English Interviews at UCL

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Interview Overview

UCL explains that they assess applications through a variety of different factors. These include the student’s GCSE grades, their A Level predictions, the reference that their tutor has provided, and of course the personal statement. They will then shortlist the strongest candidates, and ‘most’ are interviewed – so you ought to expect an interview if you are to be offered a place. The interviews are online, as this makes the process easier for both the university and students. The interview allows tutors to speak to the student for 20 minutes, and will form part of the final criteria for deciding who should get a place. Rarely, students will be given an offer without having to interview.

Admissions Statistics

UCL’s English course is highly competitive. The university receives around 1000 applications per year for the course, and will make 350 offers – a rate of 35%. Of the 350 offers, 100 students will then take their places on the program (perhaps showing that many applicants combine an application to UCL with one to Oxbridge). Of the 1000 students who apply, 400 are shortlisted for interview.

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Interview Key Dates

No information is provided on the official UCL website regarding dates for interview, although from previous students’ experiences they may take place at any point from November through to January.

Use of the Personal Statement

UCL makes great use of the personal statement in their shortlisting process. As stated above, they shortlist 400 of the 1000+ students who apply, and you must ensure that your personal statement is strong if you wish to make it onto the shortlist. The university provides the following advice regarding the personal statement:
– It should be subject focused. This means use almost the entire word count for English, rather than spending a significant part of it on your extracurricular activities.
– You must demonstrate that you are well-read, and that you have read outside the general English syllabus at school
– You must show a true passion for the subject
– You must show that you understand what it’s like to study English

– You should illustrate that you can analyse texts and extract meaning from them
– You should aim to convince the admissions tutor that you have your own individual way of assessing literature

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Interview Format and Purpose

The UCL interview is not designed to be stressful or difficult, and the university emphasises that students shouldn’t be concerned – tutors aren’t looking to catch them with difficult questions. You should expect that tutors will ask you questions about yourself and your passion for reading, and also take the time to have something of a more academic discussion with you. However, that academic discussion is likely to be focused only on works that you’ve studied at school, or that you have mentioned in your personal statement. As such, the university outlines that the best preparation is to revise your school syllabus and go back through the works mentioned in your personal statement, read as much as possible in your spare time, and not to worry about the interview being too difficult an experience.

You should expect a fairly short turnaround from interview to decision, with the university aiming to provide a decision ‘as soon as possible’ which should be within a couple of weeks at most for the majority of students.

Additional Assessments

As well as the interview itself, you will be provided with a written task. This takes the following form:
– In the morning, you will be emailed a piece of prose or a poem. You must then take this and write a short essay of no more than 600 words, focused on what you find to be particularly interesting in the text. It seems that this essay must be submitted in the morning before the interview.

Previous Questions

There are no specific previous questions available online, as the questions seem to be very general and predictable. Previous students report that the questions were ‘entirely based on books in my personal statement’ or based on a mixture of texts from A Level and from the student’s personal statement. Expect the tutors to take the time to delve a little into some of the works and test your ability to analyse texts and discuss new concepts or ideas on texts that you know.

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