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牛津大学现任面试官带你解析面试题!名校面试不再愁~

阿贝DLD高级中学 2019-06-11 04:22:13

想要入读全球排名第一的牛津大学,光有优异的成绩是不够的,面试也是非常重要的环节。今天给同学们带来一些精选面试题和解读。大家准备好做笔记了吗?



每年的10月中旬都是第二年牛津本科申请的截止日期,而牛津大学也往往会在这一时间,对外公布一些本科面试例题,帮助考生提前准备。仿照牛津日常导师授课设计的面试环节,大都由开放性的复杂问题讨论组成,也往往是最让申请者难以准备、倍感紧张的部分。


今年10月,牛津大学又一次发布了一批本科面试例题。这些问题来自那些负责面试的牛津大学导师们,并在明年入学申请截止日期(10月15日)前对外公布。申请学习法语的学生们可能会被问及阅读著作原文与翻译版本之间的差异,而有志于从医的学生们可能需要讨论全球多个国家的死亡率并且就此排序。


牛津大学招生及拓展总监萨米纳·可汗博士(Dr Samina Khan):

“在所有对外宣讲活动中我们都会强调,面试主要是一场与学生申请专业相关的学术对话——可能是围绕着一段文字、一组习题、或是一系列技术性的探讨。尽管如此,面试对于大部分学生来说仍然是一种全新的体验;我们也知道,很多有意申请的学生已经因为要在陌生的地点被素未谋面的人提问而担心。因此,为了帮助学生熟悉他们可能将要回答的问题,我们发布了这些真题示例。我们要特别指出,导师提出每一个问题都有其目的,而这个目的就在于检验学生如何看待他们的专业,以及怎样对于新的信息或不熟悉的观点作出回应。”


“无论你在此前有着怎样的教育背景或机遇,面试都应该成为你的一次机会——不是背诵一些你已经熟知的学习资料,而是表现出对于所选学科的兴趣和能力。导师希望给学生一个展示自己能力与潜能的机会,所以学生们最好能将所学的知识和思考方法运用到新问题中——同时,导师也会对讨论加以引导,帮助学生感到放松又自信。这些面试是导师和学生间针对学科展开的学术谈话,十分接近在读的牛津本科生每周要参加的导师一对一授课环节(tutorial,是牛津大学“导师制”教学系统的主要特色之一)。”


“值得注意的是,大部分面试题涉及的资料都是各位学子在他们的学习过程中将会遇到的,或是来自他们提交的个人陈述中提及的领域。最常见的形式是由导师给出一些材料并引发讨论——比如文字片段、图片、或是一些实验,并让学生思考实验的结果。比较理想的解答逻辑是先对显而易见的部分进行观察,再逐渐就此展开更深层次的探讨——展现出你如何运用信息和分析得出结论,比迅速给出答案更为重要。


“我们知道现在外界对于牛津面试还有很多误解,所以我们尽可能地多公布一些信息,意在让学生对真实的流程能有更清晰的了解。我们在网上提供模拟面试和招生导师面试对话的视频,并分享大量例题以帮助学生们熟悉面试流程,同时也消除一些讹传。”





以下为部分精选例题及面试官解读


科目:现代语言(法语)

面试官:简·希德斯顿(Jane Hiddleston),艾克赛特书院(Exeter College)


问题:如果我们只读外文著作的翻译版本,会有什么损失?


面试官解读:这个问题很好,因为它可以同时让我们了解到考生对于语言和文学的看法。他们可能会回答一些翻译中遇到的挑战,哪些内容不适合从一种语言直译为另一种语言,这些都能帮我们判断考生对于语言的运用有多少了解。


考生也有可能跟我们探讨文学语言,以及为什么文学语言对文字的使用尤其容易给翻译工作带来问题。这个话题可能会引申至文学作品具有哪些特色,也可以帮助我们知道考生大致是哪类的读者。


