Practise Interview PPE_Econ - USEFUL
Econ PPE practise...
Economics & PPE Subject: PPE A Levels: Maths, Further Maths, Economics, English Date: 08/12/08 Place: Lincoln, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 interviews with 2 tutors in each Academic Questions: Philosophy: A situation was described where a train was heading towards 5 people and I had the choice of pulling a lever so that the train went down a different track and so only killed one person - I was asked what I would do. Then the situation was changed so instead of pulling a level I would have to push someone in front of the train to save the other 5 people and was asked what I would do. Following on from this I was asked if any actions are justified by anything other than their consequences. Politics 1: I was given a map showing levels of corruption throughout the world and asked why I thought corruption existed. Then was asked why levels of corruption varied across the world and if I could think of any things which might reduce it. I was also asked about to explain and expand briefly on a comment I made on my personal statement about the "Sophist qualities necessary for election". Politics 2: I was given a sheet 20mins before the interview with a graph showing distribution of voters with ideologies from left to right then asked where a political party which was vote maximising and when there was only other one political party would place itself (in the centre). I was then asked if this would change if it was a multi-party system. I then had to put the parties in the House of Commons (Labour, Conservative, Lib Dems, SNP, Plain Cymru...) on a scale from left to right in terms of ideology. Having been asked about the limitations of this scale (another axis was needed with Authoritarian/Liberal) I was then asked to place the parties in this grid. Economics: I was shown a graph with output per worker on the y-axis and capital on the x-axis. I was asked to draw the function relating the two. I was then asked to draw on a line to show investment if it was always 40% of total output. The tutor drew on a line showing depreciation (a straight line) and I was asked where the firm would produce (which was at where investment = depreciation to maximise output). On a new graph the tutor drew another depreciation line but now the investment line was curved (looked same as a Total Cost curve). I was asked again where the firm would produce and what was the difference between the equilibriums (answer: the 1st equilibrium was unstable as slightly below it depreciation was above investment so capital stock would keep falling and output move towards the origin whereas slightly above this equilibrium investment was above depreciation so growth in capital stock would increase output until reached higher equilibrium, 2nd equilibrium was stable as slightly below it investment was above depreciation so output would increase until got back to equilibrium, and slightly above depreciation was above investment so output would reduce until at equilibrium again). Was asked if I had heard of game theory before and was shown a simple game and asked what I should do, then was shown much longer problem with series of decisions between two players - was easy using backwards induction i.e. work out what decision would be made by person at the end, so figure of what each previous person would do to maximise their own benefit.
General Questions: No general questions
Subject: PPE A Levels: Economics, Maths, Further Maths, History Date: 7/12/08 Place: Oxord, Balliol No of interviewers: Two tutors, in two different interviews Academic Questions: Interview One Passed a box of fair trade tea and asked my thought. Was steered towards the supply and demand side of a firm with monopolistic and monopsonistic power as could be the case without fair trade. Discussed the trickle down effect of the fair trade benefits. Drew a diagram to demonstrate the actual benefit to the consumer and producer. Interview Two Was given a sheet five minutes before with definitions and question and examples. Was more in the style of a word play. I was asked of my thoughts on the definition of intention- a person intends to do something if and only if they want to do it. Was asked how relevant a definition this was in three different cases. When I showed some unease with such a rigid definition I was asked to propose an alternative. The interview then turned toward Wolff's into to political philosophy. Is it right for a govt to intervene in the affair of the states people? Broke it down into- was a state justified and- under which circumstances the intervention would be ethical. Faced a lot of resistance with constant counter-arguing. However the counterarguments were common to the topic using anarchical logic etc. Subject: PPE A Levels: English, History, Maths, Economics Date: December 2008 Place: Trinity, Oxford No of interviewers: 3 Academic Questions: Politics: Having not done politics, what areas are you interested in. American Elections - what was interesting about them, something about Obama and evangelical Christians, was his wanting support for them incongruent with anti-Free Trade policies. Economics: Got given a sheet of paper with a game theory question on it. Something like: People A, B and C, A and B have £35, C has £25. A asks B for money; if B accepts than he gets £50 minus the amount given to A, A gets the money B gives him.
If the exchange happens, C loses £5. What would happen? What would a social planner think of the situation? Philosophy: One question, 'What is a lie?'. General Questions: None, nothing about Personal statement.
Subject: P.P.E. / E and M A Levels: Economics, English, History, Maths Date: Dec 08 Place: Keble / St Benets No of interviewers: Keble interviews 2 tutors in each, St Benets 3 tutors and seperate interview with senior master + colleague Academic Questions: Keble Economics: Two econ tutors took it in turns to ask questions on mathematical/economics puzzle given 20 mins before interview. First question was about whether a firm should enter a market to challenge an existing monopoly and the incumbent firms reaction and feasible responses to possible entry e.g. Firm A is a monopoly making 300,000 profits. If Firm B decides to enter it will incur costs of 60,000 and each company will now gain 100,000 profits. Firm A can start a price war or engage in advertising etc, should Firm B still enter the market on each occasion and which would be Firm As best strategy... Question was arguably flawed as only short term (i.e. one year/one time period game theory) was allowed... Second question was about auctions and the best way for the buyers and sellers to gain the best possible outcome. Buyer A had a ceiling price of 200 and Buyer B 100. Two types of Auction, Dutch and English. Dutch bid down in 10s from 500, English bid up in 10s from 0. Main aims of buyers are to 1) secure product and 2) pay cheapest price. Questions asked along lines of which situation favoured buyer/seller given original perfect information and later including asymmetry of information No general questions or personal statement questions. Keble Politics and Philosophy: Politics tutor first asked about areas most enjoyed in A-Level History course. Then followed a discussion about difference between intention to and actual carrying out of a crime with regards to punishment - e.g. If two men are holding a gun and pull the trigger but one gun doesn't go off, should the man who didn't manage to kill someone be punished in the same way as the person who murdered successfully... Philosophy was entirely based around 3 similar arguments which consisted of two premises and a conclusion. The third one was clearly false but you had to explain why: All people over 10ft tall are over 5ft tall, People over 5ft tall are numerous, Therefore people over 10ft tall are numerous... Keble Economics and Management: After econ interview for ppe got asked if i'd like to attend an e and m interview simultaneously to my ppe application, explicitly stated that it would not effect my ppe
application and that i would be considered for both courses... Interview itself consisted of more mathematical/game theory puzzles. There are 100 light bulbs connected to 100 light switches. There are 100 Oxford tutors numbered 1 to 100. Tutor 1 turns on light switch one and all multiples of 1. Tutor 2 light switch 2 and all multiples of 2 and so on and so forth. How many light switches are left on? (there were questions leading towards an answer but i can't remember them all...) Then there was a general management interview centring around where one would place a fort on a map given there was an enemy, finite number of resources, men, strategic positions etc and discussions based on initial decision. Then got asked about whether i'd consider doing e and m over ppe, whether i was interested in management etc but again made clear that application was being considered for both subjects and that supposedly could get asked to choose between the two... St Benets PPE: Automatically got interviewed there as was 2nd choice college (received letter for interview before pp interview at keble...) Consisted of brief questioning about labour market graphs, post code lottery and another question on punishment/justification. General Questions: No general questions in academic interviews but did have a general interview at St Benets with college master and the former master of All Souls (?)... Questions centred around what i thought i would bring to the college, extracurricular interests etc, whether i would fit in with the traditional surroundings, brief questions on job/gap year plans, as well as more detailed discussion of my take on the current economic situation.
