What is the CAT exam?

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Classics admissions test
Navigating the CAT exam, where precision meets aspiration.

The CAT exam UK, or the Classics Admissions Test, is your academic compass for Oxford’s elite Classics, English, and Modern Languages courses. A linguistic adventure, CAT isn’t your usual exam. With three papers – Latin Translation, Greek Translation, and Classics Language Aptitude – it’s the key to unlocking the doors of ancient languages at Oxford. 

No dictionaries, just your wits against the clock. In this guide, we’ll unravel the CAT mystery, exploring why it’s not just a test but a passport to Oxford’s distinguished degrees in the world of ancient languages. 

CAT Exam Components

study materials for CAT
Dive into the CAT Exam Components – where textbooks meet the strategy. 

Latin Translation Test

The first challenge in the Classics admissions test is the Latin Translation Test. It evaluates your ability to translate Latin prose into English. It’s a one-hour test that requires a deep understanding of Latin grammar and vocabulary. Past papers are valuable resources to grasp the format and level of difficulty.

Greek Translation Test

In the second leg, the Greek Translation Test tests your proficiency in translating Greek prose into English. Similar to its Latin counterpart, it demands linguistic finesse and a solid grasp of Ancient Greek. Past papers from various years offer insights into the test’s nuances.

Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT)

For those not tackling Latin or Greek to A-level, the CLAT steps in. This one-hour test assesses your linguistic aptitude. It includes questions on translation and linguistics, offering a unique challenge. Explore past papers to familiarise yourself with the COURT’s structure and expectations.

Understanding the distinct components of the CAT exam is vital for effective preparation. Each test requires a specific set of skills, and practicing with past papers is a strategic approach to mastering the nuances of the Latin Translation Test, Greek Translation Test, and Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT). There is a test beyond CAT as you will also need to showcase your linguistics skills if you are invited to interview.

Who Needs to Take CAT?

Courses Requiring CAT

CAT isn’t for everyone at Oxford; it’s tailored for specific courses. If you’re eyeing Classics, Classics and English, Classics and Modern Languages, or Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, CAT is your mandatory companion.

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Selecting Appropriate Sections

Tailoring your CAT experience is crucial. Depending on your course and whether you’re studying Latin or Greek to A-level or equivalent, you’ll choose the relevant sections. Be precise in aligning your skills with the expectations of Classics I or Classics II.

Clarification on Course-specific Requirements

Understanding your course requirements is key. Whether it’s the Latin Translation Test, Greek Translation Test, or the Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT), ensure you meet your course’s unique demands.

Aspiring Oxford students must recognise the specific courses that necessitate CAT, tailor their test sections accordingly, and comprehend the nuanced requirements each course imposes. This clarity is fundamental for a strategic and effective approach to the CAT exam.

CAT Preparation Strategies

what is CAT exam
Keep distractions at bay for a focused study session for CAT preparation.

Study Materials for CAT

Begin your CAT journey with quality study materials. Explore official guides, practice papers, and online resources to build a solid foundation. Ensure your materials align with the specific requirements of the Latin Translation Test, Greek Translation Test, or the Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT).

Importance of Practice Papers

Dive into past papers to familiarise yourself with the exam’s format and level of difficulty. Utilise resources like CAT papers to gauge your readiness. These papers serve as invaluable tools for honing your skills and identifying areas for improvement.

Tips for Effective Preparation

Craft a study plan that allocates sufficient time to each section. Prioritise understanding the nuances of Latin and Greek grammar, and practise linguistic aptitude for the CLAT. Regularly take timed mock tests to simulate exam conditions and enhance your time management skills.

Strategic preparation for the CAT exam involves selecting the right study materials, delving into past papers for a realistic exam experience, and adopting effective study strategies. This meticulous approach ensures a comprehensive and targeted readiness for the unique challenges posed by each section of the CAT exam.