但我们并不期望考生一定读过哪些特定的作品,而是要以此明白,他们为什么认为使用外语的文学作品值得研究学习。这一点至关重要,特别是考虑到牛津现代语言课程的学生在学习过程中要读大量的外文原著。偶尔会有考生能够以名言名句举例,说明这些内容在翻译成英语的过程中可能会遇到哪些误读的风险。我们在面试中诵读节选或者外文诗的时候,也可能会谈及这个话题。


科目:哲学(哲学、政治学与经济学)

面试官:塞西尔·法布尔(Cecile Fabre),林肯书院(Lincoln College;现供职于万灵书院 All Souls)


问题:“我同意空运会加速气候恶化。但是无论我是否搭乘某次航班,飞机还是会照常飞行。因此,并没有足够的道德理由让我不乘飞机出行。”这个论点具有说服力么?


面试官解读:考虑到大部分学生此前没有真正学过哲学,面试的意图并不在于检验考生的哲学知识。另外,我们并不指望让考生通过猜测或推导来给出所谓的标准正确答案。实际上,面试主要是为了检验考生辩证思考的能力,看他们如何思考与他们观点相悖的那些反例,并区分一些重要的概念。


这道面试题涉及到在集体的有害行为中,个人所承担的个体责任这一难题。有些考生可能倾向于去反驳空运会导致气候恶化这一前提:这也未尝不可,但是我们会要求他们在本论题中接受这一前提假设。他们能否接受不同假设本身就是一个重要的测试,因为很多哲学思辨都需要以这种形式展开。


有些考生可能会认为这个论点成立:考虑到自身的行动并不会改变什么,也就没有足够的道德理由使自己不这样做。在这个时候,我会想了解他们认为什么才是充足的道德理由(比如这跟一个实际理由或谨慎理由有哪些异同)。


我还会要求他们进一步思考其他情境:比如德累斯顿大轰炸(少一架战斗机也不会影响全局——为什么不去战斗呢);或投票(既然我投的一票无法改变选举结果,我为什么还要在大选中投票)?这些额外案例是同样的情形吗?还是不尽相同?这些相同点或者不同点有相关性吗?也就是说,这些额外情境的异同对于我们思考这一命题有帮助么?是否能帮我们对这些情境中的个体责任得出一个明确的观点?例如,在德累斯顿的案例中,每架单独的战斗机是作为一个集体——空军——的一部分行动的,而集体的目标是轰炸德累斯顿。但我们不能说像英国航空这类公司的目标就是造成气候变化;而且,他们的乘客也不能视为展开集体行动。情况是否因此而不同了?



科目:法律

面试官:伊莫金·戈尔德(Imogen Goold),圣安妮书院(St Anne's College)


问题:夜间在无人的路上闯红灯应该被认定是违法的么?


面试官解读:学习法律要求学生们既要理解法律是什么,也要知道法律应该怎样制定,也就是要进行规范性思考。我们尤其想了解考生如何对自己的观点和阐释进行辩护。这意味着他们要能够分析概念,辩证地评估论点,为某一立场提供论据,同时考虑相反观点并进行反驳。


这个问题的答案没有对错之分;我们会用这个例子去看考生能否很好地为自己的立场辩护。例如,考生可能会说如果闯红灯不会伤害到任何人的话,那么保持行驶就没有问题,因此也就不应该被认定为违法行为。这一观点意味着法律的基础是为了防止伤害。接下来,我们可能会进一步探讨这究竟是不是法律的唯一或最主要目的,这对于法律法规的制定有着怎样的影响,在哪些情况下会有例外,以及能否有效地在法律中表明这些例外的情况。


此处,我们想要检验考生能否认识到自己观点存在的问题,以及立法过程中的难点,即既要适用所有情境又不能过于宽泛。这样的讨论能看出考生对反对意见给出回应的能力,对不再适用的最初观点进行调整的能力,以及精准思考的能力。也可能会有考生指出,即使不会对任何人造成伤害,也必须要遵守法律规定;那么,我们可以探讨这样的观点为何成立。例如,假如闯红灯只有在被认定为危险时才算是违法的话,那就需要依靠每个人去自行判断何为“危险”,因此我们永远无从确定会不会有人闯红灯,而这势必造成交通混乱。


