Jun 21

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What happens if my mind goes completely blank during my Oxbridge interview? Are they trying to catch me out?

It’s ok. They are not trying to make you feel stupid. They want to know whether your brain likes to be stretched, so they are coaxing you out of your intellectual comfort zone (which is probably pretty big, so give them a chance).

It’s in their interests to support you to show your best side, so they will ask follow up questions if you’re stuck, or feed you relevant bits of information to help you think.

In the meantime, take a deep breath, perhaps repeat the question out loud (a bit like writing your exam question out at the top of your page), and then start listing out loud what you know that might be relevant, or speculating on how you might answer it.

For example: “I’m not sure, but one idea that might be relevant here is xyz, although in this particular case it may not be entirely relevant because of the do-daa thingummy. On the other hand abc might be more pertinent to this question. I’m not sure which is the best route to explore, so I’m going to start thinking through abc and see where it goes.” This is exactly the kind of thing they want.

Remember, they are not really looking for the ‘right answer’ but rather they are curious to find out how your brain responds to being outside familiar territory. Let them know what’s going on inside your brain (just like in a maths exam where you get marks for showing your working).

Making links to ideas that are similar is a characteristic of the right kind of brain. Happily, this means it is absolutely acceptable to say “I’m not sure about that at all, but it sounds a bit like this idea I read about the other day which I thought was fascinating….” and then you talk about something you found fascinating.

Impetus Coaching provides workshops and coaching for students preparing for their university interviews at Oxbridge and other elite institutions. Contact us

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