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17th Aug 2017

Here are 9 questions that decide whether you are smart enough to go to Oxford University



Think you’re smart enough?

According to the Independent, these are some of the questions that students who want to go to Oxford University get asked before they are allowed set foot inside the doors.

When you think about questions you need to answer to go to this University, you would immediately assume that they would be tricky mathematic equations that you need to answer within a minute with one hand tied behind your back at the same time.

However, on the outset, they seem very simple, one even involves Coronation Street.

Like everything though, there is a hidden meaning behind each and every one of these questions. Here are the nine, see if you can give a logical reason without looking at the answers below them.

1. Here is a list of three compounds, A, B and C. Which one is most soluble?

This is essentially a trick question, your answer doesn’t really matter. Kind of like a Leaving Cert Maths question, they want to see how you got to that answer rather than the answer itself.

The Professors don’t expect you to get the right answer but they do want to see your process of elimination.

2. Here’s a cactus. Tell me about it.

What a pri*k of a question. Again observation is key here, they want to see you examine the cactus and talk about its detail in depth.

3. Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?

Your face will be red when you get asked this question but don’t panic. Apparently red can stand for eat me/don’t eat me and folk at the University want to see how you “resolve this apparent paradox.”

4. Do bankers deserve the pay they receive? And should government do something to limit how much they get?

The key point about this question is trying to get candidates to think about the economics of pay rather than just whether they think it is fair or not.

5. Why do you think an English student might be interested in the fact that Coronation Street has been running for 50 years?

Yes, the theme tune ran through our head also but focus. Talk about Coronation Street like you would talk about Macbeth or Hamlet, critically analyse the bejaysus out of it.

6. Which person (or sort of person) in the past would you most like to interview, and why?

It’s not about the who but more so the why and what. Your reasons for picking this person and the type of questions you would ask them are vital here.

7. What is language?

The legend goes in NUIG that back in the early 2000s, a philosophy exam led with one question, ‘why?’ Students wrote pages of answers but there was only one ‘A’ grade handed out and that was given to one person who simply answered, ‘why not?.’

This is one of those questions that could be answered with ‘what isn’t language?’ Whether you love English, Spanish or Latin, explain the reasons behind why you love it.

8. If you could invent a new musical instrument, what kind of sound would it make?

If you’re into music, it is probably something that you have thought about before. Talk about current instruments and sounds and draw inspiration from those. Can these be developed on? Is there a new way of producing a sound which can transform the way we listen and understand sound now?

9. An experiment appears to suggest Welsh speakers are worse at remembering phone numbers than English speakers. Why?

When explained it seems easy but it takes a lot of thinking. Numbers are spelled differently and are longer in Welsh and memory depends on how easily pronounced words are.

It is expected that students will clock the connection between memory and how easy a word is to spell or pronounce.

Psychology professor Nick Yeung, of University College, explains:

“This question is meant to be deliberately provocative, in that I hope that it engages candidates’ intuitions that Welsh people aren’t simply less clever than English people.”

If you ever get called up to Oxford, you’re sorted now.

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