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History Aptitude Test


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#1 Satirical

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 04:09 PM

I'm taking the History Aptitude Test for Oxford on Wednesday (sparing a moment here to say *gulp* ) and I'm pretty much trying to see if there's any useful advice here. This board has helped me a lot in the past - thanks! (special thanks to Mrs F) and although this is quite offtopic in the sense that it's not based on a special historical unit, I decided to give it a try. The H.A.T is based on imagination rather than historical knowledge and it's so that Oxford selects which applicants go further to send in the essays.

Here is the link to the H.A.T site:

http://www.history.o...ntroduction.htm

Oxford says there's no preparation you can do beforehand (I am reading a bunch of books which hopefully will be of use) but I was wondering if anyone has advice on how to embark on such a test. I've never done this before, or anything remotely similar. I have looked at the specimen paper but I was thinking of general advice.

Thank you.

The only advice I've gotten so far is "You'll be fine, I told you the same thing before and I was right." which is not really advice...but LOL. <_< :lol:

For the record I'm on my friend's computer...it's crashing and moving from one page to another by itself so this was posted in the wrong forum...if somebody could move it to the 16+ board I'd be very grateful! ;-)

Edited by Satirical, 30 October 2004 - 04:17 PM.


#2 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 07:01 PM

Firstly ..... as you'll see I have moved your post to the 16+ Forum.

Secondly .....regarding HAT.

If your contributions on this Forum are anything to go by, I'd agree with your teacher and say,"You'll be fine." But, as you say, this is hardly advice.

The thing is that none of us yet has any experience to go on here and I doubt if I can say anything that your own teacher has not already said.

My own advice would be to stop reading books (this is not a test of historical knowledge), but actually to do the Specimen Paper. You say you have looked at it, but not that you have done it.

As you are probably aware, in addition to the Specimen Paper there are also Sample Answers..

I advise you to do the Specimen Paper - in one sitting - and obeying the 2 Hour time allowed. Do this before you read the Sample Answers. When you have done this, then print off the Sample Answers and read them very carefully in conjunction with the Tutors' comments. Use a highlighter pen to select those parts of each answer which clearly demonstrate what the marker was looking for. Then make a note of the things that were credit worthy.

After that, take your own answers and try to analyse them in the light of the previous task. I know it's difficult to analyse your own work - but do try to see what your own strengths and weaknesses are/were.

Do read the Specification carefully if you have not already done so:
http://www.history.o...ecification.htm

NB. You will have plenty of time so even though the HAT will undoubtedly look difficult at first do take your time to read the passages carefully, think hard and to plan your answers. I'm a great fan of highlighter pens and I'd take one or two into the test with you to highlight key words and phrases in the passages relating to particular questions.

I hope this has helped ... and the best of luck on Wednesday. We'll be thinking of you!

#3 Satirical

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 09:04 PM

Thanks Mrs F!

The books are useful. Unfortunately my teachers did not do the Hitler/Stain topics with us and chose the Civil Rights/Reformation instead...when it comes to a question such as "choose ANY ONE ruler, or regime" reading about Stalin/Elizabeth might be useful. Just in case. And I've also found a lot of good stuff on stereotyping in history, it's use and so on. So some of it is good hehe!

I will do the paper. I hope the other papers have arrived at my school, I will find out Monday.
I just wish I wasn't so nervous, but Oxford is like one of my dreams. I'm already in love with the courses they offer too...so it's kind of hard to accept any other alternatives now. :lol: And on a more offtopic note, I already got a reply from one of my other choices! It was such a cool suprise.

All in all, thanks for the advice Mrs F. :) In what concerns looking at an unknown source for things which are not immediately obvious, would you say you have a plan? For example, when I tackled the source paper in my A/S exams, I used my previous history teacher's tactics and I was the only one in the class to get an A there. I was just wondering whether such general 'rules' which improve an analysis may apply there.

#4 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 30 October 2004 - 09:52 PM

Thanks Mrs F!

The books are useful. Unfortunately my teachers did not do the Hitler/Stain topics with us and chose the Civil Rights/Reformation instead...when it comes to a question such as "choose ANY ONE ruler, or regime" reading about Stalin/Elizabeth might be useful. Just in case. And I've also found a lot of good stuff on stereotyping in history, it's use and so on. So some of it is good hehe!


I really .... really! ..... don't think you need to do anything other than some revision of topics you have studied over the last year or so, and in my view it is not wise to attempt to be cramming topics previously unfamiliar to you so close to the test. The HAT is a test of your ability to analyse, to think logically and to express your ideas cogently. I'm sure that if your teacher didn't think that you displayed those qualitles s/he wouldn't have supported your Oxford application. This test is deliberately a 'think on your feet' situation, rather than anything else.

