Friday, November 03, 2006

Quick talent and intelligent answers

At what point is a person dead? And how does a perm work? You may need to talk your way out of questions like these to get into Britain's elite universities, a survey of applicants has revealed. They were some of the more curious questions recently pitched by interviewers at Oxford and Cambridge looking to find the very best among the thousands of students trying to get on courses at the prestige institutions. The survey of around 1200 students by Oxbridge Applications, which advises applicants, showed the interview process was living up to its reputation for being notoriously tough.

Among the questions reported by students included: Here is a piece of bark, please talk about it. (Biological Sciences, Oxford) Are you cool? (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Oxford) At what point is a person "dead"? (Medicine, Cambridge) Put a monetary value on this teapot. (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Cambridge) Other questions, though it was not clear who asked them, included: What percentage of the world's water is contained in a cow; of all 19th-century politicians, who was most like Tony Blair? Jessica Elsom, of Oxbridge Applications, said the interview process was notoriously eccentric as the universities try to recruit the sharpest-witted among youngsters with flawless British school-leaving exam results.

With the increase in the numbers of students excelling at A-level, the Oxbridge interviews are one way of finding out who really cuts the mustard. The Times Higher Educational Supplement's World University Rankings, published earlier this month, ranked Cambridge as the second best, followed by Oxford in third place. Harvard University in the U.S. topped the list.


Nirek said...

>>What percentage of the world's water is contained in a cow
:) These questions are really crazy. But questions like this brings out the shrewd individual for sure.

piika said...

I like the by-line on your blog - interesting ideas....