The Preparing for the PAT course helps students prepare to sit the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT). The PAT is part of the admissions procedure at Oxford to study Physics, Physics and Philosophy, Engineering or Materials Science.

The course consists of a series of online webinars in June / July and September / October, with three summer assignments set over the holidays. Online support is also available from a group of current Oxford students: every participant will be part of a "mentor group" of ten, and will work with their mentor throughout the course.

More information about the PAT can be found on our admissions pages here

Why apply?

The course aims to develop the problem solving skills necessary for the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT). The course is open to year 12 students from state-funded schools, academies and colleges with little or no history of successful applications to the University of Oxford who are interested in applying to study Physics, Physics and Philosophy, Engineering or Materials Science. This course is designed to prepare students for the PAT by developing their mathematical thinking and problem solving skills.

How to apply

Applications for the 2021 course are now closed.

About the course

Study Focus sessions

The Study Focus sessions will run in June / July and September / October. The sessions will focus on developing problem solving skills which will help with tackling some of the questions within the PAT. After having a chance to tackle some problems that explore these skills, participants will attend solutions sessions run by current Oxford students.

Three summer assignments

These will consist of sets of questions to help develop thinking skills and problem solving techniques. The assignments will be marked by a student’s mentor and feedback provided via an online virtual learning environment.

Online support

This is designed to consolidate the problem solving skills the students have developed. Students will be able to post questions to mentors and replies will be posted on an online platform.

Course fees

The cost of the course is £40. If you will have trouble meeting the cost of the course, please indicate this in the appropriate place on your application form, as we can provide some support if this would otherwise prevent students from attending the course. We don't want finance to be a barrier to you taking part.

As places are limited, we may prioritise applicants who meet some of the following criteria:

  • You would be within the first generation of your family to attend university (i.e. your parents and grandparents did not attend university)
  • You have been eligible for one or more of free school meals, pupil premium, Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and/or 16-19 bursary during secondary school
  • You live in an area with a low rate of progression to higher education. If your home or school is POLAR4 quintile 1, 2 or 3 then you meet this criterion. You can check your postcode here(link is external).
  • You live in an area with a high level of socio-economic deprivation, as determined by the ACORN measure.
  • You are care-experienced, i.e. have been in care at some point, for more than three months in total.
  • You attend a school with little or no history of successful applications to The University of Oxford to study Physics, Engineering or Materials Science.
  • You are from a background that is currently under-represented in physics.

Please note that this list is in no particular order.

Provisional dates

The following are the provisional dates for the course, to be confirmed over the coming weeks. They are all evening webinars (18:30 - 20:00, TBC) unless otherwise indicated (*).

  • 22 June - Study Focus 1
  • 29 June - Study Focus 1 Solutions
  • 6 July - Study Focus 2
  • 13 July - Study Focus 2 Solutions
  • 14 July - Assignment 1 available*
  • 28 July - Assignment 2 available*
  • 11 August - Assignment 3 available*
  • 7 September - Study Focus 3
  • 14 September - Study Focus 3 Solutions
  • 21 September - Study Focus 4
  • 28 September - Study Focus 4 Solutions

Feedback from 2020 participants

I always felt supported thanks to the dedication of our mentor, while assignments ensured that I could keep up with the difficulty of PAT questions while I wasn't in school.

This course really motivated me to prepare for the PAT. I liked the fact that we could have our work marked and be given feedback as this is something I couldn't have got from school. It was also nice to be able to discuss things with people wanting to do the same course.

98% of course feedback respondents said they would recommend this course to others in their position in the future

This programme of support has been made possible by the generous support of Dr Tony Hill, Oxford University Alumnus.

Instructions for how to use Canvas

'Preparing for the PAT' challenge problems