I will do the paper.


Yes. Do. It really is the best preparation that you can undertake. (See all I said in the previous message).

Do the Specimen Paper and get your teacher to go through it with you on Monday/Tuesday - using the Sample Answers to help you with the process of identifying how you might improve.

I hope the other papers have arrived at my school, I will find out Monday.


I'm sure they'll be there and in any case you don't need to worry about minutiae such as this.

I just wish I wasn't so nervous, but Oxford is like one of my dreams. I'm already in love with the courses they offer too...so it's kind of hard to accept any other alternatives now. :lol: And on a more offtopic note, I already got a reply from one of my other choices! It was such a cool suprise.


I do understand, but if things don't go as you have planned there are some great Universities and courses 'out there' and sometimes things happen for the best - even if it doesn't seem so at the time. Believe me.

All in all, thanks for the advice Mrs F. :) In what concerns looking at an unknown source for things which are not immediately obvious, would you say you have a plan? For example, when I tackled the source paper in my A/S exams, I used my previous history teacher's tactics and I was the only one in the class to get an A there. I was just wondering whether such general 'rules' which improve an analysis may apply there.

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I assume this is referring to the second question? Plan:

* Make a note of the provenance of the source. Who wrote it? When? Is it first hand evidence?
* Read the question and write it down.
* Read the passage very carefully bearing the question in mind at all times. As relevant ideas occur to you jot them down. You might do this as a Mind Map or a Spider diagram if this is a good way of working for you.
* Go through your notes and organise them according to the points you now wish to make. ie In effect make an essay plan.
* Write your essay paying careful attention to clarity of expression and grammatical accuracy. In making assertions be very careful to provide supporting evidence from the passage,

Note: If the Specimen is anything to go by you are not going to be asked to evaluate the source's reliability or utility ... and indeed it is specifically stated that you are not required to have any previous knowledge of the topic so the sort of 'plan for tacking the paper' that you will have previously used is unlikely to be relevant here.

Do not think that writing at length is a criterion for success. As I keep emphasising, the vital thing will be to plan your answers carefully and to focus HARD on being analytical and logical.

My very best advice? Get a good night's sleep the night before the test. (have a warm bath and a hot milky drink if that helps to get to sleep) Have a good breakfast. Get to school in good time AND when you turn the paper over TAKE THREE DEEP BREATHS TO STEADY YOUR NERVES.

GOOD LUCK! (and let me know what you think of it after)

#5 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 02:08 PM

If you see this before tomorrow (Wed) Satirical ...... just to wish you good luck and to remind you:

*Read
*THINK
*PLAN
*Write
:)

#6 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 06:05 PM

Satirical, good luck with the HAT test...it looks hard and I'm at Oxford doing history! But I wouldn't worry overly about it - the test has had its desired effect already (to cut down on the numbers of applicants). The tutors will take the HAT into consideration but it's the interview that is the key (I think)...you need to show that you're good, anybody can do an exam (especially if they've been shoved in the right direction), not everybody can get across their ability in an interview. Also and I probably shouldn't put this on a public forum but I will...the personal statement - it is NOT that important for Oxford especially not for history - know your stuff and you'll be fine, no you're UCAS personal statement and you will not get in...trust me.

That said, which college have you applied to?

Finally good luck once again, hopefully though you won't need it.

#7 Satirical

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 08:25 PM

Thanks Mrs F I've read that. I've done the test more or less in practice today.

Daryl, prob is I can't say if I don't do well on the H.A.T they'll have other stuff to judge. They will only accept my essay and call me on the interview if they like my exam. In other words it's primordial to my application.

the personal statement - it is NOT that important for Oxford especially not for history - know your stuff and you'll be fine, no you're UCAS personal statement and you will not get in...trust me.


What exactly do you mean by that? Of course I'm not just relying on the personal statement! :lol:

All in all thank you to both of you for the kind words. I got a letter from my college today, with these instructions. Sorry for not revealing the name of it...I don't feel too comfy doing that online.

If I do get in I'm sure I'll run into you though! Assuming you're not in your final year of course.

Edited by Satirical, 02 November 2004 - 08:26 PM.


#8 Satirical

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 08:49 PM

I did it! Whew, this is a relief. Pardon me for this is going to be a long post...when I finished my A/S exams, I wrote a 12 page email to my history teacher in Romania...almost freaked him out LOL. So..sorry if I'm boring you with the details!