这个问题同时还涉及到当行为被认定为违法时意味着什么,以及公民与法律之间的关系——是否在某些情境下违反法律是可接受的,怎样的理由才算充足。这有可能进一步引申至哲学层面上的探讨,关于法律的约束力具有怎样的意义,以及法律规定与道德准则及行为规范有什么区别。考生可能会开始思考法律规定有没有一些特性——它们是否有别于任何其它规则,比如游戏规则、道德规范、社会准则、会员守则等等。


藉此,我们可以一起展开探讨,除去法律要防止伤害这一初衷,被判定违法本身能否构成不去做某件事的充分理由。考生可能会因而想到,法律如何使我们能够预见他人的行为,以便规划自身的行动,或是如何能达到惩恶的效果。举例来说,因为谋杀违法并将被惩治,我可以认为离开家也不太可能会被杀害,因此认定出门是安全的。


科目:医学

面试官:安德鲁·金(Andrew King),艾克赛特书院(Exeter College)


问题:将孟加拉国、日本、南非、及英国按照各自的粗死亡率(每千人中的死亡数)进行排序。


面试官解读:医学的面试旨在了解考生对于构成医科学习的基础科学的理解,同时也检验他们进行科学探索的技能。这个问题让考生可以从很多不同角度去解读公共健康及流行病学课题,而无需确切地知道各国具体的死亡率数值。我们的预期是,讨论一开始将以导致死亡的不同原因作为切入点——例如心脏病和癌症等所谓的“西方国家疾病”,并与发展中国家进行对比(新生儿高死亡率、传染性疾病、营养不良、HIV病毒高感染率等)。由此大部分考生会认为孟加拉或南非的死亡率最高,而当得知实际上是日本时会感到惊讶。


自然,关于死亡率计算的另一个重要因素就是人口年龄:我们希望能顺利将对话引导到为什么像日本这样富足但却面临人口老龄化问题的国家会有较高的死亡率,而被很多人默认会因贫穷而有高死亡率的孟加拉国,却因为年轻人口多而带来较低的死亡率。类似地,英国由于人口年龄结构的特性,其死亡率在这几个国家中排行第二:我们的国家整体年龄较高,而死亡的大部分都是老年人。


我们并不期望学生自行找到正确答案,这道面试题的意义也并不在此:这里想要考查的是他们如何运用健康与疾病中的社会文化因素来解答流行病学的问题。有的学生可能已经具有丰富的人口统计学知识,其余人也许需要更多相关信息——面试要了解的不是他们知道什么,而是他们会提出哪些问题来做出结论,以及他们在做结论时怎样诠释那些信息。接下来,我们也许会继续讨论怎样才能就不同国家的死亡率进行有价值的对比。






本文系转载,原文发自“牛津大学赛德商学院SBS”微信公众号,阿贝DLD高级中学诚意推荐!


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以下是英文原版内容

The University of Oxford today releases sample interview questions from tutors who conduct Oxford interviews. The questions have been released ahead of the deadline day for students to apply to study at Oxford University next year (15 October). Students applying to study French might be asked about the difference between reading a work in its original language compared to a translation, while aspiring doctors might be asked to discuss and rank the mortality rates of several countries from around the world.

‘We emphasise in all our outreach activity that the interview is primarily an academic conversation based on a passage of text, a problem set or a series of technical discussions related to the course students have applied for,’ says Dr Samina Khan, Director of Admissions and Outreach at Oxford. ‘But interviews will be an entirely new experience for most students, and we know many prospective applicants are already worried about being in an unfamiliar place and being questioned by people they have not met – so to help students to become familiar with the type of questions they might get asked we release these real examples. We want to underscore that every question asked by our tutors has a purpose, and that purpose is to assess how students think about their subject and respond to new information or unfamiliar ideas.

