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Oxford’s Maths and Statistics interviews tend to be just like their pure Maths interviews, so detailed interview advice can be found in our maths interviews blog post. However, unlike in a pure Maths interview, you’re almost certain to get a probability question.

There are lots of different types of probability questions interviewers could ask, but most of them will involve combinatorics or factorials, as this is the style of reasoning they want to observe. Alternatively, they might want to see how you can model a more complicated probability problem. 

Examples of combinatorics or factorial problems

  • Consider a cube with each side painted a different colour. How many (different) ways could I paint the cube? What about if I had n colours instead of 6? 
  • If n is a perfect square and its second last digit is 7, what are the possibilities for the last digit of n and can you show this will always be the case?

Examples of modelling problems

  • If I have a chance p of winning a point in tennis, what’s the chance of winning a game?
  • What’s the probability of flipping n consecutive heads on a fair coin? What about an even number of consecutive heads?

Conclusion

The most important thing is to make sure you could perform well in a pure maths interview, and to be on top of your probability skills. If you’re wondering how you can do the former, take a look at our maths interview preparation guide.

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