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Are You Clever Enough To Get Into Oxford?

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3269407/Are-clever-Oxford-Prestigious-university-releases-questions-use-grill-applicants-just-hard-d-think.html

1. English literature candidates: JK Rowling has just published a book for adults after the hugely successful Harry Potter series. In what ways do you think that writing for children is different to writing for adults?


2. History candidates: Which person (or sort of person) in the past would you most like to interview, and why?

3. English literature candidates: Why do you think an English student might be interested in the fact that Coronation Street has been running for 50 years?


4. Computer science candidates: How do pirates divide their treasure?

5. Geography candidates: If I were to visit the area where you live, what would I be interested in?

6. Law candidates: If the punishment for parking on double yellow lines were death, and therefore nobody did it, would that be a just and effective law?

7. Medicine candidates: Why does your heart rate increase when you exercise?

8. Modern languages candidates: Should poetry be difficult to understand?

9. Modern languages candidates: What is language?
10. Biology candidates: Why do many animals have stripes?
220px-David_Cameron_official.jpg
220px-George_osborne_hi.jpg
And the talented people who've managed to pass these types of questions in the past....

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I would be far too thick for Oxford, and Parliament, unless you are talking of George Clinton, when I would be happy to black up and play the guitar.

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I'm clever enough to get in, but certainly wouldn't be happy to share my alma mater with some of the Oxford graduates we see in politics nowadays. :rolleyes:

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I would be far too thick for Oxford, and Parliament, unless you are talking of George Clinton, when I would be happy to black up and play the guitar.

Don't forget - "ignorance can be cured - stupidity cannot" - MrPin!

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Just nip up to M40, down the A40 and head in on the A420.

How hard can it be?

BTW My mate went to Oxford Poly. I think he is actually clinically incapable of saying the 'Poly' bit.

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They all seem fairly sensible questions to me - it is all about having a conversation about the question, rather than simply answering it.

As for those two chaps - in the olden days (when they went to school) public schools had lessons specifically about what you should do when confronted with those sort of questions. The plebeians without this training would fall apart and say something stupid - so the test becomes a nice way to differentiate between posh educated and poor folk (with the proviso that if you had a good state school with a switched on teacher they could get the tricks to you, so you might be able to get in).

Clearly these tricks are now common knowledge, so they've probably been inventing new ways to differentiate between classes without overt discrimination. The fact that they've released this information means that it isn't that important any more (but you have to know it anyway - if you now get these questions 'wrong' then you clearly are very unprepared and not suitable for <name of elite organisation>).

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Most of them are, but I'm not sure the medicine one is particularly open (I'm not sure I'd answer it well, but if I think someone reasonably well versed in physiology could answer it succintly without leading to discussion).

The computer science one seems a bit odd. If it wasn't labelled computer science I might have guessed economics and thought it was about game theory, though could equally believe it was politics.

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Just nip up to M40, down the A40 and head in on the A420.

How hard can it be?

BTW My mate went to Oxford Poly. I think he is actually clinically incapable of saying the 'Poly' bit.

It's easy to get in, it's escaping that's difficult.

You can thank the geniuses on the council for deliberately screwing with the traffic.

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Don't forget - "ignorance can be cured - stupidity cannot" - MrPin!

I'm still pretty Funkadelic for a honky! :blink:

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Up the A34, then Park and Ride. Easy.

Don't forget to phone a taxi to meet you there, you don't want to faff around waiting for a bus.

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They all seem entirely reasonable to me. Getting in to Oxford has always been about more than your exam results. My parents, neither of whom were from privileged backgrounds, met there. I always assumed as a kid that I'd get there by default of my clever genes, but I didn't, and rightly so. They both got 2 E A-level offers having passed the selection tests (and got AAAB, AAC); I think the 2E offer was still going in my day (97) but vanishingly rare at that point. I never even took the tests when it became apparent that my maths ability was poor, even though I have a rare natural aptitude for A-Level Physics (which was my mum's degree subject; she still occasionally asks me for my take on a difficult question when she's coaching a student etc.).

I guess the point of the questions is to establish whether a potential student has thought beyond what's taught in the national curriculum about their choice of subject, and hence whether they're really going to contribute and learn a lot in the course of their degree, rather than just turn up and take notes. A lot of people can become extraordinarily knowledgeable through an ability to absorb information, and that's an amazing skill in itself. But our finest academic institutions really should be selecting people with the ability to really think, as well as be good at their discipline.

As far as I'm concerned, I can think fine when I'm not pissed. But I struggle with differentiating vectors, and finite element analysis bewilders me, so it's the right result that I didn't end up designing engine blocks for a living.

Edit: _National_ Curriculum

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I would have failed any admission test like a right plonker. All I knew about was Heavy Metal and motorbikes. University was a rushed decision fo me. One of my mates suggested it and I had two weeks to fill in the UCCA form. In the end I went to somewhere with trees. I liked that. I also wanted a place that "let chicks in", so I didn't do Electrical Engineering at Imperial College after all.

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I remember reading a while ago that one year candidates were asked the question "What is courage?", with top marks that year being awarded to the answer "This is courage".

