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Oxford Admissions Tests: Everything You Need to Know

14/06/202414 minute read
Oxford Admissions Tests: Everything You Need to Know

Gaining admission to Oxford is extremely competitive. To ensure that they continue to admit the crème de la crème, Oxford uses specialised admissions tests to better assess their applicants. These tests are not only pivotal for Oxford but are also sometimes used by other top UK universities, making them a crucial component of the overall higher education admissions landscape.

In this blog, we'll delve into the significance of these tests, provide an overview of the different tests administered along with preparation tips, before ending with an explanation of how these test scores are utilised in the overall admissions process.

Oxford admissions tests play a big part in the selection of applicants. These tests allow for a standardised measure for candidates to differentiate themselves from the pack, allowing the tutors to identify the most promising candidates better, regardless of background or educational circumstances.

Furthermore, these tests also furnish an avenue for candidates to showcase their knowledge and competencies beyond their grades or personal statements, allowing them to prove their potential and suitability for being admitted to Oxford.

What's New In 2024

The landscape of Oxford admissions tests has seen significant changes in 2024. Several longstanding tests have been discontinued, and new ones have been introduced to better assess the aptitude and skills of prospective students.

Discontinued Tests

  • Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT): The BMAT has been replaced by the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), which evaluates essential cognitive abilities and attitudes needed for success in healthcare professions.
  • Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA): This test has been replaced by the Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT), which is now required for students applying to engineering and related subjects.
  • Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA): Like the ENGAA, the NSAA has also been replaced by the ESAT.
  • English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT): This test has been discontinued without a direct replacement.

New Tests

  • Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT): Replacing the ENGAA and NSAA, the ESAT is required for students intending to study Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine.
  • Biomedical Sciences Admissions Test (BMSAT): A new exam specifically for students applying to Biomedical Sciences, providing a tailored assessment for this field.
  • Ancient History and Classical Archaeology Admissions Test (AHCAAT): Introduced for candidates applying to Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, offering a specialized evaluation for these areas of study.

New Admissions Test Requirements

  • London School of Economics (LSE) Economics, Econometrics, and Mathematical Economics: These courses now require the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA).

Overview of Different Oxford Admissions Tests

Oxford uses a wide range of admissions tests corresponding to various subject areas and programs. The following offers an overview of the different tests administered across various subject areas:  

1. Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT)

Candidates applying for any one of the following courses will have to sit for the MAT:

The MAT is a hybrid, subject-specific test that lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes. It combines computer-based questions with a separate paper answer booklet.

This test is administered at authorised test centers, and applicants can practice by taking a past paper as a hybrid test before their test days.

It was crafted to be a manageable paper for all students, including those without a background in Further Mathematics (A-Levels) or equivalent. It assesses the depth of a candidate’s mathematical understanding rather than the scope of knowledge one possesses.

The mathematical knowledge and skills required for the test correspond to AS-level Maths, with a few additional topics from A-level Maths. For clarity, candidates are encouraged to look up the full MAT syllabus.

2. Physics Aptitude Test (PAT)

All candidates intending to study physics, engineering, or physics and philosophy at Oxford must take the PAT. This two-hour long test assesses a student’s ability in both physics and maths.

Formula sheets, tables and data booklets are not allowed, and a digital calculator will be provided as part of the online interface from October 2023 onwards. More information on the test will be found on the Department of Physics and the University of Oxford websites once announced.

3. University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT)

Replacing the BMAT, the UCAT test is required for candidates intending to study medicine. The test evaluates essential cognitive abilities and attitudes needed for success in healthcare professions. The test consists of five sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning: Assesses your ability to critically evaluate information presented in written form.
  • Decision Making: Tests your capability to make sound decisions and judgments using complex information.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Evaluates your numerical skills, including interpretation and manipulation of data.
  • Abstract Reasoning: Measures your aptitude in identifying patterns, relationships, and sequences within abstract shapes.
  • Situational Judgment: Presents scenarios relevant to healthcare settings, assessing your capacity to understand and respond appropriately to ethical and professional dilemmas.

4. Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT)

Those applying for Law or Law with Law Studies in Europe must sit for the LNAT, usually before 15 October. The LNAT is a 2-hour 15-minute test with two main components:

·        Section A: 42 Multiple Choice Questions based on 12 passages, given 95 minutes to complete the section, out of a total score of 42

·        Section B: 40 minutes to complete an essay from a choice of 3 question prompts. College tutors will evaluate the essay as part of the selection process, and is an avenue for candidates to demonstrate their argumentative skills and critical thinking.

It is important to note that the LNAT does not assess one’s knowledge of law or any given subject area. Instead, it is more a test of one’s aptitude and potential for studying law at the undergraduate level.

5. History Aptitude Test (HAT)

Students applying for the following courses are required to take the HAT:

  • History
  • History (Ancient and Modern)
  • History and Economics
  • History and English
  • History and Modern Languages
  • History and Politics

The HAT calls for candidates to furnish insightful interpretations of historical sources without any pre-existing knowledge of their context. As such, it is not a test of knowledge, but more of one’s competencies.

Some skills tested include analytical thinking, critical analysis, writing with precision and clarity, among others. This test is computer-based, and typically administered at an authorised test centre.

6. Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)

Note: It's still not confirmed if this test will still be required for entry 2025.

