Oxbridge Admission Tests: How Do They Work?

Generally, UK universities do not require course-specific admissions tests as a requirement for getting into a course. This means that school qualifications such as A-Level and IB Diploma will be enough, along with a university application. 

However, Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge) are notable exceptions to this.

What type of admissions tests does Oxbridge use?

Oxford and Cambridge use a variety of their own tests. Some of these tests are also used for admissions into other UK universities. These tests are course-specific, which means you will only need to sit them if you are applying to that course.

If I want to study law at Oxbridge, what tests will I need to take?

Oxford and Cambridge will require you to sit the LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law). This is a common test for prospective law students across many UK universities. The test is split into a reading comprehension section and an essay. Other universities will likely require you to take the LNAT too.

Therefore, students will usually need to take the LNAT before submitting applications.

In addition to this, both Oxford and Cambridge will require an extra test for prospective law students. However, the details and the dates of these tests will differ.

Can I practise for Oxbridge admissions tests? 

Yes. For the LNAT and UCAT, there are past papers that you can use for practice.

It might be more difficult to find resources for the university-specific tests. That said, universities will often release some sample papers online. There are also advisors and tutors who are aware of how to excel in these papers. As a result, it is possible to prepare for these tests. You can prepare either alone, or with assistance

When do you take the admissions tests?

The answer to this depends on the university, the college, and the specific course. Oxford and Cambridge may require you to take the admissions tests before, on the day of, or after the interview. In some cases, there will be multiple tests. There will usually be one test for all applicants to that course. Some colleges might require another test afterwards.

Generally, the admissions tests will be pre-interview or at-interview. For pre-interview tests, the university will typically want you to take the test at your current school or at an approved testing centre. If you are an international student, the university will help make the appropriate arrangements.

Below are tables showing the admissions test information for some Oxford and Cambridge courses popular with students from Hong Kong:


CoursePre/at interview?Test, Month & locationExceptions
EconomicsPre-interviewUniversity assessment. Early November, at a test centre or schoolAlso another at-interview test for Gonville & Caius College
LawAt interviewNational Admissions Test for Law (LNAT). At Cambridge or overseas test centres
EngineeringPre-interviewUniversity assessment. November, at a school or test centreAlso another at-interview test for:Gonville & Caius, King’s, Peterhouse, Robinson, Trinity
Natural SciencesPre-interviewUniversity assessment. November, at a school or test centreAlso another at-interview test for: Magdalene Trinity


CoursePre/at interview?Test, Month & location
EconomicsPre-interviewThinking Skills Assessment (TSA). November, at a school or test centre
LawPre-interviewNational Admissions Test for Law (LNAT). October, at a school or test centre 
EngineeringPre-interviewPhysics Aptitude Test (PAT). November, at a school or test centre
Politics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE)Pre-interviewThinking Skills Assessment (TSA). November, at a school or test centre

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