Entrance Exam: how to resolve subject deficiencies
Updated: Jun 27
Have you just been conditionally admitted to a Bachelor programme in the Netherlands? Congratulations! You certainly need to know how to prepare for your entrance exams (if you need one). Here are my tips to help you pass your exams and get definitive admission.
In my experience as a student ambassador, I have received many questions about how to prepare for the Entrance Exams (or deficiency exams). If you're not already acquainted, the Entrance Exams is a series of exams that are given to international students whose previous education presents significant differences from the high school diploma level required to study at the VU Amsterdam. Students who are required to take these exams are admitted on condition that they pass these exams. These exams are generally Maths, English, History, etc. Therefore, to answer your question, here are a few tips on how to prepare and pass them successfully.
Good time management
As you may have already noticed, the admissions procedure has a time limit. You will probably have a limited amount of time between the day you receive conditional admission and the deadline for submitting your results. Moreover, the examination schedule is less flexible, giving you very few opportunities to re-sit them if you don't pass at the first attempt. This requires good time management.
It is therefore important to book your exams in time as soon as you receive conditional admission. And if possible, book several exams at once to maximize your chances before the deadline. The result information takes a considerable time (usually two weeks) which, in the event of failure, means you won't have enough time to book and prepare new exams. And yet you'll always have the option of canceling the other exams once you've got the result you want.
Ask your peers
Believe me, this tip is very important if you want to pass the exams you're going to take quickly. Perhaps this is your first experience with these exams and yet many prospective students either have experience with them or have the information you need. Finding out from your peers who are going through the same procedure will save you not only time but also money and ensure that you make as few mistakes as possible.
In most cases, there are WhatsApp groups where all prospective students are added. In this group you can ask questions about the materials that others use to prepare for exams, the calculators that are allowed and how to get one if you don't already have it their preparation techniques and potentially other tips that you need but don't know about.
Also, the assessment system in the Netherlands is often very different from your home country and so are the conditions under which you take the exams, so preparing on your own has many more disadvantages than advantages.
Choosing reliable material
You will find a lot of information on the internet about the different subjects in your exams. But beware: much of this information is unreliable or does not meet the expectations of your assessors. So, avoid wasting your time and creating unnecessary confusion. This is where you need to get advice from your peers and only use books and materials recommended by the examination centers. Most of these books are available in public or university libraries. But if they are unavailable, consider investing a little money in buying these books either second-hand or from bol.com.
Join preparation classes or hire a coach
Joining preparation classes/groups not only boosts your confidence but also helps you to prepare in an organized and clear way. There are several groups in Amsterdam, such as edu4u.nl, which allow you to prepare with other students in the same situation as you. This tip ties in with the one about preparing with your peers. Although these groups generally charge a fee, you still gain a good network of peers who are also preparing for the same exams as you, reliable materials and experienced teachers who know what you really need.
You may eventually be interested in hiring a coach for the course you're having the most difficulty with. On the internet, you can find packages of experienced coaches who can help you raise your level in the short time you have. But be careful when choosing!