Entrance Examinations & Merit Awards 2021 Entry

Entrance Examinations & Merit Awards; student in library

Worth up to £2,000 a year plus an unconditional offer

Applicants for our Entrance Exams sit two exam papers which last an hour and a half each.  Depending on the marks you achieve in both papers, you could receive up to £2,000 a year and a guaranteed place to study at Aberystwyth University.  

Important changes:
Due to the Covid pandemic, the 2021 Entrance Exams will be online exams which must be taken at your school/college. To ensure that no-one loses out due to school closures, we have changed the date of the exams.  They will now be held during the week commencing 24 May 2021, and the deadline for applications is 7 May 2021. 


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the Entrance Exams?

  1. Entrance Exams are optional for students applying for an undergraduate degree scheme at Aberystwyth.
  2. In 2021 all exams will be online.  You will need access to a computer/laptop with internet connection, Microsoft Word and Chrome (or Firefox) web browser.
  3. Although we usually offer an exam centre in Aberystwyth, we are unable to do so in 2021 due to Covid restrictions.  Exams will therefore need to be taken at your school/college and you must ensure you obtain their permission before submitting your application.  We have also postponed the exams until mid-May.
  4. You will sit two exams from the choice of subjects we offer (the choice of exam papers must be approved by the Department you have applied to study at).
  5. Each exam lasts for an hour and a half and both are usually taken on the same day.
  6. The exams are set and marked by our academic departments so they don’t follow any particular syllabus but they should be a similar standard to A-Level exams.
  7. Successful candidates will receive up to £2,000 a year plus a guaranteed place to study at Aberystwyth University.


2. What are the benefits of sitting the exams?

  1. Successful candidates will receive one of 4 levels of award:

  • Faculty Scholarship – £2,000 a year plus an unconditional offer
    We have 20 faculty scholarships available, which are worth £2,000 a year as well as guaranteed accommodation in a University property for the duration of the course. Our academic faculties allocate these awards based on excellent performance in the Entrance Examinations.
  • University Scholarship – £1,000 a year plus an unconditional offer
    We have 50 university Scholarships to award to the candidates scoring the highest aggregate marks of both examination papers. Successful candidates receive £1,000 for each year of their course. University Scholarship holders also receive guaranteed accommodation in a university property throughout the length of their course.
  • Merit Award – £1,000 in the first year plus an unconditional offer
    We offer approximately 250 Merit Awards each year to students who do well in the Entrance Examinations but narrowly miss out on attaining a Scholarship. Merit Award holders receive £1,000 during the first year of their course. 
  • Unconditional Offer
    Strong performance in the Entrance Examinations can result in the University confirming your place without further conditions, resulting in an unconditional UCAS offer. Candidates who do not receive a financial award may be given an unconditional offer on the basis of their strong performance in the exams.

2. A guaranteed University place can take the pressure off other exam results.

3. Being awarded a Scholarship is a great addition to your CV.


3. Which exam papers should I choose?

Please ensure you choose subjects which are relevant for the degree scheme you wish to pursue. If you don’t sit exams in appropriate subjects, this may affect your eligibility for an award and/or reduced offer.

It's a good idea to look at some of the past papers to get a feel for the type and level of questions likely to be asked, but please note that the format of exam papers may change from year to year.

4. How do I apply?

You can apply quickly and easily via the Online Application Form.  The closing date for applications is 7 May 2021 and late applications will not be considered.

You MUST obtain your Exams Officer's permission before submitting your application form to ensure they are able to make the necessary arrangements.  We will need their email address in order to obtain confirmation and to send exam instructions in due course. 

Applications outside of the UK will be considered on an individual basis.  If international applicants do not attend an eligible school, there may be an option of sitting the exams at a British Council Office.  Any such arrangements would be at the expense of the applicant, who would need to make all necessary arrangements directly with the British Council.

5. How will the online exams work?

You can see full instructions of what to expect from the exam process here.

6. What if I have special exam requirements?

Candidates who have specific examination requirements for their normal school examinations (e.g. extra time) must submit with their application an email from their school confirming their requirements. Without this supporting evidence we will be unable to allow special considerations.  Eligible candidates may be entitled to 25% extra time, and arrangements as per normal school examinations, please see our Policy on making reasonable adjustments for applicants sitting the Entrance Examinations.

