CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY is again planning to introduce ‘Universal Entrance Exam’ after a span of around two decades. The exam is getting introduced for the first time in a generation because the glut of top-grade A-levels is making it hard to identify the brightest. The new exam would be taken in the first term of upper sixth, probably in November. The world renowned prestigious University is ranked on Number 4 as per the QS World University Rankings.
The University is planning to re-launch the University Wide Test which will be taken by the candidates who are still studying at school level to provide evidence of academic performance. 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).”
The soon to be conducted exam will feature a language aptitude test and a thinking-skills assessment. The questions asked will be multiple choice cased questions and an essay of 45 minutes duration. On the basis of the marks secured in the test, candidates will be shortlisted for interviews. The candidates selected for interview will be given an option to choose a course as per 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”.
While the academics were of the view that the exam has been brought again so as to get more information to select the best of the best candidates as A-level Exam will be scrapped from next September under government reforms. Last year five students, most predicted top grades at A-level, applied for each place.
Experts are saying that newly launched exam will land the students studying in state schools, in trouble, as some way or the other they are less capable than those studying in private schools as well as to get the appropriate coaching to prepare for it. Sahakian said “state school pupils were already at a disadvantage in interviews because they lacked confidence compared with their privately educated peers.”
There were even problems with basic preparation, such as what they chose to wear, with state school pupils often turning up in jeans. “They don’t have to wear a suit, but I do expect a jacket and a smart pair of trousers and a tie is impressive,” she said. “Privately educated students come with the right gear.”
Since the University has scrapped the entrance exam in 1986 the number of state school students who have seek admission in Cambridge has increased from 50% to 60.6%. The university has been set a target of 69.4% for state school entrants. Sir Richard Evans, Regius professor of history at Cambridge and president of Wolfson College said “he was also concerned that it would put older students applying for a degree “at a severe disadvantage”.