Changes to Oxford Admissions Tests in 2023

It has been announced that a series of admissions tests used by the University of Oxford will no longer be administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. Find out what is happening and how this will affect your application.

Last Updated: 15th February 2023

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It was announced by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) on February 9th 2023 that a selection of admissions tests used by the University of Oxford would no longer be provided by the organisation starting from 2023.

CAAT have delivered a wide selection of admissions test to Oxford for many years now, but this announcement confirms that the vast majority of these tests will no longer be administered by CAAT themselves. What does this all mean and how will it affect your application? Let’s find out: 

In short, this is what you need to know:

Which Admissions Tests Are Affected By These Changes?

CAAT have administered many admissions tests over the years for Oxford applicants to take, including some exclusive to the university and some that are used by others. The announcement made on the 9th confirmed that all of the subject-specific admissions tests that were exclusive to Oxford will no longer be administered by CAAT in 2023. These tests include: 

Oxford confirmed in a statement in late February that all of these tests would be administered by Tata Consulting Services (TCS) in 2023. We currently do not know if any changes will be made to these admissions tests, although no indication has been made that any changes will occur outside of the administrator. 

It was also announced that the Geography Admissions Test (GAT) would be reintroduced for 2023, which was replaced several years ago by the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA)

The most recent development is that the OLAT has seemingly been cancelled for applicants of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, meaning the test will not be sat this year. The test has been replaced with a requirement for two pieces of written work. Further details are found on the course page. 

The testing dates for these admissions tests were revealed by Oxford in the same announcement: 

19th October 2023

20th October 2023

Two admissions tests were confirmed to still be running under CAAT, the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and TSA, meaning these two exams will run as normal for 2023. 

However, changes are also underway for the BMAT, as it was previously announced that the BMAT would be discontinued alongside various other admissions tests starting in 2024, meaning the BMAT will not be used by any universities next year. Oxford reiterated this in its statement regarding the matter, confirming that CAAT will still be administering these tests. 

The TSA will run as normal by CAAT in 2023, but this will not be the case in 2024. It is currently unclear if this test will be continued by TCS or be cancelled/replaced, although the re-introduction of the GAT and the TSA not being classified as an “Oxford Own Test” indicates that it may not be used in future. 

How Will These Changes Affect My Application?

While the original announcement made by CAAT was fairly vague, more recent announcements from Oxford helped to clear some uncertainty around this situation, although there are still questions to be asked. 

While there was originally speculation that these changes could mean the cancellation or replacement of these admissions tests, Oxford has seemingly confirmed that this is not the case. As far as the statement indicates, your application in 2023 should not be affected by this change in any major way, as all of the tests in question will still be running, most likely in their original format. 

The exception to this is for Geography applicants, who will now need to sit the more specialised Geography Admissions Test rather than the general TSA. This may make your application a bit more difficult as fewer preparation resources are currently available. However, the greater focus on subject-specific knowledge may be preferred for some applicants. Asian and Middle Eastern Studies applicants will no longer be sitting an admissions test, with the submission of written work potentially being preferable to some students. 

Bear in mind that this announcement specifies that these changes will be enacted from 2023 onwards, meaning that we are unlikely to see further changes in the coming years. This should be a relief to future applicants of the relevant subjects, as you most likely won’t need to worry about a brand new admissions test. 

Oxford Admissions Test Format

It was confirmed in July 2023 that most admissions tests will be computer-based, meaning questions and answers will all be digital for students. However, the MAT and PAT will be using a hybrid computer-based and paper-based system. How will this work?

Questions for each examination will be presented to applicants via a screen just like the other tests. However, applicants will need to write their answers within a printed answer booklet. This has likely been done to ease the process of working out for applicants as digital resources are far less convenient than pen and paper for complex mathematical problems. 

So far, no changes have been announced for the curriculums or question formats for these tests, so we can currently assume that the papers and questions will be structured the same as in previous years, only now presented in a digital format. This means that all current revision materials and past papers should still be relevant for revision. 

