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PAT Oxford Results - The Definitive Guide to your PAT Score
Written by: Matt Amalfitano-Stroud
Once you’ve sat the Oxford Physics Aptitude Test (PAT), it feels like there’s only one thing that matters; your results. The score you get from this test will be one of the biggest deciding factors in whether you get your offer or not. Even before you’ve sat the test, it’s important to know what result you should be aiming for, so let’s take a look at how Oxford scores the PAT and what your results mean!
HOW IS THE PAT SCORED?
First things first, let’s discuss the scoring system for the PAT and how your results will be presented.
When compared to other admissions tests of a similar nature (such as the ENGAA), we can see that the PAT has one of the simplest marking schemes of any exam. This summary explains everything you need to know.
The PAT is made up of three different question types; Multiple-Choice Questions, Written Questions and Multi-Part Questions. The number of questions in each paper varies from anywhere between 23 and 27. However the constant here is that the number of marks available will always equal 100. The marks available for each question also vary:
- Multiple-Choice Questions are always worth two marks per question.
- Written Questions can be worth between 3 – 6 marks typically.
- Multi-Part Questions will be worth 2 -5 marks per part (these questions will usually have 2 – 3 parts).
The PAT is actually a fairly inconsistent exam, with numerous format changes made throughout its 16 years of use, so there is always the potential for outliers or changes to these values.
The conversion between your raw marks out of 100 to your final score is incredibly simple, as your final score will simply be a percentage, identical to the number of marks. There is no negative marking here, so you don’t need to worry about losing marks from incorrect answers.
How Do You Score Full Marks On PAT Questions?
With so many marks available on some of these questions, how can you score full marks on them? While there’s no definitive way to determine this without seeing the mark scheme (which Oxford does not make publicly available for their past papers), there are various ways to tell what a question requires of you:
Multiple-Choice Questions are always worth two points. While you will have space for your working out, you will only be marked on the answer you selected.
In Written Questions, you will be awarded multiple marks for different factors. Mathematical questions may ask you to solve multiple problems or otherwise ask for more than one final answer, where each answer will be worth at least one mark. Alternatively, the question may need to be answered in stages, with each correct stage being worth a mark. For questions that require written answers, multiple marks will generally be given for the quality of the explanation and the various key factors discussed.
For Multi-Part Questions, each part will be worth multiple marks. This may mean that you will need to demonstrate your process or highlight an understanding in specific areas.
The key to ensuring full marks on a question is to read everything carefully. The question should outline exactly what it wants from your answer, so all you’ll need to do is follow the instructions. You’ll have two hours to answer just 23 – 27 questions, meaning the test has been designed to ensure applicants take their time and think through each question carefully.
When Do PAT Results Come Out?
Results for the PAT are distributed by Oxford “shortly after college decision letters are sent”. Oxford has confirmed that, for 2023 Entry, candidates will be informed of their application status on January 10th 2023. This means you can expect to receive your results around mid-January. Colleges will receive your results directly after taking the exam, as the PAT is a major aspect of their shortlisting process.
How Will I Get My Results?
PAT results are sent out as part of the overall Oxford feedback process, although not every applicant will receive them automatically. All applicants for Materials Science and Engineering will be sent their scores, while only unsuccessful candidates of Physics and Physics and Philosophy will get theirs. Therefore, if you’ve applied for either of those courses, you should be hoping not to receive your results! Further feedback can also be requested via Oxford’s website.
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WHAT IS A GOOD PAT RESULT?
With the basics out of the way, let’s look at what scores you should be aiming for and what you can do if you don’t meet the mark.
Determining what a good PAT score is actually not as difficult as you may think, as you simply need to answer one question:
Does Oxford Have a PAT Cut-Off Score?
Oxford does not implement a strict cut-off score for the PAT. However, they do implement an upper threshold in which any applicants who score above a certain mark will be automatically shortlisted for interview. Applicants who score below this score will still be considered and will be shortlisted if other aspects of their application show a high level of quality.
This process has only been in place for two years, however, as previous years had calculated this cut-off as an “R Score”. This was a score calculated as such:
R-score (pre-shortlist) = PAT mark + 10 x cGCSE
This process was likely changed due to the influx of applicants in the pandemic and the reduced reliance on grades and predicted grades in the application process. These are the cut-off scores for the last two years of the exam:
Oxford PAT Cut-off Score 2022 Entry
Oxford PAT Cut-off Score 2021 Entry
So now we have a bar to reach for in your PAT preparation. If you’re consistently scoring in the high 60s during your prep, then your chances at an interview are very good. But this would be a really good score and scoring lower isn’t going to ruin your chances completely. Each year a mean score is calculated out of all of the applicants, which gives us another clue as to what a decent PAT score would be. Ideally, you’re going to want to be as far away as possible from the mean score (on the upper end, of course!), but just scoring above average at all is still a good thing. The averages for the last three years were:
Mean Oxford PAT Score 2022 Entry
Mean Oxford PAT Score 2021 Entry
Mean Oxford PAT Score 2020 Entry
We’ll come back to the Historic Results later on, but here we can see that the average doesn’t rise above 50%. Therefore, getting at least half marks is going to give you a decent chance of being shortlisted, provided the rest of your application is high-quality. Oxford has stated that they aim to interview around 2.5 applicants per place which, while high, still gives good applicants a fair chance, even if they don’t perform the best in the PAT.
