Why Oxford Asks Those Questions

October 20, 2010

The University of Oxford is famous for asking applicants for admission unusual questions ("Here is a cactus. Tell me about it."), and many people assume that the purpose of these questions is to trip up students. But Times Higher Education reported that Oxford officials are now talking about the questions, and say that they have no devious purpose. Mike Nicholson, the university’s director of undergraduate admissions, said: "These questions show that the interviews are not designed to see how quickly students get the ‘right’ answer or show off specialist knowledge, but to gauge how they respond to new ideas. Each subject will have its own selection criteria, and interviews are structured to look for evidence of academic ability and potential in those areas."

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