Student Advice

What University Admissions Test Do You Need for University?

Ben Maples  · Sep 14th 2023  · 8 min

Admission tests are similar to university interviews, as institutions use these to determine whether they wish to offer a place to a prospective student.


A university admissions test is designed to test students before they apply for a specific course. The question is, which universities actually require them? It’s a pretty safe bet to say that most, if not all medical schools, will have some form of an admissions test, and they aren’t the only ones…

University admissions tests

What is an admissions test?

A university admissions test is a test administered by a university before a student officially joins. The test is designed to examine the student on specific areas of knowledge prior to their acceptance, although failing the test can often mean that students cannot attend that university for that admissions cycle.

Admissions tests are often administered for specific subjects or universities. Oxbridge is famous for offering admissions tests for a large selection of individual courses. Other universities may ask for students to sit individual tests if many students have applied for a specific course and the university wishes to whittle down the numbers for entry.

Do all universities require an admissions test?

No, not all universities require students to sit an admissions test beforehand. Some universities do not even have a formal university interview process either!

Some universities alternate the need for an admissions test each year. For example, a university may offer no admissions tests for a year or two, but when a certain course receives a high volume of applications, it may require an admissions test the following year.

Which universities require an admissions test?

Every university and course has a different approach to admissions tests. So it’s best to head directly to those specific universities and check the course requirements to work out your next steps.

The most common universities are the aforementioned Oxbridge. In fact, Oxbridge is so famous for its admissions exams that they have turned away many a promising student, regardless of their grade or notoriety, simply for failing the admissions test associated with their course.

Do only Russell Group universities ask for students to sit an admissions test? Admissions tests are not limited to just the fabled Russell Group of Universities. Lots of universities across the UK utilise admissions tests as a way of testing a student’s viability for specific courses and degrees.

In fact, there are many Russell Group universities that have no admissions tests at all. The tests are not specific to one type of university.

What admissions tests are there?

There are a huge number of admissions tests in the UK alone. Some are widely known, others are considered more niche, while others will revolve in and out of fashion or requirement.


The BMAT is the BioMedical Admissions Test. The BMAT is an admissions test for students who are looking to study either biomedical sciences degree courses or medicine degree courses. Some universities have been known to ask for it during admissions for dentistry degree courses too.

The BMAT is required by:

The test costs £75 to sit and is two hours long. BMAT results are not released until late November.

Uni admissions tests


The CAT is the Classics Admissions Test. This is a paper-based admissions test for students who are applying for classics courses at the University of Oxford.

The CAT is only required by the University of Oxford. Other universities may have a classics admissions test of their own, but they will be administered on an ad-hoc basis.


The ELAT is the English Literature Admissions Test. The ELAT is an admissions test required by students looking to study either English literature degree courses or English language degree courses at the University of Oxford.

As with the CAT, the ELAT is only required by students who are looking to attend the University of Oxford. The course is free to study (though you may be charged a small admin fee by some test centres).


The GAMSAT is the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test. It is a test that is required by several universities for students who are applying for dentistry degree courses, medicine degree courses, optometry degree courses, pharmacy degrees, veterinary science degree courses, and podiatry degree courses in Australian, British and Irish universities.

The GAMSAT is required by:

The GAMSAT is a long test, clocking in at just under five-and-a-half hours. The test costs £268 to study.


The LNAT is the Law National Aptitude Test. It is a test for universities to determine which students can study law degrees at their institution.

The following universities require the LNAT to be sat as part of their admissions process:

The LNAT has slightly different deadlines than other tests too. As Oxbridge has earlier application deadlines, the LNAT must be completed in October, while other LNAT tests have to be done by the end of December.


The MAT is the Mathematics Admissions Test. The test is a requirement for students who are looking to study computer science degrees or mathematics degrees at certain universities.

The MAT is required by the following universities:

Previously, the MAT was only required at the University of Oxford. The test has since been adopted by other universities along the way, with more potentially requiring it in the future too.


The MLAT is the Modern Languages Admissions Test. The test is a requirement for any student who is looking to study any modern foreign language at the University of Oxford.

The test is free to sit. Entrance exams are applied for in early September, before the deadline closes at the end of the month, with the exam being sat in early November.

Admissions tests


The OLAT is the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test. Once again, this is a test that is only required by the University of Oxford. The test is specifically for students who are studying languages in either the Middle East or the Far East.

TAs of 2023, the test is run by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The test was previously offered by Cambridge Assessment and Research, despite the two’s rivalry, but has now switched.


The PAT is the Physics Aptitude Test. It is a test for students who are looking to study either engineering courses, materials science degrees and physics courses at the University of Oxford.

The test is two hours long and is free to sit. Entry opens at the beginning of September, before closing at the end of the month, with the formal test taking place in early November, the same as the MLAT.


The STEP is the Sixth Term Examination Paper. It is an admissions paper for students who are looking to study maths courses at certain universities. The exam is split into two papers, STEP 2 and STEP 3. There was, previously, a STEP 1 paper, but this was removed in 2021.

The current list of universities who ask for the STEP are:

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Warwick

Other universities have also been known to ask for the exam to be sat too. Students will apply for the exam in early March, though entry is only open for a very brief period (four days, in fact). The test is then sat in June, with results posted in August.

TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment)

The TSA is the Thinking Skills Assessment. It is a test that is usually administered by the University of Oxford and University College London, though other universities have also been known to offer the course too.

Both offer their own variations of the test, which are:

The test is designed to assess a candidate’s critical thinking skills. This is not administered for all courses and may be used as a supplemental admissions test to fully assess a candidate.

University entrance tests


The UCAT is the University Clinical Aptitude Test. It is one of the most widely used university admissions tests in the UK and is used to test students who are applying for specific medical courses, and is mainly used by universities, as well as medical and dental schools.

The universities that require the UCAT are:

The UCAT costs £70 to sit. The test is 120 minutes long, and tests verbal, quantitative and abstract reasoning, as well as other key skills, such as decision analysis and situational judgement.

Uni entrance tests

How can I prepare for the tests?

Revise what you have previously been taught and do some independent learning of your own to show initiative. Remember, universities are not looking for experts but simply a passion for your chosen course.

Most admissions tests will also have previous papers to look at too. Revising using past papers is an excellent way to prepare for admissions test and for revising in general. Try and take the exams under test conditions if you can too. This prepares you for the test and gets you in the correct mindset and is better when TikTok isn’t going off in the background!

What are the most common admission tests?

LNAT and Cambridge’s admission test of Law is popular for Law degrees, BMAT and UCAT for Medicine. You can get helpful resources online and books to help you prepare for the tests.

Law, Mathematics, Medicine and Thinking Skills Assessment are the most common subject areas. The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge are the most common institutions to administer the tests, although other universities administer these tests, in fact, many universities do this purely if there are a large number of applications.

What if I fail my university admissions test?

This, ultimately, depends on the university you are applying to. For the most part, if you fail an admissions test, you will be unsuccessful in your application and will need to re-apply and re-take the admissions test the following year.

Some universities may be more forgiving. You may be able to retake the exam if you need to, but this is rare.

undergraduate Uni's

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