Subject: Economics A Levels: Economics, History, Maths, Further Maths Date: 11th December 2008 Place: Cambridge, Emmanuel College No of interviewers: 4, 2 interviews with two people each Academic Questions: • After a set reading on current governmental policies, I was asked how quantitative easing would effect the price of government bonds, and the effect on the yield of the bonds. • Why at a time of recession and when our economy is approaching deflation, should we have negative interest rates. How would this help our current situation. • f(x)=A-Bx. Sketch the curve y=f(x) • Sketch the curve y=Ax-Bx2 • What would be the rational way to pay for a bill at
the end of a meal at a restaurant? o Would you split the bill equally? o Would you split the bill accordingly to the price of what you ordered? • If a consumer was observed buying a good for £20, and then seen buying two of the same good when it was sold at £10 each, would the consumer buy two units of that good for £28 together. • A man buys a lottery ticket, and pays for insurance against burglary. Is this an inconsistent act? General Questions: • Asked why I wanted to study Economics • The reason for me taking retakes in certain AS modules
Subject: PPE A Levels: History, English, Maths and Economics Date: December 5th 2008 Place: Pembroke, Oxford No of interviewers: 4 Academic Questions: First question was called 'the unexpected exam' problem, basically the question was that a headmaster has told his students in the last week of the term that he will set them a test and that they won't know about it the night before, a clever pupil says that because the headmaster never lies, based on his conditions there won't be a test. I was then asked to explain why. I talked for a bit out loud for a bit and with a little bit of prompting clocked that it's a standard backward induction question. Politics Don asked me how I'd go about writing an essay on the links between economic growth and democracy, I told him I'd want to get some case studies and actual data about the economic changes of countries as they've made democratic reforms. He then gave me a graph and asked me what it showed, I said it showed a positive correlation between economic growth and democracy but qualified my statement, saying that the graph was ambiguous as it gave no indication of whether economic growth caused democracy or vice-versa. The politics guy seemed to like this and started nodding pretty hard. Philosophy guy asked me another game theory question. Apparently it's quite famous but I'd never heard of it. There are two boxes, one has £10 and the other has either £0 or £1000. You can take both of the boxes or choose only one. However, the guy who decides which amount will be in the second box always knows whether you'll pick a single box or take both and decides that if you're going to pick both boxes then he'll put nothing in the second box, but that if you're going to pick a single box, he'll put £1000 in the second box. The question is then which should you pick... I wasn't great
on this partly because the question is quite a difficult one to articulate and the philosophy Don had an eastern european accent and wasn't very good at explaining it. The Economics don then asked me about advertising in the real world and asked me to compare it to advertising in perfect competition. Talked about perfect competition for a bit... Subject: PPE A Levels: History; Economics; Maths; Latin Date: 8th December 2008 Place: Worcester - Oxford No of interviewers: Two interviewers for each interview. Academic Questions: First interview with the Economics and Politics dons, picked up words or phrases used in my Personal Statement and drew out my understanding whilst stimulating discussion. For example, talked a lot about Globalisation with the Economics don, referencing my reading of Joseph Stiglitz and developing it into economic principles such as negative externalities. Talked about the concept of Alienation with the Politics don, elaborating into how Marx's views are still accessable and examples in the real world, followed by discussion over how the problem could be remedied Second interview with two Philosophy Dons, given a sheet of logic and philosophy questions to think through 25 mins before actually sitting down with the dons. Logic questions about sheep on a farm, e.g. if most of the sheep are lambs and most of the sheep are white, must most of the sheep be white lambs? Stuck closely to the questions on the sheet for the logic part. The "philosphy" questions combined problems about arguments (if these premises hold must it lead to this conclusion) and some basic moral problems (how far is someone responsible for their actions if they can see no other way?), diverted more into discussion. General Questions: No real general questions, was asked whether I enjoyed puzzle solving but not in an entirely serious manner.
Subject: Economics A Levels: History, Electronics, Economics, Further Mathematics, Physics Date: 09/12/2008 Place: St. Catharine's, Cambridge No of interviewers: 1 (in general interview) then 2 (in Economics interview)
Academic Questions: I was asked to/on/about: -Explain what Economics is... -Books in my personal statement (arguement summary, sections which appealed to me) -A non-mainstream economics(-related) book I'd read recently & what I'd learned from it (seemed happy I talked about a statistics book instead) -Current economics stuff, esp. on what to do with fiscal/monetary solutions THEN linked to exchange rate mechanism stuff (long & confusing) -Development Economics: --->Prebisch-Singer --->S. Korea & Patents --->protectionism (linked with current Economics discussion too) --->Comparative advantage vs. expected increased returns as reasons for trade specialisation (talked about Japan & S. Korean car industry immediately post-war) -How can I relate Economics to: --->The prisoner's dilemma (& subsequent qs on cartels) --->A topic I'd studied in History --->Any aspect of Amazonian tribes (was asked to make up stuff)...(my general interviewer was a Dr in Human Geography) General Questions: -Do I have a life? (presumably outside of academic stuff) -How good was my teaching (esp. in Economics)? -Do I think I will pass my A-levels? -Why do an economics degree? -What does economics mean to me? -Why my college?
Subject: Economics A Levels: Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Economics Date: 5/12/08 Place: Jesus, Cambridge No of interviewers: 2 interviews - one in each Academic Questions: Both interviews were based on a 10 page prep study given an hour before the first interview. It was about how the physical and human geography of Africa affects it's economic development (written by Paul Collier). First interview was mainly based on how much I absorbed from the text (key ideas and concepts: though mainly focusing on the physical side. Asked about my personal opinion regarding the future of Africa. At the end of this, a maths question relating to the theme of the text was given: Find Revenue Maxmisation where R=-x^2+2x. Second interview was more on the human geography of the text, but tended to attack and challenge every point made. (e.g. comparing the situations with that of other countries...) Really only needed to know
basic economics (e.g. investment is important for growth...)They tried to get you to think on your feet as much as possible. Didn't question my personal statement or books I'd read. General Questions: Only question not based on the article (right at the very end) Why Cambridge?
