by Andy Chamberlain, Head of Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing
How to help your students prepare
Many of your students will be taking an admissions test from Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing as part of their university application. This could be for a specific degree course (such as Medicine or Maths) or for a specific institution (see the full list of tests). Our admissions tests are designed for self-preparation, to allow every candidate an equal chance of doing well, but we understand teachers and schools like to support students throughout the application process. So what do your students need to know?
How do our tests fit into the admissions application process?
Students applying to study in the UK will typically take their admissions test after the UCAS application deadline in mid-October. Universities may use admissions test results to help shortlist students for interviews, which usually take place at the end of November. For most tests, the results are automatically sent to the student’s chosen universities.
Where can students take an admissions test?
Many students will be able to take the test at your school. If your school is an authorised test centre, we suggest students speak to the school exams officer for information about how to register for the test. If your school is not an authorised test centre, you may be eligible to apply to become a test centre or students can visit our ‘Find a test centre’ web page to search our global network of centres.
What are the test dates and registration deadlines?
In 2021, our main test session will run in early November – test registration opens on 1 September and closes on 15 October. Please note, TMUA and BMAT have an earlier standard fee registration deadline of 1 October. Students must be registered by their test centre, and we encourage them to speak to the exams officer as early as possible.
How much do the tests cost?
Registration fees are charged for some of our tests, but candidates who cannot afford the fee (UK only) can apply for it to be refunded as part of our reimbursement scheme. Some test centres may also charge administration costs, so students need to check this directly with their test centre.
What do admissions tests assess?
Unlike A Levels or other school qualifications, admissions tests focus on the skills students need to do well at university – such as critical thinking, problem solving and how to apply their subject knowledge. Some tests also have a writing task or essay designed to test students’ ability to construct a reasoned and logical argument. For most tests, students can access the test specification or question guide for a detailed overview of what to expect from the test.
What resources are available to prepare for the tests?
There is no need to pay for a preparation course or buy any books. Everything a student needs to prepare for one of our admissions tests is freely available to access from the Admissions Testing website. Resources include test specifications, sample papers, question and marking guides, and top tips on how to do well.
How should students prepare for the tests?
Students should familiarise themselves with the test by reviewing the test specification where possible. They can use the past papers and sample questions to assess their knowledge and get a feel for the questions. Practising the papers allows students to work out where they might have gaps in their knowledge and see which questions they find more difficult. This enables them to develop their own strategy for preparing. We suggest students also practise, using the past papers, under test conditions so they know how much time is available for each question.
Admissions tests are an opportunity to shine
Universities use admissions tests to identify candidates with the potential to succeed by assessing the skills they need to do well on a particular course. Taking an admissions test levels the playing field, allowing for fair comparison of students from all educational backgrounds. Students should see an admissions test as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. If they have the potential to do well on their chosen course, they will do well in an admissions test.
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