Applicants for the following courses are required to sit for both sections of the TSA, which is a paper-based test starting from this year onwards:

  • Experimental Psychology
  • Human Sciences
  • Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics

The two parts comprise of a 90-minute multiple-choice section, and a 30-minute writing task.

However, those applying for Economics and Management, or History and Economics, only need to take the first section (multiple-choice).

The first section consists of 50 multiple-choice questions that tests problem-solving skills, such as numerical reasoning and critical thinking skills, understanding arguments, and reasoning in day-to-day language.

The second section tests one’s ability to categorise and deliver ideas with clarity in writing. The questions do not relate to any particular subject, and candidates are to answer one of four options given.

7. Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT)

Applicants to the following courses are to sit for the MLAT:

·        European and Middle Eastern Languages

·        Classics and Modern Languages

·        English and Modern Languages

·        History and Modern Languages

·        Modern Languages

·        Modern Languages and Linguistics

·        Philosophy and Modern Languages

The MLAT is computer-based, comprising of 10 sections. The sections that one is to take varies with the course applied for. There are 8 individual sections for the following languages:

·        Czech

·        French

·        German

·        Italian

·        Modern Greek

·        Portuguese

·        Russian

·        Spanish

The other two sections are

·        Language Aptitude Test (those applying for new languages as beginners and for Russian on its own)

·        Philosophy test (those applying for Philosophy and Modern Languages)

The Philosophy section lasts 60 minutes while each other section is 30 minutes. The test is taken at authorised exam centres.

8. Classics Admissions Test (CAT)

Candidates applying for the following courses have to sit for the CAT:

·        Classics

·        Classics and English

·        Classics and Modern Languages

·        Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

CAT consists of three separate computer-based tests – the Latin and Greek translation tests, and the Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT). Each paper lasts an hour, and the papers one takes will depend on the course applied for, and whether one is studying Latin or Greek at A-level.

9. Philosophy Test

Candidates applying to Philosophy and Theology are to sit the Philosophy Test. Applicants for PPL or PPE are to take the TSA. Applicants for any Philosophy and Modern languages course are to take relevant parts of the MLAT.

Note that the content of the Philosophy section of the MLAT will be identical to the Philosophy test here, but these applicants should register for the MLAT.

The Philosophy Test is an hour-long computer-based test, designed to evaluate a candidate’s philosophical reasoning skills. It is not a test of philosophical knowledge, and one is not expected to have studied philosophy.

Typically, candidates go through a comprehension exercise, write a short essay, or answer structured questions. Examiners pay attention to precise and careful reasoning, especially responses that address potential objections to the reasoning forwarded.

10. Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT)

The ESAT is a new test introduced for students intending to major in the following subjects:

The ESAT is a computer-based test made up of multiple assessments of multiple-choice answers. Each assessment is 40 minutes long, and you'll have to sit multiple assessments back to back depending on the course your applying for.

Compulsory assessment for all test-takers:

  • Mathematics 1

If you're applying for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Natural Sciences or Veterinary Medicine, you'll complete two additional assessments from the following list:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics 2

If you're applying for Engineering, you'll complete these two assessments:

  • Physics
  • Mathematics 2

11. Biomedical Sciences Admissions Test (BMSAT)

This new exam has been introduced for students applying for Biomedical Sciences. This exam is two hours long.

We still don't have much information about the BMSAT, but whenever more information is announced, we'll update this section.

12. Ancient History and Classical Archaeology Admissions Test (AHCAAT)

The AHCAAT is a new test introduced for candidates applying for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History.

Similar to the BMSAT, additional information regarding this new examination hasn't been provided yet, but we'll list it here whenever it's announced.

How Test Scores are used in Admissions

At Oxford University, test scores hold significant weight in the admissions process, often serving as a critical benchmark for evaluating candidates.

Getting high scores not only demonstrates academic proficiency, but also showcases a candidate's ability to excel in the rigorous academic environment characteristic of Oxford.

Admissions officers analyze test results carefully, considering them as a reliable measure of an applicant's intellectual capabilities and potential for academic success. Ultimately, achieving high test scores not only strengthens your candidacy but also reflects your commitment to academic excellence and readiness to thrive in the academic community at Oxford.

Final Thoughts

Crimson Education offers comprehensive support for all UK admissions tests, providing a robust 10-hour curriculum complemented by several exclusive mock tests for each major admissions test, including the LNAT, MAT, TSA, TMUA, and UCAT. From June 2024, this support will extend to the new ESAT as well. Our tailored programs are designed to build foundational skills and enhance test performance, ensuring that students are well-prepared to excel in these crucial assessments.

In addition, we are introducing a new NAY Admissions Test Tutoring Service, available from June 2024 for students in their penultimate year of school. This service includes 10 hours of tutoring with lesson plans specifically designed for each respective test, focusing on building essential skills such as critical thinking, reading comprehension, and time management. Even if students decide to switch subjects or opt not to apply to Oxbridge, the NAY curriculum will equip them with valuable academic competencies that will benefit them in any subject or university they pursue.

To learn more about how Crimson Education can help you succeed in your admissions tests and to book a consultation, please visit our website. Our expert team is ready to guide you through every step of the preparation process, ensuring you have the best chance of achieving your academic goals.

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