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Cambridge University to Reform Admissions Testing from 2024 | This Week in Admissions News

17 NOV 2022

The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, Cambridge University is set to reform the requirements for admissions assessments from 2024. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

Cambridge University to Reform Admissions Testing Requirements from 2024

Admission testing will change at Cambridge University from the 2024 application cycle, the institution has reported. Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing is to withdraw from running a series of university admissions exams, including BMAT (medicine), ENGAA (engineering), NSAA (natural sciences) and TMUA (mathematical skills) tests. 

There will be no change for next academic year's entry system, as Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing services will continue for 2023. Similarly, this year’s admissions tests and results remain unaffected. Additionally, the Oxford suite of tests, produced by Oxford - PAT, MAT, ELAT, etc (anything ending in -AT) - will continue. 

The university said in a press release that the bespoke tests are operationally unsustainable over the medium term, given their significant complexity and the need to deliver them affordably to students and higher education institutions.

For the academic year 2024/25 onwards, the seven UK medical schools that use BMAT tests as part of their admissions process (Brighton and Sussex, Imperial, Lancaster, UCL, Cambridge, Leeds and Oxford) as well as medical and healthcare schools in other countries will put alternative arrangements in place. 

A spokesperson for Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing said: “Our priority is to ensure no disruption to students and give higher education providers plenty of time to put alternate options in place. The bespoke and intensely manual delivery of these complex high-stakes tests is operationally and financially unsustainable in the medium to long-term.”

To minimise disruption, the University of Cambridge is considering alternatives. ENGAA (engineering), NSAA (natural sciences) and TMUA are currently used for pre-interview selection to some courses at the University.

 A spokesperson for the University of Cambridge said: "There will be no immediate change to students this year or in 2023, and all changes from 2024 onwards will be clearly communicated in advance. Our focus is on a smooth transition to an alternative arrangement. We are constantly working to ensure that admissions are fair and transparent and we will continue to strengthen our efforts to encourage students from all backgrounds to apply for and secure places at Cambridge."

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. PitchBook released its annual ranking of the top 100 colleges for VC-backed startup founders. Of the Top 20 universities, 18 of them are located in the US. Stanford-educated founders top both the undergraduate and graduate lists, while MIT is fourth in both. UC Berkeley took the No. 2 spot for undergraduate programs, and Harvard was second among MBA and other graduate programs. The two remaining universities in the top 20 are both based in Israel. 
  2. This week, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) — one of the leading opponents to high-stakes standardized testing — released an updated list of test-optional and test-blind universities. Forbes reports, according to the list, that more than “80% of U.S. bachelor-degree granting institutions” will not require students seeking fall 2023 admission to submit either ACT or SAT standardized exam scores. At least 1,835 U.S. colleges and universities are now employing either ACT/SAT-optional or test-blind/score-free policies. 
  3. The Wall Street Journal writes that thousands of students will receive offers from colleges without having applied to those specific institutions through a process called ‘direct admissions’. This approach, aimed at easing the admissions process, allows colleges to send offers based on students’ GPAs or other criteria without requiring them to submit an application. Within the past year, the Common App, among other college application systems, expanded direct-admit programs in conjunction with colleges or universities across the US.
  4. Forbes reports on a new program called Transfer Scholars Network (TSN) that was recently launched to open transfer opportunities from community colleges to some of America’s top universities. The initiative is particularly targeted to students from communities of color and low-income households and aims to provide them with resources, financial aid guidance, and dedicated support once the students arrive on campus. The TSN began in 2021, and now works with four-year partners including three Ivy Leagues, several liberal arts colleges, and a number of major research universities.
  5. Journalism, sociology, communications and education all topped the list of most-regretted college majors, according to ZipRecruiter’s survey of more than 1,500 college graduates who were looking for a job. Although students may be drawn to those fields while they’re in school for reasons beyond salary and job security, “when we graduate, reality hits,” said Sinem Buber, ZipRecruiter’s lead economist. “When you are barely managing to pay your bills, your paycheck might become more important.”
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