- University Preparatory Certificate for the Humanities (UPCH)
- University Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE)
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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 per se. 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 UPCH and later in British
The UPC Critical Thinking Entrance Test - Guidelines and Advice
The critical thinking test consists of two short passages, each followed by a series of six to eight questions approximately. Each series of questions is marked out of 15. The overall test is therefore marked out of 30.
The questions assess the candidates’ ability to understand vocabulary within the context of the passage, to infer meaning, to paraphrase, to summarise (eg. main points of a text).
Candidates are also tested on their ability to identify assumptions, flaws and logical fallacies, and to recognise biases and the author’s viewpoint.
Finally, the questions assess the candidates’ ability to respond to the passage, how they use the passage to present a personal argument, how this argument is supported (eg. with 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.
- 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.
- Express personal opinions and support them with relevant arguments and examples
- Develop your own argument
- Ability to consider arguments opposing your opinion or that of the passage
Level 3: to secure a good result
- Identifying assumption and inference
This is by far the most challenging type of question for the large majority of candidates. It can be stressful not to find the answer, but it is very unlikely that you will fail because of this question type. Better to skip this part of the test, answer the other questions and come back to it if you have time.
- Sophistication of argument
The last question or two will ask
for your opinions. However, what really
matters here is your ability to build an argument supported by relevant
examples as opposed to an opinion based on personal experience or anecdotes. A personal opinion with poor examples can
still score 1 mark out of 3. But a more
argumentative, convincing and sophisticated answer can score between 2 or
3 out of 3.
Other things you need to know: Grammar and vocabulary are not the focus of this test. Your level of English is tested separately (IELTS). The focus is on thought rather than grammatical accuracy. However, a good range of vocabulary helps students to better express ideas and propose more sophisticated answers. This will bring higher marks.
Be familiar with the following terms: paradox, inference, premise, argument, fallacy, generalization, paraphrase: check what these mean in a dictionary and look up examples on line.
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.
1. READ: In
preparation for the test, you should 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. You should
favour articles written by a named expert or writer commenting on a piece of
news over factual or content-based articles.
2. BE ACTIVE / ENGAGE WITH THE TOPICS YOU READ ABOUT: When you read, 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.
3. DISCUSS: You should engage in debates and discussions in English with friends and teachers whenever you have a chance. Join a debate club if this is possible.
4. ARGUMENT & SUPPORT: 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.
To support your arguments, you should be able to produce valid and relevant examples. You need to clearly explain the connection between your examples and the point you are trying to make.
Page last modified on 07 feb 13 11:17 by Martin L White