Entrance tests will favour wealthy

August 22, 2003

The proliferation of entry tests for university is raising concerns that rich students will be able to pay for coaching denied to poorer state-school applicants, writes Claire Sanders.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which is working to get more working-class students into university, said: "The worst thing that could happen is that different universities and different departments will all develop their own tests. Many of these will play straight into the hands of kids in good private schools geared for coaching."

Medical schools, faced with large numbers of highly qualified students, are leading the way in pioneering new tests designed to measure aptitude.

Oxford and Cambridge universities and University College London have already introduced the Biomedical Admissions Test. Others are using the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test (Gamsat) and some are using tests to measure personal qualities.

Graeme Catto, president of the General Medical Council and head of the Guy's, King's and St Thomas', the UK's largest medical school, is concerned. He said: "Multiple schemes cannot but be to the disadvantage of applicants."

Companies are already being established in the UK to coach students.

GradMed, which has so far focused on Gamsat, is poised to move into the wider market. A full Gamsat preparation course with GradMed costs £3,205.

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