‘No matter what kind of educational background or opportunities you have had, the interview should be an opportunity to present your interest and ability in your chosen subject, since they are not just about reciting what you already know. Tutors want to give students a chance to show their real ability and potential, which means students will be encouraged to use their knowledge and apply their thinking to new problems – with tutors guiding the discussion to ensure students feel comfortable and confident. They are an academic conversation in a subject area between tutors and students, similar to the undergraduate tutorials which current Oxford students attend every week.’

Dr Khan adds: ‘It’s important to remember that most interviews build on material students will have encountered in their studies or touch on areas students mention in their personal statements. Most commonly tutors will provide candidates with material to prompt discussion – for example a piece of text, an image, or a sample experiment whose results they are asked to consider. It is often best to start responding by making very obvious observations and build up discussion from there – solving the problem quickly is less important than showing how you use information and analysis to get there.

‘We know there are still misunderstandings about the Oxford interview, so we put as much information as possible out there to allow students to see the reality of the process. We now have mock interviews online, video diaries made by admissions tutors during the interview process, and lots of example questions to help students to familiarise themselves with what the process is – and isn’t – about.’

Here are some sample questions:

Subject: Modern Languages (French)
Interviewer: Jane Hiddleston, Exeter College

Q: What do we lose if we only read a foreign work of literature in translation?

Jane: This is a good question as it helps us to see how candidates think about both languages and literature. They might be able to tell us about the challenges of translation, about what sorts of things resist literal or straightforward translation from one language to another, and this would give us an indication of how aware they are of how languages work.

They might also tell us about literary language, and why literary texts in particular use language in ways that make translation problematic. This might lead to a discussion of what is distinct about literary works, and this helps us to see what kind of reader they are more broadly. We don't do this with the expectation that they have already read any particular works, however, but in order to get a sense of why they think it is worth studying literatures in foreign languages. This is an important issue, given that Modern Languages students at Oxford read a lot of literature in the language as part of their course. Occasionally candidates are able to give examples of famous lines or quotations that risk being misread when translated into English. This issue might also be something we discuss when we read an extract or poem in the language together during the interview.

Subject: Philosophy (Philosophy, Politics and Economics)
Interviewer: Cecile Fabre, Lincoln College (now of All Souls)

Q: ‘I agree that air transport contributes to harmful climate change. But whether or not I make a given plane journey, the plane will fly anyway. So there is no moral reason for me to not travel by plane.’ Is this a convincing argument?

Cecile: The interview is not meant to test candidates’ knowledge of Philosophy, since more often than not, they have not studied this subject before. Moreover, we are not trying to get them to guess or arrive at ‘the right answer’. Rather, the interview is about candidates’ ability to think critically, to deal with counter-examples to the views they put forward, and to draw distinctions between important concepts.

This answer raises the difficult question of individuals’ responsibility, as individuals, for harmful collective actions. Some candidates might be inclined to dispute the premise that air transport contributes to climate change: that’s fine, but we would then ask them to accept that premise for the sake of argument. Whether they are able to do that is in itself an important test, since much of philosophical thinking proceeds in this way.

Some candidates might say that the argument is a good one: given that what I do makes no difference, I have no moral reason not to do it. At this point, I would want to know what they consider a moral reason to be (as distinct from or similar to, for example, a practical or prudential reason).

I would also push them to think about other cases: for example, the bombing of Dresden (one jet fighter less makes no difference to the collective outcome – so why not go and fight); or voting (why should I vote in a general election, given that my vote makes no difference)? Are the cases the same? Are they different? If so, are the differences or similarities relevant? That is to say, do those differences and similarities help us think about the original case? Do they help us to work out a view about individual responsibility in those cases? For example, in the Dresden case, the individual jet fighters act together as part of an organisation – the air force – whose aim is to bomb Dresden. But we cannot say of companies such as British Airways that they aim to cause climate change. And the air passengers cannot really be described as acting together. Does this make a difference?

