Student Advice

What is the MLAT?

Ben Maples  · Aug 25th 2023  · 5 min

The MLAT is one of the admissions tests needed to attend the University of Oxford. The test is a challenging admissions exam, required for all students who wish to study a languages course.

What is the MLAT?

The MLAT is a tough admissions test and one that covers a wide range of topics and subjects. It looks at your ability to understand language - your aptitude for learning, understanding sentence structure and how you handle philosophical queries.

What is the MLAT?

What is the MLAT?

The MLAT is the Modern Languages Admissions Test and is a university admissions test required by the University of Oxford. The test is designed to assess whether an applicant is at a high enough level to study a language course at the university.

The following courses require the MLAT:

Many universities will have an MLAT-like test for their courses. The MLAT is the most well-known language test that is asked for by a specific university. The University of Cambridge has a moderately similar test to the MML (Modern & Medieval Languages) test.

What is the format of the MLAT?

The MLAT has 9 sections, 10 if you are also studying a philosophy module. Despite this, students only need to complete a maximum of two. The sections you sit will depend on the course you have applied to.

Individual language tests

The first eight sections of the MLAT are devoted to the languages taught by the university. The individual language tests offered by the university are:

  • Czech
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Modern Greek
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Each test has two pages of questions, which must be answered over a 30-minute period. The question types will vary from fill-in-the-gap to simple translation exercises.

Language Aptitude Test

The ninth section of the MLAT is the LAT, or Language Aptitude Test. Like the previous section, you have two pages of text to study and 30 minutes to answer questions. This will usually involve translating a made-up language and using the resources provided to you as a means of translating them.

Philosophy test

The tenth and final section of the MLAT is The Philosophy test. This is an essay section that requires students to complete two sections in the space of an hour.

The two sections are:

  • Section A: Answer two questions about a passage of text on a random subject.
  • Section B: Answer three questions on a range of different topics.

You will only need to sit this section if you are studying a philosophy module alongside your languages course.

What is the Oxbridge MLAT?

The two maximum sections

The MLAT has eight different sections to choose from which depend on the course you're studying. You can only choose two of these sections to sit.

The sections are:

Course type Which MLAT section should I sit?
Single language courses Take the test for the corresponding language you are looking to study.
Combined language courses Take the test for both languages. For example, if you are studying German and modern Greek, you must sit the German and modern Green sections.
Modern languages and linguistics Take the test for the language you are studying. Sit the Language Aptitude Test if you are applying for modern Greek, Italian or Portuguese.
Classics and modern languages Take the test for the language you are studying. If you are sitting Czech, modern Greek, Italian or Portuguese, then sit the LAT.
English and modern languages Take the test for the language you are studying. You may also need to sit the ELAT.
European and Middle Eastern languages Take the relevant European language test. You may also need to sit the OLAT.
History and modern languages Take the test for the language you are studying. Take the LAT if you are studying Czech, Modern Greek, Italian or Portuguese.
Philosophy and modern languages Take the Philosophy test. Take the test for the language you are studying too.

Some of these sections are also required by other admissions tests. These can include the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT) or the English Language Admissions Test (ELAT).

When is the MLAT?

The MLAT is sat on 20th October 2023 for 2024 admissions. You will need to have registered in advance however, in this case, you will need to have registered for the test before September 29th.

Usually, the test is held in November, with registration needing to be completed by the end of October. However, back in February, the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) announced that the dates had been brought forward. The CAAT will no longer provide these tests, and they will instead be handled by Tata Consulting Services (TCS).

How to prepare for the MLAT

The MLAT test, like any other exam, can be prepared for beforehand. You would be surprised just how many students don’t actively prepare for university admissions tests, thinking they are too different from other exams they’ve taken.

We encourage you to prepare yourself as best you can. There are numerous resources out there to help you, as well as tutors who specialise in the MLAT who can help too.

What is the Oxford MLAT?

Take practice tests under timed conditions

It is a common revision technique to use past papers. We recommend giving a past paper a gounder exam conditions. This will help you adapt to the timings of the exam and help you better prepare for what the actual test will be like. You can find MLAT past papers here.

Speak to a tutor

There are several services that exist to provide students with MLAT tutors. These are people who specialise in preparing students for this exam and who will be able to provide you with insight into how the exam is studied and can mark any past papers as though the exam was real.

You will also have access to the holy grail of past papers: the mark scheme! Mark schemes give students a chance to really see what admissions tutors are looking for from those who sit the exams and how to answer the questions best.

Begin expanding your language skills

It’s easier said than done to expand your language skills, but use anything that can help you. You need to have at least an A-Level equivalent understanding of any language you are studying, so begin looking for helpful resources, be it dictionaries, online tutorials or even downloading Duolingo on your phone!

This goes beyond just learning other languages, however. Sometimes, familiarising yourself with complex grammatical structures can be an excellent way to prepare too. If you can understand these structures in English, then you will have an easier time when learning another language.

When do you find out your MLAT results?

There isn’t really a specified time as to when you will receive your results. Results are typically sent out soon after completing your MLAT.

You do not need to submit the results to the university yourself. The university will likely receive the results before you do, so this is all sorted for you.

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