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Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) Guide

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

WHAT IS THE MLAT?

The Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) is a test used by Oxford University as part of their selection process for students to their Modern Languages courses (as well as joint honours courses involving Modern Languages). The test is computer-based and is designed to measure an applicant’s ability in a language they already study and wish to study at university, and/or their aptitude for new languages if applying to study something ab-initio.

WHO NEEDS TO SIT THE MLAT?

The MLAT is mandatory for Oxford University applicants on the following courses: European and Middle Eastern Languages, Classics and Modern Languages, English and Modern Languages, History and Modern Languages, Modern Languages, Modern Languages and Linguistics, and Philosophy and Modern Languages.

HOW IS THE MLAT  STRUCTURED?

The MLAT is a computer-based test consisting of ten sections. There are eight individual sections for each of the following languages (to be taken by students who already have knowledge of the language in question):

  • Czech
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Modern Greek
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

The other two sections are the Language Aptitude Test (LAT, for those applying for new languages as beginners or for Russian on its own) and the Philosophy test (for those applying to Philosophy and Modern Languages).

Every section of the paper lasts 30 minutes aside from the Philosophy test, which lasts 60 minutes.

CAN I CHOOSE WHICH QUESTIONS I ANSWER IN THE MLAT?

Applicants answer given sections based on which specific course(s) they are applying to and which language(s) they already study, but within these sections there are not choices.

HOW IS MY SCORE IN THE MLAT USED?

Oxford University uses the MLAT as a standardised format for assessing and benchmarking their applicants. The exam rewards either the ability to accurately read, use, and analyse texts in your target language or study, or the ability to adapt to new languages and learn quickly as part of their potential degree course.

Oxford uses students’ marks in the MLAT 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 MLAT 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.

WHAT IS A GOOD MLAT SCORE?

The test for each language on the MLAT is typically scored out of 100 marks. Because it depends on course to course, language to language, and year to year, it is practically impossible to identify a ‘pass mark’ so to speak. As a general rule of thumb, a mark of 70% or more is considered competitive for an admissions test. However, as previously mentioned, the admissions test score is considered alongside a whole host of other factors, and so is unlikely to be the single determinant factor in an applicant being invited to interview or not.

DO I NEED TO KNOW SPECIFIC CONTENT?

For the specific language tests, applicants are advised to revise both vocabulary and grammar points that they have covered in their school course so far. These tests are designed to be at a level that is challenging but also doable for students studying A-level or equivalent modern language courses. In addition, general translation techniques and skills should be practised as good preparation for the test.

For the LAT, although no knowledge of a particular language is required, students can prepare by working on language-based logic puzzles and translation tasks in order to ensure their best performance in the test.

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How to register for the MLAT

WHEN IS THE MLAT IN 2023?

The test date for the MLAT in 2023 is the 19th of October, meaning that all applicants will have to sit the test on this exact day. This may be during half term, but with plenty of advanced notice this hopefully shouldn’t prevent your school or college from holding the test. Be aware that if you miss this date for whatever reason you will not be able to take the test on another day and your application will not be considered.

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION?

The MLAT, like many Oxford Admissions Tests, requires applicants to register in advance of sitting the test. 2023 applicants will have to register between the 1st and 29th of September to be able to sit the test.

An applicant cannot register themselves for the test, but must be registered through an official test centre. For most candidates this will be their school or college, but if not it can be done through an open test centre. We recommend reading the Oxford University MLAT page for more details on how to register. However you register, make sure that you have submitted all your details to the test centre and have received your candidate entry number as proof of entry by midnight on the 29th of September. If you have extenuating circumstances (i.e. a situation beyond your control) that prevented you from registering on time, get in touch with the Oxford college you applied to immediately and alert them of your situation.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TAKE THE MLAT

Oxford University does not charge applicants a registration fee. However, independent test centres do sometimes charge an administration fee for candidates to cover costs such as room hire and invigilation. Get in touch with your chosen test centre to clarify if this cost will apply to you.

 

Tips from a Successful Oxford Modern Languages Student

HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR THE MLAT?

  1. Read in your Target Language: Engage with a diverse range of literary works in the language you’re applying for to enhance your language skills as well as your literary and analytical thinking. Understand different writing styles to the best of your ability, and
  2. Practice Translating Texts: Regularly practise close reading and translation of Latin or Greek texts (if sitting one or both Translation papers), both going over the set texts from your school classes as well as unseen text practice.
  3. Go Over Vocabulary and Grammar: Spend some time going back through the Latin or Greek vocabulary and grammar you have covered in class so as to give you the headstart on your unseen Latin or Greek text translations.
  4. 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 Languages Students, 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 Linguist. Get in touch with one of our mentors today as part of an Admissions Test Tuition course.

MLAT PREPARATION MATERIALS

In addition to official MLAT past and 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 MLAT papers are included with our MLAT admissions test tuition course. All of our MLAT tutors are highly-trained Oxford graduates who can share their personal 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.

WHAT IS THE BEST STUD GUIDE FOR THE MLAT?

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!

How to Pass the MLAT?

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

Most students who don’t make it through the interview stages and feel their MLAT 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 relevant MLAT paper.

START EARLY

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

REFLECTION

Reflect on your personal strengths and weaknesses. No two students should have the same revision strategy for the MLAT, since you all have varying abilities. Try to identify which text forms you get on well with best, as well as how you fare in engaging with new texts and translating rapidly or, in the case of the LAT, how quickly you can adapt to a new language system.

DON'T RESTRICT YOUR PRACTICE MATERIALS

Don’t restrict your practice materials: Once you have tried all of the real past papers, and have moved on to additional materials like our bespoke MLAT papers, you should then look wider at similar materials. For example, if taking a paper for a language you’re already studying, take a look at unseen text 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.

 

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.

MLAT 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.

MLAT 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 MLAT test papers

Prepare for your admissions test with our mock papers.

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