MLAT (Modern Languages Admissions Test)

What is the MLAT?

If you are applying for one of the following courses you will be required to sit the MLAT as part of the admissions process: 

The Modern Languages Admissions Test is a computer-based test which consists of 10 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
  • Spanish

The other two sections are:

  • the Language Aptitude Test (LAT), for those applying for Russian on its own or as a beginner, and courses with Polish;
  • and the Philosophy test, for those applying for Philosophy and Modern Languages.

The Philosophy section lasts 60 minutes while each other section is 30 minutes. Language sections now comprise 20 multiple choice questions, and 10 English-translation questions.

This Oxford admissions test is now computer-based, and you will need to take this at an authorised test centre. Registration to book your test will be open from Thursday 15 August 2024 and will close on Friday 4 October 2024.

All applicants taking this test are invited to practise by taking a sample test online in advance of their test day. Please note that while the content and structure of this test has changed slightly, all existing online resources and past papers are still valuable preparation for you and we strongly recommend you exploring these.

Please note that there is no longer a Linguistics test section

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

How do I register?

New arrangements for this test for 2025-entry will be communicated at the earliest opportunity. 

Test preparation and practice materials

New arrangements for this test for 2025-entry will be communicated at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, you are welcome to explore the test preparation and practice materials which you may find helpful. 

Past papers

The Modern Languages Admissions Test is a paper-based test which consists of 10 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 two sections are: 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.

Please note that there is no longer a Linguistics test section in the MLAT. Candidates applying for courses including Linguistics should ignore this section of the 2019 and earlier past papers. 

Blank answer booklets

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

MLAT and LAT solutions

The following are solutions to some recent 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. 

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

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

Answers to past papers: 

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

When do I take the test?

New arrangements for this test for 2025-entry will be communicated at the earliest opportunity.