Chemistry Interviews

The best place to start is Oxford's official information on preparing for interviews. But after you've looked there, read on to hear some students talk about their Chemistry interviews.

Georgia Scurfield

I had three interviews: two at the college I applied to, and one at another college (the one that offered me a place). My advice would be when preparing for interviews, don't spend time researching "extra talking points" such as Oxford or the college. I (unnecessarily) prepared answers to these topics, and looked into some history of science, and my interviewers' fields of interest, but from my experience, the questions they ask just test your knowledge and aptitude for chemistry (and a bit of physics and maths). I wasn't even asked why I chose the subject. So I think the best way to prepare is to revise your subject as much as possible, maybe read ahead in your course a little, because the majority of questions were just expanding on what I'd learnt already.

Although this probably changes from year to year, the topics that came up in my interviews were: periodicity, pi bonds and covalent molecules, some electrochemistry; I was also asked to draw quite a few diagrams and draw/interpret graphs such as Boltzmann distribution and the ionisation energies across a period. In one interview I was asked more physics and maths questions - such as some relatively simple differentiation, and I had to recall some basic physics formulae when discussing bond stretching.

Georgia, St Hilda's, student from 2015

I didn't get any questions about why Oxford, why Worcester, etc, it was entirely academic. My first interview was me sat around a small table with three tutors, and was rather terrifying, I came out of it certain I'd just lost my chance: I was asked stuff beyond what I knew already and didn't feel ready to handle it. Second interview seemed a lot easier than the first, felt less like an interrogation. I had a third interview at another college where I was asked a difficult question about deriving a graph of energy levels in a covalent bond as it forms/breaks. They clearly expected you to figure it out as you went, rather than recall what you'd previously seen.

Sean, Worcester, student from 2015

I had four twenty minute interviews, three at St John's College (one in each of Organic, Inorganic, and Physical Chemistry) and one at Pembroke College. The interviews were purely academic, and some focused on Chemistry I had mentioned in my Personal Statement whilst others were based on Chemistry I had not encountered before.

Daniel, St John's, student from 2014

<<  Return to Chemistry