How it was...well my first thought was "THIS WAS HARD." :lol: Obviously. I managed to write 7 pages in all, so I think I did quite well. I have to say what my pet peeve with myself was though...I am not British and while my language is good in speech, and essays on unforeseen texts, it is a little difficult to make sure I give clear arguments. I know what I want to say, it's getting it out in the best way that's the problem. It's just a small problem, and I *can* write fluently; it's just where I think I have a weakness. I prefer computers where I can edit till I get perfection.

The first question spoke about causes, how the economic world can be influenced by the government structure but these causes are not synchronous et cetera. I'm a bit peeved at the fact that I interpreted the words "prior to" as giving importance to a cause over another - which, in my opinion, the historian was saying not to do, that we must develop a more complex interpretation. I checked the dictionary at home and 'prior to' means "before"..*sigh* in my language, prior comes from priority. It's not that big a deal though, and since the paper said there is no "right" and "wrong" answer, maybe my interpretation was alright...I'm not sure. I'm inclined to say it was.

The second question was to write 10-15 lines on explaining what the extract was saying. I said what its main argument was, with my own words and basically said what I understood was implying i.e - I spoke about how I believed he was arguing a historian's argument changes over time because it is a reflection of the society he lives in...how one must have a broad interpretation of causes because saying one cause has primordial importance (using stereotypes) over the other, can cause problems with its inflexibility etc etc etc. I wrote 12 or 13 lines...not too much or too little. Quoted a few key words.

Then came the first essay. In the essay, I talked about the German Reformation so it was useful I revised that since it was the topic I did last year. The question asked to write about several causes (political, ideological, economic, religious) which led to a period of change. I had to focus on the interraction between these. So when I did the essay I tried to not write an essay about Martin Luther, and talk about each cause in particular, but focus on the causes of the reformation in interraction. I challenged this idea of interraction by talking about how:

- one cause can be both advantageous and detrimental to the Reformation - e.g. Luther's religious and ideological causes let him befriend humanists and later created him enemies among the same group.
- how the interraction of three causes can vary with different levels of society - e.g Peasants war - ideological, religious and economic causes vs. princely reformation - same causes, different consequences. Basically the causes when they interract can either speed up or hinder the reformation.
- I also mentioned that, like the previous article we got in the exam says, these causes are not synchronous. The religious and economic causes were long embedded in the society while others such as the political causes (Habsburg problems) and cultural - printing presses - were more new...so basically my conclusion was that these causes interract to bring change, historical development but they don't have a straightforward, equal and parallel line of progression.

And I forgot what else. I think it was 3 sides.

Then came question 4...why do the historians' arguments change over time in order to state different causes were more important, or had a bigger impact. I wrote one side like it asked and I spoke in more detail about society and how it can reflect the historian's outlook - e.g. Victorian age historians were more optimistic in their approaches, but 60 yrs later they could voice the scepticism and bewilderment of a beat generation. I talked about how the dual function of history is to understand the past to increase our mastery over the present and that the present plays a big role in the interpretation of the past...if the present society changes, the historian is likely to choose different arguments, different causes etc. I forgot how exactly I phrased it and what I else I wrote though. I'm sure I had a little more though...hmmm. Oh well.

Then came section 2...the text where I had to read between the lines. THAT was challening - all we got was a small paragraph in which a dead king as eulogised. It was hard to choose things but I remember it said write one to two sides...I wrote one and a half or a lil more than one and a half. I gave some crazy arguments LOL...some less crazy and more obvious, what I thought basically. I ran out of time there, I managed to finish just in time but I wish I had spent less on section one. But yeah, in section 2 I tried to make some less obvious deductions and just tried my best. It wasn't about being accurate anyways, just about imagination. Hopefully I'll get in...I have no idea.

By the way is it ok I described this here? If it is not allowed to share or anything, feel free to delete the post. I couldn't check with *my* history teacher today because she isn't in charge of Oxford and she's basically not really interested in that, and my other teacher had classes today. It was me who decided to apply and my Head Of Yr supported my decision...but he doesn't teach history so that was the prob with talking 'bout it!

I *so* hope I got in...I really want to embark that Modern History course they offer. I have no idea, based on what I wrote, whether they'll accept me or not. We'll see in a few days. I have to say while it was stressful, I really enjoyed it.

Thanks again for your help. :)

Edited by Satirical, 03 November 2004 - 08:52 PM.


#9 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 03 November 2004 - 10:25 PM

Satirical, I would say personally that you've done enough to warrant an interview.

