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No admissions tests for English and Geography in 2024

The University of Oxford’s Faculty of English and Faculty of Geography and Environment have confirmed that neither the English Language Admissions Test (ELAT), nor the Geography Admissions Test (GAT) will be set for the October 2024 undergraduate admissions cycle.

This announcement follows both faculties’ decisions to disregard the admissions tests results in November 2023, after technical issues left some candidates waiting up to an hour for passages of text to load. English candidates were also mistakenly given the previous year’s theme to guide their analysis, leading to confusion and anxiety among applicants.

The Faculty of English has expressed that they are “committed in the long term to the value and efficacy of setting a standard test for all applicants’”and “hope to be in a position to run the Oxford ELAT again” in the future.

Following the disrupted admissions tests in 2023, the University severed ties with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as its test provider, after only one year of a partnership aimed at digitising the testing process. The University has since announced that they are working on new arrangements for all other admissions tests, which are set to continue in October 2024. 

The most recent major change to the University’s admissions testing process was the permanent removal practical test for candidates applying for Fine Art, a decision made as part of the transition to remote interviews in 2020.

A spokesperson of the University of Oxford told Cherwell: “We are putting in place arrangements for our admissions tests in 2024, and will be communicating with applicants, schools and test centres shortly.” 

Oxford is not the only university to revise their admissions test procedure. Until recently, most selective US colleges had adopted a ‘test-optional’ policy, not requiring candidates to disclose SAT or ACT results as part of their application. This attitude was largely adopted over concerns regarding the close link between a candidate’s results and their race and family income, as well as the opportunity for coaching for advantaged students. In recent years, however, many elite colleges, including Harvard University, Yale University and MIT, have reversed their stance, reinstating standardised testing as a required part of a candidate’s application.

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