# Oxford Physics Interviews – How to Prepare

Getting into Oxford is tough. Hopeful A-Level students must first tackle the PAT (Physics Aptitude Test) and Maths Exam. Only those exceeding a suitably high, undisclosed score are invited for interview. If you are one of the lucky few, we (Paddy and I) have some advice for your interview

When you’re asked a question, try not to fall silent! This is particularly difficult when asked a question that really challenges you (see example questions below). The interviewer wants to know your thought process, so vocalise what’s going on in your head.

If you don’t understand what you’re being asked to explain, calculate, show, estimate etc. don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If it’s a scenario you’re unfamiliar with, you may still have conceptual understanding that is valuable and it’s not fair for the interview to exclude you from answering the question, just because you don’t know that particular technical term.

Pick up on hints
The interviewer won’t necessarily expect you to solve the problem alone. Take any advice or cues they may give you, as one thing Oxfrod look for is an ability to quickly grasp new information or concepts then apply them to a problem.

Prepare to be pushed
Your interviewer may well press you towards the limit of your knowledge or understanding. Don’t be disheartened or afraid if you suddenly find you can’t go any further with a problem – the interviewer may just be assessing how deep your understanding goes.

Example Physics Interview Questions

1. What experiment could you do to show that the Sun is not just a giant ball of molten gold?
2. Suggest how artificial gravity might be created on a space station. Estimate the parameters needed to achieve 9.8N/kg inside the ship.
3. Estimate the mass of rubber worn off car tyres in the UK each year
4. Sketch a speed-time graph for a projectile launched  from ground level. Sketch a velocity-time graph for the vertical, then horizontal components of its velocity. Explain the shape of your original speed-time graph.
5. Sketch a label a force diagram showing the Earth-Moon system. Why does the Moon not fall towards the Earth?
6. Estimate the square root of 13,000
7. Sketch the graph of e^x, sin(x) then finally e^(sin(x))

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## 12 thoughts on “Oxford Physics Interviews – How to Prepare”

1. saptarshi says:

it is really helpful , please give more questions with answers

• Hi Saptarshi, thanks for replying. I’ll make a note to think of some more questions.
Are there any topics in particular you’re interested in?

2. lostproton says:

Hi, do you have model answers for the Physics Interview Questions?

• Hi lostproton, I don’t know if we have an official list anywhere but we’ll be happy to take another look at the questions.
Were there any questions you were particularly interested in? If not, we’ll try and scribble down our thoughts about all of them!

• lostproton says:

I possible could you provide answers for all the questions, and if possible before Monday since we have oxford interviews that week, thank you.

3. lostproton says:

* before Monday 15th december 2014

• lostproton says:

sorry didn’t see your post thank you for the model answers

• You’re welcome! 🙂 I realised the urgency so they’ve been written out fairly hastily – do let us know if you find anything you’re unhappy with. Good luck!

4. Here are a few more questions and answers from Oxford physics interviews:

• Hi Mx Durk, thank you for the links. It’s nice to have a personal testimony to flesh out the interview experience a little. May I also say your artistic abilities are off the hook?

• Thank you sir. It has been said that I have such a supple wrist.