Aptitude Testing for University Entrance: A literature review

Chris Whetton , Pauline Benefield , Angus McDonald , Paul Newton

01 February 2001

A pilot of aptitude testing for university entrance

This report presents the results of a literature review on aptitude testing for university entrance. The work was commissioned by the Sutton Trust and undertaken by NFER.

Evidence for the review was obtained by searching a number of electronic databases and the websites of the main organisations involved in admissions testing in the United States. The central areas covered in this review are an overview of admissions procedures in countries which use aptitude tests, the extent to which aptitude tests are fair predictors of university performance, and the effects aptitude testing may have on the wider education system.

This literature review was conducted at a time of increasing scrutiny of British universities and their admissions policies. The work of the Sutton Trust focused specifically on the 13 universities ranked highest according to league tables published by The Times, Telegraph, Sunday Times and Financial Times. It was found that students from independent schools were over-represented in the 13 highest-ranked universities, and students from the lower social classes were under-represented.

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