SPA defines an admissions test as a timed, unseen, written, paper-based or online test, usually taken in the academic year prior to admission in the summer/autumn term, or at interview. Tests may be devised by the HEI or by a group or consortium of HEIs with one or more testing/awarding bodies. Tests may be used by one HEI for one or more subjects or may be used by many HEIs for the same subject.
The results of the test can be used by the HEI as one element in admissions decision-making.
The type of test used depends predominantly on the course and the attributes deemed appropriate for the professional, vocational or academic discipline. Tests can range from aptitude tests, essay writing exercises, critical thinking assessments, problem solving tests, subject specific tests, cognitive and non-cognitive tests. Many are designed to enable a correlation to be made between test results and degree success; i.e. they are designed to be predictive as well as to test aptitude; whether evidence can be presented to support this will require long term study and analysis.