➤whether you have the maturity to speak clearly
➤whether you can be comfortable even in a nerve-wracking situation
➤whether you can look them in the eye, smile, chat, have a solid “adult” conversation on an adult level
➤whether you are clear in terms of who you are at this point in your life and where you want to go
1What are you interested in studying in college?
2What high school accomplishment are you most proud of?
3Tell me about your family background? Where did you grow up?
4What is an example of something difficult you've had to go through, or an important event perhaps that took place in your life in the last few years?
5Why Harvard or Why Princeton? or Why Columbia? …
生物科学 Biological Sciences
▌Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?
Red can signal either 'don't eat me' or 'eat me' to consumers. I'm interested in seeing how applicants attempt to resolve this apparent paradox.
计算机科学 Computer Science
▌How do pirates divide their treasure?
A group of 7 pirates has 100 gold coins. They have to decide amongst themselves how to divide the treasure, but must abide by pirate rules:
The most senior pirate proposes the division.
All of the pirates (including the most senior) vote on the division. If half or more vote for the division, it stands. If less than half vote for it, they throw the most senior pirate overboard and start again.
The pirates are perfectly logical, and entirely ruthless (only caring about maximizing their own share of the gold).
So, what division should the most senior pirate suggest to the other six?
I like to see how students can take directions, and if they can break problems into smaller subsets, and work through a complex concept applying a solution in an algorithmic way. If students have any questions, I want them to ask – not to sit in silence feeling stuck!
经济管理 Economics and Management
▌Do bankers deserve the pay they receive? And should government do something to limit how much they get?
A simple answer might be that since banks are generally private firms and workers are free to work where they wish, then the pay they receive is just the outcome of a competitive labour market.
英国文学 English Literature
▌JK Rowling has published a book for adults after the hugely successful Harry Potter series. In what ways do you think that writing for children is different to writing for adults?
I always want to know that whatever they are reading, candidates are reading thoughtfully and self-consciously, and are able to think as literary critics about all the books they read. I am careful to judge them on what they know, not on what they don't know
▌If I were to visit the area where you live, what would I be interested in?
The question probes whether they are able to apply ‘geographical thinking' to the everyday landscapes around them. It reveals the extent to which they have a curiosity about the world around them.
▌Is violence always political? Does 'political' mean something different in different contexts?
A good candidate would, with assistance, begin to construct categories of when violence looks more and less political. A very good candidate would, with assistance, begin to construct a useful definition of 'political', but this is challenging.
▌If the punishment for parking on double yellow lines were death, and therefore nobody did it, would that be a just and effective law?
Candidates are not meant to give a right or wrong answer to this question. They need to demonstrate that they have recognised the various issues that arise. The candidate who distinguishes between 'just' and 'effective' does best. The issues are different once that distinction is made. A just law might not be effective, or vice versa.
材料科学 Materials Science
▌How hot does the air have to be in a hot air balloon if I wanted to use it to lift an elephant?
Things we are looking for include how readily they can see into the core of a problem; how they respond to hints and suggestions from us; estimates (typical size of balloon, weight of elephant) and sorting out what's important...
现代语言学 Modern Languages
▌Should poetry be difficult to understand?
We don't expect a single correct answer to such a question; it's a starting point for a new direction of discussion: what sorts of 'difficulties' might we have in mind? Are these specific to poetry or do they also feature in other types of writing?
What we want to know isn't that they've read a certain number of texts to prove their interest, but that they have the aptitude for studying texts.
▌In a world where English is a global language, why learn French?
Given the nature of the Modern Languages course, I would be interested in responses about the French language as a 'window' into French culture/literature/history, etc.; but would also be happy to see candidates investigate some of the assumptions underlying the question: Is English a global language? What about Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, etc.?
▌Why is income per head between 50 and 100 times larger in the United States than in countries such as Burundi and Malawi?
The question is focused on perhaps the most important economic question there is: why are some countries rich and some countries poor? Candidates need to think about all the potential reasons why such income gaps exist.
▌What exactly do you think is involved in blaming someone?
Questions like this help draw out a candidate’s ability to think carefully and precisely about a familiar concept, evaluating proposals, coming up with counter-examples, disentangling considerations, and being creative in proposing alternative approaches.
▌A large study appears to show that older siblings consistently score higher than younger siblings on IQ tests. Why would this be?
This is a question that really asks students to think about lots of different aspects of psychology, and we guide students when discussing it to think about both scientific factors such as maternal age and observational analysis about how birth order might affect behaviour and therefore performance on IQ tests.
▌An experiment appears to suggest Welsh speakers are worse at remembering phone numbers than English speakers. Why?
The key point is that numbers are spelled differently and are longer in Welsh than in English, and it turns out that memory (and arithmetic) depend on how easily pronounced the words are.
This basic question can then lead to interesting discussion about the role of language in other cognitive abilities, such as memory or maths.
I hope that it engages candidates' intuitions that Welsh people aren't simply less clever than English people!
▌Why do human beings have two eyes?
It can develop in a number of different directions, partly depending upon the knowledge and expertise of the interviewee. For example, two eyes are important for three-dimensional (3D) vision.
神学和宗教 Theology and Religion
▌Is someone who risks their own life (and those of others) in extreme sports or endurance activities a hero or a fool?
The question is properly approached from many perspectives and opens up many topics – Is this impulse selfish, or does it contribute to the whole of humanity's attainment? What is a hero, and is that category in opposition to folly?