Oxford Biology Interview: Questions & Tips

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Biology Oxford interview questions
Studying Biology at Oxford University

In this article we will guide you on how to best prepare for your Oxford Biology Interview, with guides on past Oxford Biology interview questions, interview tips, mock examples and real experiences from students who have sat the Interview.

Watch this video about what to expect about the Biology course at Oxford.

What is the Biology interview structure?

The Oxford interview is split into two interviews that candidates will take. 

Both interviews include a variety of Oxford Biology interview questions that are assessing your current knowledge within the subject but also your ability to analyse information presented to you either in the form of an object, a graph or biology concepts that you would have touched upon in your personal statement.

Still not sure what to expect for your interview?

Here’s an Insider Biology interview:

What are the Oxford interview dates?

Based on the information from previous years on the official Oxford Website, the Oxford interviews will take place at the beginning of December.

Example Past Biology Oxford Interview Questions

  • If you could save either the rainforests or the coral reefs, which would you choose?
  • Why do some habitats support higher biodiversity than others?
  • Why do many animals have stripes?
  • Is it easier for organisms to live in the sea or on land?
  • Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?
  • What is the significance of the human genome project?
  • Why are there only twenty amino acids?
  • What is the concentration of water?
  • Why can’t humans live forever?
  • If a brain was placed in front of you, how would you describe it?
  • Describe a cactus
  • Why would it matter if tigers became instinct?
  • How does DNA fingerprinting work and what is its use?
  • What shape are bacteria and why?
  • What problems do fish face underwater?
  • If you were a virus, how would you communicate your opinions to a person?
  • What evidence is there to suggest that humans are still evolving?
  • Explain the differences between bacteria and viruses
  • What would you define as a species?
  • Example scenario involving an experiment on animal behaviour. The interviewer asked follow up questions, and discussed the implications of changing certain factors and elements in the experiment. 
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Further Oxford Biology Interview Question Examples:

  • Given two papers before the interview, and then asked to discuss one during the interview
  • Why did you pick the A-level subjects you are currently studying?
  • Question on personal statement, and follow up question on a research topic mentioned in the personal statement 
  • Presented with a bird skull. Then asked to comment on the item and guess what it was, whilst being allowed to touch it and inspect it closer. 
  • Why are there so many steps in the cascade of reactions?
  • What problems do fish face underwater?
  • What evidence is there that humans are still evolving?
  • What does George Bush have in common with a monkey?
  • How can you tell how long a disease has been prevalent in an area
  • Are the chances of developing breast cancer identical for two twin girls?
  • Does the molecular structure of glycine change with pH?
  • How does the leg respond to reflexes? What would happen if you stimulated both the sensory and motor neurons at the same time?
  • How would you find out about which colours a rat can distinguish?
  • How can we cure global warming if environmental measures fail?
  • How could you measure how much blood is in your body right now?
  • How is aspirin synthesised? What organic reaction takes place?
  • How many atoms are there in a Brussels sprout?
Free Oxbridge Interview Scenarios

    Insider Guides: Oxford Biology Interview

    What happened on the day of your interview? 

    My interview took place online via Teams. I had two interviews – in my first interview I was asked various biology interview questions that I had mentioned in my personal statement. In my second Biology Interview, the interviewer showed me an illustration of an experiment on animal behaviour and explained a couple of scenarios. I was then asked to discuss what would happen if certain elements of the experiment were changed. 

    My second interview did not really require any pre-existing knowledge of Biology but was an opportunity for the interviewers to assess my logical experimental thinking. 

    Oxford Biology interview questions

    What do you have to bring to your Oxford interview?

    Dress code does not matter at all – the tutors are interested in what you say, not what you look like! For my Oxford Biology, I was advised to bring a pen as well in case I wanted to take any notes for some of the more diagram/graphical based explanation questions.

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    What is the Oxford interview setting and how long is it?

    Both my Oxford interviews took place online. For both my interviews, there were two tutors present with one asking the questions and the other making notes. 

    Each interview lasts approximately 30 minutes in total. 

    What are the Oxford Biology interviewers like?

    My interviews had a variety of interviewers – some were very friendly and warm whereas others were quite hard to read. At first the interviewers and the interview might seem quite nerve-racking but you soon settle into them. I came out of both my interviewers feeling reasonably happy, not because I had known the answers to things but because it was exciting to have a challenging chat about the subject that I love.

    Are there any academic or challenging Biology Oxford interview questions?

    For my Biology interview, I would say the challenging biology interview questions were those that required me to critically think and analyse the information that was presented to me. 

    I also had a few questions based on my personal statement which were relevant to various Biology topics I had mentioned including any research articles I had done further reading into. 

    Are there any personality, work experience or extracurricular based Biology questions at the Oxford interview?

    There were no such questions in my interviews. 

    Oxford biology interview questions

    Top Tips for the Oxford Biology interview 

    1. Read your personal statement

    Knowing your personal statement in and out allows you to be prepared to answer any questions your interviewers might ask in relation to the topics you have touched upon in your essay. This could be certain biologists, species, processes and cycles or books/research articles that you have mentioned.

    2. Read around your chosen subject

    Read a few journals, magazines, relevant publications to keep yourself updated with recent and new discoveries within the field of Biology. This will also open up an avenue for you to talk about things that you are currently interested in.

    3. Practice talking to other people

    Get friends, family members and teachers to ask you a wide range of Oxford Biology questions. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your ideas with other people so that on the day you are able to easily put your thoughts into words. This will also work in your favour to build up your confidence!

    4. Don’t rush your answers

    When asked a question in your interview, take a moment to think about how you want to approach the answer. Try not to rush your thinking and focus on explaining your thought process out loud to your interviewers, especially when you are asked a challenging question. Remember, more than your general knowledge, they are looking to assess your ability to critically arrive at an answer. 

    5. Read through a few books

    The Oxford Admissions Website recommends a few books for candidates to read for potential discussion topics in the interview. For Biology, these include: ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins and ‘Genome’ by Matt Ridley. However, these are just ‘recommended’. Don’t be afraid to expand your knowledge to other books that have caught your eye.

    6. Attend Oxford Biology Summer School.

    Top Tips for the “Why Oxford” interview question

    1. Research Oxford and think about why you really want to go there – this cannot be simply because it is one of the world’s top universities. You should find something unique or rare about Oxford that makes you want to study there.
    2. You must also think about your specific subject. For Biology, you should research the various opportunities the course offers, making sure to have a few pointers in mind which you would love to come to Oxford to study.

    My Favourite Things about Studying Biology at Oxford University 

    My favourite thing about studying Biology at Oxford University is the environment that is created in every tutorial. I love how I leave every tutorial feeling more reassured in my decision to study Biology and pursue it as a career. Furthermore, having access to some of the greatest resources from the libraries along with living in a city like Oxford are a few added perks.  

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