Subject: Economics & Mangement A Levels: Further Maths, Maths, Economics, Physics, Chemistry Date: 10/12/08-12/12/08 Place: Pembroke, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 people in each Interview Academic Questions: I had two interviews, each one had 1 Economics and 1 Management tutor, one asked questions while one took notes-this seemed to be the format for most candidates at the college. First Interview Why Economics & Management? Why Management? Why do we study Management? (Mention differing social aspect of management, dynamic nature of people-don't make the mistake of saying Econ is theoretical and Management is practical, they do NOT want to hear that) It took him over 5 minutes to give me the next question: A traveller walking through the desert, has 2 enemies who follow him. Traveller is carrying bottle of water/food. While the traveller is sleeping, Enemy 1 poisons his water and sneaks away. Enemy 2 follows, not knowing Enemy 1 has been there before and plugs a hole in the bottle so the water flows out. Traveller dies of dehydration the next day. You're the prosecution, you have all the evidence, which Enemy will you prosecute for murder and why? (Neither, argue along the lines of Intent/Action/Consequence) Then the Economics tutor asked me a maths question: y=-x^3. What type of function is it? Explain. What graphical property does such a function have? Find the tangent at the point where x=-2. Second Interview What questions were you asked in the first interview? Economics Tutor: Suppose you're one of four firms in a new industry prone to fashion/fads, you know the industry will not exist 10 years from now. You all face a choice: form a cartel and collude to restrict output and raise price (make more SNP), or just produce competitively as is. Rules: If you break away from the cartel, you raise output and make massive profits that year, but you will not be able to produce in the industry ever again. What is going to happen now-is a cartel going to be formed (Use backward induction to get to answer-start from the 10th year). Management Tutor: Establish why firms in different industries make different levels of profit. Then had a long discussion about why firms in the SAME industry make different levels of profit (assuming they face the same costs/operate in the same
market)-special reference to the airline industry in the US, and the car industry in Japan/US. Then briefly spoke about why football players salaries should be capped-argument that football clubs won't make profits. Do you think football clubs will make a profit? Is it likely that these profits are passed on to players in terms of higher wages? Use specific examples. General Questions: Where have you come from? Tell me about your school. What are you studying in Maths/Economics? What do you plan to do in your gap year?
Subject: Economics A Levels: Maths, Further Maths, Economics, Physics Date: 15/12/2008 Place: Cambridge, Sidney Sussex No of interviewers: 1st interview: 1 interviewer, 2nd interview: 2 interviewers Academic Questions: 1st Interview: What is the role of the financial sector, in a more marcoeconomic perspective? Draw the circular flow of income diagram. What is the equation for Aggregate Demand? Working with your AD equation and the following equations, equate them for savings: i) S = Y - T - C ii) AD = Y Estimate the percentages deficits/surpluses of each component of the resultant equation for the US. Note that overall, savings are negative. 2nd Interview: So what does Nigel Lawson know about green economics and what are his views on the topic? Assume that everyone in poverty in Bangladesh will die as a result of no curbing of CO2 emissions, why should the developed world care? Try to consider it from a social welfare aspect. The interviewer places 7 blank pieces of paper on a coffee table and asks me to choose two, then reveals the two graphs I chose. The interviewer asks me to relate the two graphs, see whether there was any correlation, and explain why from an economic perspective, what I would expect. The two graphs were one of a linear graph of the S&M 500 stock listing, and of CPI inflation rates in the US, from 19862005. General Questions: No general questions.
A Levels: Maths, Physics, History, Economics Date: 8/12/08 Place: St. Peter's College, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 Academic Questions: Economics: He asked me what in my Economics course at school I found particularly interesting. He then asked me questions on the subject I raised (power with the interviewee) and helped me talk through some of the questions/problems raised. Politics: Asked me about what interested me in my History course at school, and asked me questions about that, getting me to explain and try to justify slavery in the USA. He then asked me about the Obama election (current affairs - know your stuff!). General Questions:
Subject: PPE A Levels: Maths, Physics, History, Economics Date: 8/12/08 Place: St. Peter's College, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 Academic Questions: Politics: Asked me about any area in politics that particularly interested me. I mentioned some things on my personal statement - but he seemed to disregard this and ask me about China anyway. Questions were about how China's free trade/totalitarian government and how this interplays. Then further questions about protectionism and free trade and how that relates to the government in control (democratic/totalitarian). Philosophy: Asked me what interested me in Philosophy. I mentioned a book I had read and a part that particularly interested me (Descartes' Meditations) and we talked about epistomology. His questions got increasingly complicated - about why scepticism is important and the value of knowing that we know what we know. General Questions: none
A Levels: Further Maths, History, Economics Date: 08.12.2008 Place: St Catharine's College, Cambridge No of interviewers: 1 person in general interview (human geographer) 2 economists (funnily enough) Academic Questions: What caused the current financial crisis? (for those in later years, that's the credit crunch and collapse of banks etc.). What measures do you think should be taken to solve these problems? Explain the multiplier effect? What affects its size? - propensity to save/spend/invest Could nationalisation of banks lead to them having monopoly power? What problems do banks suffer from in LEDCs? Do you know any banks that have managed to get around these problems? - Grameen bank Said in personal statement that was interested in economic theory, as well as its limitations - what are its limitations? What is perfect competition? Which economic models do you think are most relevant or applicable? General Questions: Why economics? Why St Catharine's? Asked me couple questions about extra-curricular stuff on my p.s. that were unusual. What does it mean to be poor? How is this measured? What does it mean to be happy? How is this measured? He was a human geographer so asked my about environmental degradation and how this can e measured. He liked measuring stuff, and discussing problems that arise with the relevant methods of doing so. Subject: PPE A Levels: Maths, English, History, Latin Date: 9th December 2008 Place: Oxford, Somerville College No of interviewers: 1 for an Economics interview and 2 for a Politics/Philosophy interview Academic Questions: Before the economics interview I was given fifteen minutes to prepare the following question:
"You are playing a game with at least one other person, in which each of you has to simultaneously choose a number between 1 and 100 (decimals allowed). The winner is the person who chooses the number closest to two thirds of the average of all the numbers chosen. What number should you choose?" After we talked about this problem in the interview, the interviewer asked me about competition, asset prices and what affects them, and we talked about instances in which the idea of second guessing human response to things/anticipating trends would be relevant e.g. share prices. (n.b. she was aware that I didn't do economics) In the Politics/Philosophy interview, I spent the first 5-10 minutes talking to the Politics tutor, who mentioned a book that I said I'd read on my personal statement, asking me why and what about it I enjoyed. So we talked about liberty, Isaiah Berlin's "Two Concepts of Liberty", and a bit of Marxist political philosophy. The Philosophy tutor then asked me about Descartes, and what interested me about him (I'd talked about him in my personal statement). We moved on to logic, and she then gave me a list of statements like this: 'Jim is lying' 'Jim is not telling the truth'. I had to find instances in which one of these could be true and the other false, and vice-versa. General Questions: In the economics interview: Why do you want to study economics?
