This course forms part of our access programme for young people interested in studying physics at university


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

The course consists of a series of live, online webinars in June/ July and September/ October, with three summer assignments set over the holidays. The course is designed to help you self-study with a framework to support you. When the course is in progress you will be able to find recordings of the sessions and all the materials on the course materials page.

In parallel with the course, we run a mentoring programme for students from under-represented backgrounds, in which they can work with an Oxford student over the summer. Applications for the 2024 course will open in Spring 2024.

Find out more about the mentoring scheme and sign up to take part on the parallel mentoring webpage. 

Why take the course?

The course aims to develop the problem solving skills necessary for the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) by developing students' mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills. You'll need to sit the PAT if you are hoping to apply for Physics, Physics & Philosophy, Engineering, or Material Science.

When is the course?

The course begins in May-June and runs until October. We will set out a recommended timeline for you to do all the work, so that you can make the most of the live sessions we're going to be running.

However, you can join at any point during the course and catch up with everything that we've done so far.

Who can join the course?

The course is open to everyone, and is free to take part in. However, we will require registration for the live sessions, and if they become over-subscribed, we will prioritise places at the live event for UK state school students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The recordings will be available to everyone.

If you register to be part of the course, you will receive email reminders and updates, including an invitation to join us on Isaac Physics, where we will set additional fun physics problems. These emails will help keep you on track through the course, as you work alongside everyone else. If you do not register, you will still be able to access the worksheets and recordings via this webpage.

What does the course consist of?

Study Focus sessions

The Study Focus sessions run in June / July and September / October, led by physics teachers. 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.

The Study Focus sessions will use the Workbook material available here.

Three summer assignments

These will consist of sets of questions to help develop thinking skills and problem solving techniques. In addition to setting the problems, we'll also provide solutions a little while after.

Provisional dates

Dates for the 2024 course will be confirmed in early June 2024. 

As an indication of the timeline, the following are the provisional dates for 2024. These are all evening webinars (18:30 - 20:00) unless otherwise indicated (*). These dates are subject to change.

  • 19 June - Study Focus 1 webinar
  • 26 June - Study Focus 1 Solutions webinar
  • 3 July - Study Focus 2 webinar
  • 10 July - Study Focus 2 Solutions webinar
  • 11 July - Assignment 1 available*
  • 25 July - Assignment 2 available*
  • 8 August - Assignment 3 available*
  • 11 September - Study Focus 3 
  • 18 September - Study Focus 3 Solutions
  • 25 September - Study Focus 4
  • 2 October - Study Focus 4 Solutions