Subject: Law
Interviewer: Imogen Goold, St Anne's College

Q: Should it be illegal to run a red light in the middle of the night on an empty road?

Imogen: Studying law requires that students understand what the law is, and also about what it should be, that is to think normatively. We are particularly interested in their capacity to justify their views and interpretations. This involves being able to analyse concepts and to critically appraise arguments and the reasoning behind a position, as well as to consider objections and to offer rebuttals to those objections. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question; we would be using the example to see how well the candidate could justify their stance. For example, a candidate might say that if no one was harmed by running the light, then it wouldn’t hurt to run it so it shouldn’t be illegal. This would be suggesting that the law is based on preventing harm. We might then explore whether this is the only purpose or the dominant purpose of the law, and how that might shape how legal rules need to be constructed, whether there are any circumstances in which exceptions might be valid and how effective exceptions could be created. Here, we would be looking to see how well they can see the problems with their approach and the difficulties inherent in drafting a rule that works in every situation without being too broad. This line of discussion would draw out their capacity to respond to challenges to their position, their ability to amend their initial answer when it no longer seems sustainable, and their ability to think precisely. Another candidate might suggest that even if no one is harmed, it is important that laws are respected and we could examine why this is the case. For example, if running lights was only illegal when it was dangerous, this would leave it to each person’s assessment of ‘dangerous’, so we could never be sure when someone would run a light, leading to chaotic traffic.

This question also picks up on ideas about what it means for something to be illegal and citizen’s relationship with the law, whether it can ever be justified to break the law and what might be a sufficient justification. This could lead into more philosophical discussions of what it means for a law to be binding and how legal rules might differ from moral rules or guidelines. A candidate might begin to consider whether there is something special about legal rules – are they different from other kinds of rules, such as those of a game, moral rules, social rules, club rules and so on. We could use this as a way into exploring with them whether the fact that something is illegal is itself a reason not to do something, over and above, perhaps, the harm the rule is aiming to prevent. Candidates might then think about how law makes other people’s behaviour more predictable so that we can plan our own actions, or how the law might serve functions like punishing wrongdoing. An example might be that because the law makes murder illegal and those who kill are punished, I can expect that I can leave my house and generally not expect to be killed, so this allows me to decide it’s safe to go outside.

Subject: Medicine
Interviewer: Andrew King, Exeter College

Q: Put these countries in order by their crude mortality (deaths per thousand of the population): Bangladesh, Japan, South Africa, the UK.

Andrew: Interviews for Medicine aim to gauge candidates’ understanding of the science underpinning the study of medicine, as well as skills in scientific enquiry. This question invites candidates to think about a public health question and epidemiology that can be approached in many different ways, without necessarily knowing anything about specific mortality rates around the world. We would expect the initial discussion to probe the differing causes of death that contribute to mortality rates – such as those ‘Western diseases’ heart disease and cancer – and how they compare to those found in developing countries (high infant mortality, infectious diseases, poor nutrition, high rates of HIV etc.). The majority of candidates will expect Bangladesh or South Africa to have the highest crude mortality rate, and will be surprised to find that it is in fact Japan. 

The other part of the mortality rate calculation is of course the age of the population: we would ideally steer the conversation towards a discussion of why a wealthy but older country like Japan might have a higher mortality rate, while a country like Bangladesh – which many people might initially expect to have a high mortality rate due to relative poverty as a country – actually has a relatively lower mortality rate because of its young population. Similarly, Britain actually has the second-highest mortality rate because of the age structure of its population: we are a relatively old country and a majority of deaths occur in older people. We wouldn’t expect students to get the right answer on their own, and in fact that’s not the point: the point is to see how they apply their understanding of social and cultural factors in health and illness to a problem of epidemiology. Some students might already have a detailed knowledge of demography, others might need to be given more relevant information – the point isn’t what they know, it’s what questions they ask to make their conclusions, and how they interpret information to draw those conclusions. We might then go on to discuss how you could make a valid comparison between mortality rates in different countries.