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- Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE)
These sample tests give an approximate idea of the style and level of question you might be asked in your UPC entrance tests.
Click below to access online tests for UPCSE:
Click below to access online sample tests for UPCH:
UPC Entrance Tests
Once a completed UPC (UPCSE or UPCH)
application has been received by the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education, suitable
candidates will be asked to sit entrance tests in the subject areas
relevant to their chosen UPC course. Applicants can try sample tests in
these subject areas to prepare for these tests.
Trying the tests online will help applicants to make an application for the course. Doing well on the entrance tests is essential in order to be admitted to the foundation year.
All applicants for the UPCH course must take an entrance test in Critical Thinking as part of the selection process. Applicants choosing to study the UPCH Economics or Mathematics subject module will also take a Mathematics entrance test.
All applicants for the UPCSE course must take entrance tests in science subjects as part of the selection process. These tests have been designed to help the course team decide whether you have an adequate level of knowledge and understanding in the two science subject modules you wish to study on the course.
The science tests are largely based on GCSE and AS-level exam questions but are given in multiple-choice format. The Mathematics tests are devised to test mathematical thinking and no detailed subject knowledge is required beyond a good UK GCSE level. To see examples of the types of questions that may be asked, and the material you will need to have covered, you can visit the websites of the three major UK exam boards AQA, OCR and Edexcel.
Your performance in the science tests will be an important deciding factor in whether or not we offer you a place on the course. Your high school results, the information in your academic reference and your English language level are also considered before a final decision on your application is made.
The sample tests give an approximate idea of the style and level of question you might be asked in your actual entrance tests. UPC applicants (or those students thinking of applying to the UPC course) are strongly encouraged to try the sample tests in the subjects they are likely to select to study on the UPC course. The sample tests on the right are designed to give an idea of the style and level of the questions that will be asked on the actual UPC entrance tests. Entrance tests are usually taken by UPC applications in their home country and should be undertaken in strict test conditions.
Most UPC entrance tests comprise of 30 multiple-choice questions and the sample tests can be taken as a whole (30 questions) or 5 questions at a time. Feedback on your answers is given.
The score you receive for the sample test will be based only on your
first attempt at answering the questions.
Answering at least 50% of the questions correctly is a good indication
that you may be ready to take the UPC entrance tests and if you have not
already done so, you should think about submitting an application for
You should also see the list of the other entrance requirements for UPC admission.
Once your completed application form has been received, the
relevant UPC Administrator will contact you. If you are already living
in the UK, you may be invited to come and take the tests and be
interviewed at UCL in London. If this is not convenient or you are
living outside the UK, tests will be sent to you by email or post. Our
preference is for you to include the name and contact details of your
teacher or school guidance counsellor on your UPC application form. If
possible, we will contact this person to supervise your entrance tests.
On receipt of the tests, they should be completed as soon as possible,
following the instructions on the cover page, and returned to the UPC
Once your tests have been marked, you will be interviewed
face-to-face or over the telephone. The UPC Admissions Tutor will make a
decision about your application within a few days.
If your application is successful, we will send you a formal offer
of a place on the UPC course. In our offer pack, we will include
information on how to accept the offer, how to apply for UCL
accommodation if you want to, and how and when to pay the course fees.
If your application is unsuccessful, we will inform you in writing.
Where possible, we will try to offer guidance about other courses that
may be suitable for you.
Once you have accepted a place on a UPC course and paid your course
fees, you will be given a second test on your arrival at UCL. This is to
verify that, in the opinion of the UPC team, your first test was
completed according to the instructions handed out with the test.
UCL recognises that international students come from a variety of academic backgrounds and pedagogic cultures, and that some may have received little training in critical thinking. Therefore, the UPC Critical Thinking Entrance Test does not assess the candidates’ level of critical thinking, rather, it aims to identify and select candidates who have disposition in thinking critically. These are students who are interested in engaging intellectually with ideas and willing to develop and support their own arguments – instead of reproducing factual knowledge. This is an approach to study and knowledge that is important to be successful on the UPC.
