Applying for PPE and mock interview practise

Mock Interview Practise

I offer mock interview practise, specifically for the PPE course. Usually, I like to offer a two-hour session. This usually involves 75 minutes of interview and 45 minutes to go through answers and offer suggestions. I find that in two hours we can make substantial progress on improving confidence and interview technique.

If you are interested in arranging a mock interview, please contact me here.

During the interview:

  • I will ask questions based on your personal statement
  • I ask questions which may get asked in PPE
  • Ask questions on (unseen) stimulus material, such as graphs, extracts and short quizzes.
  • Identify areas of weakness and things to improve on.

Readers Question: Basically I wanted to ask you about the PPE course, as you have obviously studied it. I’d really appreciate it if you could advise me on my AS subjects, whether they’d be suitable for PPE: English Literature, History, Politics & Economics. I’m particularly worried about not having Maths as a subject. I did phone the Oxford Admissions department and was told it shouldn’t matter if I haven’t studied Maths at AS, but I should be wary there is Maths involved in the Economics side. The thing is I’m just “okay” at Maths, I expect an A at (i)Gcse when I get my results, but I just can’t imagine being good enough to study it at university, yet I’m sure PPE is the course for me!

The first year, you do all three subjects. The first-year economics is based on A-Level economics. In the first year, there is not any significant maths apart from GCSE style maths. After the first year, you need to choose 8 options (you can drop one subject or do all 3). I choose 3 Economics and 5 Politics. The economics I chose were

  • Microeconomics
  • Macro Economics
  • Development Economics

When I did PPE, I don’t remember ever having to use calculus or anything like that. However, recently, Oxford have standardised their economics courses and increased the content of maths; if you want to specialise in maths, you will need to be comfortable with the mathematics content. Definitely A Level maths will be a help for the economics side of PPE.

It is an advantage to have A-Level economics – though they definitely don’t require it. If you have done A-Level economics, it makes the first year a lot easier. Your A-Level textbook will be useful, so definitely take it with you.

I found logic (part of philosophy) very difficult. It’s kind of mathematical but not the maths you study at A Level. I dropped logic at the first opportunity.

Also, I’d appreciate if you could advise me on anything at all that I can do from now, to increase my chances of getting into Oxford to study PPE.

Develop knowledge of current economic issues e.g.

Try to see issues from a non-standard perspective. Develop opinions on subjects and practise articulating them. This is what the interview will be focusing on e.g.

Read more from around the subject.

  • You don’t need to read complex and tedious books like Das Capital by Marx and Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Read short introductions to people like Keynes, Friedman, Marx. If it was me preparing, I’d read something like ‘Marx for Dummies’ to grasp the essentials of his thought.
  • See: Recommended economics books

Get Interview Practise

The interview counts for a lot. Many can get three A’s so it is in the interview where they select candidates. I do a few ‘mock interviews’ and am often surprised at the low standard of potential applicants in interviews. Join a debating society or something like that.

Tips to Come Across Well in an Interview

  • Be smart and presentable. Simple is better than exotic or fashionable.
  • Make sure you answer the question they ask.
  • Don’t worry if they ask a question where you have no idea. It is OK, to say, I don’t have much knowledge on that topic. That probably comes across better than making something up.
  • Be confident and be prepared to have opinions, but don’t come across as arrogant.


3 thoughts on “Applying for PPE and mock interview practise”

  1. Oxford has now recognised that its non-quantitative approach is out of step with modern economics teaching so it has bolstered up the maths. When i took Prelims back in 2006 there was a compulsory maths question which involved calculus and other maths that you wouldn’t encounter at GCSE. The 2 (out of 9) PPEist in my year who didn’t have A-level maths had to go to extra lessons in the first year to catch. Oxford have since made maths even more important for Prelims and quantitative economics is now a compulsory final honours economics paper along with micro and macro. So while it isn’t essential to have A level Maths I would recommend it as it does make things easier especially if you do.

    • My experience at Worcester college was unexpected in lots of ways. With hindsight I should have been more educated in an education from the rich and the establishment x I had neither, just what I was born with. I have tried since and recently experienced my work being published. I think I can do more so I will carry on love mike c

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