The History Aptitude Test (HAT)

*The HAT is changing - From this autumn the History Aptitude Test will consist of one question based on an extract from a primary source, to be answered in one hour.* 

The Colleges of Oxford University use a History Aptitude Test (HAT) in the selection of candidates for all degree courses involving History. This test, which aims to examine the skills and potentialities required for the study of History at university, gives us an objective basis for comparing candidates from different backgrounds, including mature applicants and those from different countries. It is designed to be challenging, in order to differentiate effectively between the most able applicants for university courses, including those who may have achieved or can be expected to achieve the highest possible grades in their examinations.

The Faculty of History is working in partnership with Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) (formerly Admissions Testing Service) to administer the History Aptitude Test. As in previous years,  in addition to their application to the University, candidates will need to be registered for the History Aptitude Test (HAT) by 6pm BST on Tuesday 15th October 2019 via CAAT's secure Entries Extranet.  Further information will be available on CAAT tests

Please see the PDF documents below and our HAT video for details of how and when to register candidates.

Please also note that for entry into History and Economics in 2019 students must be registered to take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) Section 1 and be registered for it by 6pm BST on Tuesday 15th October 2019 via CAAT's secure Entries Extranet.  Further information will be available on CAAT website-

HAT Leaflet

What is the nature of the test?

The HAT is changing: From 2018 the History Aptitude Test will consist of one question based on an extract from a primary source, to be answered in one hour.

Candidates will be asked to offer thoughtful interpetations 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 period(s) they have studied or what school examinations they are taking.

The single question will follow the format and marking scheme of Question 3 of past HAT papers. Refer to Question 3 in the past papers below.

Qualities to be assessed

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
  • precision, in the handling of concepts and in the selection of evidence presented to support points
  • historical imagination
  • originality and independence
  • precision, clarity and facility of writing

When and where will the test take place?

The test will be sat on the morning of Wednesday 30th October 2019, by all candidates applying to Oxford for History and its joint schools (Ancient and Modern History, History and Economics, History and English, History and Modern Languages, and History and Politics). Most UK candidates in full-time education will be able to take the test at their own schools or colleges. Mature candidates may take the test at a regional test centre of their own choosing. International candidates will normally be able to take the test in their own schools or similar institutions, but may need to contact a local test centre. The tests will be marked anonymously in Oxford and successful candidates will receive invitations to interview within three to four weeks.

How do candidates prepare for the HAT?

It is worth looking at past papers and the mark schemes, to get a sense of how the test works. The test will not look easy – indeed, it will not be easy – but candidates are given plenty of time to read and re-read the text, to think about it, and to plan their answers. Candidates should not worry, therefore,if the past examples of the primary source question look difficult.  They probably look difficult to everyone else too. We hope that candidates will find the test interesting as well as tough.

What if I can't take the HAT at the scheduled time?

We hope that almost all candidates will be able to take the HAT at the scheduled time. If you think that it will be impossible for you to arrange to take it, please write in advance, stating your reasons, to:

The Admissions Officer, Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford OX1 2RL (

HAT Skills Workshop 

This video shows first year students discussing with a history tutor Question 3 of the HAT from the 2016 HAT paper. It shows some of the ways to analyse an unfamiliar piece of text. The 2016 HAT paper can be found on this page and it is recommended that you read the question ahead of watching the video.

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