Subject: Economics and Management Date: 10/12/08 -12/12/08 Place: Oxford - St Hugh's No of interviewers: 2 interviews - 1 person in each Academic Questions: Economics Interview: There are two banks, one offers annual interest rates of 5% in the first year, 4% in the second and 3% in the third. The other one offers 3% in the first, 4% in the second and 5 % in the third. Which bank will you put your money in? Differentiate e^(e^x). A chain rule maths question. A logic question about 10 people: person one knows 9 people, person 2 knows 8 people, person 3 knows 7 people...person 9 knows 1 person. How many people does person 10 know? There was another person in the room (research student I think) and whilst the tutor conducted the interview he read my personal statement. After the tutor had finished, he then picked out the books I had said I had read and asked a few questions about those. Management interview: I know you haven't done biology for a few years but....WHAT IS A MAMMAL? What are the characteristics of a mammal?....He went on about this for a good 10 minutes and at the end he told me I needed to think 'outside the box'. I really didn't see the point of this. Let's talk about the financial crisis. Do you think we should have a world government?
What do you think of the steps the government has taken to improve the economy? General Questions: Why do you want to study economics and management? Are there any questions you would like to ask me? How do you think you did in the TSA?
Subject: PPE A Levels: Maths, History, French, Chemistry, AS Critical Thinking Date: December 2008 Place: Wadham and Balliol, Oxford No of interviewers: 3 interviews, 2 people at each Academic Questions: Interview 1:Economics: It was all about auctions- At an auction what does the auctioneer want? What does the bidder want? How do auctions differ from other methods of distributing goods? What might you sell at an auction and why? How might you make a profit at an auction? If we auctioned a pot of money with unknown value to you and the other candidates, what would you expect to happen? What if the pot was replaced with a painting? Philosophy: He wrote the following statements on the board: "We ought to drive on the left hand side of the road", "Barack Obama is prettier than George Bush", "Slavery is wrong", "The Earth is round". He then asked- Assuming these statements are all facts, is there anything different about them? (I didn't get this so he had to explain that the first statement was a fact we imposed on ourselves whilst the last one was a fact that could be scientifically proven). He then asked if the fact about slavery was more similar to the first or last fact and why. Interview 2 (politics): First we talked about international relations. He asked why countries made treaties with one another and then why they made human rights treaties with one another. We then had a general discussion about this. The second part was weird. I was given a bar graph which showed the percentage of people in different age groups who called themselves patriotic. With each increasing age group, a higher percentage of people were patriotic. He asked how the graph could be interpreted (I said either people became increasingly patriotic as they aged or successive generations were becoming less patriotic). He asked which seemed more likely and why and then challenged my answers. Interview 3 (Politics and economics at Balliol): He saw that I'd written about Jonathan Wolff's book on my personal statement and we discussed whether the state could be justified. In the economics part, I was asked about micro-finance because I'd written about it on my personal statement but I think I missed the point of what she was asking... General Questions: None at Wadham. At Balliol they asked what I'd thought of my Wadham interviews... Subject: PPE
Place: Oxford Pembroke
No of interviewers: 3
Academic Questions: The tutors asked me to choose which area out of the three I would like to start with and the philosophy fellow picked up on Descartes, which I mentioned in my personal statement. How would I know that the situation was reality and not a dream or something I had just imagined? I said something about determining the existence of an external world I am connecting to by perhaps conferring with them, thus to gain a cumulative perspective. Or if something occurs that surprises me then I would know I did not fabricate it and its not something internal. He asked about how would one could determine certainty if we are limited by our physical senses and the politics guy followed this about how I would go about determining conviction in political ideas. He also asked about the conflict of public and private interest and how government should be organised to fulfil both. The economics fellow asked me about a piece of chocolate being broken into 100 pieces and the smallest number of times it could be broken. Also about whether inflation was possible in a barter economy. I think they approved if you broke the problems into composite aspects and looked at it comprehensively as well as in a straight forward fashion. The politics tutor followed these problems by asking me a question about game theory then asking me to relate the thought experiment to the real world. I responded relating it to the unequal bargaining power of large buyers and small agricultural suppliers in the developing world.
General Questions: No general questions
Subject: Economics Date of Interview: 14/12/7 Place: Christ's, Cambridge No of interviewers: 3 (2 in the academic interview, 1 in the general interview) Academic Questions:
Given that you have estimated the value of a human life to be £1.4m (I submitted an essay on calculating the value of a human life known as the VSL- value of a statistical life) would you spend £50m on a rescue mission to help three astronauts stranded in space?
Knowing that I was studying British History 1919-1939, I was asked what was relevant from that time period in the last six months.
There is a £20000 investment with a 25% chance of reaping £100000 (and so a 75% chance of losing your money)- what would you do?
A man leaves a lecture room (call it room A) and goes into another lecture room (call it room B). In doing so, the average age in room A goes up and the average age in room B goes up. What has just happened? It is possible that the man was in the older half of the people in room A?
I was shown a quadratic equation and told that it was a total cost curve- I was asked what was the relationship between output and total costs. I talked about the derivatives.
There are four envelopes containing either £60, £30, £15 or £5. There are two people, A and B who each have one envelope. They know what is in their own envelope but not in the other person's. They are told that if they both want to swap envelopes, a swap will take place. But if one of them does not want to OR they both don't want to, then no swap will take place. What do you expect to happen?
Given that most people from your school like to take a gap year, why aren't you?
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Don't you think it is strange that you do not study the Great Depression in Economics A level?
We talked about politics in Sri Lanka. I tried to keep it economicsy by talking about corruption.
Place: Christ Church, Oxford
No of interviewers: 2 (Both economics tutors)
Academic Questions: Given 4 questions in envelope 20minutes before. 1) A town has a fairground with rides. One councillor says charge entry fee and then unlimited use. Another councillor says no entry fee,but charge for each ride. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each system? Which is best for profit-maximising? 2) What are the implications of the falling dollar on the rest of the world? 3) Draw the curve modx+mody=1 4) For the curve modx+mody is less than or equal to root2, find the point where x^2+y^2 is maximised.
Subject: PPE Date: December, 2007 Place: Lincoln, Oxford Comments: Interview 1 I see you have finished your a-levels what have you been doing? Where do economic principles apply there? You learned about perfect completion, what are the conditions of it? So why do firms operate at P=MC? Ok so if you extend the MC curve so that it crosses the demand curve twice does it matter which point it cuts are they both equal, and why? Given that information can you plot the average cost curve? What does logic mean to you? Two logic problems- sleep is the best help and not to get confuses with the wordiness (not that I achieved either) Interview 2
Given graphs 20min before. Then asked to describe and give possible reasons for trends. What is democracy? What are the flaws in it? If a building was burning who is it ethical to save - your family member or a doctor./cancer research? Why discussion centred on this for 10 minutes. Subject: PPE Date: December 2007 Place: Corpus Christi, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 interviews with 2 people in each Academic Questions: Politics - assess the merits of individual leadership versus collegiate leadership. Also discussed the issue of accountability in politics. Philosophy - had to defend something I had said on personal statement (that there are no right or wrong answers in philosophy) so he asked what is the point of having such a philosophy department if there are no right answers. Economics - mainly asked questions around the theory of the firm (weird question about Chinese college returns) and game theory. General Questions: What areas and skills of previous studies do you think are the most similar to those you will encounter in PPE?
