Get ready for your university admissions test

Depending on the university course you’re applying to, you may need to take an admissions test. But don't panic!

It's important to remember that, if an admissions test is part of your university application, it doesn't mean you have to put in hours of additional work.

We spoke to Emma Warboys from Cambridge Assessment, an organisation that develops and administers a range of admissions tests, to find out what students can do to make sure they are adequately prepared.

“Our admissions tests do not require a lot of extra study as they are assessing skills and knowledge that students are expected to have already,” said Emma.

“Of course a student's performance in any test will improve with some familiarisation or practice, therefore we highly recommend students download specimen papers and past papers, and read around the subject area.”

With that in mind, follow this advice to make sure you are well prepared for your university admissions test. 

Top tips on preparing for your university admissions test

  • Familiarise yourself with the test

Find out the name of the organisation that runs your test and look up its website; you'll find information there to help you feel confident when taking the test. For instance, Cambridge Assessment has an official website for its admissions tests, including pages on the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). Go through the detail offered on these pages and make sure you understand what will be expected of you.

  • Understand how the test will be run

The same online resources will give you key details about your test. You'll be able to find out how many papers there will be, how much time you will have and whether there are any items that you can't take in with you (such as calculators). You'll also be able to confirm the date of your test.

  • Don't overdo your study

You'll want to make sure you are ready for your admissions test, but don't overdo it. Take, for example, the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT). The point of this 30-minute test is to check a candidate’s ability to learn a new language quickly – it is not a test of knowledge of any particular language. This approach is common to some university admissions tests - you're not being asked to show off any high-level knowledge, you’re being tested on the way you think. For that reason, cramming facts for two weeks ahead of your test is not likely to be a good use of your time.

  • Talk to people who have taken the test in the past

It's always a good idea to get the perspective of people who have been through the process. You'll find plenty of students on the TSR university forums who have taken admissions tests in previous years. Get involved on the TSR forums and put forward any questions you might have.

  • Run through past papers

The very best way to ensure you feel prepared is to work through some past papers. Sit down and strictly observe the conditions under which you will be tested. Make sure you work for the correct amount of time. Do not use any dictionaries or calculators if you are not allowed to take these into the test itself. Working through these papers will ensure what you have to do on the day does not come as a surprise.

  • Don't buy something you don't need

There are plenty of companies that claim to be able to help you prepare for university admissions tests – but they don’t have any special insight into the nature of the test. You should find plenty of free online resources to help you prepare.

  • And finally - don’t miss the deadline

For a number of Cambridge Assessment admissions tests which take place this November, the final registration deadline is 15 October, so don’t get caught out. 

Are you due to take any of the following admissions tests?

  • BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)
  • English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT)
  • Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) for the University of Oxford
  • Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) for the University of Cambridge
  • Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) for UCL

or any of the following University of Oxford undergraduate admissions tests?

  • Classics Admissions Test (CAT)
  • History Aptitude Test (HAT)
  • Mathematics Aptitude Test (MAT)
  • Modern Languages Admissions Tests (MLAT)
  • Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT)
  • Physics Aptitude Test (PAT)

You can find out more on all of these tests on Cambridge Assessment’s official TSR wiki page. There is also a wealth of information and free resources on Cambridge Assessment’s admissions tests website. For any other uni admissions tests, check our university forum pages.