7. What can I take into the exams?

Candidates are not permitted to take mobile phones, smart watches or any similar digital devices into the Entrance Exams.  Unless specified otherwise below, no texts, dictionaries, atlases or other documents or equipment may be used:

  • Accounting & Finance- non-programmable calculators may be used. 
  • Art Portfolio – candidates must arrange to submit their portfolio by the date of the written exams.
  • Business and Management – non-programmable calculators may be used. 
  • Chemistry – a periodic table is provided and a calculator may be used. 
  • Economics – non-programmable calculators may be used. 
  • Mathematics - candidates are permitted to use calculators (provided they are silent, self-powered, without communication facilities, and incapable of holding text or other material that could be used to gain an unfair advantage), candidates should provide their own calculators. Candidates may take into the examination any 'Information Booklets' approved by their examining board for use in examinations (Statistical Tables will be provided for the Further Maths paper). 
  • Physics – all relevant information will be contained within the paper, but candidates may take into the examination room any ‘Information Booklets’ permitted by their Examining Boards for use in those examinations if they wish. Candidates are permitted to use calculators (provided they are silent, self-powered, without communication facilities, and incapable of holding text or other material that could be used to gain an unfair advantage).

8. Exam Timetable

Due to the exceptional circumstances enforced on us by the Covid pandemic, we will allow schools/colleges flexibility to hold the exams within a 5 day period, beginning Monday, 24 May 2021.  Wherever possible we ask that candidates sit one paper in the morning and the other in the afternoon of the same day. The exams last for one and a half hours each.  

Here is the Entrance Exams Timetable. Please note that the timetable shown is for guidance - you do not need to select one paper from the morning session and one from the afternoon session - if both of your subjects are timetabled for the same time, you will take one exam during the morning session and the other during the afternoon session.

9. Is there a mark scheme?

We do not have a mark scheme for individual papers.  The following is intended as a general guide only. Not all of the criteria are necessarily relevant to all subject areas.

  • 80-100%: Shows originality, insight, critical ability. Excellent content, very few errors, showing good knowledge of the principles and concepts of the subject. Candidates own opinions should be evident. Excellent presentation (i.e. logical sequence, sensible division of material, clear style). Excellent analytical and interpretive skills
  • 70-79%: Evidence of understanding and insight. Very good content, few errors. Good presentation and clear expression. Good analytical and interpretive skills.
  • 60-69%: Promise of future development. Good content, relatively few errors, relevant points covered. Some evidence of understanding and insight. Satisfactory presentation. Able to analyse and interpret information.
  • 50-59%: Sound knowledge of the facts and principles, most points covered, but some errors and omissions. Reasonable presentation. Able to evaluate information.
  • 40-49%: Some lack of content, clarity lost in places, little evidence of consistent understanding. Frequent errors or omissions, presentation poor.

10. Information for Schools and Colleges

In response to restrictions arising because of the Covid pandemic, our Entrance Exams will be held online for the first time in 2021.

Applicants will need access to the following:

  • A computer or laptop
  • Microsoft Word
  • Chrome (or Firefox) web browser

The closing date for applications is 7 May and after that date Aberystwyth University accounts will be created and details sent to applicants.  This will enable applicants to login to the exam site in advance, to familiarize themselves with the system.

Due to the exceptional circumstances enforced on us by the Covid pandemic, we will allow schools/colleges flexibiity to hold the exams within a 5 day period, beginning Monday, 24 May 2021.  Wherever possible we ask that candidates sit one paper in the morning and the other in the afternoon of the same day. The exams last for one and a half hours each.  

On the day of the exams, applicants will login to the system to complete their exams online.  However, please note the following exceptions:

  • Mathematics and Further Mathematics papers – as applicants are required to complete these papers on paper, they will be made available to Exams Officers through a password-protected section of our website. When the exam has been completed, Exams Officers are asked to scan and email the papers to us.
  • Physics – most of the paper will be completed online, but a section will need to be completed on graph paper which will be available for Exams Officers to download from our website. When the exam has been completed, the paper will be submitted online, but we will ask Exams Officers to scan and email the graph paper to us.

Full instructions on the procedures to be followed will be provided to applicants and Exams Officers before the date of the exams.

If the school/college is unable to facilitate online exams, we can arrange for Exams Officers to access the exam papers online and they can be scanned and emailed to us upon completion.

Online exams must be invigilated by a member of staff to ensure no prohibited internet, mobile devices or other resources are accessed.

There is no charge associated with sitting the Entrance Exams, but the University is unable to contribute to any invigilation or room booking costs which may be incurred. 

11. Results and Payment

We will contact applicants within 4-6 weeks of the exams taking place, to let them know their results and what awards, if any, they have received.

If successful, you will receive payments in two equal instalments direct into your bank account – the first at the start of December and the second at the start of March. Merit Award payments are made during the first year only.  You will need to enter your bank details onto your student record in order for us to be able to make the payments.

12. Benefactors

The provision of our Entrance Scholarships has been made possible by generous donations from a number of benefactors over the years. Some awards have restrictions placed on who can receive them, but it is not necessary to apply for a specific Scholarship – if your exam results are sufficiently high we will award a suitable Scholarship to you. However, you should let us know if you are the son of a Nonconformist Minister and therefore eligible for consideration for the David Morgan Thomas of Caterham Memorial Scholarship. We have published a list of our Benefactors and the terms and conditions associated with individual awards online.

13. Terms and Conditions