Physics Aptitude Test

Aptitude Test

In addition to making a UCAS application, all candidates must take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) - normally at their own school or college.  The intention of the use of the test is that it will provide additional information on the candidates, and not supplant the UCAS form in the assessment process.  The Department  uses the UCAS form in assessing candidates for admission both academically and for demonstrated interest and commitment in engineering. Referees are expected to describe the ability and character of the students in the UCAS form, give predictions and any unusual circumstances that may have adversely affected the examination results, etc.  Applicants are not required to submit other written work as part of their application.

Why do we need a test?

In recent years the number of applications to Engineering Science has been rising steadily. At the same time, the proportion of applicants who do not have UK GCSEs has increased, and there has also been a growth in those not following UK A-level courses. As a result admissions tutors are finding it more and more difficult to assess candidates on the basis of the UCAS form information alone. We aim to interview as many good candidates as possible, but the numbers we can see are limited by the time available. To select the best candidates we need more information, especially about the candidates’ relative aptitude in mathematics and physics.

How are the PAT results used in admissions?

The PAT results are used as a supplement to our existing procedures. The first occasion will be when the candidates are shortlisted for interview, and the second occasion will be after all the other phases of the process, just before places are allocated. 

At shortlisting

Candidates are chosen for interview on the basis of our assessment of their UCAS forms. After this initial selection we will use the test information to confirm or otherwise the initial shortlist. The marks for all the candidates not on the proposed shortlist will then be released to colleges and can be used in the final decisions on those to be shortlisted. The marks for those on the shortlist will not be released – this is so as not to influence the later selection stages.

After the interview

Each college produces an overall assessment, based on the interview and the UCAS form, for every candidate it has interviewed - this is supplied without any knowledge of the test marks of the individual candidates (except for those candidates whose marks had been released at the shortlisting stage). After providing this assessment the test marks will be released and colleges asked to provide an additional assessment based on the test marks, the interview and the UCAS form. Places will be offered on the basis of an academic judgement of all the assessments.

Where can I find examples of the PAT?

Details of this test - the syllabus, sample papers with solutions, and previous papers - can be found on the physics website ( Calculators will be permitted from 2018.

The Physics department website also has a helpful page on preparing for the PAT ( 

Who has to take the test?

Everyone who applies to study Engineering Science (or one of its aliases - Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Information Engineering and Mechanical Engineering) must sit the Physics Aptitude Test. There are no exceptions.

When do I take the test?

In 2018, the test is set for the morning of Wednesday 31st October.  Candidates must make sure they are available to take the test at this time.

How do I register for the test?

The Department of Engineering is working in partnership with the Admissions Testing Service to administer the admissions test. Candidates need to be entered for the PAT via the Admissions Testing Service - further information is available on the Admissions Testing Service’s website

What do I do if I want to find out more?

If you want to know anything more about the test then email your question to