Map Oxbridge Applications, 58 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ

The summer between Year 12 and 13 is key for preparing for all areas of the Oxbridge application – but it can be difficult to know where to begin!  To help, we have broken the summer up into three sections – Early, Mid and Late - to help you structure your preparation and ensure that make real progress between June and August.

Early Summer: End of June – mid July

Reading: There are plenty of reading lists online – both on our website, and on college or department websites, for example.  For those applying to subjects where reading is key, pick one or two key, canonical books you will read early in summer to give you a grounding in the subject.

Admissions Tests:  Early Summer is the time to research the admissions test you will be sitting and make sure that you are aware of its requirements.  You can therefore come up with a list of topics and/or skills that you need to work on throughout the rest of the break.

Personal Statement:  Now is the time to make a list of everything you have read and participated in outside of class that is relevant to your subject.  This will be a great starting point for your personal statement, but also highlight what further actions you need to take.

Mid-Summer: Mid-July – Mid-August

Reading: The books you read in early summer should be the building blocks for your reading, inspiring an interest in one or two areas that you continue exploring.  Feel free to choose more niche and specialised books at this point.

Admissions Tests:  At the beginning of this time-period, sit one mock admissions test under timed conditions, and then reflect.  Where are your strengths?  What do you need to work on?  Make a list of areas you need to improve, then start working on them.

Personal Statement: Start working on the points you identified as lacking in early summer.  This might involve work experience, visiting exhibitions, signing up to a Maths challenge, or watching TED talks.

End of Summer: Mid-August – early September

Reading: You should now be reading something beyond that which you will include in your personal statement, so that you have more content to discuss at interview.  You should become comfortable talking about your reading with others – find a friend and chat about what you’ve been interested in!

Admissions Tests:  Finish off polishing any areas of improvement you identified in your first mock test, and then sit another.  Again, make sure you stick to the conditions you will have in the actual test!  Reflect on this test: have you improved and are there further areas to work on when you return to school or college?

Personal Statement:  Having spent apt time preparing, now is the time to write your first draft.   Having a solid draft now will give you some time in September for re-writes.

The Oxbridge selection process can seem mysterious and confusing to many students. What are Admissions Tutors actually looking for? How will they assess me and which elements of my application will they pay the most attention to? These are some of the questions you may have as an applicant. The answers can vary greatly depending on which subject you are applying for as well as the university, since different faculties are largely free to make their own rules. So, for example, the History faculty may have very different criteria for which applicants should be invited to interview than the Law faculty. In this resource, we’ll demystify the application and give you a clear guide to what you should be focusing on.

Admissions Tests 

multiple choice correct size

For many (though not all) subjects at both Oxford and Cambridge, you will have to take an admissions test as part of your application, and your score will contribute to your chances of success.

In general, Oxford interviews fewer people than Cambridge, so the admissions tests are more important in shortlisting candidates to invite to interview. On the other hand, Cambridge, maintaining its high interview rate, seems to put less emphasis on the admissions test scores prior to interview (however, the ENGAA (Engineering Admissions Assessment) and the TSAC (Thinking Skills Assessment Chemistry) seem to be exceptions to this ). This means that by and large, if you are applying to Oxford, it’s especially important that you aim for top marks in your admissions test. 


Below, we’ve illustrated how two different faculties use their admissions test to shortlist candidates:

History (Oxford)

The pre-interview shortlist score is a combination of the HAT (History Aptitude Test) score and your contextualised GCSE score, with the HAT weighted at 70%. The aim is that each college should interview three candidates for every place, so the pre-interview shortlisting process is intended to achieve this number. The History faculty advises colleges not to invite for interview candidates scoring below a designated cutoff score, which varies from year to year. However, colleges may “rescue” candidates from below the cutoff score if they have Access or Widening Participation flags, or for extenuating circumstances stated on their UCAS application. 

