The PAT Guide to your Child’s Physics Aptitude Test

What is the PAT test and why is my child taking it? Read this parent PAT guide to help you support your child in their physics aptitude test.

The Physics Aptitude Test – the PAT – is the examination used to test candidates who wish to apply for Physics and similar courses, such as Engineering and Materials Science, at the University of Oxford.


What does the PAT actually test?

Like other aptitude tests, it is primarily designed to test the way that an applicant thinks and uses logic to reach solutions to problems. So, as well as measuring the conceptual understanding of Physics, the exam is also a broader assessment of aptitude. It is important to recognise that your child cannot simply use their A-Level revision as preparation for this exam. It requires separate attention.

The exam is taken by candidates in the months ahead of the interview. It is advisable, as well as through their own preparation, that your child makes use of the wide range of resources available online as a PAT guide.


The format of the exam

The exam is two hours in length and applicants will be able to use a calculator during the exam. There are usually around 27-30 questions in the exam, although this number is not fixed. Your child should work through the questions methodically and not spend too long on a single question you find difficult.


How can you help your child prepare?

As a PAT guide, practice is absolutely crucial for the PAT, as with other aptitude tests. This practice is most effective if it is done daily, or a number of times a week. It is good to build up revision and practice over a period of time, rather than suddenly beginning.

Remember that your child must prepare well in advance of the exam itself. As a PAT guide, it is best that students begin by completing individual questions and familiarising themselves with the style of questions examiners tend to ask. This will allow them to begin thinking logically about the problems they set.


It is important to drill into your child that they need to make sure they leave time to complete fully timed practice PAT exams. This is something that you can manage and get involved in. Some candidates taking PAT are very capable but become unstuck because of timing issues. The exam is both a test of ability and also the speed at which your child can answer the problems competently.

Take a look into online PAT courses for your child. There are plenty of resources to be found online to help with the PAT guide for your child. For example, the UniAdmissions’ PAT individual courses are run by expert tutors who have studied or are studying at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. They have been through the process your child is currently going through and are experts at supporting students in this exam.


The PAT guide to what’s next

Set your child a revision timetable and strategy that you both agree on. That way your child will cover the content needed for the exam in the time available.

Practice questions on a regular basis over a period of months rather than suddenly cramming in the week before the exam. This will train your child’s brain to think in the way that is required.

Make sure your child leaves themselves time to complete full practice exams, under timed conditions.

Book your child onto an Intensive PAT Course

At UniAdmissions there are leading intensive courses to make sure your child achieves the best possible PAT result.

The course covers past paper, mock exam scenarios and answers to some of the hardest questions expected in the test. The PAT intensive course is led by an expert tutor who is well-versed in the field of PAT tests and knows the common questions that pop up in the exam.

Students who have taken this course have not only improved their aptitude test results but also boosted their chances of succeeding in their university application.

Places sell out fast so make sure you browse our PAT intensive course today.

Discover the PAT intensive course >>>

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