Exam Structure and Past Papers
Click on the subjects you are interested in below for an overview of the content of the exam paper. Follow the links in the right-hand column to see exam papers from previous years. Please note that we don’t offer mark schemes for the exam papers, but for a general guide click here.
Accounting & Finance
This hour and a half paper will be based upon Accounting A level syllabuses. The paper will consist of four questions, of which students will be required to answer two.
Non-programmable calculators may be used.
Agriculture & the Countryside
This examination will test the candidate’s knowledge of the range, distribution and scale of farming systems in the UK or the influence of various land-uses and conservation policy on the countryside.
Candidates will be required to demonstrate an understanding of various forms of agricultural land use and an understanding of one of the following issues; the effects of agricultural production, forestry or recreation on the rural environment.
In particular, candidates are expected to demonstrate knowledge of the influence of man on the environment, the nature of the landscape and how it was formed, the habitats that exist in the UK environment and the conservation of important terrestrial ecosystems.
Animal & Equine Science
This examination will test the candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the major body systems in mammalian biology: in particular their application to domesticated animals including the horse, farm animals and companion animals.
Candidates will be required to demonstrate an understanding of the major biochemical systems of the mammalian body, an understanding of Mendelian genetics, and an appreciation of the biological issues that affect the health and welfare of domesticated animals.
This paper allows candidates to write about general art and art history topics. Questions will offer candidates the opportunity to consider artworks or exhibitions they may have seen, covering a wide range of art history or issues such as the relationship of art to craft, art to society, museums and the environment. The paper is designed for those who have previously studied Art History, students who may not have studied A level Art History, and for candidates who have studied an A level syllabus in Art that did not include Art History. Candidates must answer two essay questions in an hour and a half.
If a candidate is applying for a degree scheme that includes Fine Art - for example, Joint Honours in Art History and Fine Art - they must submit a Portfolio of their art work as one of their Entrance Scholarship subjects. Students must submit a portfolio of original artworks. We are looking for work that shows a variety of media, techniques and subject matter, a strong aptitude for observational drawing and/ or painting, and a wider interest in fine art through the study of art and artists, historical and contemporary.
A PowerPoint file of up to 20 of your self-selected best art works should be submitted to:
Dr Christopher Webster van Tonder: cpw@aber. ac.uk clearly marked ‘Entrance Scholarship Portfolio’ and with your full name and UCAS number. The submission deadline is 28th January 2020. Late submissions will not be accepted. PowerPoints may be sent by email attachment, or submitted online via Dropbox, WeTransfer or equivalent, or alternatively uploaded onto a personal webpage or Blog.
Please contact the School of Art with any submission queries:
Tel: 01970 622460
Biology 1: Molecules to Organs / Biology 2: Organisms to Ecosystems
On each paper, students will be expected to write three essays in one and a half hours from a selection of 18 topics. Questions will test knowledge of animals, plants or microorganisms, while providing a wide choice of questions from the Biology A level syllabus. Skills in essay construction, and awareness of the importance of biology to the present day will be credited. Opportunities will be provided to give accounts of personal expertise in areas of biology and its methods.
‘Biology 1’ will be concerned with biochemical, cellular and physiological perspectives. Its remit will encompass all groups of organisms, but should provide sufficient scope for students who have specialised in Human Biology. ‘Biology 2’ will be concerned more with whole organisms in terms of their ecology, biodiversity, evolution and behaviour. This paper will be cognizant of potential interests in our degree themes of Marine and Freshwater Biology, or Animal Behaviour.
Note: Candidates may sit both Biology papers or, alternatively, either of them in conjunction with another subject.
Business & Management
The examination will involve questions about the management of business organisations, including issues of marketing, human resource management and business ethics. Questions on the role of changes in the social, legal, economic, political and technological environment and their impact on business will also be asked.
The questions will ask candidates to show an awareness of contemporary issues, and will seek evidence that candidates are strongly motivated towards taking a degree in management and business. The paper is divided into three broadly defined sections covering accounting, economics and management, and marketing issues respectively. Three questions must be answered, one from each section.
Non-programmable calculators may be used.
Students will be expected to answer two questions from a choice of four during the hour and a half exam. The questions may test knowledge across the breadth of physical, inorganic, organic and practical chemistry. Questions may also include data interpretation or quantitative chemistry. Skills in clarity of expression and awareness of the wider importance of chemistry will be credited.