English (Oxford)

Applicants for English will take the ELAT (English Literature Aptitude Test), with each candidate receiving a score out of 60 and being sorted into four bands on the basis of this score. The score is used in pre-interview ranking and can also be used for deciding between candidates. 

Band one identifies those candidates who should definitely be called for interview unless other indicators strongly suggest otherwise, whereas band four identifies candidates who are unlikely to be invited, unless other factors outweigh the test result. In pre-interview ranking, the ELAT score is weighted at 40% of the overall deciding factors. 


Academic Grades

exam results confidential correct size

Along with admissions test scores, GCSE grades are a major element of the pre-interview selection process, and the importance of GCSEs should not be underestimated. This is especially the case under the new A-level system whereby most applicants will not have taken AS exams, meaning that GCSEs are the only concrete qualifications that the average applicant will have when they apply. This also means that if you have slightly weaker GCSE grades but you already have achieved strong A-level results – for example if you are applying after a gap year – these may help compensate.

Some faculties, such as the Oxford History faculty, choose not to consider A-levels or predictions in their official pre-interview shortlist score, because they only use criteria that apply to all applicants. However, the faculty-wide shortlist score does not determine whether you are offered a place as the decision is made by the individual colleges which will take into account many aspects of your application, including A-levels. The purpose of the ranking is rather to give Admissions Tutors an idea of where the applicants to their college fall within the context of all the History applicants that year.  

An example of a faculty that does take predicted and achieved A-levels into account for pre-interview assessment is Chemistry at Oxford, which gives each candidate a mark from one to five based on A-levels or equivalent (achieved/predicted), AS (if applicable), GCSEs or equivalent, and the teacher reference. 

On average Cambridge makes higher offers than Oxford, requiring more A*s at A-level. As they are less selective than Oxford pre-interview, the high offers allow them to whittle down their numerous candidates post-interview. They also tend to make more personalised offers than Oxford, meaning that for some subjects you cannot be entirely sure until you receive your offer what grades will be required at A-level. This is something to bear in mind if your A-level grades or predicted grades are strong but not outstanding. 

Note: some schools do not predict A*s as a matter of policy. If this is the case with your school, make sure that it is mentioned in the teacher reference.

Written Work 

hand writing correct size

For some subjects, especially if there is no admissions test, you will be required to submit written work as part of your application. Although written work is often overlooked by candidates, it is a vital piece of the application for many subjects. In the Oxford English faculty for example, the written work score makes up 40% of the pre-interview assessment, whilst GCSEs make up only 17.5%. 

Written work should take the form of school or college work written as part of your course, and should be marked by a teacher. Rules may vary between faculties but the Oxford university guidelines state that each piece should be around 2,000 words long, and should not be re-written or corrected after it has been marked. In Cambridge not all colleges require written work for a particular subject, so check the requirements for your first choice college. 

Written work may be officially assessed according to a number of criteria if it is used in pre-interview shortlisting. The assessment criteria for written work in the Oxford English faculty include:

  • literary sensibility

  • sensitivity to creative use of language

  • evidence of careful and critical reading

  • coherence of argument

  • originality

Since written work is a tutor’s opportunity to see how you structure arguments and what kind of work you might be submitting at university, it is important to submit pieces that show you at your best. As the submitted pieces must be taken from your school work, make sure you work hard on your A-level essays and aim to get high marks so you have a strong selection to choose from. 

Personal Statement

books correct size

As you put together your university application, the UCAS personal statement is one of the main things you will be focusing on. In terms of pre-interview selection, faculties which operate a pre-interview score and ranking system tend not to include the personal statement in this ranking. However, as we have already seen, such rankings do not make or break an application, and college Admissions Tutors are free to take all factors into account. 

The personal statement, as the name suggests, is the only truly personal element of your application; it is your opportunity to make an impression on Admissions Tutors as an individual and to convey your passion for the subject. Remember that tutors aren’t just looking for applicants with good grades, but applicants with a demonstrable interest in and aptitude for the subject who will make engaging students – the UCAS statement is your chance pre-interview to show that you are such an applicant. 

