MLAT (Modern Languages Admissions Test) | University of Oxford

MLAT (Modern Languages Admissions Test)

If you are applying for one of the following courses you will be required to sit the MLAT as part of the admissions process: European and Middle Eastern LanguagesClassics and Modern LanguagesEnglish and Modern LanguagesHistory and Modern Languages,  Modern LanguagesModern Languages and LinguisticsPhilosophy and Modern Languages and those applying for joint courses involving Linguistics as part of Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics.

The Modern Languages Admissions Test is a paper-based test which consists of 11 sections. Which sections you take depends on the course you are applying for.

There are eight individual sections for each of the following languages: Czech, French, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The other three sections are: the Linguistics test, the Language Aptitude Test (LAT: for those applying for new languages as beginners and for Russian on its own), and the Philosophy test. The Philosophy section lasts 60 minutes while each other section is 30 minutes.

Candidates will need to take a maximum of two sections. You can find out which elements you need to sit using the tables on this page

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. Considered together with the other elements of the application, this helps us to identify the very best candidates. However, there is no specific mark that will guarantee your application will be shortlisted. The tests vary each year, and your test score will be considered alongside the scores of other students who apply for your 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.

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.

Joint Schools: Please note that students applying for European and Middle Eastern Languages, Classics and Modern Languages, English and Modern Languages, History and Modern Languages and Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics will need to sit more than one test and will need to ask to be registered for both tests. You will receive two candidate numbers as confirmation that your registration has been successful.

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 31 October 2018
  • Wednesday 30 October 2019
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020

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 MLAT are not automatically published but they can be requested as part of the usual feedback process. Admissions tutors will receive the results of all tests directly from Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing in time make their shortlisting decisions in November, so candidates do not need to send their results to us separately.

How do I prepare? 

Taking any type of test or exam can be stressful, but you can help build your confidence by doing a bit of preparation ahead of time. You may do better in the real test if you've had a chance to practise some sample or past papers, and got used to the format and timings of the admissions test you have to take. Here are our top tips for preparing for the MLAT:

  1. Review the sample papers for the MLAT below. This will help you to feel familiar with the test paper and know what to expect.
  2. If you are taking the LAT or Philosophy Test, read through the advice in the relevant sections below on what to expect and how to approach the questions. 
  3. Sit at least one past paper in test conditions. This is really important as it will help you get used to how much time to allocate to each question.
  4. You may also find this webinar on admissions tests and assessments useful when preparing.

Don't worry if you find the past or specimen papers very difficult - they're supposed to be! All our tests are designed to stretch you further than you have been stretched before - most candidates will find them really hard.

Past papers

The Modern Languages Admissions Test is a paper-based test which consists of 11 sections. Which sections you take depends on the course you are applying for. Candidates will need to take a maximum of two sections. You can find out which elements you need to sit using the tables on this page.

There are eight individual sections for each of the following languages: Czech, French, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The other three sections are: the Linguistics test, the Language Aptitude Test (LAT: for those applying for new languages as beginners), and the Philosophy test. The Philosophy section lasts 60 minutes while each other section is 30 minutes.

MLAT and LAT solutions

Below are solutions to the last two MLAT papers and some older versions of the Language Aptitude Test, which you can use to mark your own answers, or ask your teacher to refer to them. 

Language Aptitude Test 

If you are applying for a new language from scratch, or Russian on its own, you will need to take the Language Aptitude Test (LAT). This section of the MLAT takes 30 minutes and is designed to assess your aptitude for taking up a new language.

The test involves an imaginary language (a new one is invented for the test each year), and invites you to identify and apply the patterns and rules which govern this language.

At the start of the test you may be given some information about the imaginary language, such as the importance of word order. You will be provided with a number of sample sentences written in the language, alongside their translations into English, which illustrate the vocabulary and grammar of this imaginary language. Your task is then to translate a couple of further sentences from the imaginary language into English, and then a couple more sentences from English back into the imaginary language.

After you have completed these tasks with the first set of sentences, you will be asked to do similar tasks with other sets of sentences of increasing complexity (for example, you may need to shift from present to past tense, or establish differences between positive and negative statements).

Tutors will not be expecting a perfect score, but are interested to see how you respond to an unfamiliar set of vocabulary and grammatical rules, whether you can spot patterns, and whether you can apply the rules which you have deduced from the ways the imaginary language seems to work.

Because the imaginary language and its rules differ each year, we recommend that you have a go at one or two of the sample tests available online, simply to practise completing the exercise (understanding the nature of the tasks, getting used to the timing etc.). None of the specific grammatical knowledge you gain from understanding one imaginary language will help you with the next one!

What are we looking for?

We are assessing your attentiveness to the ways languages work: to the ways grammatical concepts shape words; to the different patterns you can discern in a language, even if you are not familiar with it; to the distinction between different parts of speech (nouns or verbs, for example) and how these parts of speech interrelate; and to the features that can identify differences between elements in various sentences. You should pay close attention to variations in spelling, to the functions of each word within a particular sentence, and to the ways each word conveys meaning with its different component parts.

The Philosophy Test

The 60-minute Philosophy Test is designed to test a candidate's philosophical reasoning skills. There is no expectation that you will have undertaken any formal study of philosophy, and it is not a test of philosophical knowledge. 

You will normally be asked to undertake a comprehension exercise and write a short essay or answer a structured question. Tutors are looking for the use of precise and careful reasoning to answer the question asked, and particularly answers which anticipate and are able to answer objections to the reasoning given. You should avoid stating an opinion without evidence or argument to support it.

The information below, written by an Oxford tutor, outlines the different types of questions you will come across in the test and discusses ways to approach them.