A Periodic Table will be included with the examination paper.
A non-programmable calculator may be used.
The objective of the Entrance Scholarship examination in Computer Science is to examine the general knowledge that you may have before you enter University. The exam may cover the following subjects in Computer Science: general programming and algorithm design, computer graphics, database, operating systems, and computer architecture. In general, three or four questions amongst these subjects will be set and there will be considerable choice available. The examination paper will be marked based on your understanding of the subjects and the standard of expression used to answer the questions.
This exam is targeted at students studying A level Computer Science. Students are allowed to take the Information Technology paper as well as the Computer Science paper or can take either of these with another subject.
Creative Writing (in English)
Candidates will write a short story based upon one of a selection of prescribed subjects. They will also write a short piece (200 to 400 words) of commentary on the story.
Section A: The story – This should be a complete (if necessarily brief) short story, revealing a clear sense of overall structure. Marks will be awarded for imaginativeness of approach to the prescribed subject and for style: style means, at the basic level, a good command of grammar and punctuation and, at a more sophisticated level, the ability to use language in artistically effective ways. The focus on the prescribed subject may be of greater or lesser intensity, but the subject should figure significantly in the story.
Section B: The commentary – This will reflect on the process of writing the story, explaining the decisions made during the planning and writing of it – for example, whether to write in the first or third person, why the story’s characters behave as they do, what inspirations (literary or otherwise) lie behind the story. (NB: these examples are simply a guide to the kind of question the commentary might set out to answer, not a rigid prescription).
Candidates are not allowed to bring any texts into this examination.
Note: There are separate assessment criteria for the two elements but no weighting. One mark will be awarded for the paper as a whole.
Candidates will be expected to answer three questions from a paper consisting of seven questions. The paper will test candidates’ essaywriting, analytical and argumentation skills. Where appropriate, candidates are encouraged to express personal views which are informed by knowledge of recent issues in this field. The questions in the paper are sufficiently general that no candidate will be disadvantaged either by not having studied Criminology or by having followed any particular Criminology syllabus.
Cymraeg (Iaith Gyntaf)
This is a paper for first language Welsh speakers.
Os yw ymgeisydd yn bwriadu astudio cwrs gradd anrhydedd sengl/gyfun yn y Gymraeg, disgwylir iddynt sefyll yr arholiad Cymraeg perthnasol fel un o’u dewisiadau ysgoloriaeth mynediad.
Rhennir y papur yn ddwy adran, sef Dadansoddi Llenyddiaeth a Defnyddio’r Iaith. Bydd disgwyl i’r ymgeisydd ateb un cwestiwn o bob adran.
Adran A: Dadansoddi Llenyddiaeth – Bydd disgwyl i’r ymgeisydd gyflwyno gwerthfawrogiad llenyddol o gerdd neu ddarn o ryddiaith mewn Cymraeg llenyddol graenus.
Adran B: Defnyddio’r Iaith – Rhoddir cyfle i’r ymgeisydd ddangos ei wybodaeth o’r iaith drwy gyfieithu darn o’r Saesneg i Gymraeg llenyddol safonol neu drwy ailysgrifennu darn o Gymraeg gwallus mewn Cymraeg llenyddol safonol ac esbonio rhai o’r gwallau. Nid oes gan ymgeiswyr hawl i ddod â thestunau na geiriaduron i’r arholiad hwn.
Cymraeg (Iaith Fodern) – Welsh (Modern Language)
This is a paper for second language Welsh speakers. Candidates choosing this paper must supply evidence from their school/college that they are second language speakers. If a candidate wishes to study a single/joint honours course in Welsh, they are expected to sit the relevant Welsh language paper as one of their scholarship exam choices.
There are three main sections to the paper:
- Reading comprehension (=25%): Candidates will answer a series of questions based on a short article in Welsh.
- Translation (=25%): Candidates will translate a series of English sentences into Welsh.
- Writing (=50%): Candidates will be asked to write a composition in Welsh on a set subject. A choice of subjects will be given.
The use of dictionaries is not allowed.
Drama and Theatre Studies
Candidates will be given the opportunity to write two essays on topics chosen from a varied list of questions. The questions might include writing about a play and considering some of the challenges and difficulties of staging such a production, reflecting upon the work of a theatre company of choice, evaluating a performance seen recently in the theatre, or engaging with concepts such as expressionism or absurdism.
