Students will need to take the Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT) if they apply for an undergraduate degree in Modern Languages, Linguistics and their joint schools at the University of Oxford.
The MLAT is made up of different tests for different language and Linguistics courses, as well as a Philosophy test for the joint course of Philosophy and Modern Languages. The Philosophy test is 60 minutes long, and the other papers are 30 minutes long. Students will need to take a maximum of two papers.
In this article, we’ll explain the content of each of the different tests your student might take, and share some advice from our tutors who have recently passed the tests themselves.
Find out which test(s) students are required to take for your desired degree course here.
The language tests are designed to assess students’ knowledge of the basic structures of the language. If they are applying for a joint course with Linguistics or a single language where the first-year course includes the compulsory study of Linguistics, they will be required to take the Linguistics test. This test is designed to assess how students approach different kinds of unfamiliar linguistic data and set about analysing them.
If your student is applying to study a language from scratch, they will be required to take the Language Aptitude test. This test is designed to test their ability to analyse how languages work, in a way which doesn’t depend on their knowledge of any particular language.
In the test(s), students’ grammar will be tested, and they will be asked to translate from English into the foreign language, and from the foreign language into English. The translations are not designed to test the size of students’ vocabulary; so students should focus on grammar, not vocabulary.
Students should begin by doing one of the past papers under test conditions (i.e. without a dictionary or grammar book). This will help them to work out what they need to revise. Encourage students to use a grammar book to revise the topics they’ve struggled with in the past paper before moving onto another one. Remind them that these exercises will also help them with their A Level (or equivalent) later on!
Here are some tips from some of our tutors who have recently passed the language test:
“Don’t be lazy – getting your head round more difficult grammar, such as the pluperfect subjunctive in Spanish, will pay off. The tutors want to see who’s gone the extra mile, so revise in detail – yes, that means learning your irregular verbs. Focus on revising grammar, not vocabulary – you can’t cover all the vocabulary that might come up, and nor are you expected to. When you come across an unfamiliar word in the test, don’t panic – use the context in which the word is used to make a good guess. The tutors don’t expect you to know everything already! On the day, be a bit wary of each question. The test is supposed to be challenging, so if a question seems too easy (i.e., it doesn’t seem to be testing something at least a bit tough), think again because you might have missed something.” – Isabella S, Spanish & Russian at Queen’s College, Oxford