State exams still play important role when entering universities

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The University of Tartu. Source: Vladislava Snurnikova/ERR

While this year school leavers could opt out of national exams, universities take the results of these exams into account more than any other metric. Universities that also have their own entrance exams prefer to conduct them online.

Head of admissions at the University of Tartu Tuuli Kaldma said the terms of admission haven't changed. "We haven't planned any changes. With the Bachelor's degree curricula, we still take into account the results of the national exams. By June 18, students will have their results, so they have time to submit their applications by June 30."

Kaldma added that although state exams are voluntary this year, a measure put in place at a time when coronavirus rates were high, the results of national exams are of key importance when applying to the University of Tartu. "As soon as it became clear that the national exams were voluntary this year, we announced that their results would still be taken into account by the university's admissions board, and we recommended that graduates take the national exams."

State exams do not play a role in most Estonian Academy of Arts curricula

Helen Jürgens, chief admissions specialist at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) says admissions take place this time primarily on the basis of entrance exams.

Prerequisites for EKA candidates is passing the state exams, but their results play an important role only in a few specialties. "State exam results are prerequisites for applying, but they do not count in most specialties. Very few specialties require state exam results. For example, in architecture, a math exam pass is required," Jürgens added.

There are no significant changes in Tallinn University of Technology's (TalTech) admission conditions. The conditions set out in previous years also apply this year. Admissions to bachelor's and integrated studies continue to be based on the results of state exams. When applying, the average grade certifying secondary education is taken into account.

Endla Reintam, Vice-Rector for Studies of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (Maaülikool) in Tartu, said that his university does not have different admission conditions this year than before, adding that the results of state exams are also significant. In addition, the average grade is taken into account for many specialties. "The results of the national exams still count. If state exams are not taken, we can instead also consider the average grade."

Entrance exams conducted online

Due to the pandemic, the majority of entrance exams will still be done online this summer.

Kaldma said that a large part of entrance exams, especially interviews, are conducted online. "We introduced the online exam version in several specialties already last year. This year we will also conduct interviews and entrance exams online."

EKA will also conduct most of the exams online this year. Jürgens added, "This year we will use Zoom with a lot of syllabuses. In addition, some candidates will continue to take the entrance exams remotely. In some specialties, the practical component will still be presented on-site. In some, it will not be possible to pass the exam at home and therefore some tests will take place on-site. "

Jürgens added that taking the exam online has increased the number of candidates. "In the past, some candidates did not show up when the tests or interviews took place on-site at the university. When we conducted them through Zoom, the number of participants was much higher than before."

Tallinn University will conduct exams on-site

At Tallinn University meanwhile, most entrance exams are going to be done on-site. The average grade is not taken into account in the entrance examination. As the University of Tartu, the entrance exam and the results of national exams are important.

TalTech, the University of Tartu and Tallinn University have given students graduating in August the opportunity to apply for the next degree courses before graduation.

Tuuli Kaldma at the University of Tartu, explained that the university's own students have been given the opportunity to graduate later if the coronavirus has made the process more difficult.

"We make conditional admission decisions for such candidates, which means that if a bachelor's degree undergraduate is not graduating now, he will get a chance to do it in August and is thus able to apply for a master's degree," she said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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