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Study abroad : Applying to University

How to prepare for an admissions test

Having to take a test can be worrying at the best of times. However, when a test is between you and your dream university even more so. We look at the best way to prepare for an upcoming admissions test.

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Applying to university can be time-consuming and occasionally stressful. So, when you're told you must take an admissions test as part of your application, this can add a lot more pressure to the situation. However, it shouldn’t necessarily feel that way. Being invited to take a test by a university often means that you're a good prospective candidate for a course. 


If you’re at this stage of your study abroad journey, you have certainly completed your fair share of tests and exams. It represents positive progress when applying to university. We explain what you can expect for an admissions test and how to prepare.  


What is an admissions test? 


An admissions test is an examination to see if you are a good fit for that university and course. It tests both your general and academic knowledge. Admissions tests are a way some universities choose prospective students, much like other universities may opt for an admission interview instead.  


While they are more common on competitive courses, any university can request prospective students to take a test if they feel it would benefit both the university and the student in their application process. 


So how do you prepare? 


Preparing for an admissions test is much like preparing for any other exam. There are three key steps that you can take when approaching an admissions test to increase your chances of success.  




Firstly, make sure not to panic. This can cause you serious stress and worry. Staying relaxed is one of the most important things you can do when preparing for an admissions test.  


The university isn’t necessarily trying to make it hard for you to become a student there. Universities just need to know that you are ready for the years ahead and the academic challenges to come. Most students won’t apply for courses that they're not interested in or show some ability in. The test is just your opportunity to demonstrate your ability. 


Reminding yourself why you want to go to university and study your chosen subject is a useful way to settle your nerves. Have confidence in your abilities given what you know from your previous educational experiences and qualifications.  




While this point may be obvious, it doesn’t mean it’s any less vital. With some years of education already under your belt, you may feel a false sense of security. After all, universities just want to test your current knowledge and don’t expect you to know everything about the subject.  


However, revising for an exam or test even when you feel you know the subject extremely well is never a bad idea. Although this may take time, it will be completely worth it if you come across questions that your knowledge or previous education did not prepare you for. 


Admissions tests aren’t there to see if a student already knows the content of the course they want to study. However, universities do expect a good level of foundational knowledge from prospective students. This is true for both professional and academic degrees.  


Finding out more information about the exam itself will also be a great benefit. It’s not uncommon for universities to provide this information on request, so contacting them in advance can be beneficial.  


While no two students’ journeys are the same, many graduates and those currently in the middle of their studies would have done this test before and may have shared their experiences online.  


These could include previous questions that have come up and what type of test to expect. Many admissions tests feature multiple-choice questions or essay sections. Finding out what you will need to focus on more will go a long way in preparing you for the test. 


For example, if the test is more essay-based, practising your essay writing with several potential questions can refine your question-answering skills by the time the real test is in front of you. 


Explore how you can improve your English writing skills.  




It’s not a common practice for students to go over old school or college assignments that they have completed. These pieces are often hard work, and once they are behind you, you don’t want to go over them again.  


However, these pieces of work can be your best friends when it comes to preparing for your admissions test. They can reflect and cover the exact knowledge and information you'll be tested on.  


In many cases, some areas slip our minds. Going through your old work helps remind you of what you have learnt and is a great revision tool. It can also help to bolster your confidence.  


Being prepared for an admissions test can be the difference between getting into your ideal university and not. While it may feel like another hurdle in a long application process, it is a sign that the university is interested in you. It's your time to show them why you're a great candidate.  


If you pass your admissions test and are offered a place at your university of choice you may wonder what’s next? Find out more about the next steps in the lead up to your first day. 

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