"Tutorials are central to study at Oxford. They give you the chance to discuss your subject with a world leader in the field. Your tutor gives individual support and encourages you to develop to your full potential" (Oxford University)
Tutorials - known as "supervisions" in Cambridge - are what makes studying for a Bachelor's degree unique at Oxford and Cambridge. The personal contact to top researchers in your area of study is motivating and inspiring, and it builds the important mindset among students that one is never too young to question established views or figures and from their own opinions.
"Tutorials take place at least once a week and it’s up to you to research and prepare for them. Then you meet your tutor, perhaps with one or two other students, to discuss an essay or solutions to set problems. The aim is to review your answers or theories and explore ideas that arise in discussion." (Oxford University)
The small groups in tutorials make sure each student is challenged individually, according to his or her level, as well as that no student is "left behind" - professors are aware of the level of understanding that students have.
"Student tutorials are generally more academically challenging and rigorous than standard lecture and test format courses, because during each session students are expected to orally communicate, defend, analyze, and critique the ideas of others as well as their own in conversations with the tutor and fellow-students. As a pedagogic model, the tutorial system has great value because it creates learning and assessment opportunities which are highly authentic and difficult to fake." (Palfreyman, D. (2008) 'The Oxford Tutorial', OxCHEPS)
Indeed, Richard Dawkins claims the Oxford tutorial system taught him how to think:
"Described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ (Palfreyman, 2008) of British education, the tutorial is the focus of much praise as the foundation of an Oxbridge education. In the last decade, multiple studies have been conducted exploring the unique learning benefits of the tutorial method. ... [I]t is through the tutorial system that ‘students develop powers of independent and critical thought, analytical and problem-solving abilities, and skills in both written and oral communication and argument." (Greene, 'The History of the Tutorial')