Please note, the test date for the HAT has been moved to Thursday 4 November 2021.
If you are applying for one of the following courses you will be required to sit the HAT: History, History (Ancient and Modern), History and Economics, History and English, History and Modern Languages, History and Politics.
Candidates will be asked to offer thoughtful interpretations of the source without knowing anything about its context. The HAT is a test of skills, not substantive historical knowledge. It is designed so that candidates should find it equally challenging, regardless of what they have studied or what school examinations they are taking. The HAT tests the following skills and attributes:
- the ability to read carefully and critically;
- the adoption of an analytical approach;
- the ability to answer a question relevantly;
- ability to handle concepts and select evidence to support points;
- originality and independence;
- precision and clarity of writing.
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. Use of the tests is carefully reviewed 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.
Please note that students applying for History and Economics and History and Modern Languages 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. These tests are taken on specific dates each year, a few weeks after the application deadline on 15 October. The next test dates are:
- Thursday 4 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).
Our admissions tests are an important part of our assessment process so please ensure you register for the test by 15 October.
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 Considerations 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 HAT 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 in time to 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 also 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. 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. Here are our top tips for preparing for the HAT:
- Watch the videos below to find out more about how to approach the HAT.
- Review the sample papers for the HAT. This will help you to feel familiar with the test paper and know what to expect.
- Sit at least one past paper in test conditions. This is really important as it will help you get used to timing an answer.
HAT workshop video
This video shows first year students discussing Question 3 of the HAT from the 2016 HAT paper with a History tutor. It shows some of the ways to analyse an unfamiliar piece of text. We recommend that you read the question ahead of watching the video (it can be found in the tab below).
Past papers and mark schemes
As you may notice when going through past papers, the HAT has undergone changes in the past few years. The HAT used to consist of several questions, but in 2018 this was replaced by a single question, based on an extract from a primary source, to be answered within one hour. Question 3 from the 2017 and 2016 tests will still be of use when preparing.
The University does not endorse or allow use of its tests that are protected by copyright for commercial use.