Cambridge University to conduct universal entrance exams again

Sep 2015 Source: MOTACHASHMA

To make the selection process of the brightest students quite efficient and hassle free Cambridge University is planning to reintroduce a universal entrance exam after nearly two decades.

As per the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015, Cambridge University has been ranked on Number 4. So the world renowned university has planned to bring back its university-wide test from this year onwards. The test can be taken by those who are still studying at school so as to provide evidence of academic performance beyond just good final grades.

A university spokesperson said, “The university is considering all options but has made no decisions. We already use admissions tests for some subjects and the option of introducing wider testing is part of discussions about how to adapt to (A-level reforms).

Tentative Exam Pattern

Further he added that, "Whatever decision is taken, all applicants will continue to be assessed holistically. The exam under discussion includes a language aptitude test and a thinking-skills assessment, with multiple choice questions, as well as a 45-minute essay."

Results and Further Selection Process

The tests would help the shortlist the students who will further be required to attend a interview and choose a degree of their choice.  Barbara Sahakian, professor of experimental psychiatry, said: "What people are concerned about is whether the A-level exam results still mean quite the same thing as they used to mean. There are a lot of students getting very high grades but not all of them would have got those grades in the past, so it is hard to discriminate between candidates".

Critics Views

Critics are of the view that a new exam will lead the students studying in state government schools in distress as they will not be able to get the appropriate coaching to prepare for the exam if compared to the students studying in private institutions. The proportion of state school students admitted to study for a Cambridge degree has risen from about 50 percent to 60.6 percent since the university abolished the entrance exam in 1986.

The university has made the reservation of 69.4 percent for state school students. The new exam would be conducted in the term of upper sixth, probably in November. Internal documents, seen by the paper, say that many professors have serious reservations about a return to a universal test, fearing it will put students from poorer backgrounds off applying, particularly for subjects such as classics and English.

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