HAT (History Admissions Test)

What is the HAT?

If you are applying for one of the following courses you will be required to sit the History Admissions Test (HAT) - formerly know as the History Aptitude Test:

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?

More information on how to register for this admissions test will be available here shortly. The deadline for registering will be 29 September.

Joint Schools:

Please note that students applying for History and Economics, History and English 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 16 September, while all other access arrangements can be arranged by the normal deadline of 29 September.

When do I take the test?

These tests are taken on specific dates each year, a few weeks after the application deadline on 29 September. The next test date for the HAT is:

  • Friday 20 October 2023

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 29 September. 

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.

Remember to ensure you register for the test by 29 September, even if you feel exceptional circumstances may mean there is a risk you will not able take it.

Our admissions tests are an important part of our assessment process for candidates and in order to make sure your application is as competitive as possible, we strongly advise that you make every effort to sit the test.

We are aware that there may be extra difficulties for some candidates this year but we do expect the vast majority of candidates to be able to sit tests as planned.

If you experience exceptional circumstances beyond your control which prevent this, please alert the college you have applied to as soon as possible.

If you have made an open application, please contact us using our contact form. In this case your application will be considered using the other information you give us as part of your UCAS form and alongside other candidates applying for your subject.

How do I get my results?         

Admissions tutors will receive the results of all candidates' tests directly and in time to make their shortlisting decisions in November. 

Test scores will be automatically distributed to all applicants shortly after college decision letters are sent in January. Applicants will still be able to write to their college to request feedback

Practice materials

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:

  1. Watch the videos below to find out more about how to approach the HAT.
  2. Review the sample papers for the HAT. This will help you to feel familiar with the test paper and know what to expect. 
  3. 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

HAT webinar

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.