Subject: PPE Date: December 2007 Place: Oriel, Oxford No of interviewers: Two per interview; one interview for each subject Academic Questions: Politics: I was given a choice of three questions, one of which I had to discuss. I chose to explore torture. Questions were a) give examples of general rules against torture which would be accessible worldwide; b) would this mean that there would be no opportunity for torture? c) if you were a politician who could use torture extra-legally to obtain information which could save lives on a large scale (i.e. 9/11) would you do this?. After talking through these, they asked more specific questions on the model I had suggested such as the moral implications of those who had to administer torture (professional torturers? - 'not a Sunday afternoon job') and the fact that my utilitarian basis contradicted my insistence on transparency
and accountability. They tried to get me into a position where I would contradict myself. Then we started to move on to wider questions such as who should rule? which came out of the discussion, but ran out of time. Philosophy: This was entirely on logic. They did not ask me anything about ethics or political philosophy, which I had mentioned on my personal statement. I was given a sheet with three questions to 'think over' for 20 mins. One of the questions looked at ambiguities in language i.e. Alice and Bob picked up a crate - had to find instances in which A and B EACH picked up a crate was true, but A and B TOGETHER picked up a crate was false, and vice versa. Then had to explain if a list of similar statements had the same type of ambiguity, and give examples. The other was an article disputing natural selection, a counter-argument and a reply. I had to find the main points of the argument and counter argument, and explain how the analogies worked. Economics: I was given the pirate question and macro data to look at beforehand. On the pirate question: is this fair? what would happen if D and E were offered the opposite number of coins? if A were more risk-loving what could A have offered? On the macro data over a twenty year period - was given three graphs showing export and import levels, income growth and exchange rate levels. Questions included: example of trade deficit and surplus? When does rate of imports increase? How to find this mathematically? How to find balance of payments? How to find total debt? General Questions: Was based completely on the material (questions, articles, etc) they had given 20 mins beforehand to prepare - no questions on my personal statement, specific books I read, etc.
Subject: P.P.E. Date: 03/12/07 Place: Worcester, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 interviews, 2 people in each Academic Questions: First interview (2 philosophy fellows) - given 25 minutes to read through a logic question and a philisophical "puzzle". Logic question - there is an island and on this island there are white, brown and black bears. There are three different types of bear, alpha, beta, gamma (bears can be more than one type). There then followed a set of questions based on observations which were initially taken to be true, and then taken to be untrue. I then had to explain my reasoning as to whether a statement made was therefore true or false. The philisophical puzzle was to do with the self - something along the lines of: A person never changes, my body is always changing (based on scientific facts e.g. cells are always being replaced etc) therefore I am not my body. Effectively had to then discuss the two premises and the conclusion... Was allowed to make notes and then had to explain my conclusions to the interviewers, one logic, one the more general philisophical question. Second interview (1 economics and 1 politics) - Economics tutor first started by asking me a little bit about the work I had sent up, before
progressing onto the fact that I had discussed a bit of my stone essay in my personal statement - asked my opinions on specific facts and asked me about how I had carried out some data analysis and about my more general conclusions. Politics tutor then started by asking me about free speech, in particular in relation to the recent debate that had been sparked by the Oxford Union allowing Irvine and Griffin to debate free speech a week earlier. Reasoned about whether or not it was acceptable and where the line could be drawn over what is acceptable and what is not in terms of free speech. Then he had a stock question (asked every candidate i spoke to...) about a South African sprinter, Oscar Pistorius, who has had his legs amputated just below the knee and now has special prosphetic "blades" which allow him to run. He is almost Olympic standard and the question ran along the lines of whether or not I thought he should be allowed to compete in the next Olympics. General Questions: Why did I want to study P.P.E.?
Subject: Economics And Management Date: 5th-7th Dec 2007 Place: Hertford College, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 in the first interview, 1 in the second Academic Questions: The first interview was entirely based on my written work. The second interview had mathematics questions about circular motion and hypotheses testing about intellectual people listening to classical music (who you would survey etc). There was also a question about sustainable development techniques if I was a politician in a developing country. General Questions: None at the first interview. At the second interview, where I see myself in five years.
Subject: Economics Date: 3/12/07 Place: Cambridge, Queens' No of interviewers: Two Academic Questions: Do you believe it was right for the government to inject the volume of money they did into Northern Rock? What economic lessons can be learnt from the Northern Rock experience? Differential equations, graph sketching, statistically analysing normal distributions. Statistical comparisons of a different scale projects, relating to the effects of demand upon revenues of these projects.
General Questions: None
Neither interviewer came across as being hostile. No questions asked were intended to trick you. Subject: Economics Date: 6th December 2007 Place: Gonville & Caius, Cambridge No of interviewers: 1 (general interview) + 2 (economics interview) Academic Questions: Economics interview: In your personal statement you talk about the interplay between social and economic goals. Do you think there is a tradeoff here? What's the difference between equity and equality? [some more questions that i forget] How would you try and measure poverty? What do you think of alternative measures: e.g. measuring happiness? Is there scope for government policy in this case? Draw y=4/x2. What did Northern Rock do wrong? As a mathematician do you not find it frustrating that economic models of human behaviour are not very mathematically rigorous? General Questions: General interview: Why economics? How have you shown independence, time management etc. so that you will be able to cope at university? What other activities may you take part in at Gonville & Caius &/Cambridge Subject: Economics Date: 29/11/07 Place: Jesus Cambridge No of interviewers: one person in each of the two interviews Academic Questions: Explain the theory behind a model given two hours beforehand (Director's Law); explain how to find the profit maximising quantity given a profit function for a quadratic and a cubic, including explaining whether it was a maximum or a minimum; talk about the best choices for players in a given game theory situation, including whether allowing the players to talk beforehand would change the expected outcome; talk about whether given statistics were plausible (correlations between corruption, freedom of the press, and time in power of the current government); why do you want to study economics; how could we price drinks to alter the amount of binge drinking. General Questions: None, although they did ask if I had any questions for them.
Subject: PPE Date: 3/10/07 Place: Oxford University, Univ No of interviewers: 2 in each interview. 2 interviews one PP one E Academic Questions: POLITICS based entirely on passage given before interview. PHILOSOPHY. Can't remember exactly. There are 2 boxes, one contains £100, the other contains either £0 or £1000. You can choose either the second box only or both boxes. There is a predictor who knows exactly how you are going to act before you make your choice. He is never wrong. If he knows that you will pick both boxes, he puts nothing in the second box. If he knows that you will choose the second box only, he puts £1000 in the second box. Which choice do you make? You have a friend who knows what is in the boxes, is it worth listening to his advice before making a choice, assuming that he has your interests at heart? Can the friend ever see £1100? That’s not exactly right, something along those lines anyway ECONOMICS. 20 mins to think about problem based on auctions. System where the highest bidder wins the item, but pays the amount bid by the second highest bidder. It is a secret auction. Will this system encourage honest valuations from the bidders? (i.e. will they bid what they value the item to be rather than exaggerating/undervaluing) Answer is yes. Compare to other systems of bidding. General Questions: None. Nothing on personal statement or essays. Only asked about the problems set and the passage.
