Oxford admissions interviews are notoriously challenging, particularly in mathematics. A 25-minute interview is designed with stunning precision to tease out the strongest problem-solvers (the main criteria for selection in mathematics). The competition is stiff. Yet a good chunk of candidates who make it to the final interview stage unravel within moments, ruling themselves out of contention.
These hopeful candidates can execute basic warm-up tasks at will — say, sketching a logarithm — but stumble the moment they are presented with a novel problem that they have not previously encountered —