They will only accept my essay and call me on the interview if they like my exam. In other words it's primordial to my application.


This isn't that true, they'll send you a letter asking for your essays and that combined with your exam will determine whether you deserve to be interview, in that respect you should be okay. You'll hear in the next week or so either way.

If you do get an interview and I'm still around needless to say I'll bump into you at some point Oxford is a very small place and if you've applied to one of the central colleges, Magdalen, Oriel, Christ Church, Merton, Univ, Balliol, Queens, then the High Street is your home - hall food is not that good!

#10 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 02:14 AM

I did it! Whew, this is a relief. Pardon me for this is going to be a long post...when I finished my A/S exams, I wrote a 12 page email to my history teacher in Romania...almost freaked him out LOL. So..sorry if I'm boring you with the details!

..........

By the way is it ok I described this here? If it is not allowed to share or anything, feel free to delete the post. I couldn't check with *my* history teacher today because she isn't in charge of Oxford and she's basically not really interested in that, and my other teacher had classes today. It was me who decided to apply and my Head Of Yr supported my decision...but he doesn't teach history so that was the prob with talking 'bout it!

I *so* hope I got in...I really want to embark that Modern History course they offer. I have no idea, based on what I wrote, whether they'll accept me or not. We'll see in a few days. I have to say while it was stressful, I really enjoyed it.

Thanks again for your help. :)

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Satirical,

Sorry not to respond to your post yesterday. There is no objection to posting as you have done but I don't honestly feel that it would be appropriate for me to give extensive feedback. I do understand your concerns, but I am not an Oxford History tutor and post mortems don't really serve any very useful purpose. Sorry. Perhaps by now you'll have had an opportunity to talk to your own teacher.


I am afraid I have deleted your reply to Daryl's post and the subsequent messages. As Daryl himself said, we do not permit students to exchange personal information on or via this site. I appreciate your concerns to find out about life at Oxford, but have you thought of asking your own school if there is an ex-student with whom you might be put in touch? At my own school we arrange for former students to come back and talk about student life at various Universities. Perhaps you could do that? Also, if you get called for interview, you will almost certainly be given the opportunity to meet and talk with students there and perhaps make contacts if you are offered a place.

Your mention of Rumania has made me realise who you (probably) are. I do apologise but I am afraid I lost your contact details.

#11 Satirical

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Posted 05 November 2004 - 12:18 PM

It's completely fine! I know we had a few people go to Cambridge last year, but I don't know if anyone went to study History or anything else at Oxford. I'll check.

Your mention of Rumania has made me realise who you (probably) are. I do apologise but I am afraid I lost your contact details.


Yep, it's me! I joined this board a while back when I was staying over at a friend's house (they showed it to me) and I stopped visiting it for a period of time because of school. I didn't want to bother you again by asking for advice because my head of year, shortly after, had started the meetings on universities and I've cleared up my concerns.

Sorry about that! :blush:

#12 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 06 November 2004 - 02:40 PM

I didn't want to bother you again by asking for advice because my head of year, shortly after, had started the meetings on universities and I've cleared up my concerns.

Sorry about that! :blush:

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That's good to hear. I suspected you were worrying unnecessarily before and that you would receive the information and advice you wanted/needed at school

#13 Satirical

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 05:54 PM

I wasn't sure whether to make a new thread in this forum or on the students board so I'm posting the news here!

I got the interview! :lol: I can't wait...it's on the 9th of December and since I'll be visiting Oxford Uni for the second time in my life, I'm practically giddy here! I can't believe I've gotten so far in the process - not because I thought I didn't have the abilities to, but because last year Oxford was this almost-unreachable dream. [Thank you for the kind words Mrs F. =) ]

So...anyway, the interview. Now, one of my teachers has been saying not to laugh in it at all. I find that a bit odd...are they teasing me or is it really inappropriate to give as little as a chuckle? o_o I'm sure lots of people will give me about 10,000 interview myths to freak me out during these 5 days (LOL) so I was just wondering.

And on a more offtopic note, was Hitler's middle name *really* Elizabeth? :blink:

Edited by Satirical, 30 November 2004 - 06:03 PM.


#14 Mr Field

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 08:16 PM

The best thing to be is yourself. Simple.

... and no, Hitler's middle name wasn't Elizabeth. His father's surname was Schicklgruber though.

#15 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 30 November 2004 - 09:24 PM

Congratulations! This is excellent news.

As Mr Field has said ...just be yourself. It really IS the best advice anyone can give.




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