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Do You Think You're Clever?: The Oxbridge Questions

3.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  421 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
"Brings together the toughest, most esoteric examples of the genre and . . . sketches out winning responses to each."Daily TelegraphIs nature natural? What books are bad for you? What percentage of the world's water is contained in a cow? Deftly exploring the twisting paths your mind can take when really made to think, John Farndon provides a sparkling tour de force throug ...more
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published (first published September 1st 2009)
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If this is what clever is then I guess I don't want to be clever. The questions proposed are interesting and could lead to an assortment of answers but in the majority of them the author ended up in a philosophical rant. Sometimes the answers were interesting and educational but mostly they were boring and predictable.

The point of the Oxbridge questions, as mentioned at the start of the book, are to provoke responses from people by putting them out of their normal frame of mind and gaining an in
This book is built on a simple premise. Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the UK are notorious for asking seemingly odd questions in candidate interviews. Many of these are loosely related to the field of study, but some are very off-beat.

This book collects some of these questions, and John Farndon gives his own particular answers. Interestingly enough, John is clear that these answers aren't definitive, and even if he were to re-answer them on another day he would, in all likelihood answer q
Jan 19, 2012 Nina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for logical problems, especially from the areas of physics, math and philosophy.

The author promised to offer "outside-the-box" ways of thinking about (though not neccessarily solving) famous Oxbridge interview questions such as "What happens when I drop an ant" or "If there was an omnipotent God, would he be able to create a stone that he couldn't lift?".

Although some (but disappointingly few) questions are actually answered, such as "how many times you would have to fold a paper fo
Delightful little collection of questions asked by Oxford and Cambridge examiners--- questions designed at Oxbridge to do exactly what the Zen roshi does in hitting the novice with a stick. Unsettling and seemingly trivial or silly queries that have a wickedly dangerous depth to them. Question, yes, plus some answers and alternatives.

Best Q & A, now--- Clement Freud was asked by examiners how he'd use a barometer to determine the height of a tower. His answer--- give the barometer to the arc
Not anymore.
Anarchic Rain
ah, il pensiero laterale, questo (estremo) sconosciuto XD
Sep 10, 2015 Lizzie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
„Importantă nu este cunoaşterea şi nici educaţia, ci capacitatea de a-ţi plia şi extinde gândirea în cele mai variate şi mai ciudate moduri; fiindcă nu există obstacol mai mare în calea deşteptăciunii decât argonaţa şi sentimentul autosuficienţei”.

Becky Bullock
I was a little disappointed by this book, particularly by the more philosophical answers. I suppose the problem is that it is very much about opinions and if you already have one it's likely to clash with the authors opinion. It was too much opinion and yet too much about how to answer the question. It should have been one or the other, either the author have their own answer or simply explain what the question wanted in an answer. A bit of both feels like a cop out where you don't get the satis ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book "Do you think your clever?" was made by John Farndon, the book does not have a clear background,time period or characters. The book first asks the readers a question such as "do you think your clever?" to attract the readers and make the curious. Once the readers are curious they would read more and more about the book to get the answer to the question and understand how it came to that answer by reading a detailed explanation in the book. I do not recommend this book to readers who lik ...more
May 30, 2011 Amina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awesome man! Very interesting answers to insanely cool questions
Ryohei Kitaguchi
Jan 07, 2013 Ryohei Kitaguchi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Time 10/31 20min. 11/2 20 min. 11/5 45min

summary critical / lateral / Oxbridge / cleverness / intelligence / physics / time

Discussion question
Q1. Which do you think important "cleverness" or "intelligence"?
I think cleverness is more important than intelligence because the clever use their intelligence fully and deal with something by unique way.

Q2. Do you think exam should be conducted by in-class exam or not?
Entrance exam should be introduce in-class exam. In fact, knowledge is important but
Sang Wook
Jan 27, 2013 Sang Wook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If someone were to ask you, “How clever are you?” what would your answer be? Ranging from ‘What does it mean to be happy?’ to ‘Do you think Chairman Mao would have been proud of the China today?’, John Fardon’s “Do You Think You’re Clever?” challenges readers to transcend the limits of their minds by answering perhaps some of the most perplexing questions that Fardon poses from the ‘Oxbridge’ questions aimed at finding the ‘true’ intellectuals. The book tackles interesting subjects from Noah’s A ...more
Lee Penney
At certain institutions of higher education, it’s the norm to set weird and wonderful questions to see how your interviewees respond. Partly to test their intelligence and lateral thinking, partly to throw them off balance, and partly, I suspect, to appear superior.

In this book the author takes several examples across a range of disciplines and tries to discern their meaning, then provide an answer.

