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Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing
Administering our tests
Over the past year, we have been working closely with the award-winning charity, The Brilliant Club. They aim to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds applying to and getting a place at highly selective universities in the UK, including Russell Group universities.
The Brilliant Club works closely with schools, bringing in PhD students to talk to pupils, so they can hear first-hand about life at university. To support this, The Brilliant Club created its Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) for students in 2016. It covers everything students needed to know about applying to university, including admissions tests.
The Brilliant Club approached Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing to provide our insight into university admissions. We used our extensive research and testing knowledge to create a multiple-choice questionnaire and supporting research methodology, to help the Brilliant Club evaluate the impact of their resources.
In a pilot study, 27 pupils across four different schools in Wales completed the questionnaire, both before and after using The Brilliant Club’s IAG resources. We then supported the Club with the survey analysis and reporting.
Celeste Cheung, Research and Evaluation Manager at The Brilliant Club, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing on the development of the charity's university information, advice and guidance resources for our Key Stage 5 pupils. The high quality, informative materials on university admissions tests are particularly helpful for the pupils.”
The final report – due to be published shortly – shows that the IAG has had a considerable impact on pupils who used it. There was a 31% increase in knowledge about the steps needed to apply to university. Students’ overall knowledge of the application process rose by 14% (from 48% to 62%). All questionnaire respondents said that they had learnt something new and found the sections on UCAS points, league tables and admissions tests the most useful.
David Harrison, Senior Digital Learning Manager in the Admissions Testing team, was the driving force behind our work with The Brilliant Club. He said that the IAG package “helps students to ask the right questions about university, think about what they don’t know, actively seek the right information and then engage more with applying to university.”
The provision of more information and guidance to these groups of pupils helps to support universities’ Widening Participation programmes, as lack of knowledge becomes less of a barrier to their applicants. This is evidenced in the impact of The Brilliant Club’s work. In 2016 alone, 58% of pupils who were eligible for free school meal schools progressed onto highly-selective university courses, compared to the national progression rate of 11%.
These statistics, alongside the results from our questionnaire, show the contribution of The Brilliant Club in helping to widening participation to higher education. The Brilliant Club plans to roll out their initiative more widely across the UK, and we will continue our collaborative relationship with them.