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University application tips

Here are our University application tips. What can you do to ensure your application process goes well.

Our top university application tips

It’s estimated that over 500,000 Sixth Formers are applying to University this year. That means many more individual University applications.

In theory, it’s now possible to start University in January. It’s certainly another option to complete your degree in two and a half years instead of three.

University application deadline

  • Your application should be submitted several weeks before the end of 2018. Early offers can be made several weeks after Universities receive an application. That means applying early could mean have a University place in time for Christmas!
  • Anyone applying through school or College must submit by the end of November regardless. This is to allow teachers sufficient time for checking applications and for including their reference.
  • Oxbridge and other course providers may require additional tests/interviews. So, remember that these will have a deadline too.

University application tips

University application advice

  • Give your course prospectus and University Website a very careful final check for any special entry requirements. For example, some work experience (such as nursing courses require), or a portfolio (such as art courses require).
  • If you attend an early interview then the above special requirements will be one of the main discussion topics.

Personal statement

  • Even if it is not a pre-requisite, work experience is a great way to boost your personal statement. It clearly demonstrates a firm commitment to your specialist area.
  • A strong personal statement will join up your personal experience with your skills and qualifications to date. Skills can be based on those extra-curricular activities, such as Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and volunteer work.

How to do well on different types of pre-employment tests 

University students sitting on steps sharing university application tips.

Pre-employment tests are used by many companies as a standard part of the recruitment process. If you’re currently applying for jobs, you’re likely to face psychometric testing. Both personality assessment and some of the most commonly used aptitude tests. These measures numerical, verbal and logical reasoning.

How you perform matters. Nearly 90 percent of companies said they would reject candidates if the test showed them to be deficient in basic skills, according to a survey by the American Management Association.

Companies use pre-employment tests to identify which candidates are most likely to perform well on the job, potentially saving time and cost in the recruitment process and decreasing employee turnover. Skills tests are used to verify whether a candidate has the skills they say they have and are proficient enough to do the job. Skills test are specific to the job – for example, a design challenge using Photoshop for graphic designers or a proofreading test for editors. Aptitude tests are more general and are used to evaluate an applicant’s ability to learn new skills and indicate how they may react to different situations once hired.

Employers may ask you to take a test – often delivered online at home – after you’ve made an initial application or may invite you to an assessment centre after a successful interview.

University application tips

How to do well on numerical reasoning tests

The general advice given is typical that some focussed test practice will improve your score. Unfortunately, there aren’t any quick wins for being good at Maths.

  • Give your “first response”. Don’t second guess what is being looked for since “faking” and lying are easily picked up.
  • As a timed test, you need to average around one minute per question. Work briskly but accurately.
  • Each question counts the same so pick off the easy ones first and don’t waste your test time on the most difficult questions.
  • Practise some of the most common numerical test types at the main test publisher websites. For this reason alone, we strongly advise practising sample questions from Kenexa-IBM, TalentQ and SHL sites. ensure that you are comfortable using data tables, interpreting graphs and manipulating large financial figures.

How to do well on verbal reasoning tests

These come in many different types of format. The traditional comprehension format is to have a short text passage followed by a series of questions about facts, opinions, conclusions from the passage content. A bit like those English tests in primary school where you answered questions on a novel extract. Regardless of the type of test, it’s vital to remember:

  • To carefully read each question. Often questions hinge on 1-2 keywords so you must take more care to interpret these accurately.
  • If questioned whether something “always” applies whilst the passage states that it is “sometimes” the case, then this is a false interpretation.
  • One useful strategy is to scan the passage initially, then to read it in more detail.
  • It’s more efficient as you answer each question if you can recall roughly where to find the answer in the passage.

University application tips

How to do well on abstract reasoning tests

Abstract reasoning tests ask you to look for the changing pattern(s) in the “pictures”. The easier questions typically at the start of the test, will involve one change in colour, position, size etc of the figures shown.

Questions become more difficult as you must spot two or three changes in any of the features shown. It can help, once you’ve worked out at least one of the feature changes, to check through the answer options to discount those that do not conform said feature changes.

As always, test practice and your familiarity with the test format help – with these tests you are strongly advised to learn the range of possible feature changes. leading test publishers Kenexa-IBM and TalentQ have excellent sample questions for you to practise any of these test types. Alongside SHL’s practise test pages these three sites cover most of the psychometric tests you are likely to find. You can ask in advance which test publisher’s test you will take.

You can find more detailed advice in our non-verbal reasoning test article for City Kids online magazine.