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Information about the Physics Aptitude Test which is required as part of the application to study Engineering Science at Oxford

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Physics Aptitude Test

Required as part of your application

As well as submitting your UCAS application, we’ll ask you to take the Physics Aptitude Test, or PAT. This normally takes place at your school or college, and it gives us some more information to go with what you tell us on your UCAS application.

It’s part of the application process for everyone hoping to study Engineering Science (as well as Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Information Engineering and Mechanical Engineering).

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Why do we ask you to take the test?

The number of students hoping to study Engineering Science is on the rise, and we have many more applicants than we do spaces. We also have increasing numbers of applicants who do not have UK GCSEs, whether that’s international students or UK students who’ve studied for other qualifications instead.

Most applicants to Oxford have great personal statements, excellent references and are also predicted top grades, and it can be hard for us to choose between so many well-qualified candidates. Our admissions tutors use your PAT results, alongside what you tell us in your UCAS application and your interview, to get a more well-rounded picture of you as an individual. There is no specific mark that will guarantee your application being shortlisted.

Do I also need to apply through UCAS?

Yes, you will also need to submit a UCAS application, just as you would for any other course. 

How can I prepare for the test?

There is no right way to prepare for the PAT, however we do have some tips to help get you started with your preparation:

  • The Department of Physics have produced some helpful tips on preparing for the PAT
  • Take a look through the topics that the test covers and make sure you’re prepared. The full syllabus can be found on the Physics Department website. The syllabus covers material you should have seen in AS Level Maths and Physics plus some GCSE knowledge, however your school may cover the topics in a different order, so you may need to teach yourself a few topics before taking the PAT.
  • Once you've checked out the syllabus, it’s a good idea to have a go at some past papers to familiarise yourself with the style and layout of the questions.
  • Get some practice doing the questions in your own time and then under timed conditions. There are a lot of questions to complete in 2 hours, so we definitely recommend trying a paper at least once before the test! We generally do not provide solutions to the past papers as there is often more than one possible way to solve the problems. You can find some unofficial sample solutions to some of the questions with the past papers.

There are a range of other websites and resources available to help with preparing for the PAT, you can find some summarised here.

When and how do I take the test?

The way in which the PAT is run is changing. New arrangements for this test for 2025-entry will be communicated by the start of the new admissions cycle in Spring.