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They all seem entirely reasonable to me. Getting in to Oxford has always been about more than your exam results. My parents, neither of whom were from privileged backgrounds, met there. I always assumed as a kid that I'd get there by default of my clever genes, but I didn't, and rightly so. They both got 2 E A-level offers having passed the selection tests (and got AAAB, AAC); I think the 2E offer was still going in my day (97) but vanishingly rare at that point. I never even took the tests when it became apparent that my maths ability was poor, even though I have a rare natural aptitude for A-Level Physics (which was my mum's degree subject; she still occasionally asks me for my take on a difficult question when she's coaching a student etc.).

I guess the point of the questions is to establish whether a potential student has thought beyond what's taught in the national curriculum about their choice of subject, and hence whether they're really going to contribute and learn a lot in the course of their degree, rather than just turn up and take notes. A lot of people can become extraordinarily knowledgeable through an ability to absorb information, and that's an amazing skill in itself. But our finest academic institutions really should be selecting people with the ability to really think, as well as be good at their discipline.

As far as I'm concerned, I can think fine when I'm not pissed. But I struggle with differentiating vectors, and finite element analysis bewilders me, so it's the right result that I didn't end up designing engine blocks for a living.

Edit: _National_ Curriculum

There you go again, stuck in the past's halcyon days.

Today, many students don't turn up and very few take notes.

One person will bring a load of their friends' smartphones to record the lecture and many others who do attend will expect notes to be both on handouts and online on the student portal.

In reality, it is no more than a distance learning experience for many students AT University.

I have a feeling that if you returned to the pre-50% days, attendance and note taking would be similar to your recollections.

I exited as I am research driven academic and found the 'system' a waste of my life. I just do research now.

(I wasn't at Oxbridge)

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I remember reading a while ago that one year candidates were asked the question "What is courage?", with top marks that year being awarded to the answer "This is courage".

Was it accompanied with an elephant impression?

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Most of them are, but I'm not sure the medicine one is particularly open (I'm not sure I'd answer it well, but if I think someone reasonably well versed in physiology could answer it succintly without leading to discussion).

The computer science one seems a bit odd. If it wasn't labelled computer science I might have guessed economics and thought it was about game theory, though could equally believe it was politics.

I had it at my last job interview. It is pure game theory. When you are asked such a question you have to start with the premise that the answer is not obvious. What CS grads need to recognize is that pirates would long since have drawn flintlocks and shot it out rather than engaging in complicated circumlocutions of logic. The real world triumphing over book smarts. Which is why the smartest CS grads often design the suckiest apps.

7 pirates, 100 gold coins: The most senior pirate proposes the division.

All of the pirates (including the most senior) vote on the division. If half or more vote for the division, it stands. If less than half vote for it, they throw the most senior pirate overboard and start again.

The pirates are perfectly logical, and entirely ruthless (only caring about maximising their own share of the gold).

I won't give you the answer or the logic. Don't look it up and work it out for yourself. Saying how you started is probably the most important step.

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I remember reading a while ago that one year candidates were asked the question "What is courage?", with top marks that year being awarded to the answer "This is courage".

I think that's apocryphal as I first heard that when I was up for a uni interview in the 80s.

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There you go again, stuck in the past's halcyon days.

Today, many students don't turn up and very few take notes.

One person will bring a load of their friends' smartphones to record the lecture and many others who do attend will expect notes to be both on handouts and online on the student portal.

In reality, it is no more than a distance learning experience for many students AT University.

I have a feeling that if you returned to the pre-50% days, attendance and note taking would be similar to your recollections.

I exited as I am research driven academic and found the 'system' a waste of my life. I just do research now.

(I wasn't at Oxbridge)

That's really disappointing to hear. Part of the pleasure of university was being able to hear from the world experts in their fields with all the enthusiasm that had got them where they were. They had real love for their subjects and this left such an impression that I later took a career break to do a research degree.

I had actually considered distance learning as a real possibility (loved where I lived and the decent Unis were remote and the propsect of living there alone at 18 somewhat daunting) but I decided that life was a gamble and went for it. Many years later I worked with somebody who despite his age and position seemed out of place and had difficulty fitting in socially. Okay he was an actuary but I knew several of those and that wasn't it. Then one day he mentioned that he had lived at home when he was at univeristy in London and it made sense.

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That's really disappointing to hear. Part of the pleasure of university was being able to hear from the world experts in their fields with all the enthusiasm that had got them where they were. They had real love for their subjects and this left such an impression that I later took a career break to do a research degree.

I had actually considered distance learning as a real possibility (loved where I lived and the decent Unis were remote and the propsect of living there alone at 18 somewhat daunting) but I decided that life was a gamble and went for it. Many years later I worked with somebody who despite his age and position seemed out of place and had difficulty fitting in socially. Okay he was an actuary but I knew several of those and that wasn't it. Then one day he mentioned that he had lived at home when he was at univeristy in London and it made sense.

The good students are as good as ever they were, they are just diluted. I have excellent post-docs at the moment who graduated in the last 5-6 years.

However, the life of an academic at University is nothing compared to 30-40 years ago. While I had minimal teaching because of my research, the push was to take on ever more.

Rose tinted spectacles perhaps, and times change. I still had over a decade to go in the 'system' and it seemed it would be a downward slope.

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