Cambridge applicants will have to sit written test, university announces

Potential Cambridge students will have to sit written tests as part of their applications in future, the university announced today.

In a change to its admission system, the prestigious institution confirmed that it is introducing “common format written assessments”, tailored to each subject, which will be taken by candidates either before or at their interview.

The move will affect students applying for courses starting in autumn 2017 – the point at which a major overhaul of the exams system will see sixth-formers sitting the first batch of new GCSEs and A-levels in some subjects.

In a letter to UK schools and colleges, Dr Sam Lucy, the university’s director of admissions, said that the change would provide “valuable additional evidence of our applicants’ academic abilities, knowledge base and potential to succeed in the Cambridge course for which they have applied”.

Dr Lucy added: “This move is a result of responding to teacher and student feedback, a desire to harmonise and simplify our existing use of written assessments and a need to develop new ways to maintain the effectiveness and fairness of our admissions system during on-going qualification reform.”

Cambridge University has been outspoken about a key element of the government’s exams reforms – the decision to hive off AS-levels from A-levels to form a standalone qualification.

It has argued that for admission to its courses, AS-levels are the best predictor of how well a student will perform in every subject except maths.

In November 2014, it wrote to all schools and colleges urging teachers to continue to offer the qualification.

From summer 2017, sixth-formers will be sitting new A-level courses in some subjects, and existing A-levels in others.

In addition, while some schools and colleges will opt to keep AS-levels (which are studied over one year) and teach them alongside A-levels, others are likely to drop the qualification and focus on the two-year qualifications.

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