In answering such questions, candidates should seek to demonstrate their general understanding of theatre, make original comments and produce a well-conceived and fluid discussion of key issues.
Candidates are not allowed to bring texts into this examination.
The exam consists of eight questions, of which two should be attempted. Questions will cover topics in both macro and micro economics and may include questions requiring answers to address contemporary issues. Candidates will be expected to apply economic principles and theories to these questions in a clear and reasoned way.
Non-programmable calculators may be used.
Education and Childhood Studies
This examination will involve a choice of questions which enable you to discuss a number of current or theoretical topics and viewpoints regarding either education or childhood or both. The paper will test the candidate’s general understanding of issues relating to childhood, schools, education and development. It will provide opportunities for the candidate to show coherent, well-thought arguments, persuasive essay writing skills and ability to analyse current issues. The questions will be sufficiently general to ensure that there will be equal opportunity for all candidates regardless of academic background.
Candidates will be required to write one essay on a topic chosen from a list of general questions. The essay must show a critical engagement with two texts of your choice. These can be texts that you have previously studied or texts that you have read outside the curriculum.
The essay should aim to present an informed and well-structured critical argument with a clear focus on the question. We are not interested in testing your ability to remember block quotations from your chosen texts (though relevant use of key phrases can give an edge to an argument).
We are looking for evidence of careful reading, good writing skills and critical flair.
Candidates will not be allowed to bring any texts into this examination.
Environmental Science *new for 2019*
This paper tests knowledge and understanding of key principles addressed by the A level syllabi in Environmental Science, focusing on Earth’s natural systems (e.g. atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere) and how humans interact with them. The paper consists of a choice of essay questions, of which candidates should complete two questions in 1 hr 30 minutes.
The paper is suitable to those who have studied Geology, Geography or Environmental Science at A level and are intending to study Environmental Science, Environmental Earth Science or Geography at Aberystwyth University. Those who have studied Biology at A level without Geography or Environmental Science should contact the departmental admissions tutor to check suitability: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atlases and calculators are not required.
- Using examples explain how humans are affecting biodiversity and outline the importance of biodiversity conservation initiatives.
- Describe the main components of the global nitrogen cycle and explain the ways in which humans are affecting it.
- Describe the main ways in which water quality in rivers is affected by pollution and outline the options for water quality treatment.
Film & Television Studies
Candidates will be given the opportunity to write two essays on topics chosen from a varied list of questions. Candidates should make use of and critically reflect upon their own personal experiences – as audience members – to answer questions that might focus on recent developments in the broadcasting world, television drama, the popularity of television soap opera, the key features of different film genres, or a critical evaluation of a documentary or film seen recently. It will be beneficial if candidates display a lively interest in both areas of study, where possible.
Candidates are not allowed to bring texts into this examination.
The French paper will consist of two compulsory questions, both of which are asked and answered in French:
- An essay in French (minimum 200 words, maximum 250 words),
- A commentary in French on a French text (minimum 200 words, maximum 250 words).
Candidates must answer both questions, which are equally weighted in terms of marks.
If an applicant to the Department is studying French at A level we would expect them to sit the scholarship exam in French.
French dictionaries will not be used in this examination. Candidates are not allowed to bring any texts or notes into this examination.
Geography – Human Geography / Geography – Physical Geography
Candidates may take:
- Human geography;
- Physical geography; or
- Both papers.
Their choice of Scholarship paper will depend on the specialism of their intended degree programme within the Department. The questions will test knowledge and understanding of the general principles which are addressed by most A level syllabuses in the subject.
The topics covered may include landform and landform processes in glacial, coastal or fluvial environments, global environmental change, ecosystems management, urban-rural change, regional development, disease and spatial inequalities.
The Human and Physical Geography papers will consist of a choice of essay questions, of which candidates should complete two questions.
The departmental admissions tutor is happy to advise on the most appropriate Scholarship examination paper(s) for each candidate. For further details, contact: email@example.com
Atlases and calculators may not be used.
This examination is relevant to students applying for the BSc degree programmes ‘Environmental Science’, ‘Environmental Earth Science’ and ‘Physical Geography’.
A choice of questions will be offered, of which two should be attempted. Although the content will be broadly based on the A level syllabus most questions will seek evidence of wider reading and thought, both on geological processes and the environmental issues associated with them.
