Educational entrance examination

An entrance examination is an examination that educational institutions conduct to select prospective students for admission. It may be held at any stage of education, from primary to tertiary, even though it is typically held at tertiary stage.

By country


Universities in Brazil, specially the public ones, usually demand their candidates to take an examination known as Vestibular. Rather than being an standardized test, each institution has its own Vestibular, although this scenario has changed since the adoption of the National High School Exam by many universities as their main entrance examination.


China has an entrance examination, named as Gaokao in Chinese, in order to screen secondary students who want to enter tertiary institutions. Within each 11,000,000 candidates, a failure rate of 25% was obtained in 2012.


Ethiopia has 3 national exams for grade 8(ሚኒስትሪ), grade 10(ማትሪክ) and grade 12(ማትሪክ). The former two nationwide exam determines if the student passes to the next grade. The latter determines if the student goes to a university and also determines what field of study they take.


France is the country that surely uses the most competitive examinations. Some education professionals tend to say that the "Concours Général" (not mandatory, as the Baccalauréat is) in the last year of High School (Lycée) is the most difficult to take worldwide with only 250 places in all subjects for 15,000 applicants[1] (there is a failure rate of 98,3%). There are also an entrance competitive examination in order to enter medicine studies: (1 preparation year, 10 mandatory years after competitive exam, failure rate of 85%); "grandes écoles" of engineering (2 preparation years, 4 mandatory years after competitive exam, failure rate of approx. 50%), and "grandes écoles" of business (2 preparation years, 3 mandatory years after competitive exam, failure rate of approx. 25%). In France, the fact of having succeeded in one competitive exam is highly recognized by the society, and shows you are part of the national elite.


For different systems of syllabi, testing and grading refer to the different systems of Indian Education and Grading

In India, entrance examinations are chiefly confined to medicine, engineering, and management. These range from the BITS Pilani admission test and IIT-JEE where only one in a hundreds can hope to get admission to state level entrances which are many and varied. The stiff competition has led to a situation where many students neglect their school studies and focus solely on 'entrance coaching' which is time-consuming and expensive. This has led many states to scrap the entrances and base admissions on the school leaving marks which, unfortunately are none too reliable. Experts point out that in a country where many different boards are present common entrances are essential, but application skills rather than cramming should be stressed on. Frequent changes in the pattern of examination are essential since sticking to a 'standard text' or 'standard pattern' alone will favour the coaching industry and the rote-learners.

Entrance Examinations in India trace their roots to the University of Calcutta, which when established in 1857, introduced the practice to decide eligibility for admission. In that exam, one student was passed in every four candidates. From Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka only 219 students were qualified. Only 162 were passed from the Bangladesh, Pakistan, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhaya Pradesh.[2] In the absence of a standardized school graduation examination, the University's entrance examinations were used as a substitute, known later as Matriculation examinations. Post-independence India has different systems of education whose syllabus and examination process are governed by both central and state-based statutory boards. Grades 10 and 12 which mark the culmination of secondary and higher secondary education, have standardized final examinations, referred to as the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination after grade 10 (class X) and the Higher Secondary Examination(HSC) after grade 12.

Apart from the secondary and higher secondary examinations, various universities have their own admission and qualification criteria. These may be organized and conducted by the universities themselves, by an examination board related to an affiliated group of universities. There has been some attempt at standardization at the central level with common examinations like the CAT and AIEEE now commonly recognized by universities.

Typically, entrance examinations for universities tend to be:

  • competitive - i.e. examinations are ranked and choices of university and course are given in the ascending order of rank. Standard practices like waiting lists are accounted in. This differs from SSLC and HSC in that there is no grading threshold for passing the examination.
  • objective - i.e. based on multiple choice questions. The rationale is as much to save work on evaluating millions of candidates using automated means as to balance out the effect of subjective scores on conventional (long-answer) papers that a student faces in his HSC.

Some of these exams (particularly the UPSC's Engineering Services Examination, BITS Pilani admission test, IIT-JEE, CAT and AIPMT) are considered among the toughest in the world, with lakhs of students competing for a few thousand seats.

It is not uncommon for a university to use multiple examinations for admission. Engineering schools in India usually admit 15% of their students through the national-level AIEEE and the remaining 85% based on their scores in the entrance exam conducted by the state in which the college is located. Government-run medical schools use a similar pattern, basing admissions on the candidate's rank at the All India Pre-Medical Test. The Indian Institutes of Management conduct a Common Admission Test for their applicants, but continue to consider the more common GMAT scores for foreign and non-resident applicants. The renowned Indian Institutes of Technology conduct the notoriously competitive IIT-JEE and the BITS Pilani conducts an online admission test called BITSAT.

Recently, separate exams have been introduced for courses such as law and hotel management. Some colleges such as AIIMS and AFMC and many private medical colleges conduct their own entrance tests. However the college admission procedure in India remains somewhat controversial due to the presence of reservation of seats for "backward" castes.


In Pakistan, public and private universities hold entrance tests for admission in undergraduate and postgraduate degrees either conducted by the university itself or by NTS.

For admission in engineering and medical degrees, ECAT and MDCAT are taken respectively. The appearance in these exams is mandatory for every student to pursue his degree in these disciplines in public sector universities.

United Kingdom

One-half of British universities have lost confidence in the grades that are awarded by secondary schools, and require many applicants to sit for a competitive entrance examination or other aptitude test. According to the Schools Minister, “strong evidence has been emerging of grade inflation across subjects” in recent years.[3]

See also


  1. Éduscol. "Concours général des lycées et des métiers - Organisation du concours général des lycées - Éduscol". (in French). Retrieved 2017-11-27.
  2. "Three Stages of Education (in Bengali)". The Daily Prothom Alo. Archived from the original on 17 July 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  3. Paton, Graeme (2012-07-13). "More students forced to sit university admissions tests". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-11-27.
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