Umass Advice
Admissions tests and interviews

Admissions tests

Some courses at some universities require you to sit admissions tests, as well as your standard qualifications. Make sure you know if you need to take an admissions test for any of the courses you are applying for!

What is an admissions test?

Admissions tests are either paper based or online, and they are usually taken in the academic year before you start university. The results of admissions tests can be used by universities when considering your application. Admissions tests can be set by the university themselves or be part of a consortium with an awarding body.

The type of test you will have to take will depend on the course you are applying for; admissions tests can be:

  • Aptitude tests
  • Essay writing exercises
  • Problem solving tests
  • Subject specific tests

What are admissions tests used for?

Admissions tests often focus on skills and aptitudes that are not assessed through your academic achievement. Some universities feel that an admissions test can help to assess a student’s potential. As the number of students that achieve the highest grades in their A-levels (or equivalent qualifications) increases, admissions tests are used to help universities differentiate between the most able students.

The University of Manchester and the UKCAT

The UKCAT test is required for students applying for the following courses at The University of Manchester:

  • A106- Medicine (5 years) [MBChB]
  • A104- Medicine (6 years including foundation year) [MBChB]
  • A206- Dentistry (first-year entry) (5 Years) [BDS]
  • A204- Dentistry (pre-dental entry) (6 Years) [BDS]

The UKCAT test consists of different separately timed subtests, which assess a range of mental abilities identified by medical and dental schools as important:

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Decision Analysis
  • Situational Judgement Tests

Each subset is in a multiple choice format and is separately timed. There is no curriculum content as the test examines innate skills, but you can take a practice test and read hints and tips on the UKCAT website.

A list of universities currently asking for the UKCAT admissions test is available here.

Other admissions tests

There are a range of other admissions tests used by universities, so make sure you check carefully on each university’s website to see if you need to take a test.

You can find more details about some of the other admissions tests required on the UCAS website.

University interview guidance

Why do we ask you to interview?

Universities ask applicants to come for interview for different reasons. Firstly, interviews enable university admissions tutors to gain more information about applicants in order to make a good decision on an application. For example, an interviewer may check information on the UCAS form to see whether the programme is a good match for an applicant’s expectations and abilities, assess whether the applicant can successfully complete the course, and assess which applicants could contribute most to the university learning environment as a whole. Secondly, interviews are a good way for universities to make a good impression on applicants, by giving them information about the programme, facilities and the university environment.  They also provide applicants with an opportunity to ask questions.

Who will interview you?

Usually, interviews will be conducted by one or more people who are also teaching staff (lecturers or tutors) on the programme that the applicant has applied for. These people are known as admissions tutors or admissions officers. They will have fulfilled the professional standards that apply in their discipline, and may also be active practitioners or researchers in their area of expertise. They will be familiar with the requirements of the programme and are well placed to understand what is required to complete a programme successfully. Admissions tutors can be any age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and background.

What are interviewers looking for?

Interviewers will ask questions in order to gain information about specific selection criteria. Selection criteria are required qualifications, skills, characteristics, abilities or knowledge, which are relevant to successful completion of the programme.

Selection criteria will vary between different subjects and universities. Information on the criteria that apply to specific courses can be found in prospectuses and entry profiles (

However, some criteria are very common. These include:

  • Evidence of prior study in appropriate subjects, at certain levels and grades (e.g. Maths at A2, grade B)
  • Interest, motivation and commitment to the subject
  • The ability to study independently.
  • The ability to work with others.
  • The ability to manage time effectively.
  • An interest in the university.

Interviewers may not ask exactly the same questions to every applicant, but they will ask questions that relate to the same criteria. When preparing for an interview, it can be useful to think about the criteria which applies to a programme and then think of different questions which could be asked based on these criteria. Then, think about ways in which you could answer the question, which best demonstrate how you meet the criteria.

UMASS Tips for a successful university interview

1. Practicalities – preparation

• Review your UCAS form, the entry profile, the prospectus etc.

• Practise highlighting your strengths.

• Practise speaking clearly and concisely.

• Read relevant news articles.

• Think about what questions might be asked.

• Think about the questions that you would like to ask your interviewer.

2. Practicalities – the day before

• Get everything that you will need ready: clothes, travel tickets, notes- don’t forget your invitation letter and copy of your UCAS form!

• Check your travel route. Set a time when you have to leave by, and let relevant people know.

• Make sure you read through your invitation letter – check the details (time, location, contact numbers.)

• Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep!

3. Practicalities – on the day

• Get there in plenty of time.

• Take a contact number so you can let the university know if you are delayed.

• Take a bottle of water and a snack if it will be long day.

• Don’t feel you have to talk with other candidates, or be put off if they won’t talk to you.

4. In the interview


• Greet your interviewer.

• Listen carefully to what is said. Show you’ve understood the question and what is being asked of you.

• Ask for clarification if you don’t understand anything.

• Speak clearly.

• Smile, look at the interviewer, sit comfortably.

• Ask questions and make notes of the answers.

• Refer to your preparation notes if you need to.

• Take the opportunity to give any other relevant information.

• Thank your interviewer for their time.


• Swear or use inappropriate language.

• Make claims that you can’t back up.

• Act as if the outcome is already decided.

• Pretend you are more expert than you really are.

• Forget to switch off your mobile.

• Employ casual or unfriendly body language.

5. Tips on answering questions

• Listen carefully to the question – answer the one you’ve been asked, not the one you wish you had!

• Take time to think about your answer.

• If you get tangled up, say so and start again.

• Be concise – don’t use big words or waffle just for the sake of it.

• Be specific.

• If you don’t know what to say, brainstorm aloud.

• Be honest –don’t try to anticipate what answer you ought to give.

6. After the interview

• Make some notes shortly after the interview so you can remember what happened.

• Reflect on what went well, and what could have gone better. Learn for the next one!

• Don’t feel pressured to share what happened with other people. The interview is between you and your interviewers.

• Relax – have something to eat and drink.

• Forget about this one – it’s over!