English

English – Oxford Interview Questions

“How can I prepare when the interviewer could ask me absolutely anything about English?”

By understanding how the interview works and, crucially, what it is that the interviewer is looking for. The interviewer is not looking to catch you out, but rather for you to demonstrate your curiosity, knowledge and passion for English.

“How am I able to do that?”

Demonstrate your enthusiasm and personality

You might be asked general interview questions so that the interviewer can learn more about you – review our list of General Interview questions to prepare.

Show that you enjoy studying English independently
The easiest way to demonstrate your enthusiasm for English is to show that you are self-motivated and have studied the subject in your free-time for enjoyment – for example through online lectures and independent reading. If you don’t know where to start, review our suggested reading list below.

Demonstrate your subject knowledge about and passion for English
The key to answering these questions is to always demonstrate your thought process aloud. The interviewer does not expect you to be able to answer every question immediately, but rather wants to determine that you are able to think about and work on unknown topics with confidence, intelligence and clarity – and they won’t be able to do that if you sit in silence! Use the list of questions below to prepare. Perhaps you can have a friend or relative ask you these questions so that you can develop your skills of thinking under time pressure and speaking out loud.

Subject Interview Guide – English

Our Subject Interview Guides help you to prepare and go into your interview with confidence.

OIQ Interview Guides

Each guide discusses ten Oxford Interview Questions in depth with answers and approaches – along with possible points of discussion to further demonstrate your knowledge. They have been specially edited for applicants for each subject by a team of Oxford and Cambridge graduates.

Download a sample page from our Physics Guide here.

Please Note: Currently “The Oxford Interview Guide” is available for Chemistry and Physics (available to download below). Other subjects will be available for download in November 2016 – please enter your email below to receive a notification when your subject guide is available for download.

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English Suggested Reading

 

English Interview Questions

How is poetry linked to music and other arts?
Do you like ambiguity?
If you could make up a word, what would it be?
How would you describe an apple?
What books are bad for you?
What makes a novel a classic? Can a modern novel?
Is an understanding of rhythm important when writing prose?
Is an author’s life important when looking at their work?
Would you rather be a novel or a poem?
Do you know who decided to put English Literature on to the school syllabus?
Is a protagonist’s gender important?
Don’t you think Hamlet is a bit long? No? Well I do.
Do we have the right to interpret the story of the birth of Christ as a comment on Tony Blair’s current political situation?
If it could take a form, what shape would the novel “To the Lighthouse become?
Was Shakespeare a rebel?
Do you think there is any point to reading criticism?
Is ‘Taggart’ an accurate portrayal of Glasgow?
Can a carrot be considered a theatrical fruit, if it is used as a prop during a play?
Do you think the ending of ‘The Mill On The Floss’ is poor?
What is your favourite book of all time?
Why bother write a poem?
If you could design the A level English course, which texts would you include?
What is the difference between poetry and prose?
What is tragedy?
Is the Bible a fictional work? Could it be called chick lit?
Does every work of literature always have a moral? Is there such a thing as an immoral book?
If you could make up a word, what would it be? Why?
Is there a difference between innocence and naivety?
Should every piece of literature have a moral to it?
Should politicians study English?
Can a carrot be considered a theatrical fruit, if it is used as a prop during a play?
Can a reader ever know a writer’s ‘intention’?
Can you justify the imbalanced ratio of male to female writers in the canon of English literature?
Compare and contrast Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
Coronation street has been running for 50 years why is this interesting from an English viewpoint?
Could the sentence ‘Tom failed to catch the train on time again’ be said to be poetry?
Define tragedy?
Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare’s plays?
Do you think Hamlet knows he is being listened to when he says ‘To be, or not to be’?
Do you think the ending of The Mill On The Floss is poor?
Do you think there is any point to reading criticism?
Does Malcolm Lowry overwrite his prose?
Don’t you think Hamlet is a bit long? How would you shorten it?
Hamlet speaks to the Ghost, what significance does this have?
Have a look at this poem. What do you think about it?
Have you ever visited an author’s birthplace, or home, or a place that a text is about? If yes- did this change the way you read the text? Is it a valuable thing to do?
Have you read any of Shakespeare’s tragedy plays? If yes- what makes that play a ‘tragedy’?
How can a work of literature be beautiful?
How is poetry linked to music and media?
How would you describe a cucumber to an alien?
If you could design the Cambridge English course, what would you change?
If language is ‘the house of being’ (Martin Heidegger) what might that make literature?
If you could make up a word, what would it be?
Is an understanding of rhythm important when writing poetry? What about prose?
Is a protagonist’s gender important?
Is an author’s life important when looking at their work?
Is it necessary to see the text of a play performed on stage to understand it?
Is literature a different language to speech?
Is poetry a particularly good medium for expressing doubt over words?
Is poetry meant to be difficult to understand?
Is the Bible a fictional work?
Is there such a thing as an immoral story?
Tell me about something you’ve read recently.
Tell me about your coursework.
The first two years of the Cambridge English course is structured around period papers: 1350-1550, 1500-1700 and so on. Do you think it is important to study literature in chronological order?
To what extent is Romeo a rebel? What about Shakespeare?
What do you want to get out of this course?
What does the Ghost in Hamlet have to do with madness?
Which Romantic poems have you read? Which romantic poems have you read?
What is ‘literature’?
What is haiku? Why are they so different in structure to a sonnet?
What is the point of studying English?
What is your favourite book of all time?
What is your favourite word?
What is your opinion on ambiguity?
What makes a short story different from a novel?
What type of literature is bad for you?
What is the significance of family relations in Hamlet?
What is the difference between poetry and prose?
Who is your favourite character? Why?
Why do we bother studying literature that is hundreds of years old?
Why is a classic novel a classic? Can a modern novel be a classic?
Why is English a formal subject?
Would you rather be a novel or a poem?