GAT (Geography Admissions Test) | University of Oxford

GAT (Geography Admissions Test)

If you are applying to study Geography you will be required to take the GAT as part of your application. 

The Geography Admissions Test is a paper-based test, lasting 90 minutes and sat under timed exam conditions. The test has two parts, each worth 50% of the overall marks. The first part will require you to read a short passage of text (or texts) to which you will be asked to respond. Part two will require you to answer a number of questions relating to some data, presented in the form of a graph, table, chart or map. You are recommended to spend roughly 45 minutes on each part of the test.

Geography is a subject that combines the social and natural sciences. Success on the Oxford Geography course requires an ability to understand interpret different kinds of argument, information and data. The admissions test is therefore designed to assess the kinds of critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills considered to be useful for the course. As Geography is not an essential subject requirement for application, the admission test is not designed to assess general geographical knowledge, or geographical knowledge acquired during formal secondary education. 

  • Part one is designed to test your critical reading and thinking skills. In responding to the material provided you will be asked to identify and evaluate the key arguments being presented. You may also be asked to compare different arguments. You will not be assessed on your general knowledge or on knowledge of material beyond what is presented. If you include information from beyond the material provided this will be discounted and marks will not be awarded for wider reading.  
  • Part two is designed to test your ability to understand and interpret data as part of the process of problem solving. Data interpretation is recognised as one of the key skills for success on the Geography degree, particularly for the physical geography components of the course.

Do I have to pay?

We do not charge candidates to take this test. However, please be aware that some independent test centres do charge an administration fee to candidates; you should contact your centre for details.

How are the tests designed and reviewed?

When a department wishes to introduce a new admissions test for their course, there is a substantial consultation process within the University, including a pilot testing phase, designed to ensure that the test is suitable. Where appropriate, subject departments are encouraged to share common tests, or elements of tests, to ease the process of application for the student and administration for the school or college. A report for each admissions test is produced every five years and we undertake substantial statistical evaluation of each test.

Why do I have to take a test?

Most applicants to Oxford University have great personal statements, excellent references, and are also predicted top grades. It can therefore be difficult for us to choose between so many well-qualified candidates, especially as applicants come from all over the world and take different qualifications. Tests give us an extra piece of information for every student who has applied for a given course, wherever they are from. 

How do I register?

The University's admissions tests are administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). Registration isn't automatic and just completing your UCAS application won't register you for the test. You cannot register yourself for a test, but must do so through an authorised test centre. For most candidates this is their own school or college, but can also be an open test centre.

You must provide your centre with the following information:

  • your name, gender, date of birth and UCAS number exactly as they have been entered on your UCAS application
  • the name of the University, course and course code
  • details of any access arrangements you require, along with the evidence to support your request. (Requests for modified question papers must be submitted by your centre by 30 September.)

Taking your test in school or college:

Please ask your Exams Officer whether or not your school or college is registered as a test centre. If they are not, they can follow this advice on how to become a test centre. Institutions can register to become test centres at any time before the deadline of 30 September. Registration for candidates to take tests opens on 1 September and you must have your candidate entry number(s) as proof of entry by 6pm UK time on 15 October. You are strongly advised to begin making arrangements as soon as possible.

Taking your test in an open test centre:

If for any reason your school cannot become a test centre, or your circumstances make this impractical, you can take your test at an open centre. You can find your nearest test centre via the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) website. Registration for candidates to take tests opens on 1 September and you must have your candidate entry number(s) as proof of entry by 6pm UK time on 15 October. You are strongly advised to begin making arrangements as soon as possible. If you cannot find a test centre within reasonable travelling distance of your home town, please contact the Support Team at CAAT.

Can I apply for access arrangements?

Your test centre will be able to apply for access arrangements for you if you have a permanent or long-term disability which might affect your performance such as a sight impairment, dyslexia or cerebral palsy. You may also be eligible for access arrangements if you have a short-term difficulty, such as a broken arm.

The access arrangements you are eligible for will depend on the exact nature of your condition and most often will be the same as those you would get while taking a public examination at your school. These could include modified materials (i.e. large print or braille exam papers), extra time, or the use of a laptop.

You should let your school or test centre know of any requirements you may have as early as you can and provide them with medical evidence to support your application. Please note the deadline for applying for modified papers is 30 September, while all other access arrangements can be arranged by the normal deadline of 15 October.

When do I take the test?

The University's admissions tests are administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). These tests are taken on specific dates each year, a few weeks after the application deadline on 15 October. The next test dates are:

  • Wednesday 30 October 2019
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020
  • Wednesday 3 November 2021
  • Wednesday 2 November 2022

We are aware that sometimes tests fall during school half terms which vary by region each year. Unfortunately due to the tight timeframes for processing applications, it is not possible to avoid this but we hope that by giving considerable notice of test dates, schools will be able to make plans for their students to sit tests either at their school or at an alternative test centre and candidates will make sure they are available to take the necessary test(s).

If you don't take the admissions test(s) required for your course, either because you didn't register or didn't attend on the test day, then your application will be significantly affected. Your UCAS form will still be viewed by our admissions tutors. However, as the admissions test forms an important part of our selection process it will be extremely difficult for your application to be competitive when viewed against other candidates who have fulfilled all the admissions criteria.

It is not possible to re-sit a test. If you feel you did badly due to extenuating circumstances, for example: if you were ill on the day of the test, your test centre can submit a special consideration form for you; or if there was some form of disruption at the test centre you can submit the form yourself. Application forms must be received within 5 days of the test date.

How do I get my results?         

Results for the GAT are not automatically published but they can be requested as part of the usual feedback process.

How do I prepare?

As the GAT is new this year, there are no past papers available yet but you can read through the sample questions and answers below which will give you a good idea of what each section of the test will involve. 

The University does not endorse, or allow use of, its tests that are protected by copyright for commercial use

You may also find this webinar on admissions tests and assessments useful when preparing.