When you apply for AMES, as if interviews and submitted essays and personal statements weren’t enough, you also have to do an admissions assessment.
Sounds fun, huh?
Not. When I applied it was brand new which made it even worse as nobody knew what to expect. But it turns out I did quite well in it so here’s some tips. (note: they might change things around, so your first port of call is the University website)
Before you do anything else, MAKE SURE YOU’VE REGISTERED. This is so important. If you don’t register for the assessment before the 15th of October UCAS deadline, you have absolutely no chance of getting an offer. So it’s vital that you get this sorted. I spoke to the exams officer in school who could register me, so if you’re unsure talk to them about it, or your head of sixth form. Note: it asks for a college choice. Try to put the right one down, but if you change college at the last minute and forget to change it it’s not a problem (at least, this is the case for AMES). Now for the advice.
- Form of the assessment: The AMESAA has two parts – part 1 is multiple choice reading comprehension, and part 2 is an essay. The specimen paper and 2016 paper can be found here under the ‘Entry Requirements’ tab (although the 2016 section 2 is ASNaC’s assessment for some reason)
- Reading comprehension: In this section you get a series of extracts and have to answer questions on them. The fact it’s multiple choice makes it sound easy but some of the extracts left me scratching my head a bit, so get ready to read some challenging stuff. The basic essence of the questions is getting you to pick out arguments and themes of people’s work, like you’d do at uni when reading. So if you can practise doing that with other books that’s a good start.
- Essay: Now this is a bit harder to talk about. Honestly, it could be anything. The specimen paper was about cultural appropriation, and the one we did was about heterotopias (they did give us an article about heterotopias though, we weren’t expected to know what a heterotopia is). Essentially the best advice I can give you is to learn how to write a good essay. Before I took it I read up a bit about how to convincingly argue a point. Unfortunately I don’t appear to have kept the paper I wrote it on but the general gist is to make your mind up on a position and stick to it, bringing up points, evaluating them and concluding in favour of your opinion. The evaluative bit is really important as it makes the essay well-rounded. If you can find an argument against your opinion, then talk it down logically, that’s great to include. And try not to be too boring. Edit: I found a good guide to essay writing on Clare College’s website: see here under “In the exam room: Arts and Humanities subjects”.
- Expect the unexpected. There’s no way to predict what you’ll get – the point is to see how you react to unfamiliar things, so be confident. Don’t try and revise for it other than learning how to write a good essay. It’ll just stress you out unnecessarily.
- Keep an eye on the time. The two sections are different papers, so you have to spend certain amounts of time on each section. But if you can’t do something then skip it and come back, so you don’t run out of time!
- Check your answers. Goes without saying really, but it’s worth saying again.
- Keep up with current affairs. My essay turned out to be nothing to do with current affairs despite what the specimen paper suggested, but it’s good to be well-read (if you don’t use it in the AA, use it in your interview!)
- Don’t let the AA overtake your school work. You still need the grades in the summer 😉
So yeah, that’s my advice. I hope you found it useful, if you have any questions feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you!
P.S. If anyone is wondering, my ‘heterotopia’ was the lawn in Trinity College’s Great Court, because I defined a ‘heterotopia’ as a place exclusive to a certain group of people (in this case fellows). No idea if it was right but they seemed to like it!