Candidates are encouraged to widen their geological knowledge by reading appropriate articles in magazines designed for a general audience, such as New Scientist, Scientific American and Geology Today.
The paper will consist of two parts:
- A passage in German for translation into English or Welsh;
- An essay in German (maximum 300 words) on a general topic.
If an applicant to the Department is studying German at A level we would expect them to sit the scholarship exam in German.
German dictionaries may not be used.
History - British Isles / History - Europe and America
Candidates may take:
- History – British Isles;
- History – Europe and America; or
- Both papers
The choice of scholarship paper will depend on previous experience of history at A level, which is generally divided into the above categories. Candidates applying for history degrees are welcome to take both papers.
The ‘History – British Isles’ paper covers British, Welsh and Irish history.
The ‘History – Europe and America’ paper covers the history of Europe (excluding Britain) and the United States. Some questions will allow candidates to use evidence from any European country, but there will be specific questions on France, Germany, Italy and Russia.
Each paper will include around 30 questions, divided into two sections. Candidates will answer one question from Section A and one question from Section B.
Section A will be devoted to questions of a general historical nature. This section provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate that they are capable of dealing with the broader challenges of historical study in an informed and systematic way. Students are advised that answers should demonstrate serious and wideranging thought, and include relevant examples from the candidate’s historical knowledge.
Section B will contain a wide range of questions from the early medieval period to the present day, arranged chronologically.
The departmental scholarship secretary is happy to advise on the most appropriate paper(s) for each candidate (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The objective of the Entrance Scholarship examination in Information Technology is to examine the sort of material that you may have studied on your A level or equivalent Information Technology course.
The exam may cover the following subjects: databases; spreadsheets; web development and business topics. In general, three or four questions amongst these subjects will be set and there will be considerable choice available. The examination paper will be marked based on your understanding of the subjects and the standard of expression used to answer the questions.
The paper has three sections. For Section A, candidates will be required to write an essay on a general topic related to law and justice from a choice of three questions. Section B consists of one compulsory question, which will require candidates to apply a legal rule (provided in the paper) to a number of different factual situations. Section C also consists of one compulsory question, which will require candidates to read a quote from an external source, to comment and evaluate the contents of the quote, and to provide a general analysis of the topic.
The paper will test candidates’ essaywriting, linguistic, analytical, reasoning, and argumentation skills. Where appropriate, candidates are encouraged to express personal views which are informed by knowledge of recent issues in this field. The questions in the paper are sufficiently general that no candidate will be disadvantaged either by not having studied Law or by having followed any particular Law syllabus.
Mathematics / Further Mathematics
There are two papers: Mathematics and Further Mathematics.
The following rules apply:
- The Mathematics paper is available to all Scholarship candidates.
- Candidates electing to take the Further Mathematics paper must also take the Mathematics paper.
- Candidates who have applied for a course that includes mathematics* must take the Mathematics paper as one of their choices in order to be eligible for a reduced offer of a place on the course.
- There is no obligation to take both papers.
*the courses that include mathematics are those listed at https://courses.aber.ac.uk/subject/mathematics/
The Mathematics and Further Mathematics Scholarship papers will each consist of two sections: Section A, comprising relatively short questions on Pure Mathematics; and Section B, comprising longer questions on Pure Mathematics, Mechanics, and Statistics, with equal weight being given to each of these three areas. Candidates will be expected to answer all of the questions from Section A and two questions from Section B within the total allotted time of 1.5 hours.
For the Mathematics and Further Mathematics Scholarship papers, it will be assumed that candidates are familiar with topics covered in the A level specifications for Mathematics and Further Mathematics respectively; however the style of questions may differ from those encountered in A level papers. The range of questions will be sufficiently wide so that candidates have every opportunity to score highly, irrespective of the order in which they are introduced to the topics through their schools or colleges. It is strongly recommended that candidates prepare for the examination by solving the problems on the past papers, which are available to download from the University’s website.
Candidates may take into the examination any information booklets or statistical tables approved by their examining board for use in examinations. If any special paper, such as graph paper, is required it will be clearly stated on the examination paper. Otherwise, it will be expected that all answers are contained within the provided answer books, including sketches of diagrams and graphs.
Candidates are permitted to use calculators, provided they comply with A level examining board regulations.
