We are seeing an increased reliance on admissions tests across all colleges and faculties at Oxbridge. With the scaling back of AS-Levels (the exams taken by students at the end of Year 12), Oxbridge are looking to admission tests results as alternative evidence of a candidate's academic abilities.
Indeed, other top Universities are following suit. A Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is now required for some courses at University College London, and there is a Mathematics test for Imperial and Warwick Universities, alongside more established tests for Law and Medicine.
Many strong applicants are falling at this hurdle. We have been supporting students with some admissions tests for years - namely the TSA, Law National Admissions Test (LNAT), and the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). This year we’ve redesigned our 14-lesson online TSA practice course, offering students rigorous practice before the real test, and are working with our partner schools to deliver new services to support students across all other admission tests.
How to approach admissions tests
Our main advice to students we support with admissions tests is to approach them as a test of skills, rather than just knowledge. It’s neither possible nor desirable to try to learn ‘everything’ in your subject area before your test - some admission tests require no subject knowledge outside of your A-Levels or International Baccalaureate. Instead, you should develop and refine the skills which will help you succeed in this test environment - including written communication, time management, organisation, and planning.
Our students are also encouraged to take a positive approach to admissions tests. They are an opportunity to demonstrate to admissions tutors why you would be a good student to teach at University. It should reassure you that in preparing for your test, you will encounter new material which will help you with your school work and in other areas of your University application. Indeed, you should see them as an interesting academic challenge, offering a chance to stretch yourself beyond your school curriculum.
Where to find more information
Most applicants to Oxford and all applicants to Cambridge will be required to sit a written admissions test, either before their interview or as part of it.
We encourage all applicants to research their course on the University of Cambridge or Oxford websites, and check the entry requirements. You can find more information on admissions test at Cambridge here, and Oxford here.
If you are interested in our 14-lesson online TSA preparation course, which offers students rigorous practice before their test, you can find out more here.