I had written and submitted my UCAS application. I had taken an admissions test (and still had no idea how it had gone). Now it was time for the next step – the thing I dreaded most – the interview.
Unlike many other international applicants, I flew to the UK for my two interviews, both at the university I’m headed to this October. I wasn’t very comfortable with skyping, I guess… and I really wanted to visit London. Yep, I wanted to go to London.
Since a month or two before the trip, I’d been doing some light prep. I re-read books I’d
mentioned in my personal statement, such as Thomas Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd” and Charlotte Bronte’s “The Professor.” I’d read online that they would give me an unseen poem for me to analyse, so I worked on timed analysis with some poems I wasn’t very comfortable with, especially modern ones.
On my flight, I worked on my laptop, on which I had downloaded a bunch of PDF files of research papers and academic journals that were about the same books I had put on my personal statement. Both during the flight and the extra (miserable, I must add) days I had in London, I tried to read as many as possible – and form my own stance based on the information I had absorbed from them.
This proved to be most useful in my interviews: having lots of background information and well researched arguments on my belt made answering curveball interview questions (such as “What do you think of Bronte’s views on international politics?”) much, much easier.
For the unseen poem analysis bit, I got very lucky: they gave me a poem from the 17th century, which is a time frame I’m generally more comfortable with. One question caught me off-guard: “Guess the period in which this poem was written.” (Note: they didn’t give me any background info on the piece.) Thanks to my familiarity with 17th-century literature, I was able to give a spot-on correct answer!
Of course, the interviews didn’t all go completely well. I was stupidly unprepared for the basic “Why English” question and gave a bumbling, stupid answer. When I was finally done with all my interviews, I wasn’t very happy with them – I guess I just tried to shrug it off and went on to have lots of fun back in London. I saw Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in their wonderful “Antony and Cleopatra” production and got a taste of British Christmas in the Old Vic’s “A Christmas Carol” show (they gave out free mince pies!)
So, to anyone worried about their future English interviews, my advice would be: read a lot, and in depth, about the things you’ve mentioned in your personal statement, and try to enjoy the process!