Classics Admission Test (CAT)

This admissions test is taken for some Oxford courses.
Last updated: 2Β years, 1Β month ago


The CAT is an admissions test for Classics-related degrees at the University of Oxford. These extend to Classics, Classics and English, Classics and Modern Languages, and Classics and Oriental studies.

How to Prepare

Here are some general resources related to the Classics Admission Test (CAT). Use this page as a hub to branch off and use other resources!

The Basics

The Classics Admissions Test is a paper-based test, divided into three sections: the Latin Translation Test, the Greek Translation Test and the Classics Language Aptitude Test (CLAT). Each section lasts 1 hour and is sat under timed exam conditions. Which of the sections you take depends on whether you are applying for Classics I or Classics II (see course pages for further details).

If you are studying Latin or Greek to A-level or equivalent (and are applying for Course I), you must take the paper(s) in the language(s) you are studying.

If you are studying neither Latin nor Greek to A-level or equivalent (and are applying for Course II), you must take the third paper, the Classics Language Aptitude Test.

Candidates for Classics with Oriental Studies (Q8T9) intending to study Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish should take the Classics Language Aptitude Test in addition to the Latin or Greek sections if they are studying those A-levels as above. Candidates applying for Oriental Studies with Classics (T9Q8) will need to take the OLAT, but do not need to take the CAT.

Greek and Latin Translation Tests:
The two translation papers each consist of a short passage in the prose or verse of the classical language, to be translated into English. The passages are carefully chosen to be of a difficulty suitable to students at A-level or equivalent. You are not allowed to take dictionaries, grammar books or notes into the test, so if you are not used to translating without these aids, you should get lots of practise doing so, and try to learn vocabulary before sitting the test.
Classics Language Aptitude Test:

The CLAT is designed to assess your ability to analyse how languages work, in a way which doesn't depend on your knowledge of any particular language. Instead we are looking to gauge your aptitude for learning a new language rapidly.

(Source: Oxford CAT webpage πŸ”— Accessed: 29/09/2019.)

You need to be registered, this must either be done with your school or through a registered test centre. This is done separately to UCAS. Please check the details and dates here πŸ”—

Getting Started

CAT Oxford: Introduction and Past Papers
πŸ”— 🌟 This is the link to the CAT page. Past papers (and solutions for the CLAT) can be found under the "How do I prepare?" tab.

Preparing for the Test

There are three parts of the test:
- Latin (Prose & Verse)
- Greek (Prose & Verse)
- Linguistics (CLAT)
If you are doing A-Level (or equivalent) in a Classical Language, you have to sit that part of the test. If you're doing both Latin and Greek you don't need to do the third section (CLAT).

If you're only doing one at A-Level or neither, you have to take the CLAT, which is all about made-up or less common languages to test your general linguistic ability.

For the Latin and Greek portions of the test, I'd recommend people complete the relevant past papers and ask a teacher to mark them. The texts are intended to be hard but approachable for an A-Level student, but can be daunting at first.

They are often drawn from a handful of common authors, so I'd recommend reading those authors in the original to improve their relevant grammar and vocab (and memorise all their A-Level vocab!).

All of the texts below can be found on Perseus πŸ”— 🌟, a free online library of texts that gives originals and translations. I'd advise jumping between texts: I found that to be a better use of time than completely finishing any individual works.

Greek Verse

Euripides (non-choral sections πŸ”—
Children of Heracles
Trojan Women
Iphigenia at Aulis

Greek Prose

Xenophon πŸ”—

Lysias πŸ”— On the Murder of Eratosthenes (Lysias 1)

Latin Verse

Metamorphoses Book 8 πŸ”—
Amores Book 1 πŸ”—

Catullus πŸ”— Poems 1-11 and Poem 64.

Cicero πŸ”— Pro Caelio and
Epistulae ad Familiares

Life of Atticus πŸ”—