The good news is that whilst GCSE grades cannot be changed and admissions test scores depend on your performance in one exam, the personal statement can be tweaked and worked on as often as you like before you submit it, and you can ask for feedback from others. If your grades aren’t as high as they could be, make sure you put extra effort into your personal statement so you stand out and make admissions tutors want to interview you. 

For specialist advice on personal statements or any aspect of your application, get in touch with our expert consultants on + 44 (0) 20 7499 2394 or send us your query at [email protected]

ELAT pageYour ELAT score can make the difference between whether you reach your Oxford interview or not. Though this is intimidating, as with all exams, practice and preparation can make a real difference to your performance.

General information about the ELAT can be found on the homepage here. You can get a few practice papers from the University hereHowever, we’ve summarised everything you need to know below.


The ELAT is a 1 1/2 hour test, which requires candidates to write one essay.

Candidates are given six poems or passages from drama and/or prose (fiction or non-fiction), and are asked to carry out this single task:

Select two or three of the passages (a) to (f) and compare and contrast them in any ways that seem interesting to you, paying particular attention to distinctive features of structure, language and style. In your introduction, indicate briefly what you intend to explore or illustrate through close reading of your chosen passages.


Oxford applicants for the following subjects:

  • Classics and English
  • Classics II and English
  • English and Beginners’ Czech (with Slovak)
  • English and Beginners’ Italian
  • English and Beginners’ Modern Greek
  • English and Beginners’ Portuguese
  • English and Czech (with Slovak)
  • English and French
  • English and German
  • English and Italian
  • English and Modern Greek
  • English and Portuguese
  • English and Russian
  • English and Spanish
  • English Language and Literature

Cambridge Applicants for English

Depending on the selected course, an additional admissions test may need to be taken, e.g. CAT or MLAT


15th October – last date for entries

5th November – date of ELAT (9am in schools)


Don’t forget that you need to register to sit the ELAT through your school or test centre. Make sure you check that your school is on top of this – or find a test centre through Cambridge Assessment.


Generally, you need to get 53 or above out of 60 to be invited to interview, although you can see the precise breakdown of bands here

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ELAT mini mock paper & answers


Visit MAT home page

Your MAT score can make the difference between whether you reach your Oxford interview or not. Though this is intimidating, as with all exams, practice and preparation can make a real difference to your performance.

General information about the MAT can be found on the MAT homepage here. However, we’ve summarised everything you need to know below.


The MAT is a 2¼ hour test.

It includes some questions to test your mathematical ability, and, if applicable, questions to test your aptitude for Computer Science. The questions you need to answer depend on the university and course you are applying for.

No calculators, formula sheets or dictionaries are permitted during the test.


Oxford applicants only for the following subjects:

  • Computer Science
  • Computer Science and Philosophy
  • Mathematics 
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Mathematics and Philosophy
  • Mathematics and Statistics


You will sit the test in either your school or a local test centre. Any school can register to become a test centre, following the instructions on the Admissions Testing Service website.


Test results are not published automatically. Candidates may request their test results as part of the usual feedback processes for the University of Oxford.

Our Support

MAT mini mock paper & answers




Test score sheet with answersThe majority of Oxford courses, and an increasing number of Cambridge courses, now require applicants to sit an admissions test as part of their application. Admissions test results can often determine whether or not an applicant is invited to interview, with the proportion of students being invited to interview having steadily decreased over the past three years.

As a result, achieving a high score on the admissions test can make or break an application. 

See our factfile below for key information about each admissions test, and a teaser of the kind of questions you might be faced with.


Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT)

Where? 3 UK universities: University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Warwick.

Subjects? Computer Science, Computer Science and Philosophy, Mathematics, Mathematics and Computer Science, Mathematics and Philosophy, Mathematics and Statistics.

What is it? A 2-hour 30-minute paper. No calculators are permitted. The first question is multiple choice, but the following ones are longer. 

Test date: 4 November 2020.

