Student Advice

What is the HAT?

Ben Maples  · Aug 25th 2023  · 4 min

There are a number of university admissions tests that a student may have to sit before they attend university. Not all universities require them, however, the HAT (History Aptitude Test) is one you must sit to study History at the University of Oxford.

What is the HAT?

The HAT is a specific type of aptitude admissions test that only one university offers it. Others will have similar types of admissions tests for university and for history courses; however, the HAT is unique in its own right.

What is the HAT?

What is the HAT?

The HAT stands for History Aptitude Test. The HAT is a university admissions test for students who are looking to study History-related courses at the University of Oxford. The University of Cambridge does not require the HAT; however, it does require that students have a History Admissions Assessment (HAA), which works similarly.

Students who wish to sit the following subjects will need to sit the HAT:

The HAT is unique to the University of Oxford. Other universities will have admissions tests students need to sit, however, the HAT and the HAA are unique to Oxbridge. The HAT is free to sit, but you may be charged an administration fee for sitting the test.

What is the format of the HAT?

There is only one question on the History Aptitude Test. The question is based on an extract from a primary source, and they are expected to give an insight and their own interpretation of the course.

The HAT is designed to test your ability to read carefully and to present and create an analysis of the text. The test is deemed to be challenging for those from all backgrounds.

Why do you have to sit the HAT?

Oxbridge is exceptionally competitive. As a result, the two universities (Oxford and Cambridge) are very selective about who they will admit and who they will not.

As so many high-desirable students will apply for Oxford or Cambridge, tests like the HAT are introduced. The university needs to separate the exceptional from the truly exceptional and these tests allow them to have a closer look at your abilities.

With international students applying to Oxbridge, the HAT is also a way to assess how these students fair with coursework, grading and teaching in the UK.

What is the History Aptitude Test?

How is the HAT scored?

The HAT is marked on six main points:

  • Comprehension, content, and analysis
  • Coverage
  • History insight and perceptiveness
  • Presentation and use of English
  • Structure, organisation, and relevance
  • Use of evidence

These six points are each scored on a scale of 1-5, with a possible overall score of 90. Different elements of the HAT are given different weights.

The weightage for the HAT scores are:

Section Weightage (multiplier)
Comprehension, content, and analysis 4-point weightage.
Coverage 3-point weightage.
History insight and perceptiveness 4-point weightage.
Presentation and use of English 1-point weightage.
Structure, organisation, and relevance 2-point weightage.
Use of evidence 4-point weightage.

Your overall score can change. Your initial score is merely provisional, and the marker may make changes as they see fit.

When are the HAT test dates?

The HAT changes its test dates every year. Traditionally, the test is held around November, with registration being required by the middle of October.

You will need to apply for the test directly. Several universities automatically enrol students for some admissions tests when the student applies to their course, however, the HAT must be applied for directly through Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) (even though Cambridge doesn’t offer the test).

University of Oxford HAT

What is a good HAT score?

What constitutes a good score for the HAT generally changes depending on what year you sitthe exam. In some years, a score of 55 may be enough to guarantee entry onto the course, whereas, in other years, you may need as high as 67.

Mansfield College, one of the main colleges at the University of Oxford, released some data for HAT applicants. This data contained the mean score for students applying for the HAT for the 2020/21 admissions cycle, which relieved that the mean score for the HAT was 56.7. So generally, aiming for that score is a safe bet.

Are you allowed to retake the HAT?

You are allowed to retake the HAT. However, it must be said that while you can re-take the HAT, you cannot re-take the exam during the same admissions cycle. You’ll need to wait til next year to have another go.

Unfortunately, you cannot use the same result from a previous year for a later application, either. For example, if you were to defer your application by a year, you would need to re-sit the exam, as scores are only valid for one year.

Are there HAT past papers available online?

The University of Oxford offers past papers for students on their website. This will not be the passage of a source you will be expected to read this year, but it will give you a level of insight into the kinds of questions that can be asked.

Revising with past papers is essential for students looking to prepare for their admissions tests. We recommend revising under test or exam conditions, if possible - as this tends to prepare you for the actual test a lot better than if you have music or other distractions on in the background.

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