The History Aptitude Test (HAT)

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What is the History Aptitude Test (HAT)?


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 potential 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.

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.

Past HAT Papers

As of 2018, the HAT changed from three questions to one. In all past papers before 2018, only question three will be shown. This is the equivalent of the post-2018 test.

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.