Sample question: Draw a graph of y=1/x and y=1/root(x). Integrate both functions between 0 and 1. Explain the difference between the graphs.



Physics Admissions Test (PAT)

Where? Oxford only

Subjects? Materials Science, Physics, Engineering Science, Physics and Philosophy.

What is it? A 2-hour calculator paper, with questions on Physics and Mathematics for Physics

Test date: 5 November 2020.

Sample question: In the equation x = sq +1/2 aq2 the term sq represents what? A) a speed, B) an acceleration, C) a displacement, D) an impulse.



Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT)

Where? 8 UK universities: University of Cambridge – Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Oxford
Imperial College London, Keele University (international applicants only), University College London, University of Leeds, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Lancaster University – Medicine and Surgery, and University of Manchester.

Subjects? Biomedical Sciences (Oxford), Medicine (Oxford and Cambridge), Veterinary Medicine (Cambridge).

What is it? A 2-hour, predominantly multiple choice test, divided into three sections. The sections involve problem solving and questions requiring students to apply their science knowledge.

Test date: 4 November 2020.

Sample question: The mass of an atom of uranium is 4 × 10-25 kg. What is the mass, in milligrams, of 8 million atoms of uranium?



English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)

Where?  Oxford and Cambridge.

Subjects? English, English and Modern Languages (with MLAT), English and Classics (with CAT).

What is it? A 90-minute close reading based essay. Candidates are required to compare two passages.

Test date: 4 November 2020.

Sample question: The following extracts are all linked by the theme of violence in nature. Compare and contrast them in any ways that seem interesting to you.



History Admissions Test (HAT)

Where? Oxford only.

Subjects? History, Ancient and Modern History, History and Economics (with TSA 1), History and Modern Languages (with MLAT), and History and Politics

What is it? A one-hour exam in which candidates answer one question based on an extract from a primary source.

Test date: 5 November 2020.

Sample question: Assess the importance of the decolonisation in determining the character of any one historical event.



Thinking Skills Assessment Cambridge

Where? Cambridge

Subjects? Land Economy 

What is it? A 90-minute, multiple-choice test of 50
questions, divided into 25 problem solving and 25 critical thinking questions. It tests numerical and spatial reasoning, logical thinking, and comprehension of arguments.

Test date: 5th November 2020.

Example question: A car leaves Canterbury at 7.12am and travels 180 miles to Birmingham, arriving at 10.57 am. What was its average speed in miles per hour?




Thinking Skills Assessment Oxford

Where? Oxford only.

Subjects? Economics and Management, Experimental Psychology,  Human Sciences , Philosophy and Linguistics, Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL).

Candidates applying to study History and Economics (LV11) will be required to take Thinking Skills Assessment: Section 1 (TSA S1)

What is it? The test helps to standardise the assessment of candidates with a wide range of course choices at A Level. The assessment is divided into a 90-minute multiple-choice section, followed by a 30-minute essay question from a choice of four.

Test date: 5 November 2020.

Example question: Dates may be written in an eight digit form. For instance, 19 January 2005 may be written 19-01-2005. In what year will the next date occur for which all eight digits are different?

TSA Cambridge


Cambridge Law Test (CLT)

Where? Cambridge (most Colleges).

Subjects? Law.

What is it? This test is taken by Law applicants when they are in Cambridge for their interview. It lasts for one hour, in which time applicants are expected to answer one long-form essay question, from a series of three selected by the interviewing College.

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).

Example question: Should people be regarded as having fundamental moral rights, quite independently of law? If so, how should we decide what those rights are? Give reasons for your answer.

Law Scrabble


Law National Admissions Test (LNAT)

Where? UK universities.

Subjects? Law (Jurisprudence) (Oxford), Law with Law Studies in Europe (Oxford).

What is it? A two-part exam designed to test an applicant’s ability to follow and understand complex arguments. The test is divided into two sections: 42 multiple-choice questions, followed by a second section consisting of one extended essay.

