It’s not just the grades!

Friday, April 26, 2013 12:00 AM

Andy Gardner, the friendly and very clever Independent Careers and HE Advisor at JFS School, gives advice on how to triumph in the admissions process for highly selective university courses.

Research by JFS School for their new edition of the University Interviews Guide which will be published in June 2013, shows that applicants to highly selective courses can face a bewildering set of challenges that they have to overcome to have any chance of being a serious candidate.  And it not just the obvious ones like Medicine that are difficult, JFS found that, for example, Primary Education applicants have many hurdles to jump as well.

Let us compare these two courses, Medicine and Primary Education.


Medicine applicants have to meet criteria relating to:

  • Grades - GCSEs - in some cases, lots of A*s at GCSE and AAA at least for A Levels (except for a few institutions where the students background is taken into account).
  • Work experience - Most medical schools will set criteria that they expect to see in the personal statement and may also ask for verification of work experience taken.
  • Interview - Will you be facing a semi-structured panel interview, a multi-mini interview or no interview at all?
  • Statement - are you meeting the right criteria in your personal statement?
  • Tests - have you got acceptable scores in the UKCAT and BMAT tests.

"The process should be approached like a military operation, requiring strategy and planning and of course a large dose of your precious sixth form time"

Primary Education

Primary Education applicants need to adopt the same meticulous attitude as medicine applicants - competition for places is now fierce, "failing to prepare is preparing to fail"

All trainee teachers are required to pass skills tests in numeracy and literacy before they can be recommended for the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). Applicants to initial teacher training courses which start after 1 July 2013 will be required to pass the skills tests before starting their course

Applicants may be submitted to a wide range of testing including:

  • A written reflective task
  • Creating a lesson plan from suggested stimuli
  • A test of systematic synthetic phonics
  • Mental maths
  • A short science test
  • An individual interview
  • A small group presentation based on a topic given, book or artefact that you have brought in or a dvd that is shown
  • Your ability to respond to questions asked by fellow applicants

So there you have it, applicants need to do their research!  After AS exams have finished, make sure you visit open days and ask them, "what exactly are all the entry criteria for my course?" If you do face any type of interview then ask a teacher or adviser to give you a mock interview using the University Interviews Guide.

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