What is the Imperial Physics Admissions Test?

Imperial College London is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and their Physics programmes are no exception. Imperial places 12th for Physics in the world university rankings by Times Higher Education (2023).

Imperial College London’s admissions process for their undergraduate Physics degree is highly competitive, and one of the key components of that process is the Imperial Physics Admissions Test (IPAT). This article explores what the IPAT is, what you can expect to encounter on the test, and some tips on how to prepare for it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The IPAT has been discontinued. Applicants must now take the Engineering and Science Admissions Test (ESAT). We will be releasing an article on this shortly, so please keep an eye out. Information regarding the ESAT is available here. You can contact our expert admissions test tutors for tailored support.

Who takes the IPAT?

The Imperial Physics Admissions Test is typically taken by students who are applying for the BSc Physics degree at Imperial College London. The test is intended for students who are in their final year of secondary school and have completed or are currently studying A levels or equivalent qualifications in Physics and Mathematics.

For general advice on how to get into Physics at Imperial College London, check out our previous blog.

What is the Imperial Physics Admissions Test?

Imperial has its own online Physics Admissions Test. Applicants to Imperial’s Physics course who pass the initial screening round will be required to take it. This test is based on school-level Physics and Mathematics content up to AS level (or equivalent).

The Imperial Physics Admissions Test is a standardised test that is used to assess the aptitude of applicants for the Physics programme at Imperial College London. The test is designed to measure a student’s problem-solving skills, mathematical ability, and scientific reasoning. It is used by the admissions committee to evaluate the potential of an applicant to excel in the Physics programme.

The test is subject-specific and covers a range of topics, including mechanics, thermodynamics, waves, electricity and magnetism, and quantum mechanics. By administering the IPAT, Imperial College aims to identify the most suitable candidates for its Physics programme, who have the potential to succeed academically and make valuable contributions to the field of physics.

You must prepare for the IPAT thoroughly. Imperial’s Physics Admissions Test is unique to the university and there are limited resources available to help you prepare. You can use Imperial’s sample questions and solutions in place of past papers, as well as the admissions test guidance on the Department of Physics application page. However, we recommend that you also work with a specialist tutor who has in-depth knowledge of Imperial’s specific Physics Admissions Test and the wider application process to maximise your chances. This will offer you more tailored guidance and preparation support.

What does the IPAT cover and how does it work?

Here is a breakdown of the structure of the IPAT:

  • Section 1: This section contains multiple-choice questions on mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves, and optics. The questions test a student’s understanding of the fundamental concepts in these areas of physics, as well as their ability to apply these concepts to real-world problems.
  • Section 2: This section contains multiple-choice questions on quantum mechanics, thermal physics, and materials. The questions test a student’s understanding of the more advanced concepts in these areas of physics, as well as their ability to apply these concepts to complex problems.

Both sections of the IPAT consist of a series of multiple-choice questions, and each question is worth one mark. The test is designed to be challenging, and applicants are not expected to answer all questions correctly. Instead, the admissions committee is looking for evidence of a student’s potential, and their ability to think critically and creatively.

Don’t be intimidated by any of the IPAT, our dedicated team of Physics tutors can help you. Many of them have plenty of experience in admissions to top universities like Imperial College London.

Imperial recommends taking the test on a laptop or desktop computer, alone in a quiet environment. The test will be completed through the Blackboard app. If you do not own a laptop or computer, you may be able to access one at your school or library. Otherwise, you should be able to take the test on a tablet or phone, which is accessible through the browser rather than the Blackboard app. For details on compatible browsers, see here.

Please note: Specific questions and topics covered on the IPAT may vary from year to year, so it is recommended to check the Imperial College website for the most up-to-date information. To prepare thoroughly, review the specific topics covered.

How long is the IPAT?

The Imperial Physics Admissions Test is administered online. You will have 45 minutes to complete 30 short multiple-choice questions.

How do I register for the IPAT?

Applicants to Imperial’s Physics course who pass the initial screening round will be required to take an online admissions test. This test is administered by Imperial internally, so details inviting you to this admission test will be sent to you by email directly from the university. The email will contain information on the test date, time, and location.

The connection details will be sent directly to applicants by email in late January, so be sure that the email address you provided in your application works and ensure that you inform Imperial if you need to change it. If you have not received the connection details by the first week of February, alert Imperial.

Hence you don’t need to register for the IPAT before applying, however, you will need to prepare to ensure you achieve the best score possible.

When do I take the IPAT?

Dates vary so ensure you check the dates for your specific application date. The date and time of the IPAT will be published on our course listings here.

The most recent IPAT had to be completed by February 5th 2023. The upcoming test will take place on the first week of February 2024.

How do I prepare for the IPAT?

Preparing for the IPAT requires a combination of knowledge and test-taking skills. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Review the topics covered on the test – Make sure that you are familiar with the fundamental concepts of physics, and that you have a solid understanding of the topics covered on the test.
  • Practice problem-solving – The IPAT is designed to measure your problem-solving skills, so it’s important to practice solving physics problems in a timed environment.
  • Take practice tests – Familiarise yourself with the format of the test by taking practice tests online. This will help you get used to the types of questions you can expect and will give you an idea of how much time you need to allocate to each question.
  • Seek help from a tutor – If you are struggling with any of the concepts covered on the test, consider seeking help from one of our expert Physics tutors.
  • Stay calm and focused – On the day of the test, make sure that you are well-rested and focused. Try to stay calm and pace yourself throughout the test, and don’t spend too much time on any one question.

The Imperial Physics Admissions Test is a challenging component of the admissions process for the Physics programme at Imperial College London. If you prepare for it effectively, however, you can increase your chances of success and pave the way for a successful career in physics.

Here at The Profs, we have a dedicated team of tutors who are experienced in admissions as well as Physics tests. Many of our outstanding tutors have attended Imperial College London themselves, and/or helped their students to gain admission there. 95% of our students gain a place at their first or second-choice university. So, don’t be daunted by the IPAT. If you have your sights on Imperial, reach out to us today.