What If I Get a Bad PAT Result?
With above average must, of course, come below average. This definitely isn’t a desirable spot to be in and will endanger your application to a significant degree. Oxford is known for its stricter shortlisting process when compared to Cambridge, so be sure to bear this in mind when choosing your course.
With that being said though, no strict cut-off score means that your application will be viewed no matter what score you got. If you’ve got a lower score, your personal statement is going to be the main thing that could save you from failure. This will be submitted before October 15th with the rest of your application, meaning you’re not going to have the chance to sit the PAT beforehand. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you’ve written your statement like your application literally depends on it!
Grades also play a factor here, but they are nowhere near as important as they would have been in the past. Excellent grades are expected of all applicants and are not going to set you apart from the competition, so you can’t rely on them getting you through your application.
Can I Resit the NSAA?
No, the PAT can only be sat once per admissions cycle. Unfortunately, the only option you’ll have if you don’t perform well on the PAT is to reapply for the following year. When preparing for this reapplication, its vital that you work on improving the areas you were weak in last time. If the issue stems from your PAT abilities, it is worth investing in a form of preparation support such as PAT.Ninja. Reading tutorials, answering practice questions and taking mock exams with past papers are the most effective ways to revise for the exam and PAT.Ninja allows you to do all of these in one place!
HISTORIC PAT SCORES
Let’s take a look at the previous years of Oxford results and see what we can learn from the application cycles of the past.
Each year, after the PAT has been sat, the Department of Physics at Oxford will put together a report detailing not only the results of the PAT but an analysis of the full admissions process for that year. That means there’s a lot of data to explore, and we’re not going to be able to get through all of here. If you do want to read through all of these reports though, they are available to download for free as part of our PAT Past Papers Collection. Otherwise, we’ll start off by looking at the results of the 2021 PAT for 2022 Entry:
PAT Results Chart (2022 Entry)
This graph provides us with some very interesting information about the PAT results for its year. The data is separated between all applicants, Shortlisted applicants and offer-holders, which gives us an insight into the average scores of each.
Looking at the main distribution curves first, we can see that the majority of applicants scored within the 30% – 50% range, which is a fairly wide margin. We already know that the mean score for this year was 43.1%, which lines up perfectly with the trend shown in this graph. Shortlisted applicants have a higher average, of course, with the curve peaking at the 57% – 69% range. The offer holders, meanwhile, have a fairly flat curve, though we can see somewhat of a peak between 66% and 72%.
It appears the most common score was 31% or 32%, with 46 applicants achieving it. This is followed by those who scored 0%, although in the report this is explained to be students who were ill or otherwise unable to complete the PAT on testing day. In this spike, we can see that nearly ten of these applicants were shortlisted and one ended up receiving an offer. This demonstrates that a strong surrounding application has the potential to make up for any PAT Score, even no score at all! However, the chances of success in these circumstances are very slim, so you still need to try your best in the test to stand a decent chance.
At the end of the chart, we can see that a couple of offer-holders were able to score in the high 90s. In fact, almost every applicant who scored in the 90s received an offer, with slightly more rejected applicants in the 80s and high 70s. However, the majority of applicants who did score in the range were successful, meaning that a score in this range should give you a very high chance of an offer as long as you perform well in your interview!
Moving on from the most recent year though, let’s take a look at the previous six years of the PAT to see how results and trends have changed over the years:
Annoyingly. the helpful graphic we had previously studied was only developed during the 2021 admissions cycle, with the previous years instead providing a cumulative score graph. There’s not really too much to unpack from these as they all follow a very similar pattern. As well as this, the distribution graph from the 2021 cycle also shows a similar trend to the one seen in the 2022 cycle, although with fewer shortlisted applicants who were unable to sit the test.
As well as these graphs, we have access to some interesting data surrounding each test. Looking at the mean scores first, we can see that the range here isn’t very varied, with all scores sitting between 40% and 57%. Although the lowest and highest scores do have a fair amount of distance between them, most of the reported mean scores sit around the 49% – 53% range.
