Daily Mirror – Have you got what it takes to solve these Oxford University admission questions?

I’m back in the Daily Mirror with some thoughts on a series of Philosophy Interview questions previously used at the University of Oxford. Read the full article (and have a go at the questions) here.

What are your general thoughts on these admission questions – are they fair?

These questions are designed to test your logical thinking. Whilst they may initially appear to be impenetrable, with some guidance hopefully you can see how to make progress towards the solution. With any admissions question, it’s always important to remember that during the interview the candidates will be given hints and tips to point them in the right direction – they are not expected to be able to do them immediately without any help! 

Do you think you could give these questions a shot?

I’m of course at an advantage as someone that sets admissions questions, but I did have a go at a few of these and fortunately managed to get to the same solutions as Alex. I find it very helpful to break down each statement to determine what exactly it does, or doesn’t, tell you about the solution. For example on the first question, since Rowan is told the row of the surprise but says that he doesn’t know its location, it cannot be row 3. So the information we can get from that first statement is ’not row 3’. If you take a similar approach to all of the other statements, you can gradually rule out more and more possibilities leaving you with the correct solution. 

Did you have any admission questions for your degree? If so, tell us about them if you can remember!

I have been conducting admissions interviews myself for the past 3 years so have come up with quite a few different types of question. One of my favourites looks at dominoes and chessboards. First, is it possible to cover a chessboard with dominoes such that each domino covers exactly one black and one white square? And then what happens if we remove one of the corner pieces? Or even both corners – can we still cover the entire board?

I used a question based on calculus for the interviews in 2018 which I work through with YouTuber ‘Blackpenredpen’ in the video below.

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