How to do well in the HAT?

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The History Aptitude Test is designed to test the way a prospective Oxford Historian approaches and analyses new information and uses their own knowledge to compare and contrast different arguments. To this end candidates need to be able to recognize key historical themes and ideas and pull them out of previously unseen arguments as well as have an understanding of a much broader concept of historical theory. To a large extent candidates need to think ‘outside the box’, meaning instead of looking at the paper at face value, they need to dig for greater historical understanding in the texts provided by appreciating context, counter arguments and purpose. Whilst detailed knowledge of a variety of periods of history is key to the large essay in the first part of the paper, candidates may need help in developing and encouraging the ability to garner as much possible information from a piece of text as possible.

Having successfully been through the HAT and my first year at Oxford I can see the connection between the skills that are required of candidates in the HAT and how that applies to study at Oxford. For any potential candidate I would look to work primarily on analysis skills, how to articulate another author’s argument or a counter-argument for the first part of the paper as well as looking at how general historical theories, beginning by understanding them, why they were theorized and when, as well as how they can apply to a variety of different periods and events. The second part of the paper requires coaching in how to think about information and what we can draw from it, focusing on thinking around ‘facts’, placing them in context and drawing more information than can be seen in any number of traditional readings of the text.

Frederick N. IB History tutor, Uni Admissions Test .HAT. tutor, GCSE ...

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