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Applicants to University of Copenhagen to be screened with cognitive tests

Admissions — Starting 2020, all applicants under the quota 2 scheme will have to pass a cognitive admissions test at the University of Copenhagen. Applicants are subsequently assessed based on an oral or written interview.

Thousands of applicants have just put the finishing touches on their application for a student place under the quota 2 system.

This will be the last cohort on the old quota 2-system at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), which is based on an individual assessment of qualifications. Quota 1 is solely based on grade point average.

The Danish Quota 1 and 2 system

Quota 1
In quota 1, admission to university depends exclusively on your grade point average from your upper secondary school exam.

Quota 2

In quota 2, admission is based on an individual assessment of your qualifications. Applicants have to write a motivational letter and a CV where they describe their qualifications. The university assesses you based on seven criteria:

1.   Motivation and study potential
2.   Relevant employment experience
3.   Relevant education experience
4.   Studies or work abroad
5.   Grade point average from the upper secondary school examination
6.   Grades from relevant subjects at upper secondary school level
7.   Other experience which is relevant for university studies (e.g. volunteering)

Around 10 per cent of study places are reserved for quota 2.

Applicants from Nordic and EU/EEA countries
Nordic applicants and applicants from EU/EEA countries are admitted on equal terms as applicants with a Danish upper secondary school exam both in quota 1 and quota 2.

More information about EU/EEA and Nordic admissions here.

Applicants with a diploma from Non-EU/EEA and Non-Nordic Countries
(High) school examinations are evaluated on the basis of an individual assessment of their qualifications (quota 2).

More information here.

More information about the Danish admissions system in general is here.

Starting next year, all quota 2 applicants to UCPH have to pass a cognitive admission test which, through a number of multiple-choice questions, test the quota 2 applicants’ academic skills and study programme potential.

»We hope that the new admissions test can help improve academic quality and ensure that applicants have the qualifications needed to be able to complete a university study,« says Pernille Kindtler, who is head of Education Services at UCPH.

No more grade requirements in quota 2

The admissions test is the same for everyone, regardless of whether the student is applying to study, say, medicine or art history, and the idea is that it will replace the previous grade requirement of 6.0 which is applicable to quota 2 today.

It is not a general knowledge test, which is seen in, for example, the Danish School of Journalism

Pernille Kindtler, head of section, Education Services

»It is not a general knowledge test, which is seen in, for example, the Danish School of Journalism. It is a test which tests the student’s general skills in both language and mathematics and their ability to relate to novel problems,« Pernille Kindtler says.

Students with a grade point average of less than 6.0 from upper secondary school have until now been excluded from applying to the University of Copenhagen in quota 2. This has been criticised by both the Student Council and by education and science spokespersons from centre-left parties in parliament. Now the University of Copenhagen is seeking to remedy this by introducing an admissions test instead.

»With the new admissions test, we provide equal opportunities for all applicants to apply for the study programme that they aspire to. Even those who, for one reason or another, have been unfortunate and have come out with a low grade point average from upper secondary school,« says Kindtler and continues:

»The University of Copenhagen has always wanted to set up this model, which is to be introduced from 2020, but the law has not allowed us to.«

The university expects that the legislation is in place before next year’s admissions, and that they can therefore introduce the planned model.

Oral or written interview

The admissions test will apply to everyone that applies via the quota 2 system, no matter how the person’s grades are. The applicants who pass the test and who do well, will continue to a written or oral interview, which is included in the overall assessment.

»It is up to the individual faculties at the University of Copenhagen to decide whether the applicants need to do an oral interview, or whether they should deliver a written application to the faculties’ study programmes. But it will be in a different form than the motivated letters of application that we now know from quota 2,« says Pernille Kindtler.

This means that quota 2 applicants do not have to submit a written motivated letter in advance, as they do today. This created a market for people and businesses to sell more or less finished written applications. Instead the process moves into the faculties, where applicants need to complete a written interview in continuation of the test or attend an oral interview on the programme.

What can you test?

With a cognitive test you can measure intelligence and the ability to solve problems.

Many of the cognitive tests looks at two different types of intelligence, namely crystallized and fluid intelligence.

Crystallized intelligence is linked to existing skills and experiences in problem solving. Fluid intelligence is linked to the ability to make connections independent of prior knowledge or skills.

This type of test is used many places:

In (larger) companies cognitive and personality tests are used in the recruitment of new employees.

Young men who have been called up to the Danish army have taken an IQ test for decades (and interestingly, intelligence levels have dropped since the early 00’s after many years of increase).

At the University of Southern Denmark, applicants for quota 2 go through the so-called uniTEST, which measures critical thinking and linguistic and cultural understanding.

The oral interviews and cognitive admissions tests are already practiced at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), where they two years ago decided that all students in the longer term must be admitted via quota 2.

»The admissions test will be like the cognitive tests that they do at SDU. But their test does not fully match our requirements, and we have therefore chosen to find another supplier that is developing the test in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen,« says Pernille Kindtler.

Quota 2 students are more motivated

A recent memo from the Danish Evaluation Institute (EVA) shows that 81 per cent of quota 2 applicants have clarified with themselves what programme it is they want to study. 62 per cent are very motivated to start their studies.

For applicants on the quota 1 scheme, the percentages are only 68 per cent and 46 per cent of students respectively.

We regularly talk about whether to admit more students through quota 2 at the University of Copenhagen, but no decision has been made yet

Pernille Kindtler, head of section, Education Services

The explanation for the difference is not necessarily that quota 2 applicants are more clarified or motivated. According to project manager at EVA Lars Dyrby Andersen, it may well be because the deadline for applying for quota 2 is earlier than quota 1, where the deadline is 5th July:

This is where the quota 2 applicants apply to:

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences: 3,132 applicants

Faculty of Humanities: 2,535 applicants

Faculty of Social Sciences: 2,176 applicants

Faculty of Science: 1,786 applicants

Faculty of Law: 955 applicants

Faculty of Theology: 67 applicants

At the application deadline on 15th March, the University of Copenhagen had received 9,403 applications.

Source: University of Copenhagen, 2018

»If you are very motivated and clarified, you are more willing to make an extra effort and apply for the education you aspire to as early as possible. So you apply via quota 2 already in March and hopefully optimise your chances of getting in,« he says in a press release from EVA.

The University of Copenhagen has so far no specific plans to admit more than the approximately 10 per cent students who are admitted through quota 2, according to Pernille Kindtler.

»We regularly talk about whether to admit more students through quota 2 at the University of Copenhagen, but no decision has been made yet«.

Translated by Mike Young

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