Guide to UK University Entrance Exams

Learn all about entrance exams for UK universities!
uk entrance exams guide

Depending on the subject and university, entrance exams are often required when applying at a UK university. Let’s take a quick look at some common entrance exams that you may have to take.

Table of Contents

Subject-Specific Exams

Subject-specific tests are designed to gauge a prospective student’s abilities and aptitude for a certain subject before they enrol at a programme. The primary purpose of these aptitude tests is to test if the subject is right for the student. Competitive subjects such as Medicine often use aptitude test results to select students.

UCAT - Medicine

The University Clinical Aptitude Test is a computer-based test that is used by 30 medical schools in the UK. Check out our UCAT guide which goes into great detail about what to expect from the test, how to prepare for it, and how to use your UCAT results effectively in your application.

BMAT - Medicine

The BioMedical Admissions Test is a written test that is used by Oxford and Cambridge, along with six other medical schools in the UK. This is the exam you want to take if you have excellent results and you’re aiming to enrol at the top medical schools in the UK. Our BMAT guide goes into further detail about preparations for the exam, how to ace the written essay component for BMAT, UCAS application strategies, and more.

GAMSAT - Medicine (Graduate entry)

The Graduate Medical School Admissions Test is a test used for graduate entry (prospective students who already hold a degree) into any medical field, including medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry.

LNAT - Law

The Law National Aptitude Test is used by some schools in the UK to test a prospective student’s reading comprehension and argumentative skills. Read more about the LNAT in our Complete Law Guide. The LNAT is only used by nine out of 54 law schools in the UK – it does not have a syllabus or a pass/fail mark as its intended use is only to measure a student’s aptitude for law.

CLT - Law

The Cambridge Law Test is used exclusively by the Cambridge Law School. Similar to the LNAT, there is no passing score for this test and it is designed to test a student’s academic potential for the subject.

MAT - Mathematics

The Mathematics Admissions Test is an aptitude test used by the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, and the University of Warwick. The two-and-a-half-hour paper test is required by Oxford for entry into their Mathematics and Computer Science degrees.

TMUA - Mathematics

The Test of Mathematics for University Admission is an optional test for entry into a number of Mathematics-related courses offered by nine UK universities. A good performance in the TMUA may result in a reduced offer, which means that the required grades for entry may be lowered for students who do well in the admissions test.

STEP - Mathematics

The Sixth Term Examination Paper is a mathematics admissions test used by the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick. The STEP paper is based on undergraduate-level mathematics test questions.

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English Proficiency Tests

English proficiency tests are part of visa requirements for full-time students in the UK. This means that you need to take an English proficiency test to enter the UK as a student. Citizens of some countries may be exempted from taking English proficiency tests. This visa requirement is also known as a secure English language test (SELT). There are more than two approved SELTs you may take, but we will look at the most commonly-taken tests below.


The International English Language Testing System is an English proficiency test designed for non-native English speakers. This test measures English proficiency in terms of listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Read more about the test in our IELTS guide.


The Test of English as a Foreign Language is also an English proficiency test designed to measure the ability of non-native English speakers. It is primarily used for enrolment into universities.

University-Specific Exams

TSA (Oxford)

Oxford’s Thinking Skills Assessment exam is a multiple-choice and written test that is used as an assessment tool for entry into a number of programmes such as: 

  • Economics and Management
  • Experimental Psychology
  • History and Economics
  • Human Sciences
  • Philosophy
  • Politics and Economics
  • Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics

TSA (Cambridge)

The Thinking Skills Assessment is used to measure a prospective student’s abilities in critical thinking and problem-solving. Most Cambridge schools will require prospective students to sit for the TSA.


University College London’s TSA is a 90-minute multiple-choice test which is required for entry into selected Political Studies programmes.

UK University Entrance Exams for Malaysians

Most prospective students from Malaysia will have to take an English proficiency test. The 1119 paper, IGCSE English, and MUET are currently not accepted as substitutes for proof of English proficiency for a UK Tier 4 visa. Most Malaysians intending to study in the UK will sit for IELTS or TOEFL.

Some subjects will require you to take additional entrance exams. If you intend to study Medicine, all but two medical schools (Buckingham and UCLAN) require you to sit for either the UCAT or BMAT. We highly recommend that you check out our Complete Guide for Medicine and the UCAT and BMAT guide.

Here are some examples of entrance exams that Malaysian students may have to sit for:

  • Applying to study Medicine in UCL: IELTS/TOEFL, BMAT
  • Applying to study Law in LSE: IELTS/TOEFL, LNAT
  • Applying to study Economics and Management in Oxford: IELTS/TOEFL, TSA Oxford

How to Apply to Study at a UK University?

Step 1: Choose A University

The first step is to look for popular and high-ranking Universities in the UK that offer courses you are interested in. Here are some things to consider when applying:

  • Location
  • Employability/Graduate prospects
  • Fees
  • Entry requirements
  • University Ranking

Step 2: Preparations

Once you have narrowed down the search to your top five universities, the first step is to prepare necessary documents and forms. This includes school leaving certificates, exam results, the UCAS application form and a written Personal Statement, among other documents that may be required.

Step 3: Submit UCAS Application

The application process for UK universities differs from local universities as applications go through an organisation known as UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. UCAS handles all admission applications to UK universities, including those submitted by international candidates like you.

To ensure a better chance of getting accepted, it is important that you prepare all the necessary documents and fill out all forms correctly. We also recommend that you apply for multiple universities simultaneously to ensure that you get your preferred offers. Read our full guide on UCAS here

More about UCAS

The entire application process might be daunting and lengthy for some, so let us help you. Make a free appointment with us today for professional assistance in submitting applications to your prefered UK universities.

UK University Entry Requirements

Here are some of the common entry requirements and tests a student has to pass before being accepted at a UK university.

  1. English Language Test requirement – such as IELTS or TOEFL.
  2. Criminal records declaration (DBS/Disclosure Scotland for Scottish Universities)
  3. Health checks.
  4. Entrance interviews.
  5. Personal statement. This is a supporting document and part of your application to a UK university. Usually, you will write about what you hope to achieve studying at the course, what you plan to do after graduating and why you are applying for this specific university.

Frequently Asked Questions

This depends on your subject and university of choice. Most international students will have to take an English proficiency test. Many Oxford and Cambridge programmes will require additional admissions tests.

The University Clinical Aptitude Test is a computer-based test that is required for entry into 30 medical schools in the UK.

There is no passing score for UCAT, but certain medical schools will rank or omit applications based on UCAT scores. Based on 2019 scores, a good UCAT score (top 30%) is around 2610 points.

The Law National Aptitude Test is only required by nine out of 54 law schools in the UK. Depending on your university of choice, you may have to take the test.

The Thinking Skills Assessment is used to measure a prospective student’s abilities in critical thinking and problem-solving. This is currently used by Cambridge, Oxford, and UCL, and only required for a number of subjects.

Get Free UK University Application Assistance

If you would like a free consultation on any step of the application process, contact us today or come visit us at our office in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. Book an appointment with us now!

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