Admissions Tests and Shortlisting
As you may be aware the number of applications to Oxford has increased significantly over the past decade with over 18,000 students making an application for 2015 entry.
During the same period the number of candidates achieving at the highest level has also increased significantly, with many candidates in the UK gaining AAA or better each year. The educational landscape has also changed with the reform and diversification of qualifications both in the UK and internationally, which means that now for some subjects at Oxford less than 50% of the applicants have a GCSE and A-level background.
These three factors combined have led to the introduction of a number of admissions tests which aid the tutors at Oxford during the admissions process. These tests provide us with a common set of data and/or information across all candidates in a particular subject and allow us to differentiate between what can appear, from the UCAS applications to be a very closely packed field. The admissions test results in combination with other pieces of information, including the UCAS application, allow tutors to shortlist candidates for interview in Oxford in December.
When a new subject wishes to introduce a new admissions test there is a substantial consultation process within the University, including a pilot testing phase, designed to ensure that the test is appropriate. Attempts are made, where possible, to encourage subjects to share common tests, or elements of tests, to ease the process of application for the student and administration for the school or college.
A report for each admissions test is produced every five years and substantial statistical evaluation of the tests are undertaken to ensure that no bias exists between different groups.