Subject: PPE Date: 3/12/2007 Place: Corpus Christi College, Oxford No of interviewers: four in all, two in each of my two interviews Academic Questions: In Economics: Looked at a graph and discussed possible reasons for the increasing difference between the average earnings of high school graduates and college graduates in China- talked about the development of industries requiring greater levels of expertise, then was asked more generally about trade and globalisation. then on the other side of the sheet was a question with a game theory problem, where there were two players and a sum of money and one player had to guess a number for the amount of money, the sum they guess would go to the person with the money whilst they would get the remainder, and the idea was for the player guessing to profit maximise. The questions they asked were similar for all the candidates at the college. 10 minutes. In Philosophy: had a discussion about rights and the difference between rights and interests, and could I think of any cases in which my interests did not overlap with my rights. 10 minutes. In Politics: began with something from my personal statement, Joseph Stigllitz's Globalisation and its
Discontents, went on to discuss the political impacts of Globalisation for the rest of the interview, which was very much directed by the interviewer and he seemed to have a clear idea of where he wanted to go. General Questions: None
Subject: PPE Date: Dec 2007 Place: Oxford, St Peters No of interviewers: 2 in first and second, 3 in third Academic Questions: Politics: What is your earliest political memory? Explain the relevance of that and how it affected politics at the time? Ask any question about politics that interests you? Now answer that question. What is leadership? Philosophy: What reading have you done about philosophy? Little talk about that. Do you believe in God? Explain why (logically or rationally). Now argue the opposite argument. Economics: Discuss the main article in the economist last week? (Something on the weakening US dollar). What have you been studying at school? Discussion about oligopoly and whether in the supermarket industry it is the preferable structure for the food market at the moment. Lots of UNIT 4. PPE interview: Is taxation the same as slavery? They basically managed to make me agree after much cleverness that it was. What History have you been discussing at school? Why do you enjoy it? Puzzles: they gave me two simple arguments structured exactly the same way that worked and then gave me another that didn't and asked me to discuss why it didn't work. Venn diagrams popped up. They asked me to go through and explain a piece of text on economics which had some very simple maths, about whether one firm would enter the market if the other firm did various things to try and dissuade them. Stuff on firms objectives, limit, predatory pricing. Subject: Economics Date: 10/12/2007 Place: Fitzwilliam, Cambridge No of interviewers: 2 Academic Questions: they showed me 3 graphs about lending, borrowing and interest rates and then they asked me to explain any relations between the graphs. Then they asked me to relate this to the U.K economy in the past. Then they asked me about monopolies and stuff. General Questions: No general questions. They just asked me about maths and development economics. They said I have got an article here, I am not going to show it to you, but it is about climate change and how it affects the rich and the poor
differently. They asked me to explain what the article could be about. And they kept on switching between maths and economics Subject: PPE Date: 3/12/06 to 6/12/06 Place: Oxford, Univ. College No of interviewers: 2 people in each of the two interviews Academic Questions: Dividing a cake: what is the fairest way to divide a cake between two people if they are indifferent to who cuts and who chooses. What's wrong with the system of I cut, you choose? Should governments be obliged to go to war, based entirely around an article/passage. Is war mainly governed by self interest? Variation on the Doctor's Dilemma in Economics, this time a drugs test at an airport. Also the inheritance game: mother wants to give an heirloom to one of her 7 daughters, but doesn't know what they value it at, what's the best system to produce an honest answer from all of them? General Questions: None, entirely academic and nothing from personal statement/books read Subject: economics Date: 4.12.06 Place: Cambridge, Trinity No of interviewers: two separate interviews, one on one in each. Academic Questions: Are there any benefits of child labour? If university is simply a screening device for employers rather than an addition to pupils' capital, then does that make a difference to who should pay for university? Then was given a graph showing the ratio of wages of the top decile to the bottom decile for men and women, and asked why inequality had increased more in the case of men than for women. General Questions: None.
Subject: Economics Date: 5th December 2006 Place: Magdalene, Cambridge
No of interviewers: two interviews, general with one non-economist and academic with two economists Academic Questions: economist's solution to climate change. ummarise the stern report on climate change. what would change the gradient of the AS curve (rather than shifting it)? what's happening in the foreign exchange market at the moment? (dollar depreciating) why is this so? give some examples of foreign companies taking over british businesses. what effect will this have on the UK economy? who else was nominated for the 2006 economics nobel prize apart from Phelps (the winner)? tell me about microfinance. General Questions: asked me a question about the essay i sent in. Looking at personal statement, asked about my work experience and what i did there. also a few maths questions, integration and differentiation : integrate 1/x differentiate sinx - cosx and a couple of other maths things i can't remember of similar standard. what countries i've travelled to. any questions?
Subject: PPE Date: December 2006 Place: Oxford, Queens college No of interviewers: 2 in both interviews Academic Questions: PPE 1 hour test that you really can not revise for. Two interviews both twenty minutes, one for economics and politics, one for philosophy. Both entirely based on questions given before going in to the interview (one question for each subject), again not really anything you can prepare for. Economics question about train times/cost vs the opportunity cost of taking the car. Politics question about various voter preferences and what you should advise candidates to do in order to get the maximum amount of votes. Meant to use common sense. They seemed to want you to think out loud and talk through the process. The Philosophy question gave a definition of acting freely: the ability to have acted otherwise in a given situation. Then they gave a situation when person A has his hand seized and is forced to turn a light switch on. Was he acting freely? Whether or not you said yes or no you needed to argue your case. I said person was not acting freely. Then asked who actually turned on the light in this situation. I said it was the person whose finger came into contact with the switch. Then they said that by definition, if the person was wearing a glove, would it be the glove that turned on the light? I the changed my mind and said the person who turned it on would be the person who had the idea (in his own head) to turn it on. Then they counter argued not exactly sure what they meant. Then asked what is choice/ decision? (answer they gave is that choice is simply choice!) But I tried to twist their question and answered in terms of what affects choice. General Questions: Nothing about my personal statement, Nothing about my essays I sent up, No general questions about current affairs/ books I had read.
Subject: PPE Date: December 2006 Place: Pembroke College, Oxford No of interviewers: 3 Academic Questions: Politics: What is the intellectual justification of studying politics? With the passing of Marxism in the mainstream is liberalism now the dominant objective towards which all ideas aim? Some extensive discussion about democracy, comparing Hobbes and Locke, should political ideas be seen in the context of the period they were developed etc Any country that is democratic with a GDP per capita over $4,000 has never regressed away from democracy, why? How does Russia fit into this model? What countries would be considered economically developed but not democratic (e.g Singapore). Economics: Why is there a business cycle? Brief discusion of automatic stabilisers and how a government budget changes through the cycle (comparing golden rule to reality). What are solutions to recession, specifically how do Keynes and Neo-Liberals differ? Tutor drew a line on a blank piece of paper with no axis or anything and asked what it meant. Philosophy: How do I know that you're thinking? Can a computer think? If we could build a computer that was capable of independent thought and not just able to follow pre-programmed instructions would it be the same as a human brain? What is the difference between a belief and knowledge, can we have false knowledge? General Questions: None!