It leads to some wide and varied discussions, showing how many ways there are to interpret the sam
Icon Books
Nov 17, 2011 Icon Books rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why can't you light a candle in a spaceship? What books are bad for you? Is nature natural? Every year the Oxford and Cambridge's learned professors pose such curious conundrums to potential students to separate the wheat from the chaff, and the clever from both of them. Deftly exploring the twisting paths your mind can take when you're really made to think , "Do You Think You're Clever?" provides dazzling answers to over 60 of these infamously perplexing problems. John Farndon takes the reader ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. The whole point behind these questions is that they are used under high pressure interview situations to get people to show their ability to think on their feet. What you get here dilutes this idea by having the author preparing and researching pat little answers/monologues in response. A book showing a range of genuine answers to these kind of questions would have been more interesting and far less pompous.
Aug 12, 2012 Filip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. The book purports to give answers to some of the trickier entrance exam questions at the UK's top universities. Initially I enjoyed seeing how the author tackles these questions, mapping potential directions, structuring his answers, larding them with a few historic quotes and dictionary definitions, and building up to the final flourish.
After a while, though, the mechanism becomes repetitive, and the reader will start spotting flaws in the author's logic or glaring gaps when certain obvio
Devon Harper
I enjoyed reading about some questions but while it may have done in the past, I don't think it bears much resemblance to Oxbridge interview questions anymore- or at least not the majority of them. It was still interesting and a good read, although I'm pretty sure not all of the science answers were particularly accurate or not explained/clarified enough to be accurate.
Dec 12, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really clever book and makes you think creatively. It took my over a year to finish it, I just used it as a toilet read ;) Still, the questions are interesting and the answers very clever. Sometimes (but not often) I came up with a better answer, but even if you don't you'll learn a lot while reading.
Adrian Buck
Apr 03, 2015 Adrian Buck rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lang-ed
A wasted opportunity, rather than being a guide on how to approach these questions in a interview situation, this is a collection of Farndon's own attempts to answer these questions. Essays he has clearly written outside the interview situation, and with the benefit of access to a large reference library. The book is classified as Reference/Humour, but is of little use as either. Stephen Fry would have done a better job, but he has more self restraint.
Monica Miller
It's a pretty interesting book, I like the idea, but I didn't find it exceptionally challenging, and the answers weren't actually answers, and they went into boring facts and everything.
Nov 26, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It started off quite interesting, but it does get boring on some of the topics and silly answers that just go on and on
Outdoors Nerd
Interesting book to dip in and out of. Like having a pleasant conversation with a clever chap
Sep 09, 2014 Tony rated it did not like it
Very disappointing. This is like a blog you'd follow for a while because of its curious conceit, but would gradually realise didn't really offer much beyond the raw idea. At least with a blog you'd maybe get some wonderful fights going on in the comments, but in book format it's just a pub bore pontificating one table over, with whom you can't even get into a good argument. For a much much better version, get 100 different people to answer each of the questions, and then select the most interest ...more
Stuart Lutzenhiser
When entering either Cambridge or Oxford, a prospective student must have an oral interview where the examiners ask off-the-wall questions like "What percentage of the world's water is in cows?" or "How do you know I'm thinking thoughts?". This book is a listing of some questions with possible answers or ways of thinking about the question. I found it interesting, but only to a point. In a 2 to 3 page answer, I think he just barely scratched the surface most of the time. But still, entertaining ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Sim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mar 18, 2010 Raj rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a compilation of questions from Oxbridge entrance examinations, from various departments and the author's own answers to them. He specifically doesn't suggest that his answers are canonical but are for discussion only and some of them may make for interesting pub debate but I ultimately found the book unsatisfying. It wasn't that I disagreed with some of the answers, which is to be expected, but it ultimately felt a bit vague and unfocussed.
Feb 09, 2012 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cask-wine
More of a trivia book than anything else. I had the audio book version (ISBN 9781445805894) which was easy to listen to but the questions posed, and answers offered, varied from being thought provoking to almost banal. I liked the comments at the end that included the thought that even if the author was posed the same questions again, different answers may be forthcoming. Unfortunately I found it a little less thought provoking than expected.
Dec 25, 2015 Alis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and challenging. Indeed, interesting questions. I couldn't agree on some of the answers, and some really seemed like they had no sense at all or did not have anything to do with the question, but I can say that I enjoyed reading this book. And I can honestly say that the author really fulfilled his duty on challenging the reader into thinking deeper than the usual and maybe even beyond his limits.
Most people watch movies on planes. I first found this book as part of my British Airlines audiobooks program (or should I say programme?).

I recommend this book to fellow generalists, though you may find this book frustrating as it lacks a section citing its research. Other than prospective Oxbridge candidates, I think any IB Diploma candidate should also read this book before taking TOK. (At least I wish I had.)
Feb 01, 2015 Ellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of philosophy
Shelves: audiobooks
There were some very interesting questions! I thoroughly enjoyed a large majority of the book.

Sometimes, however, the author came across as a pompous braggart.

(I feel a lot better after saying that)

To anyone who reads it, I recommend taking it in small doses...

I don't want to give the wrong impression though, it really is a very thought-provoking read. I recommend it.
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John Farndon is an internationally known author, as well as a playwright, composer and songwriter, whose work has been performed at such theatres as the Donmar and Almeida in London and the Salisbury Playhouse and selected for showcases, such as Beyond the Gate.

He has written hundreds of books, which have sold millions of copies around the world in most major languages and include many best-seller
More about John Farndon...

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