Includes an estimation of score (1.0 - 9.0) as well as an outline of areas to improve, to allow students to gauge their progress and target weaknesses.
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£150
Interview Tuition

Summary

It is helpful to discuss concepts and difficult questions in a less formal environment than a mock interview. This provides an opportunity for students to consolidate strengths through further exploration, and to address weaknesses by covering any doubts which arise. All 1-1 tuition is delivered by expert members of the Vantage team and is never outsourced to undergraduate students.

Includes:
  • 1-1 tuition can be used to address concerns around specific topics, explore alternative methods to questions, and undertake deeper exploration as guided by the student's interests.
  • Tuition can provide a crucial opportunity for students to understand not only how to solve a question, but also why a method they tried didn't work, which can be especially important in areas such as combinatorics.
  • It is also possible to work through interview questions in a less formal style than for a mock interview, with hands-on coaching in both mathematical problem solving and interview technique.
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Book a free consultation with our founding director, Rowan Wright, and:

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Hear from our students

"Rowan from Vantage is the real deal, a rare blend of being a sufficiently brilliant mathematician to have a complete, deep and intuitive grasp on the difficult problems set in admissions tests, but also a great teacher who is able to explain the thought process in a way students can understand. I cannot recommend him highly enough."

Achieved 1 in STEP II and S in STEP III