Practice Questions

  • Introduction

    Choose from the subjects below to view the practice questions which may be relevant to you.

  • Architecture

    • How much do you think architecture influences views in society? Can you think of any examples of this happening?
    • Who would you say is the most important architectural writer?
    • What is the importance of light in architecture?
    • Have you read any books about architecture? Which ones?
    • Are there any buildings that have particularly influenced you?

  • Biology

    • What is a mitochondrion? Why do you only inherit mitochondrial genes from your mother?
    • Why is carbon of such importance in living systems?
    • Describe the structure of DNA.
    • Why are big, fierce animals so rare?
    • What articles have you read in the New Scientist?
    • Design an experiment to show whether monkeys’ behaviour is innate or learnt.

  • Business Studies & Economics

    • Consider a production line. What could be done to help the worker to get away from the routine?
    • Discuss the interaction between fiscal and monetary policy.
    • Why does Rolls-Royce build cars by hand, and Toyota by machine?

  • Chemistry

    • What makes drugs physiologically active?
    • What is a covalent bond?
    • Write down an organic reaction you have studied at school and explain its mechanism.
    • What kind of career are you considering when you complete your chemistry degree?
    • How would you calculate the inter-atomic spacing of particles in this room?

  • Classics

    • Do you think that Tacitus was biased in his writings and if so, does that render them useless?
    • Are history and myth compatible?
    • What have you learnt from the dialogues of Plato?
    • What underlying messages are there in the Aeneid suggesting that Rome and its foundations were not very secure?

  • Computer Science

    • 10% of the unladen weight of a top-end Boeing 777 is composed of the in-flight entertainment system and other seatback services. That is because the system allows each passenger stop/start control over a movie of their choice, to play a PC game like Tomb Raider or make a phone call. Taking weight into account, how would you design such a system?
    • Can machines make their own decisions?
    • It is a fact that, apart from the peripherals, the whole of a computer can be made from NAND gates. The Egyptians created NAND gates using marbles rolling down chutes and employed them as booby traps in pyramids. Did the Egyptians invent the computer? If not, explain fundamentally why not.

  • Engineering

    • If you had a cylinder, sealed at both ends, with the pressure rising inside, would it blow at the end or split along the side first?
    • What fascinates you about engineering?
    • At what altitude h above the North Pole is the weight of an object reduced to one half of its value on the Earth’s surface? Assume the Earth to be a sphere radius R and express has a fraction of R.
    • What do you think engineering is?

  • English Literature

    • What is the difference between literature and history?
    • What is the difference between a simile and a comparison?
    • How would you explain the current renewed interest in Jane Austen’s novels?
    • What is tragedy?

  • Geography

    • What do you believe would be the major differences on Earth if: (a) The atmosphere had ever formed? (b) There was no water? (c) Plate tectonics did not exist?
    • What are the advantages for retailers to concentrate their activities in malls rather than disperse through towns?
    • Talk about the geography of a country you know.
    • If you could take a non-geographer anywhere in the world to convince them geography was important, where would you go and what would you say?

  • History

    • How can we date a source if we don’t know when or by whom it was written?
    • Is national character a useful concept in history?
    • How can we define a revolution?
    • How would you differentiate between power and authority?

  • Law

    • If A gave B £100 thinking it was a loan and B accepted the money thinking it was a gift, should he have to give it back?
    • Smith sees Jones walking towards the edge of a cliff. Smith knows Jones is blind, but doesn’t like him, so allows him to walk off the edge. Is this murder?
    • Should judges have a legislative role?
    • What recent legal cases have you heard of?

  • Maths

    • Prove that n2 – 1 is divisible by 8 for all odd integers n.
    • A body with mass m is falling towards earth with speed v. It has a drag force equal to kv. Set up a differential equation and solve it for v.
    • Prove that any number consists of prime factors or is a prime number.
    • Give examples of situations where differentiation is not possible.

  • Medicine

    • What interests you most about current advances in medical technology?
    • Why is it that cancer cells are more susceptible to destruction by radiation than normal cells?
    • What is the normal level of potassium? What is it used for? How does it move in and out of cells?
    • What is the main function of the nervous system?
    • Which ways can you think of for a molecule to cross a cell membrane?

  • Modern Languages

    • Do you notice any differences between English literature and literature in your chosen language(s)? If so, why might these exist?
    • Discuss current affairs issues relevant to the countries you hope to study (eg French presidential elections in 2007).
    • If you are planning to take a gap year, you ware very likely to be asked about your plans and how you will develop your knowledge of the language while you are there.
    • Do you think we can categorise translation as a science?

  • Physics

    • Which reaches the bottom of a slope faster, a ball rolling down the slope, or a ball sliding down the slope?
    • Explain how we know a centripetal force exists and how we can prove the presence of this force.
    • Why is it not strictly true to say that one planet orbits another?
    • Why does metal expand when it’s heated?

  • Philosophy

    • If a man has no hair (n) he is called bald. If we add hairs to his head using the formula n+1, he would still be called bald. Is this correct?
    • Is it a matter of fact or knowledge that time travels in only one direction?
    • Does God exist?
    • Two trains are about to crash. One contains pensioners going to Blackpool. The other contains commuters going to London. Which do you save?

  • Politics

    • Why do you think communism was unsuccessful in the Russian countryside?
    • Is there tension between British Nationalism and local patriotism?
    • Does the welfare state trap people into poverty?
    • What are you views on a coalition government?

  • Psychology

    • How is it that a painting by a four year old of “a tiger amongst tulips” (as described by the child) doesn’t look like a tiger despite the child studying a tiger at the zoo the day before and being satisfied with the outcome?
    • What do you know about the origin of phobias? Are they more a result of nature or nurture?
    • What are the effects of recreational drugs on the brain?
    • Do you think Milgram’s obedience studies could be done again?

  • Theology

    • What are the moral implications, if any, of voluntary euthanasia?
    • Do the Gods command it because it is great, or is it great because the Gods command it?
    • What is the best reason you can think of for believing in God? Do you think this course could be persuasive on the matter?

  • Veterinary Science

    • Is selective breeding tantamount to genetic modification?
    • Would you rather be a caged rabbit or a wild rabbit?
    • Can you describe an experiment to differentiate between a normal and a multi-resistant strain of bacteria?
    • Discuss the mechanisms underlying sensory adaptation.