Oxford Admissions Registration

Oxford has confirmed that registration for these admissions tests will not be automatic and must be handled by your school. According to the information provided, it is strongly recommended that schools register to become testing centres. Otherwise, they will not be able to register students for testing or hold the tests themselves.  

While the exact registration process has not yet been announced, it is likely that it will need to be handled by your school’s exams officer, similar to CAAT exams. Exams officers will only be able to do this if the school is a registered testing centre. If this is not possible, then it is stated that open testing centres will be available. Students will likely need to register to test at these centres independently. All registrations must be completed between September 1st – September 29th

Please note that students will be given a Test Candidate Entry Number which must be retained to sit the test.

What Do Schools Need To Know?

One important factor that has recently been announced is the need for schools to register as testing centres in order to operate these tests. Oxford confirms that the process for doing so is simple and a one-off requirement. 

The official Registration Portal from Oxford can be used by both schools and applicants. Students can use this page to find their nearest testing centre, which should be their school. If it is not possible for your school to become a testing centre, open testing centres will be available which your students can apply for instead. 

Becoming an Oxford testing Centre

Oxford has stated the process of registering as a testing centre is simple. It is important to note that every school will need to do this to hold Oxford admissions tests, even if they had held them in previous years. 

To become a testing centre, your school will need to be able to meet various criteria to ensure safe and effective testing for all students: 

The initial application process is very simple, requiring you to provide details of yourself and your school via an online application form. Once the form is submitted, you like need to provide evidence of compliance to the various requirements for testing centres. This will typically be done via photographs.  

Once your application has been approved, you will be able to access the testing centre portal, where you can register your students to sit their required tests. Each student will receive a Test Candidate Entry Number which must be retained in order to for them to sit their test.  

What Are UniAdmissions Doing About These Changes?

Here at UniAdmissions, we always strive to offer the most up-to-date and relevant application support for our students. Despite the upcoming changes to these admissions tests, we will still be ensuring this is the case. 

Due to the change in presentation for these tests, we will be exploring ways to ensure our practice resources are as realistic as possible to the real test. While we will not know exactly how the test looks until it has been officially sat, we will aim to prepare students as closely as possible. We will also support schools in registration for becoming testing centres. 

Other than this, we will be continuing our support as normal for all of Oxford’s own tests. However, we will be altering our Premium Geography Programmes in order to prepare students for the GAT rather than the TSA. OLAT support will also no longer be provided to students unless the test is brought back. 

We will also be keeping an eye on the state of the TSA and BMAT in 2024 to ensure we are ready to prepare students for whatever admissions test replaces them. 

These changes come after the announcement of various other major changes to the university application process, including the removal of the BMAT and the overhaul of the UCAS Personal Statement system in 2025. Therefore, we are keeping a close eye on all of these situations and are ready to update our programmes when necessary. 

If you have any concerns about this announcement or how it may affect your preparation, please feel free to contact our admissions consultants, who will be able to explain how our support is tailored to meet you or your child’s needs. Be sure to check back in regularly as we will be updating this guide as new announcements are made. 

No matter what changes, UniAdmissions will provide the most up-to-date and relevant support possible for your application.

At UniAdmissions, we’re working tirelessly to ensure that our tutors, curriculum and resources are ready to get our students through these changes. You can join them today and ensure you get the support you need to make it through the 2024 admissions cycle

Discover our Oxbridge Premium Programmes below and find out how you can enrol and triple your chances of success.

At UniAdmissions, we’re putting in all of our efforts to make sure our students are well-equipped to navigate the upcoming changes, with the help of our dedicated tutors, well-rounded curriculum, and comprehensive resources. You can become a part of this today and receive the assistance you need to successfully complete the 2023 admissions cycle.

Schedule a consultation with one of our experts today, and find out how our Oxbridge Premium Programmes can triple your chances of success.

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