A Student’s Perspective: PAT Preparation

For my application to Oxford for Materials Science, I had to do the Physics Aptitude Test. Here is how I prepared for it.


Learning Equations

I’ve made an infographic with all of the equations that I needed to know. Feel free to download it! If I’ve missed any out, please let me know.


Practice, Practice, Practice!

There’s nothing that prepares you like doing past papers. Watch out, though – the multiple choice section from previous years has been cut out!  (EDIT: thanks to xnadx for pointing out that they have reintroduced the multiple choice section in 2017 – make sure you know what’s in the exam paper people!)

You can find the answers to the PAT past papers here at oxfordpat.wordpress.com. They helped me out so much!

For other resources to help you pass the PAT test if you’re done with past papers, check out:


The night before your PAT, stop working early and SLEEP!

Do you have any other suggestions? How do you prepare for exams? What are your worries? Let me know in the comments! Best of luck for your exams 🙂


21 thoughts on “A Student’s Perspective: PAT Preparation

  1. Good luck Jess. I hope the next few years go well for you and you find plenty in the world world to fascinate you and your imagination.
    Never stop learning and being grateful for at least 2 things each day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For Physics tests, or Physics in general the best thing is to understand the concepts and apply the formula correctly, (deriving them is also one of my favourite processes). My teacher always reminds me about this, “Physics is easy. Don’t think too much. The answer is always right by your nose.” Your way of approaching Physics is quite similar to mine, so have fun doing the Physics test, it would be just like a stroll in the park.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes deriving equations is very satisfying, it’s like connecting the dots to reveal a beautiful bigger picture! I like how your teacher says don’t think too much – usually in a test situation, it’s best to just go through the motions to get an answer then move on.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, I hope it’s helpful in some way for someone! Thanks for the lovely comment, everything is going pretty well but so hectic! Good luck for everything you want to do 🙂


      • It definitely was helpful for me at least, and I’m glad to hear everything is going well! Thank you so much, I’m awfully nervous about next week though!

        And one thing, you mentioned multiple choice has been eliminated from the test, however to my knowledge, they are being reintroduced in the 2017 paper!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad it was helpful! Best of luck and let me know how it goes 😀 I didn’t realise the multiple choice is being reintroduced, I will change that now. Thanks for notifying me!


  3. Hi. Jess, Sounds like quite the undertaking. This I say because I know nothing about physics. But my advice is to just give mind and body a good rest. The day before any big test, I just relax and leave the books alone and let it all marinate. The best of luck to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A lot of people have been asking about the gravity equations; here is an explanation.

    The first equation links Force F with the universal gravitational constant G, the mass of one orbiting object M, the mass of the other orbiting object m (it doesn’t matter who is orbiting who because defining that depends on your reference point, and this equation is universal so doesn’t care about reference points), and the radius r. As Seb Wilkes said above, gravitational force is proportional to the mass involved and inversely proportional to the radius squared.

    The second equation comes about when you assume that the orbit is circular so that you can equate the first equation for force with the equation for force in circular motion, F=mv^2/r – you should get GMm/r^2=mv^2/r. A bit of rearranging gives you the second equation, which links velocity at a point in the orbit, v, with the mass of the object at the centre of the orbit, M, and radius, r. This equation is interesting because it proves that the velocity at a point in the orbit does not depend on the mass of the orbiting object!

    The third equation is derived here: https://oxfordpat.wordpress.com/circular-orbits-under-gravity/

    The last equation uses the definition v=ωr and the third equation.


  5. Hi Jess! I am so glad I found your blog; I also love playing chess and am applying this cycle. I have been working on practice questions from PAT tests like you suggested.

    Do you have any advice on being able to finish the questions quick enough? Additionally, what was your strategy – did you start with the long questions and go to the short ones or the other way around?

    Thank you so much and have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cynthia, it’s lovely to hear from you! The way I like to approach papers is to start with the easier questions to warm myself up into the more difficult ones. However, I would definitely make sure to keep a note of the time and allocate the right amount of time for each type of question. If you get stuck on a question for longer than the time you allotted, then move on to the next one.
      Doing lots of timed practice papers should also help you get a feel of how long you should be spending on each question 🙂

      I wish you the best of luck with your applications!


      • What do you recommend doing after the PAT? It feels weird not knowing my score already and I, unfortunately, didn’t finish all the questions :/


  6. Hi Jess, sorry to bother you again – how do you prepare for your Oxford interview for physics? I am considering doing Professor Povey’s problems but I wanted to know if there are better ways to prepare? Do you know if someone has a list of the interview questions?


    • Hi Cynthia, sorry I haven’t been checking my blog as much because I’ve been super busy! I hope your interview went alright, often they don’t expect you to know much more beyond your A level knowledge. In an interview, they want to find out how you think, not how much you know!


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