Subject: Politics Date: 2006 Place: Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 Academic Questions: "You wrote about Shostakovich in your personal statement, do you think art can thrive under tyrannical regimes?" followed a discussion about freedom of expression and the possible tyrannical nature of capitalist rationality. "Aren't people free to accept or reject it?" "can you really force someone to be free?" "will global capitalism bring global freedom?" Moved on to discuss globalisation. Discussed IMF policies ( from essay sent up) General Questions: none
Date: 2006 Place: Lady Margaret Hall Oxford No of interviewers: 2 Academic Questions: Interviewer had stayed up all night making up a story based around the simpsons: Why does a queue form outside a free aquarium? (scarce ressource) What is the cost of queuing? (opportunity cost for people queuing) How could we eliminate the queue? ( by charging an entry price) What would be the value of the entry ticket? (if the queue is 30mins long, that time would represent the value of the ticket) What would be the problem of having a price discriminating system for entry tickets? (establishing who should pay more and who should pay less). Give an example of a negative externality in the real world. (pollution). Would we want to eliminate it altogether? (no). One way of establishing a price for pollution? (tradeable permits) added problem specific to pollution? (intergenerational problems) General Questions: none
Subject: PPE Date: December 2006 Place: Magdalen Oxford No of interviewers: three interviews, each with one tutor Academic Questions: Philosophy: A person with £50 million is rich. For any number of N,if a person with N number of pounds is rich, a person with N-1 number of pounds is rich. Therefore a person with 1 pound is rich. It sounds plausible, but the conclusion is clearly wrong. What is the flaw of the paradox? Politics: There were three parts to the interview. The first question was about Hotelling Theory. I had a graph with the x-axis showing a poltical spectrum from left to right and the y-axis showing the number of people at that particular political bearing. Party A was labelled on the x-axis and he told me two assumptions of the model. 1. People vote for a party that is closest to them. 2. The parties are vote maximizers. He asked me where I would place my party. He also gave me a different graph and asked me the same question. Then he asked me how realistic the modelling assumptions were. The second part was about democracy. He asked whether a world we could force everyone to sit down in front of TV twice a day and vote on every single issue that comes up would be a better democracy to the system we have currently. The third part was about current affairs. He asked me what principle we should consider before military interventions in countries such as Iraq? He specified the question later by asking whether the opinions of other countries were important in making the decision. Economics: He just asked me in which topics I was particularly interested. I answered Development Economics and Theory of Firms. We talked about various development theories, including prebisch-singer hypothesis. The conversation moved
onto trade and aid. He asked me what my view was on a statement that aid is a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. On theory of firms, he asked me what I thought was the biggest flaw of the model was. General Questions: None
Subject: PPE Date: 2005 Place: Jesus, Oxford No of interviewers: 3 people, 1 interview Academic Questions: totally based on a passage given 1 1/2 hours before the interview. Outline what input and output democracy is. What type of model would you choose out of the two. In what cases is one more applicable than the other. what are the deficiencies in the two models? what assumptions are made with these models? if a party was a vote maximiser where would they position themselves on the left wing right wing divide in relation to their one and only competitior. where would the best position on the divide for both party a and party b? what about of the voters had no idea of the positioning of their party? what implicit assumptions are made in this model? why is it relevant to political debate? General Questions: none Subject: PPE Date: 5 and 6 /12/05 Place: Oxford University- Merton College No of interviewers: 2 in each of the three interviews Academic Questions: POLITICS: Talked mainly about the nature and purpose of a democracy. Is the system meant for ensuring majority rules of otherwise? ECONOMICS: Started with the problem of imperfect information and the bargaining power in a deal where one side has all the info. Moved on to inflation and why a low positive level is deemed good and a high or negative level; bad. Finished with talking about business and economy class air travel- which types of people use them, and why is there no class in between. PHILOSOPHY:Spent the whole interview talking about what types of thing it is 'impossible to intend to do'. Based on a problem called 'The toxin problem'.
General Questions: None. There were no questions that were not academic based. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: Economics and History (Modern) Date: 6 December - 9 December Place: Merton College, Oxford No of interviewers: 5 Academic Questions: There were three interviews: one for general history and personal statement, one on my history essay, and one for economics. In the second history interview I was asked specific questions concerning my essay (what improvements I could make etc) and the period I studied. In the economics interview I was given a question about cost and revenue curves (involving some differentiation), and then asked 'why do firms exist', 'if you were the government how would you decide whether to sell a park for a million pounds', and 'what are the effects of inflation and who controls it'. There was also a 30-minutes written test for economics, in which there was a maths question and an article on economic history. General Questions: How do your extracurricular interests help your academic studies? What improvements could be made to the UN? Talk about the author of one of the books you've read. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: Economics and Management Date: 08.12.05 Place: Brasenose College, Oxford No of interviewers: Two interviews each with two tutors Academic Questions: They asked about the market for used cars (market for Lemons) and what price one should offer for a car and what your expected value of the car is (stats questions). Also i was asked to do integration by parts and diffrentiation using the chain rule and product rule. I was asked about externalities and the ways to deal with them (talked about pigouvian tax and bargaining). In the managemnet interview they gave me an article about supermarkets and asked me about what effects their market power has on suppliers and consumers. General Questions: No general questions or anything from the personal statement or written work was asked. Subject: PPE
Date: 4.12.2005 Place: Christ Church, Oxford No of interviewers: Four and a written test Academic Questions: "The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it. and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it." J.S Mill --> Many philsophers find the reasoning behind this argument problematic, why? Mountain top mining in the US to extract coal by detonating mountain tops damages nearby houses, causes flooding and deforestation. If you were the senator in charge of the state how would you go about assesing the situation on economic grounds?Plot the graph y = -x^3 + 5x^2 + 2x + 3 (not quite but something similar, had roots at -1,1 & 3) then find the maximum (which turned out to need the quadratic formula or completion of the square and was at something like 1+ 2/sqrt(3))A town's governor introduces a law stating that all motorcyclists must wear helmets. Sikhs cannot wear the helmet over their turban. Is this law just? Does it treat everyone equally? Does the Sikh have grounds to complain? An advisor to a government minister discovers new information that suggests that the policy, by which he was elected, to upgrade nuclear power stations has an attatched health risk. The minister refuses to divulge the information but the advisor has signed a confidentiality agreement, what should he do? General Questions: Your A-levels look very science biased why do you want to do PPE? Subject: PPE Date: 5th December 2005 Place: Oxford - St John's No of interviewers: 2 Academic Questions: I was asked to arrive 30 minutes before the interview proper to consider an economics puzzle. This turned out to be the 'pirates' problem with three pirates, about distributing gold coins. In the interview, we went straight into this, and I answerd the three questions on the sheet correctly. He then expanded the question on the spot (What if there were more pirates? What if there was only 1 coin?). After we had had got through a few of these, the politics tutor took over. I had sent up an essay about the origins of Nazism, and the flow of question went something like this: Could Nazism conceivable take hold today? Would the EU help in deterring this? Where do you see the EU in 5 - 10 years? Have you heard of the book the Clash Of Civilisations? [yes]. Do you agree some global clash between Islam and the West is inevitable? What would you want to study at Oxford? [role of countries and governments, rise of China]. Does the rise of China present a destablising force in the region? After all that, the economics tutor asked one more question (I don't study