The Physics Scholarship paper will consist of two sections. Section A will be a number of short physics problems based primarily on the WJEC AS and A2 syllabuses. Section B will be a single set of questions related to a simple experiment. It is designed to test data analysis skills (such as manipulation of data, graphing, assessment of uncertainties in data, design of experiments, etc). Scholarship applicants intending to study physics should take the Physics paper as one of their options.
Candidates may take into the examination room any ‘Information Booklets’ permitted by their examining boards for use in those examinations.
Candidates are permitted to use calculators, provided they are silent, self-powered, without communication facilities, and incapable of holding text or other material that could be used to give a candidate an unfair advantage. They must be made available on request for inspection by invigilators, who are authorised to remove any suspect calculators.
Politics / International Politics
Candidates may take:
- International Politics; or
- Both papers
The Politics and International Politics papers will both consist of a choice of ten essay questions, of which candidates should complete two questions. Candidates are free to choose whether they wish to take: (i) the Politics paper; (ii) the International Politics paper; or (iii) both papers.
Please note that neither paper will be based on the A-level Politics syllabus, and will be suitable for any student with a keen interest in political/international politics affairs. The questions are designed to allow you to provide personal views, which are informed by knowledge and understanding of recent political issues, international events and global challenges. We are looking for interesting perspectives and persuasive arguments, informed by good knowledge.
Recent topics covered included issues such as: the refugee crisis, China’s global role, global inequality, nuclear proliferation, gender and politics, UK politics and devolution, climate change, US global leadership, terrorism, the future of the EU, the internet and politics, multiculturalism.
For further details, contact: email@example.com
This paper will consist of questions that will allow candidates to demonstrate their understanding of psychology and the debates that surround it.
The aims of the paper are to:
- Assess candidates’ knowledge of psychology and/or their ability to examine and discuss some of the generic issues that concern psychology.
- Test candidates’ ability to write essays, identify arguments and demonstrate analytical skills.
The paper has two sections. In Section A (40% of the overall mark) candidates will be asked to answer a series of questions related to a research study. In Section B candidates will have the choice of four essay questions of which they must answer one (60% of the overall mark). The paper is designed to assess the potential of the candidate to study psychology at undergraduate level and can be answered both by candidates taking the subject at A level and those who have a genuine interest in the subject but no direct subject knowledge.
Sociology *new for 2019*
This paper is relevant to those applying to study L300 Sociology, L700 Human Geography, or another social science subject at Aberystwyth University. The questions are broadly based on the A-level syllabus for Sociology, and focus on society, social change, multi-culturalism and identity. The paper consists of a choice of essay questions, of which candidates should complete two questions in 1 hr 30 minutes. Those without a Sociology or Geography A level should contact the departmental admissions tutor to check suitability: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Evaluate the extent to which globalisation is changing individual and group identity.
- How does social change come about?
- Discuss how a sociological approach might help to improve one area of public policy in the UK.
The Spanish paper will consist of TWO sections:
- A passage in English or Welsh for translation into Spanish (c. 250 words)
- An essay in Spanish on a general topic (250- 300 words)
Candidates are expected to use a wide range of constructions, tenses and vocabulary in the composition exercise (the essay section). If an applicant to the Department is studying Spanish at A level we would expect them to sit the scholarship exam in Spanish. Students are not permitted dictionaries or other written material to help them answer the paper.
Please note: The Spanish Scholarship exam has a new format from 2019.
Sport & Exercise Science
Candidates will be asked to write two essays from a selection of six topics in Sport and Exercise Science. The topics will not derive directly from A level syllabi. Additional textbooks, calculators, or dictionaries are not permitted. Candidates applying to undertake a sport and exercise science degree are advised to sit the sport and exercise science scholarship examination as one of their two options.
The essays will assess candidates’ knowledge of biomechanics, physiology, and psychology, along with their ability to apply this material to the analysis of practical examples from sport and exercise. Candidates are encouraged to draw upon personal experiences or contemporary issues and to evidence a critical and analytical approach.
The paper consists of two sections, the first (Section A) covering UK tourism and the second (Section B) concerned with global tourism. As many candidates may well have not studied tourism previously, the questions are designed to encourage students to comment on general topics relating to tourism development and management, including impacts of tourism, the economic importance of tourism and the structure of the tourism industry.
Candidates are encouraged to familiarise themselves with UK and global tourism principles by studying appropriate texts, for example “Tourism Principles and Practice” (Fletcher et al, 2013).