Oxford aspirants more likely to be asked about Potter than Shakespeare
Teenagers who can give convincing answers to questions like "Discuss JK Rowling's transition from Harry Potter to writing for adults," are most likely to secure a seat at Oxford, it has been revealed.
Tutors at Oxford lifted the lid on the interview process to explode some of the myths about what is seen as the most nerve-racking aspect of admissions.
The university has increasingly come to rely on interviews to identify high-fliers because public exams fail to discriminate between the bright and the exceptional.
It also considers other information, such as results in admissions tests, references and predicted grades.
Oxford said that interviews give candidates the chance to show their "real ability and potential."
One English literature don said pupils were more likely to be asked about Harry Potter than Shakespeare, at least in initial questioning.
"Not all candidates might have the same access to a wide range of literature," the Daily Mail quoted Lucinda Rumsey, of Mansfield College as saying.
"If I start with Harry Potter, everyone at least has a starting point of recognition," she said.
History applicants might be asked to imagine how much about the past they could find out simply from historical records of sport.
Applicants for experimental psychology who are asked why humans have two eyes, might be expected to discuss the reasons in terms of three dimensional vision.
"The interviews are designed to push students to think, not recite specific facts or answers," Mike Nicholson, director of admissions at Oxford, said.