economics). Should Americans be worried about the rise of China in an economic sense? General Questions: The only general question was at the end - Are you applying for deferred entry? Other than that, all business. Subject: PPE Date: December 2004 Place: Hertford College at Oxford No of interviewers: Two sessions of two people (one PP, the other E) Academic Questions: (Economics - first question) You said you've been reading the Economist - has that helped you with your applied at all? Reply - Unit 3. Have a discussion about Unit 3. Asked a sequence question in Maths. (The other interviewer) Asked about the economics essay that I sent in and about the sense of a particular sentence. (Philosophy and Politics). (Politics - first question) What has been interesting you in the news recently? Have a discussion about the democratic process in the Ukraine - if it could be improved and if so how - does Supreme Court ruling signify legitimacy of the democratic process? (Philosophy) In your personal statement you said you've been reading Simon Blackburn's Think - was there any bit in particular that you were interested in? Reply - the self. Discuss the location of the self and the mind. Shown a piece of paper with a set of questions on it and asked to identify the flaws in the logic of two arguments? General Questions: (Philosphy and Politics) Why did you want to go to Hertford College? Subject: Philosophy, Politics and Economics Date: 6/12/04 to 8/12/04 Place: Oxford University, Magdalen College, No of interviewers: 3 (1 for Philosophy and Economics; 2 for Politics) Academic Questions: Economics: How would you develop a third-world country? Is conditionality the answer? What are your views on monopolies? on X inefficiency? Philosophy: Why do you want to combine philosophy and economics? A man with £50,000,000 is rich. So is a person with N pounds and N-1 pounds. Therefore a person with £1 is rich. What, if anything, is wrong with this argument? Politics: Should we help other countries establish democracy? Is there an hypocrisy within the great Western countries to cite problems in other countries political structures and not accept constructive criticism about their own operations from those countries? If not/If so why? Should people who not vote be punished?...Why? Should citizens be educated in citizenship to make democracy more "efficient"?
General Questions: Very little general questions: Why do want to combine X with Y (see Philosophy academic questions) Talk to me about a book that you have read recently, outside school, out of your own personal interest. Subject: PPE Date: 5 - 8 December 2004 Place: Merton College, Oxford University No of interviewers: I had three interviews and was interviewed by two different people for each one. Academic Questions: Philosophy: You write in your personal statement that you have read and enjoyed "Morality" by Bernard Williams; tell me about it. What did you find particularly enjoyable about it? There are two men, one of them threatens to drop an atomic bomb over London unless the other one kills his wife. What should the other one do? A man is cast away on a desert island without hope for rescue. What could he do to contribute to happiness in the world? (both asked in the context of a general discussion about utilitarianism) Politics: Is globalisation good or bad? For whom? What do you think about preemptive strikes and intervention in international conflicts? What domestic issues are you interested in at the moment? What is your opinion on the current political situation in Germany? Do you think that Islam is a threat to Western values and the world as we know it? Economics: Problem solving (this was given to me shortly before the interview, and the interviewers were guiding me through it): Mr E auctions his house. All bidders are in one room and call out bids until only one bidder is left over. Collusion is impossible. The house is sold for the price that was last called out. How much should each one be prepared to bid? What is the house price in terms of the bidders' values? Mr F has a different system. Every bidder submits a bid in a sealed envelope and does not know about the bids everybody else has submitted. The house is sold to the highest bidder for the price that the second-highest bidder was prepared to pay. How much should every bidder be prepared to pay? What is the house price in terms of the bidders' values? Does Mr F's system raise the profit of the auction? What happens to national income if the government raises spending? What does the impact depend upon? What happens to the exchange rate? Do you think there is a solution to Germany's unemployment problem? If you think there is, of what kind could it be? Draw a line which has the exact length of the squareroot of 2. General Questions: Why do you want to study PPE? Why in Oxford? What made you come to England in the first place? (in Politics) Why do you like playing the piano? Can you play Beethoven and Mozart? (in Economics) Subject: Economics and Management Date: 9/12/04 Place: Oxford-Christ Church
No of interviewers: 2 Academic Questions: I had two interviews. One with 2 economics tutors and one with 2 management tutors. I wasn't asked to go to any other colleges. I was given a number of questions to prepare 15 mins before the economics interview. How would adding another lane on the M25 affect congestion? How would you go about collecting data in order to confirm your theory? Draw a graph of modulus x + modulus y = 1. In this interview I was asked some probing questions crtiquing my theory. Some logic questions. 100 people in a room, how many handshakes are there if everyone shakes everyone's hand once? In the management one I was asked why management. Then if models are sufficient to run a company. There was a few maths questions. How to draw a graph of a certain function? How to draw a line exactly root 5 in length. The interview ended with an extremely abstract question on a piece of art. I was asked to interpret what the artist was trying to say. General Questions: No real general questions. They stuck mainly to the subjects that they were interviewing me for. Subject: Economics and Management Date: 9th December Place: St. Hugh's, Oxford No of interviewers: Two, but individually Academic Questions: In my economics/management interview, I was initially to talk about universities from an economics perspective. He also asked whether I felt that the world was safer now than five years ago. Then we went on to talk about globalisation. In my maths interview, I was asked about interest rates and about differentiation. I was also asked to find the height of a regular tetrahedron with side length 1. Then he asked a couple of questions taken from my personal statement - i.e. "explain Coase theorem". General Questions: I was asked why I wanted to apply for this course at this college. I was also asked what books I had read recently - not necessarily to do with the subject. S
ubject: Economics and Management Date: 8/12/04 Place: Brasenose, Oxford No of interviewers: 2 pairs of 2 Academic Questions: FIRST INTERVIEW 1. Asked to find the equation of the tangent of the curve y= x - x^3 at x = -2. Then asked to sketch the curve. so some easy pure 1. 2. Then asked to define an externality, provide examples of externalities, and
solutions to the problems caused by externalities (these are: direct regulation, coase theorem, pigouvian tax). 3. Then asked how economics can help management decisions in firms, more specifically, what are the problems with policies implemented by management in businesses (eg. profit maximisation, sales maximisation, revenue maximisation). Good idea to expand on these policies, then go on to say how it is hard to pinpoint how much should be produced in order to achieve these policies. SECOND INTERVIEW 1. Asked why low cost airlines profit more than long-haul traditional airlines, and why they latter are being put out of business by the former. Mention contestability, keeping your planes in the air all the time. 2. Asked about 'Lemon's law', and the solutions to the problem. (ask Russell if you think I am referring to fruit) General Questions: None whatsoever.