Applying for university can be a very daunting time for A level college students, in London and elsewhere. The combination of worrying about achieving the desired grades and making sure personal statements are ‘just right’ can be very stressful, and many utilize various support systems that are put in place in order to deal with the pressures of the application process.
Aptitude entrance tests for A level college students in London
Depending on what a student wishes to study after A levels, they may be subjected to even more testing. Aptitude tests also know as ‘admissions tests’ have been used for many years for subjects such as medicine and law, but new educational reforms could see them being more wide spread. The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, representative of 260 fee-paying schools, have expressed their concerns about whether a shake-up of A levels could result in universities having to use aptitude tests to select candidates accurately. Where no aptitude tests currently apply, universities use a combination of predicted A level grades and AS scores to make provisional offers, but we may see more institutions setting their own entrance exams as a way of dealing with the upheaval. For the time being, students and A level college tutors must work together to ensure that they are as prepared for any upcoming tests as they possibly can be.
Applying for medicine – A level college students in London
Any student wishing to gain entrance onto a medical programme after Sixth Form College can expect to have to sit either the UKCAT or the BMAT tests. These are designed to test a candidate’s clinical, biomedical and mathematical potential. They differ slightly when it comes to the required mix of skills which means candidates can apply to universities that play to their strengths. That being said, a minimum score is required for either test in order for applications to be taken further.
Applying to Oxford and Cambridge – A level college students in London
Oxford University requires candidates to sit admissions tests for almost all undergraduate courses, regardless of the college the student wishes to attend. These take place in November and give colleges a good idea of the calibre of candidate they can expect to see for interviews the following month.
Those wishing to enrol on courses that rely heavily on critical thinking and problem solving, such as PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), sit the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA). Although tests are also required for Cambridge, their approach is a little more flexible. Each college sets their own assessment, with variations even occurring in relation to the same subject. A candidate wishing to study engineering for example, can expect to either sit the TSA or simply attend an interview, depending on which college they apply for.
Successfully preparing for admissions tests requires a partnership between teachers and students, and resources that enable candidates to do so are now widely available online and through A level colleges. But there are some that still argue that an aptitude test is not something that a student can truly prepare for, at least not in what is considered to be it’s purest form. In years gone by, those who stood out during the admissions process did so as they took it upon themselves to go beyond what was asked of them, taking responsibility for their own wider learning. Aptitude was not something that was seen to be ‘taught’, but something that a student developed as a result of having a curiosity for world and a hunger for learning. The opposing argument supports the theory that there is no such thing as pure aptitude, and that long-term good teaching in addition to a student’s willingness to further their own knowledge is what gets them there.
Regardless of who may be right in the argument, there is no doubt that we will see the university application process go through further adjustment in years to come. Whilst change is inevitable, we can only hope that any future modifications will be for the better.