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CAT Results and Their Interpretation

Understanding CAT Scores and Percentiles UK

CAT results are presented in percentiles, showcasing your relative performance compared to other test-takers. A higher percentile indicates a stronger performance. Admissions Tutors consider percentiles alongside other application components, emphasizing both overall and section-wise scores.

How Admissions Tutors Evaluate CAT Scores

Admissions Tutors contextualize CAT scores within the broader application. They consider your performance in Latin Translation, Greek Translation, and the Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT). High scores demonstrate linguistic proficiency crucial for success in Classics, Classics, and English, or other related courses.

What is CAT exam used for?

CAT Oxford scores aren’t standalone; they’re part of a holistic admissions process. Tutors weigh CAT alongside CAT personal statements, references, and interviews. A strong exam performance enhances your application, showcasing your aptitude for the linguistic challenges inherent in Oxford’s Classics programs.

Understanding CAT percentiles, how Tutors evaluate scores, and the holistic admissions context is vital. Your CAT performance contributes significantly to showcasing your linguistic prowess, ultimately influencing your acceptance into Oxford’s prestigious Classics and related courses.

Additional Admissions Tests

Other Required Tests (if applicable)

Depending on your chosen course, additional admissions tests may be required. Courses like History, English, and Modern Languages may have specific tests. Check the individual course requirements to ensure you’re aware of any supplementary tests beyond CAT.

Overview of Related Admissions Tests

Each course may have unique demands. Research and understand the additional tests required, their formats, and specific content. This knowledge is crucial for comprehensive preparation and ensuring you meet all prerequisites for your desired course at Oxford.

Aspiring Oxford students should be aware of any supplementary tests beyond CAT that their chosen course may necessitate. This thorough understanding allows for strategic preparation, enhancing the overall readiness for the admissions process.

Summing Up

As you conclude this guide, envision CAT as your pathway to ancient languages and a step closer to Oxford’s academic excellence. Your CAT results, percentiles, and overall performance are pivotal.

Elevate your preparation with our expert CAT Tutors – your key to mastering the linguistic challenges that await.


What is CAT exam?

The CAT exam is a requirement for candidates wishing to study Classics, Classics and English, Classics and Modern Languages, or Classics and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. It tests applicants’ aptitude for Classical languages.

How can I prepare for the CAT exam if I’m not studying Latin or Greek to A-level or equivalent?

If you’re not studying Latin or Greek to A-level, you’ll likely take the Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT). Focus on honing your linguistic aptitude, practise translation, and familiarise yourself with past CLAT papers. Supplement your preparation with resources that emphasise language skills and logical reasoning.

Can I take all three sections of the CAT exam?

The sections you take depend on your course and language proficiency. If you’re applying for Classics I and studying Latin or Greek to A-level, you’ll take the Latin and Greek Translation Tests. If not, you’ll opt for the Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT). Understanding your course’s requirements is crucial in deciding the sections you need to attempt.

How long are CAT scores valid for admissions to Oxford’s Classics courses?

CAT scores are typically valid for one year. If you’re considering applying in subsequent years, you’ll need to retake the CAT exam. Be mindful of this timeframe to align your application strategy with Oxford’s admission cycles.

Are there specific resources recommended for CAT preparation beyond past papers?

In addition to past papers, consider official CAT guides and practice materials. Explore linguistic resources, as these tests require a strong foundation in grammar and vocabulary. Online platforms may offer interactive practise, helping you refine your skills and prepare more effectively.

Can I use a dictionary during the CAT exam?

No, CAT strictly prohibits the use of dictionaries, grammar books, or any notes during the exam. The test assesses your innate language skills and ability to translate without external aids. Ensure your preparation aligns with this condition by practiing under similar constraints.

How do CAT scores factor into the overall admissions process at Oxford?

CAT scores are a crucial component, providing insight into your linguistic abilities. Admissions Tutors contextualise these scores within the broader application, considering personal statements, references, and interviews. A strong CAT performance enhances your overall application, showcasing your readiness for the linguistic challenges of Oxford’s Classics programmes.

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