The UPC Critical Thinking Entrance Test
The critical thinking test consists of two passages, followed by a number of questions marked out of 1, 2, 3 or 4 points. The overall test is marked out of 30.
A first set of questions assess the candidates’ ability to understand the text: to comprehend the vocabulary within the context of the passage, to paraphrase, to summarise, and to recognise the theme and the main points of the text.
A second set of questions test the candidates’ ability to analyse the text: to recognise how it is built and what arguments are used, to identify any assumptions, flaws or logical fallacies, and to recognise signs of bias or of the author’s viewpoint.
Finally, a last set of questions assess the candidates’ ability to respond to the passage: candidates will be asked to use the passage to present a personal argument. These questions will ask candidates to support their idea with arguments and to give relevant examples.
What skills do you need to pass the test?
Level 1: basic skills
These are simple questions based on reading and comprehension. It is important to read carefully both the text and the questions, but these do not present any particular difficulty. They include for example:
- Find the conclusion(s) of the passage
- Understand and address the questions.
Level 2: to secure a pass
These questions relate to argumentation, in other words, the ability to give reasons which support a position. This may be about the position expressed in the passage or your own opinions. If you read the text carefully, take your time to read the questions and think about your answer before you write it down, you should also do well in these questions. They include for example:
- Identify arguments in the passage
- Give a counter-argument to the passage
- Develop your own argument support them with relevant arguments and examples
- Ability to consider arguments opposing your own opinion.
Level 3: to secure a good
A few questions will test your abstract thinking or ask you to discuss the main idea in the passage in order to assess how sophisticated an argument you are able to understand, built and present. Although these are by far the most challenging types of question for the large majority of candidates, bear in mind that it is very unlikely that you will fail because of this question type. One example would be identifying and explaining assumption and inference. When you are asked to discuss an idea or to explain why you agree or disagree with an idea, what really matters here is not what you answer but your ability to build an argument supported by relevant examples as opposed to an opinion based on personal experience or anecdotes. To support your arguments, you should be able to produce valid and relevant examples and you need to clearly explain the connection between your examples and the point you are trying to make. A personal opinion with poor examples can still score 1 mark out of 3. But only an argumentative, convincing and sophisticated answer will score 3 or 4 out of 4.
Six tips before you take your test
Remember that grammar and vocabulary are not the focus of this test (your level of English will be tested separately (IELTS, TOEFL or equivalent) when you apply to the UPC). The focus of the test is on thought rather than grammatical accuracy. However, a good range of vocabulary will help you to better express ideas and propose more sophisticated answers; and this will bring higher marks... Here are 6 tips to prepare to take your test
- A good way to prepare is to become familiar with the following terms: theme, conclusion, paradox, inference, premise, argument, counter-argument, fallacy, generalization, and paraphrase. Check what these mean in a dictionary and look up examples on line.
- You can also try the sample test available online; this will allow you to become more familiar with the format of the test and typical questions that can be asked.
- One of the best ways to prepare would be to read challenging texts in English as frequently as possible. You should follow international news in a wide variety of issues: ethical, political, environmental, artistic, etc. and favour articles written by a named expert or writer commenting on a piece of news over factual or content-based articles.
- When you read, read actively! You could try to identify important words and concepts. If you think you know what they mean, test yourself: imagine a friend does not understand an idea or a concept, how would you explain it to him/her? Check in a dictionary. Also, when you read or watch the news, try to be active, to engage with the material: what do you think? Why? Make notes.
- You could also engage in debates and discussions in English with friends and teachers whenever you have a chance. Join a debate club if this is possible. In general you should train yourself in finding reasons and arguments to support your opinions. For instance if you believe a government is right in making a decision, you should be able to explain why you think this decision is good. Try to avoid personal examples – e.g. referring to your family and friends – and anecdotes.
- During the test you should read the text very carefully and at least several times before you read the questions. Then you should read each question carefully to make sure that you have understood it and that you know what exactly is asked from you: how many arguments or examples do you need to present, must you refer to the passage and quote it or on the contrary write an answer using your own arguments and examples? It can be stressful not to find the right answer immediately. If this happens, then it is better to skip this part of the test, answer the other questions and come back to it if you have time.