UCAS applications - I'm just starting out.
As well as A-Levels, some university have specified additional entry requirements. Specifics for medicine and Oxbridge are listed in those sections of the book. This is mainly due to the decrease in students sitting for AS-Level exams, which means that the only formal exam results on your UCAS application form are your GCSE results, which may not be in the subject you are applying for and not all universities think these are representative of how you will do at university.
While not a replacement for A-Levels, a good grade in the following exams may compensate for a poor performance in GCSEs and may be reflected in an unconditional or reduced offer.
Thinking Skills Assessment. The University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and UCL (University College London) all use the TSA for a range of different courses. This takes place at the end of October. For Section One, you have 90 minutes to answer 50 multiple choice questions. This is a skills test, not a knowledge test, so you’re going to be tested on your ability to use numerical and spatial reasoning, your ability to solve problems, and your critical thinking skills using everyday language. Scores for each question are scaled based on difficulty, and your final score for Section One will be out of 100. The University of Cambridge and UCL only require candidates to sit Section One, but the University of Oxford also requires Section Two. Section Two is a 30-minute essay writing task to demonstrate good use of English and ability to communicate. The marks are passed on to the universities to which you have applied, and these will be released in mid-January. While there is no specific content you can study for this test, as with any exam you can prepare by looking at past papers, which are freely available on the assessment website. The test is taken in school and your exams officer needs to register you for the test.
University admissions tutors know that not everyone has the opportunity to study Law at A-Level, so they need an alternative way of determining who would make a good lawyer. The LNAT doesn’t test subject knowledge, so you don’t need to have studied Law to get a good grade. Instead, the LNAT tests the skills that lawyers need, such as comprehension; interpretation; analysis; synthesis; induction and deduction; and other verbal reasoning skills that are essential for a successful career in law. The LNAT will not be the only factor that admission tutors take into account, but it will play a big part alongside your personal statement, predicted grades, and references. Each university will place a different amount of importance on the results.
The LNAT needs to be sat the year you are applying to university and you can only sit it once per admission round. It is a computer-based test, and must be sat at an authorised test centre; you cannot take this within school.
The test is 2 hours and 15 minutes and has two sections. For Section A, you get 95 minutes to answer 42 multiple chose questions. You will be shown 12 paragraphs and then will need to answer 3 or 4 questions on each. For Section B, you will get 40 minutes to write an essay on a given topic. In Section B, you will need to show that you can use the English language well. The results are sent out twice a year, with the first results sent out in mid-February, meaning you cannot use the results to help determine where you apply via UCAS.
There is no content that you need to study, but you can help yourself prepare for the test by looking at the past papers which are available for free on the LANT website, lnat.ac.uk
Maths – The University of Oxford and Imperial College both require the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT). The University of Cambridge and University of Warwick require the Sixth Term Examination Paper in Mathematics (STEP). Durham University and Lancaster University require the Test of Mathematics for University Admission; this test is also advised to be taken by applicants to the University of Warwick, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton and London School of Economics and Political Science.
The MAT is sat at the end of October after the deadline for Oxford applications, so you can use the results to determine if you should apply to Oxford or not. This is administered by the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing Service—but don’t get confused, because it is still needed even for Oxford and Imperial. This is a subject-based test, and it is best that you let your teacher know you are planning on taking it so they can ensure that you learn all the content in year 12. You don’t need to have taken Further Maths at A-Level to be able to understand the content on this test. Both Oxford and Imperial have an extensive collection of past papers and worked solutions to help you prepare for this test, so you should take advantage of the resources that both universities offer.
The test is 2 hours and 30 minutes long. No calculators or formula sheets are allowed, and it is taken within school under exam conditions. You will need to get your school exams officer to register you for the test. You don’t get sent your results; these are sent directly to the university, but you can request them for the university.
Test of Mathematics for University Admission is spread across two 75-minute papers which are taken consecutively. Paper One is thinking and Paper Two is reasoning; for both of these papers you are not allowed any calculators. The test is taken at the end of October and the results released to you a month later. The results are not automatically sent to universities, but you can select which universities you want to share the results with via the results website. This test is sat within schools and you need to get your exams officer to register you for it. The content is going to be based on what you are studying, and there are lots of free practice papers available on the testing services website.
STEP, or the Sixth Term Examination Paper in Mathematics, has three papers but not all are required by every university. The papers you are required to take will depend on what A-Levels you are taking. Each paper is 3 hours long and has 13 questions (8 pure, 3 mechanics and 2 stats). It is suggested that you pick 6 questions and answer them, but you can attempt as many questions as you like. Only the six highest scores will be used. Paper 1 and 2 are based on A-Levels Maths content, while Paper 3 is based on A-Level Further Maths. These exams are sat at the same time as A-Level exams in June, and results are released at the same time as A-Level results. This means that your offer may be a combination of A-Level results and STEP results. The STEP exam will be sat in school and your exams officer needs to register you. The University of Cambridge has a very extensive range of free preparation material available on their website.