The physics aptitude test (PAT)

Article _University -admissions -tests -the -physics -aptitude -test -(PAT)

Thinking about studying physics at university?

If you are planning to apply to study physics at uni, you need to know which universities require an additional test as part of your application process.

What is the physics aptitude test (PAT) used for?

The physics aptitude test is a challenging test of mathematical skills and physics knowledge, which is used by the University of Oxford to differentiate between candidates applying for Physics, Engineering and Materials Science undergraduate degrees.

It is an important part of the selection process and is used pre-interview to help decide who is invited to attend for interview and take their application further.

What courses require the physics aptitude test?

The PAT is required by a wide range of courses at the University of Oxford, including:

  • Physics (3 and 4 years courses)
  • Physics and Philosophy
  • Materials Science
  • Materials, Economics and Management
  • Engineering, Economics and Management
  • All Engineering Science courses

What is the format of the physics aptitude test?

The PAT is a two hour written exam in two parts. There are no calculators or formula sheets allowed, but you will be expected to know a range of laws and formulas, as well as mathematical values such as the sine, cosine and tangent of major angles.

The two papers are:

  • Mathematics for Physics – including elementary mathematics, algebra and calculus.
  • Physics aptitude test – including mechanics, waves and optics, electricity and magnetism, natural world, mathematics and problem solving.

Full details of the syllabus can be found on the University of Oxford Department of Physics website.

How and when do you take the physics aptitude test?

The testing day for University of Oxford entrance exams is November 6th 2013. Registration for the PAT open on 1st September and you must register by 15th October at 5pm.

You cannot enter yourself for the PAT. This must be done by the exam officer at your school or college. If you are not currently a student, you will need to find an ‘open centre’ who will register you for the PAT and administer your exam.

What does the physics aptitude test cost?

There is no fee payable for University of Oxford entrance exams taken at school or college, but there may be an administration charge if you sit the test at an open centre.

How to prepare for the physics aptitude test

The website for the University of Oxford Department of Physics comments that many candidates do not leave enough time to complete the PAT paper, and therefore miss out on a number of marks on the final questions. It is therefore essential to practice for the PAT test by taking past papers and researching the PAT syllabus, so that you know how to pace yourself through the test. Check out a sample paper or download some past papers.

Remember, calculators and formula sheets are not allowed, so you must also revise all the basic formulas, laws and mathematical constants you will need.