Test date: On or before 20th October.

Example question: Would you agree that travel and tourism exploit poorer nations and benefit only the richer ones?




Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT)

Where? Oxford only.

Subjects? Classics and Modern Languages, English and Modern Languages, European and Middle Eastern Languages, History and Modern Languages, Modern Languages, Modern Languages and Linguistics, Philosophy and Modern Languages.

What is it? A compilation of language-specific papers from which candidates select a maximum of two. The test focuses on translation to and from English, and questions are a mix of open-ended and multiple-choice word selection. Linguistics test section is no longer required for 2021 entry.

Test date: 4th November 2020.

Example question: Select which word you most closely associate with kloz: attire, nearby, stick, giant, relatives.



Further Admissions Tests

In addition to the above, students at Oxford applying for the following courses will need to sit a separate admissions test:

  • Classics applicants will take the Classics Admissions Test (CAT).
  • Oriental Studies applicants will take the Oriental Languages Admissions Test (OLAT).
  • Philosophy and Theology students will take the Philosophy Test.

Students studying Hard Sciences courses may need to take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) or the Mathematics Aptitude Test (MAT). For those successful in their application for Maths at Cambridge, the STEP test is also required.


Cambridge Admissions Tests

Cambridge has introduced a suite of new admissions tests. Check your course page on the official Cambridge and Oxford websites to see the admissions test requirement for your course.


Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic Admissions Assessment (ASNCAA)

Subjects? Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic

Colleges: Hughes Hall and Wolfson only.

What is it? The exam format will be different at each college.

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).



Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Admissions Assessment (AMESAA)

Subjects? Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

What is it? The exam format will be different at each college.

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).






Economics Admissions Assessment (ECAA)

Subjects? Economics.

What is it?  A two-part exam: a 60-minute  Maths/Advanced Maths problem-solving and a 60-minute essay in response to an extract

Test date: 4th November 2020 (some colleges, like Gonville & Caius, may also require an at-interview assessment).


Economics Paper



Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA)

Subjects? Engineering and Chemical Engineering via Engineering (H810).

What is it?  A two-part exam: an 60-minute multiple choice Maths/Physics test and a 60-minute multiple choice Advanced Physics paper.

Test date: 5 November 2020


Engineering Blueprint



Geography Admissions Assessment (GAA)

Subjects? Geography. 

Colleges: Hughes Hall, St Edmund’s, and Wolfson only.

What is it? The exam format will be different at each college.

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).





History Admissions Assessment (HAA)

Subjects? History, History and Modern Languages (with MML assessment), and History and Politics

Colleges: Clare, Christ’s, Emmanuel, Fitzwilliam, Gonville & Caius, Hughes Hall, Jesus, Lucy Cavendish, Magdalene, Murray Edwards, Newnham, Peterhouse, Queens’, Robinson, St Catharine’s, St John’s, Sidney Sussex, Trinity Hall.

What is it? A one hour critical response to text(s).

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).





Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Admissions Assessment (PBSAA)

Subjects? Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

Colleges: Fitzwilliam, Gonville & Caius, Homerton, Hughes Hall, Murray Edwards, Newnham, Selwyn, and Wolfson only.

What is it? The exam format will be different at each college.

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).





Human, Social, and Political Sciences Admissions Assessment (HSPSAA)

Subjects? Human, Social, and Political Sciences.

Colleges: Hughes Hall, King’s, Murray Edwards, Newnham, Peterhouse, Robinson, St Edmund’s, Wolfson

What is it? The exam format will be different at each college.

Test date: During the interview period (mid-November onwards).





shiny-gavelBelow you will find the answers to the different questions from Chapter 6 “The Admissions Tests” in our book ‘So you want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana.’

The answers below will not just tell you which one is correct. The answers will look at why the other choices would not be correct and explain in more detail. This is to allow you to get a better idea of how to answer admissions test questions better.