The standard deviations have even less variance, with it ranging from 14% – 17%. Although we don’t have a graph to visualise this data, we can tell that this value is fairly low, meaning the scores tend to cluster around the mean score. And finally, the minimum and maximum scores tell us a few things. In only one year did an applicant score 0% when actually sitting the exam and in only two years did applicants score full marks. Of course, these are just the absolute extremes for each year, so you shouldn’t need to worry about scoring 0%, nor should you be expecting to get 100%.
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WHAT TO DO AFTER THE PAT
Once the exam has finished and the dust has settled, what should be your next steps?
Finishing the PAT is a huge relief, after spending so much time revising and stressing about this really difficult exam. It’s a good time to take a step back and appreciate how far you’ve come so far. However, the journey to Oxford is only half finished so you won’t have much time to sit back and relax.
Provided you have performed well in the PAT and provided a quality personal statement, your next step should hopefully be your interview. Remember that your college or colleges of choice will receive your PAT scores straight away, meaning they will have everything they need to create their shortlist. If you scored above the cut-off then you’ll have nothing to worry about! If not, you’ll have to hope that your PS has impressed them enough to give you a shot.
In the meantime, you should spend the next month or so preparing your interview technique, as interviews will be taking place in mid-December. You will receive a letter confirming if you received an interview in mid-November to early December, so you may not get that much notice. Therefore, it’s best to assume the best and begin your practice. The time you spend won’t be wasted either way as interview techniques are universally useful!
The interviews themselves are currently held online, meaning you won’t have to travel great distances. This is especially helpful as you will likely have more than one interview during this time. This may be with different colleges or just different tutors, but they should typically follow the same format.
Oxford Physics interviews follow a traditional panel format and it has been stated that the primary focus will be on your subject knowledge. This knowledge will specifically be related to the PAT syllabus, so you haven’t escaped the exam fully yet! Essentially, you will need to demonstrate your knowledge of various topics covered in the syllabus in a more contextual and applied manner. Additional questions may be brought up about your personal statement, grades or extra-curricular activities but understanding and expressing the subject knowledge will be the key to success.
After interviews are finished, it’s waiting time. You will still have school work and applications at your other choices to worry about, as well as the holidays to enjoy, but the direct Oxford application process is basically finished now until you receive your decision.
When Do I Receive my Oxford Offer?
As stated earlier, decision letters should be sent on January 10th 2023. You should also be informed of the decision by UCAS online, so you won’t have to wait around any longer than that. Depending on the decision made, you will have various things you need to do from here:
If you receive an offer, then the first step is to make your own decision. On your UCAS Profile, you will need to decide whether you accept the offer as a firm choice, an insurance choice or decline the offer. This can be done as soon as the offer has been released by UCAS, although you may want to consider waiting depending on your circumstances. If Oxford is your first choice out of your options, then it would be a good idea to accept the offer once it comes in. If you are considering another university though, it may be smarter to wait until you hear from them. Other universities can send out their decisions at any time between January and May, meaning you could have a long wait to hear from all your choices. However, once you’ve heard from your five picks, you will then have until either June 8th or July 17th to confirm your two choices, depending on when your last option responded to you (these dates are for 2023 entry).
After that’s sorted, you’ll just need to get your grades in your final exams! If you received a conditional offer, it will be essential for you to do this to get your place. If you got an unconditional offer though, it would still be best to aim for your predicted grades as poor grades make reflect badly on you in the future.
If you didn’t get the offer, your options are fairly limited. Of course, you will first need to wait for your other options to decide. If you received an offer from a university that you wish to accept, the above process will begin. If you are set on attending Oxford though, you will more than likely have to reapply the following year. There is a procedure for complaints and appeals to the admissions process, but the criteria for an application to be considered here are very strict. Appeals will only be realistically considered when evidence of negligence, bias or discrimination can be provided or detailed. Cases such as these are very rare, so this option is likely not going to be applicable most of the time.
If you do choose to reapply though, it’s important that you approach the process differently from last time. Whether it was a lack of preparation, a lack of resources or just underestimating the difficulty of the process, you will need to ensure you work hard to get your chance of a place next time around. To help with the PAT preparation, using a platform such as PAT.Ninja has the potential to boost your application to the next level by helping you achieve a desirable score. You can sign up for free today to try out some practice questions or see how you perform in a past paper.
With all of this in mind, you should now see how important is to prepare for the PAT and aim for the highest score possible. Achieving a high result here is going to be extremely difficult, with scores in the 80s or 90s being almost impossible for most. However, extensive practice and a firm understanding of the exam will give you the best chance at getting above that cut-off and earning your place at Oxford. If you’re ready to learn more about the exam itself, check out our PAT Starter Guide or go even deeper into PAT Calculus, one of the essential skills you’ll need to succeed!
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