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Please note that the GAT is not in use for the 2024 application cycle. Please check back here in due course for future admissions cycles. 

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Geography Admissions Test (GAT) Guide

Everything you should know before taking the GAT and how to be successful!


The Geography Admissions Test, or GAT, is an admissions test used by Oxford university to help in their selection process for BA Geography degrees. The test is specifically designed to evaluate your aptitude for the field of Geography. It is structured to assess your ability to analyse geographical data, think critically about geographical concepts, and form well-reasoned arguments based on the evidence provided.


Applicants to Geography at Oxford University are all required to sit the GAT.


The GAT is a computer-based examination with a duration of 1 hour and 45 minutes consisting of three sections:

Part A tests your critical thinking skills and should take roughly 30 minutes to complete. It is made of two-subsections, each of which presents a short passage which you are to read before answering some multiple-choice questions on its content.

Part B is focused on problem solving and should also take around 30 minutes to complete. It is made of two subsections requiring candidates to look at a set of information before answering some multiple-choice questions on it.

Part C asks candidates to read a passage of text and answer a question in the form of an essay. This section should take the remainder of the test time - roughly 45 minutes.


Students do not have a choice of questions as part of the GAT.


Oxford University uses the GAT as a standardised format for assessing and benchmarking their applicants. The exam rewards responding to unseen texts and sets of information in a logical manner, employing skills learned elsewhere in your studies to new materials. It does not require specific content knowledge, but rather is skills-based, meaning students taking different qualifications at school can access the syllabus.

Oxford uses students’ marks in the GAT to make decisions about which applicants they should invite to interview, giving them a further indicator in addition to predicted and achieved grades. Whilst the GAT is important in their selection processes, it is always used as part of a matrix and considered alongside other factors submitted with the application, such as predicted grades and personal statement.


The GAT is a new test for 2023 applicants, and as such we do not have reports on past years’ admissions statistics to inform us of the average successful scores from the test. We recommend that applicants just do the best they can on the paper!


The GAT is a test of skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and data interpretation, rather than of any particular content knowledge.

Although the content is not specific to any school syllabus, the skills that you will be using to take the test will be those taught and practised in A-level (or equivalent) courses such as Geography. We therefore recommend using your school studies as an example from which to practise the relevant skills. It can be difficult to identify tasks and exercises to practise these skills; our specialist tutors who have experience of advising students taking other qualifications and help them fill in knowledge gaps.

Admissions Test Guidance

Unsure about your Oxbridge admissions test performance? Our expert Oxbridge-graduate tutors have helped thousands of applicants to maximise their potential in their admissions test. Contact us at [email protected] or +44 (0) 20 7499 2394.

How to register for the GAT

The GAT is not being used by Oxford University for the 2024-2025 admissions cycle. For applicants targeting future years, please check back here in due course for further information.

Tips from a Successful Oxford Geographer


  1. Understand the Format:
    Familiarise yourself with the GAT format and structure by reviewing this guide, researching the course on the university website, and looking through sample materials. Although this is a new test so there is not the usual wealth of past papers available, the University have published sample papers to allow students an accurate idea of what the real test will look like. This will help you become comfortable with the type of questions and tasks you'll encounter on the test day.
  2. Work on you Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills:
    Work on improving your analytical and critical thinking abilities, since these are key to the GAT test. Practice analysing data, interpreting maps, and drawing logical conclusions from different sources. This skill will be invaluable in the first two sections of the GAT.
  3. Strengthen Your Geography Knowledge:
    Enhance your geographical knowledge by engaging in wide-ranging reading and research. Pay particular attention to current affairs, as well as contemporary environmental and social issues, to strengthen your grasp on relevant topics. Although the test itself is more skills-based than content-based (no specific content knowledge is required), engaging with new concepts and practising applying your knowledge to them is a good way of preparing for the data/texts you will be presented with in the exam.
  4. Practice Time Management:
    Time is of the essence during the GAT. Practice answering questions under timed conditions to improve your time management skills. Being able to efficiently allocate time to each section will maximise your chances of completing the test successfully. Use the guides recommended by the university for each section of the test (30 minutes, 30 minutes, and 45 minutes respectively) as indicators of how you should be splitting your time.
  5. Hone Your Essay Writing:
    Enhance your essay writing skills by regularly composing essays on various geographical topics. Focus on constructing coherent arguments, using evidence to support your points, and refining your writing style.
  6. Seek Feedback:
    Request feedback on your practice essays and responses from teachers, mentors, or peers. Constructive criticism will help you identify areas for improvement and refine your approach. Previous Oxford Geographers, such as our mentors here at Oxbridge Applications, are also a great source of knowledge to draw on, as they can give you an accurate picture of what it means to perform like a real Oxford geographer!


In addition to official GAT specimen papers on the Oxford Website, we at Oxbridge Applications have written a series of additional mock papers. Our students have 33% more questions to practise with. Our mock GAT papers can be found here and are included with our admissions test tuition. All of our GAT tutors are highly-trained Oxbridge graduates who can share their personally insights of having sat the test. You can contact our Oxbridge-graduate Consultants on +44 (0) 20 7499 2394 or email [email protected] to discuss which of our test training would suit you best. We also have an online testing portal for students who want to sit the exam in timed, test conditions.


At Oxbridge Applications, we pride ourselves in providing up-to-date advice and unrivalled expertise. As well as collating information from publicly available sources, we also conduct our own research into the application process; for example, by surveying the thousands of students we support each year. Speak to an Oxbridge Applications expert today for advice on your specific situation!

Register to access our complimentary e-book "So You Want To Go To Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana…"

How to Pass the GAT?

The best advice we can offer to succeed the GAT exam is to begin exam preparation early and practise often.

Most students who don’t make it through the interview stages and feel their admissions test results let them down tell us that they didn’t spend enough time practising with unseen materials and working to the specific timings and requirements of the given paper.


Since no specific subject knowledge is required for the GAT, challenge yourself to begin working through past papers and familiarising yourself with the questions as soon as possible.


Reflect on your personal strengths and weaknesses. No two students should have the same revision strategy for the GAT, since you all have varying abilities. Try to identify which parts of the paper you find easier and which you find more difficult; this should help you strategically plan your preparation.


Don’t restrict your practice materials: Once you have tried all of the sample papers from the university, and have moved on to additional materials like our bespoke GAT papers, you should then look wider at similar materials. For example, take a look at data analysis questions for other A-level exam boards or other exam systems, such as the IB. This could offer you a wider array of practice material and help train your flexibility to unseen materials.


Work with a friend or teacher to discuss questions and identify your own personal revision goals. Working with others can be a huge motivation and keep you on track in the weeks and months leading up to the test. We have specialist GAT tutors who can work with you one-to-one to refine your test technique.

Strategic Guidance

Unsure about your Oxbridge application? In our one-hour consultation, our experts strategise your application, assess your potential, and resolve queries to maximise your success. Contact us at [email protected] or +44 (0) 20 7499 2394.

GAT Admission Private Tuition x4

Available all year-round and includes 4 private admissions test tuition sessions and four test papers, which are marked by expert Oxbridge-graduate tutors.

GAT Admission Private Tuition x6

Available: Year-Round and includes 6 private admissions test tuition sessions and six test papers which are marked by expert Oxbridge-graduate tutors.

Past GAT test papers

Prepare for your admissions test with our mock papers.

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