Mental Disorders

Answer: A

mental-healthAn assumption is something which is not stated in the argument, but which is taken for granted in order to draw the conclusion. So, first of all you should work out what the conclusion of the argument is. Then look for the reasoning the author gives to support this conclusion, and think about any important point which is not actually stated. You are trying to spot the missing link, the reason that should be stated but has been left out.

The conclusion here is the final sentence. Answer b) is too definitive and is not necessary for the conclusion to make logical sense. c) is incorrect, the quantities of people with chemical imbalances are irrelevant to the conclusion. d) is basically a restatement of the last two sentences of the extract and therefore can’t be an unstated assumption. e) is entirely irrelevant to the conclusion. Option a) is correct as it is necessary for the argument to make logical sense.

Pepper Growers

Answer: D

peppersAn inference is something that the reader can conclude based on the information given in the passage. In order to answer this you need to evaluate which of the five statements could legitimately be a conclusion following on from the information given and no other information. In other words, if one of these statements relies on some other fact to be true or some other information then it is less likely to be an inference directly from the information given.

There is nothing in the text about the profitability of pepper so the answer’s not a). b) represents an alternative explanation for the discrepancy between production and sales but contradicts the explanation given in the text (i.e. not increased consumption but reduced production). c) could be inferred if weather was the only given reason for low production but it’s also blamed on pepper growers switching to cocoa. We know the price of pepper went up but we don’t know anything about profitability so it’s not e). d) can be inferred because we know that demand for pepper has been outstripping supply for the past three years and therefore the surplus must have been reduced.

Women now have the chance to achieve

women-on-mountainThe notable thing about this question is how broad the statement is. This is both a good thing and a bad thing – good because it allows you to be really creative but bad because it becomes very hard to write a concise, to the point, structured essay. I decided to focus on inequality in the UK in the present day but could have equally written an essay about the problems facing women globally or even about the campaign for women’s suffrage. In the introduction I try to indicate to the reader that I have considered these other possibilities and have made a purposeful decision to focus the essay in a particular direction.

Structure is all important in the LNAT. The time pressure means that it is very easy to wander off point or write in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style. Have a clear introduction which tells the reader where you’re going, sets any parameters that you’d like to impose on the essay and defines any ambiguous terms used in the question. The body of the essay should contain your argument and if possible you should try to deal with one or two counter arguments. Make sure your conclusion reiterates the main thrust of your argument without simply repeating itself.

I used the Wimbledon prize money debate to back up one of my arguments. Using an example from real life really enhances an LNAT essay. It shows the reader that you have an awareness of the world around you, it breaks up your argument which is likely to be quite abstract and it helps you make your point.

What would your answer be?

Don’t forget to tell us what your answer would be over at our Facebook page, or tweet us directly @ApplytoOxbridge.

TSA Oxford

Thinking Skills Assessment

CyclistA cyclist averages 7.5 miles an hour on level ground but only 4.5 miles an hour when going uphill. If the ratio between flat ground and hills were 1:3, what was the cyclist’s average mph over 60 miles?

a) 6mph

b) 5mph

c) 5.25 mph

d) 4.75 mph

e) 6.3 mph

…could you answer 48 more like this in 90 mins? The trick with the TSA is always timing, and the only way to get timing right is to practise. Try our mini mock next…


TSA Oxford mini-mock


ANSWER: D) 5 mph


Speed = Distance/Time

Time = Distance/Speed

Time 1 = Distance 1/Speed 1

Time 2 = Distance 2/Speed 2

Put in an example distance of 8 miles (could be any distance)

Level ground = 1

Distance 1 = 2 miles (1/4 of 8)

Speed 1 = 7.5 mph

Time 1 = 2/7.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 16 minutes

Uphill = 2

Distance 2 = 6 miles (3/4 of 8)

Speed 2 = 4.5 mph

Time 2 = 6/4.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 80 minutes

Total time = 96 minutes

Speed = Distance/Time

Speed = 8/96 (then times by 60 to get from hours to minutes)

