Oxford Biochemistry Interview Questions
Oxbridge Application Specialists
Biochemistry at Oxford is highly competitive, and requires excellent grades. You’ll be expected to have predicted grades of A*AA at least, and you must be studying Chemistry and another Science or Maths at A Level. You have to secure an A* in either Maths or one of the core sciences. The university states that, as biochemistry is not an A Level subject, you won’t need a detailed knowledge of the subject itself already. However, tutors will be looking for students who have taken the time to educate and inform themselves. As such, you should expect to cover some of your own personal interests in the interview – that means books that you’ve read, magazine articles that you were particularly fascinated by, websites that you find useful for furthering your learning, etc. You should show that you’re up to date with the latest relevant scientific developments. Additionally, you’ll need to show an ability to solve problems, analyse information that you’re given, and construct opinion based on new information.
The university goes into further details on the core requirements of applicants as follows, stating that ‘the course has significant maths and biology content.’ This means that, whilst you can get the required information from the first year course if you haven’t studied beyond GCSE, Maths A LEvel in particular is very useful to students ‘in completing the course… and will make an application more competitive.’ Likewise, Biology is ‘helpful to students in completing the course’ although not strictly required – as such one should assume that students with Biology and Maths at A Level will be more likely to be invited to interview.
Admissions Statistics for Biochemistry at Oxford
The latest admissions statistics for Biochemistry at the University of Oxford show a success rate of 15.4%. There were a total of 738 applications, which led to 114 students being given offers.
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Interview Key Dates for Biochemistry at Oxford
You should expect interviews for Biochemistry to take place anywhere from the very end of November through to the middle of December. The majority of interviews will take place in the second week of December.
Interview Format and Purpose
You will be invited to interview at two colleges if you are successfully shortlisted for Biochemistry. The interviews are used to ‘discover your potential’ and every effort is made to ensure that your background and the level of study you’ve accomplished is taken into account. That means that you shouldn’t expected to be ‘grilled’ on what you’ve done at school – instead, you should be able to demonstrate the fact that you’re highly interested in Biochemistry and that you’re motivated to study it. You should be ready to discuss relevant topics, which will typically involve you being presented with a prompt – in the form of a passage, graph, etc, which you’ll need to analyse and discuss with the tutors. Beyond that, you’ll also be expected to show your overall ability to reason and solve problems. The following are specifically assessed:
- your Interest in/enthusiasm for biochemistry;
- your ability to describe/discuss a topic of mutual interest;
- your ability to describe/analyse, and extrapolate from, novel information;
- your reasoning and problem solving ability.
The university has a wide list of books which it recommends to students who are interviewing for Biochemistry. It’s worth bearing some of these in mind, as they give a good idea of what you should be reading. Some of those that are featured include “The selfish gene”, and “The ancestors’ tale” by Richard Dawkins; “The eighth day of creation: the makers of the revolution in biology” by Horace Judson; “Power, sex and suicide – mitochondria and the meaning of life” by Nick Lane; “Advice to a young scientist” by Peter Medawar and “Genome – autobiography of a species”,and “Nature via Nurture” by Matt Ridley.
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