Language Aptitude Tests

By Holly Roberts

If you've applied for a beginners' language at Oxford the Language Aptitude Test forms part of your application, alongside the Modern Languages Aptitude Test for the language you’ll be studying post-A Level (in my case this was the French MLAT). The idea of figuring out a made up language seems daunting, but I promise you're already equipped with all the skills you need to ace the LAT! 

How to prepare:

-Practise with past papers: try a couple of past papers to get a feel for the amount of time you have for the LAT and establish techniques for on the day that work for you. I used coloured highlighters to colour code different parts of the sentences, such as nouns etc.

-Look for patterns: just like in the other language you're learning for your A Levels, there will be patterns. Read all the sentences given and see how the verbs are formed with different subjects or how nouns change if they are singular or plural etc. You'll soon see how your linguist's instincts will make you spot patterns quickly. 

-Don't beat yourself up about mistakes: you're not meant to be able to revise for this test; its goal is to see how you apply your skills to something unknown. Each language is totally different so don't bother memorising patterns or vocabulary!

-Use your knowledge of learning languages: sometimes the made up language might remind you of a certain feature of another language, such as the past tense including an auxiliary verb and a past participle, the use of articles being similar or the word order etc. There might be some similarities and your prior knowledge will help you.

On the day:

-Do the exercises in order: the exercises build on the previous sentences you have been given in the made up language, so it's best to do them in order so you have all the vocabulary to complete the other exercises. Plus, they get harder as you go along!

-Only spend the suggested time on the LAT: it’s tempting to spend more time on the LAT because it’s something you can’t revise for, but you also need to make sure you show the admissions tutors how well you know the language you are currently studying on the MLAT.

-Read all instructions and advice before starting: as you’ll see on past papers, you’ll be given some information about the made up language’s grammar rules to guide you. This information is really useful so make sure you read it before diving into the exercises!

-Stay calm: there's no expectation for you to finish all of the exercises on the LAT fully; I know that I missed parts of the final sentences out because there just wasn't enough time for them all! Do your best in the allocated time and remember that it's meant to be a challenge. Good luck with your applications!