(8/96) x 60 = 5mph


TSA Cambridge

Thinking Skills Assessment

PrinterA daisy wheel printer prints 20 characters a second and is 4 times as fast as the average printer. If the average printer is 5 times as fast as an electric typwriter, how many characters can an electric typewriter print?

a) 3.5

b) 4

c) 5

d) 1

e) 2.5


TSA Cambridge mini-mock


Answer: D) 1


Daisy wheel printer = 20 = 4 x average printer

-> Average printer = 20/4 = 5

Average printer = 5 = 5 x electric type writer

-> Electric type writer = 5/5 = 1



Biomedical Admissions Test

BacteriaAll Staphylococci are Bacteria and all Bacteria are Prokaryotes. No Staphylococci are Archaea. Which of the following must be true?

a) some Bacteria are Archaea

b) Every Staphyloccos is a Prokaryote

c) All Prokaryotes are Archaea

d) No Archaea are Staphylococci

…and could you answer 26 more questions in just 30 minutes? A big part of the BMAT is timing, and the key to timing is practice. Try our mini-mock next…

BMAT mini-mock


Think of it like a hierarchy:

“All Staphylococci are Bacteria”. Therefore 



“All Bacteria are Prokaryotes”. Therefore




“No Staphylococci are Archaea”

This doesn’t give us enough information to place Archaea in our hierarchy, except that it guarantees that it cannot follow the hierarchy the way the other elements do. 

a) ‘some bacteria are Archaea’ – we do not have enough information for this. They may be, but all we know is what Archaea are not.

b) ‘Every Staphyloccos is a Prokaryote’ – if you look at our hierarchy, this must be true, because the question says ‘All’. If all Staphyloccoci are a subset of bacteria, and all Bacteria are a subset of Prokaryotes, all Staphyloccoci must be a subset of Prokaryotes, once removed (at least). 

c) ‘All Prokayotes are Archaea’ – again, we do not have enough information for this. 

d) ‘No Archaea are Staphylococci’ – this is the tricky one because we know that no Staphylococci are Archaea, so our instinct is to think this is the case the other way round too. However, we do not have enough information to prove this. 

So the answer must be B.


UCAT (previously UKCAT)

University Clinical Aptitude Test

Exam-tableFive students sit a biology test. Oliver gains a lower score than Connor, who gains a lower score than Natalie. Emma gains a higher score than Connor, but a lower score than Wendy. Wendy’s score must be higher than:

a) Connor, but not necessarily higher than Oliver or Natalie

b) Natalie, but not necessarily higher than Connor or Oliver

c) Connor and Oliver, but not necessarily higher than Natlie

d) Oliver and Natalie, but not necessarily higher than Connor

e) Connor only

UCAT mini-mock


Perhaps the easiest way to handle this question is to place the characters in order as you read each sentence, from highest marks to lowest marks:

“Oliver gains a lower score than Connor”, therefore:

Connor – Oliver

“…who gains a lower score than Natalie”, therefore:

Natalie – Connor – Oliver.

“Emma gains a higher score than Connor”. In this case we do not have enough information to see whether Emma gains a higher or lower score than Natalie, so we must be aware that there is a gap in our information there:

Natalie  – – – Emma



“…but a lower score than Wendy”, therefore

               – – – Wendy

Natalie  – – – Emma (remembering here that we don’t know how Emma or Wendy’s score compare to Natalie’s)



Thus, obviously discounting Emma as we know this, Wendy’s score must be higher than Connor and Oliver, but not necessarily Natalie, as Natalie may have scored higher than everyone else.  

Answer: C

lösungTSA Cambridge Practice Question 1

Mr Johnson averages 7.5 miles an hour on level ground, 4.5 miles an hour when going uphill and never travels downhill. If the cyclist’s journey is one quarter level ground and three quarters uphill by distance, what is his average speed?

a) 3.75 mph

b) 4.5 mph

c) 4.89 mph

d) 5 mph

e) 7.5 mph

ANSWER: D) 5 mph


Speed = Distance/Time

Time = Distance/Speed

Time 1 = Distance 1/Speed 1

Time 2 = Distance 2/Speed 2

Put in an example distance of 8 miles (could be any distance)

Level ground = 1

Distance 1 = 2 miles (1/4 of 8)

Speed 1 = 7.5 mph

Time 1 = 2/7.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 16 minutes

Uphill = 2

Distance 2 = 6 miles (3/4 of 8)

Speed 2 = 4.5 mph

Time 2 = 6/4.5 (and then times by 60 to put in minutes form) = 80 minutes

Total time = 96 minutes

Speed = Distance/Time

Speed = 8/96 (then times by 60 to get from hours to minutes)

(8/96) x 60 = 5mph

Blank Papers on DeskTSA Cambridge Practice Question 2

Nearly three in 10 parents failed to agree to their children receiving a new cervical cancer vaccine during a trial. The jab, being rolled out in the UK this year, has proved controversial as it works by making girls immune to a sexually transmitted infection. There had been concerns that parents would not give their consent to the jab because they felt it could encourage early sexual activity, or because it prevented a potential illness many years in the future, rather than addressing a present threat.

The vaccine works by making girls immune to two key strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted infection. Together, the two strains are known to cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancer cases in the UK. It is suggested that vaccinating most teenage girls could save hundreds of lives a year – although the benefits would not be seen until those receiving the vaccine enter middle age.


Parents are concerned that girls who have the vaccine may stop using contraception as a means of protecting against sexually transmitted diseases.

a) True

b) False

c) Can’t Tell

ANSWER: B) False


1)       The first worry of the parents was that HPV could encourage early sexual activity (this does not necessarily mean without contraception)

2)       The second worry of the parents was that it didn’t address a present threat, rather a potential future threat (again, it is possible that this is from unprotected sex, but not necessarily)

3)       The fact that two answers are given that do not relate to girls stopping using contraception eliminates the ‘can’t tell’ option


UCAT-Mini-MockUKCAT-Mini-Mock-Many of the most competitive Medicine courses require students to sit the UCAT as part of the admissions process. This is a strange test of logical reasoning and is the kind of thing you may not have faced much before, so we’ve put together this mini-mock, with an answer sheet attached so that you can have ago, and assess your work.

We also provide full, unique UCAT Mock Tests with detailed answer packs if you would like further practice. You can find these here: UCAT Mock Test Packs



Admissions tests are very similar to interviews in that they are designed to test how you respond to difficult problems you haven’t seen before. They are about analysis rather than factual knowledge. Think about this. Avoid doing reams of unstructured preparation because good sense and planning are more important.

Ask yourself whether you should practise analysing language/pieces in the newspaper/numeracy. Practice is invaluable, particularly with exams like the LNAT or the TSA, where large sections of reading and/or multiple choice can be difficult to fit into the time.

BMAT essay

  • Testing the doctor in you: they are looking for structure, logic and detail. When you’re a doctor you will need these skills when writing patient notes so these are crucial abilities to demonstrate in the exam

PAT & MAT test

  • Thinking ahead…ensure you have looked forward to the whole of your A-level syllabus before the exam.

TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment)

  • ニュースSorting your questions: – this tests problem solving and critical thinking. Your maths needs to be on point, so revise all your formulas. For critical thinking, read lots of newspaper articles to practice comprehension. One of the main challenges you will come up against is the timing. 50 questions in 90 minutes averages out at around 1m48 per question, so speed is of the essence. If you are better at either problem solving or critical thinking, do these questions first in case you run out of time.


  • Reading up: another test on comprehension and critical responses to articles, so again, read up on newspaper articles to ensure you are practising these techniques


  • Understanding context: This exam tests your responses to sources out of their context so practise looking at as many of these as you can.


  • Compare with flair: Be careful not to just analyse two texts. You’ll need to focus on the comparing and contrasting element: how are your chosen texts the same, how are they different?
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