#### Last updated

#### July 31, 2024

# Which ESAT Modules Should I Take?

ESAT#### By

#### Amelia Calladine

As the successor of both the NSAA and ENGAA, the ESAT is taken by students applying to a large range of university courses. The ESAT is structured so that students from a variety of disciplines can sit the same test. The test comprises 4 sections:

- Mathematics 1 (compulsory for all candidates)

- Biology

- Chemistry

- Physics

- Mathematics 2

Students must take 3 sections from this list, including Mathematics 1. They might have some choice over the remaining 2 sections they take, though this depends on the university courses applied for. Students must declare which sections they intend to take when they register for the test, so it is an important decision to make fairly early in the preparation process. On the day of the test, the sections will be taken back-to-back, as three separate assessments. The sections last 40 minutes each, and any time left over in one section does not roll over to the next.

#### Courses Requiring Specific ESAT Sections

Many university courses requiring the ESAT specify which sections must be taken, so most students have the decision made for them! This is to reflect the demands of the university courses and ensures all students are equipped with the required knowledge and a good ability to solve unfamiliar problems. Students applying to study **Engineering at the University of Cambridge** must take Mathematics 1, Physics, and Mathematics 2.

**Imperial College London** uses the ESAT for courses in the** Engineering Faculty and the Department of Physics**. The table below details the specific ESAT sections for each Imperial course:

Therefore, if you are applying to any Engineering course or Physics at Imperial, you should simply start preparing to take the required modules.

#### Choosing the Most Suitable Sections

If you are applying to the following courses at the University of Cambridge, you can choose which ESAT sections you take:

- Natural Sciences

- Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

- Veterinary Medicine

You can, of course, rule out any subject you don't study for A Level, but many students might rush to choose their ESAT sections based on their preferred A Level/IB subjects and the focus of the course they are applying for. We encourage students to consider the options carefully.

We advise students to take 3-4 years of NSAA past papers in full before making their decision, because their favourite A Level subject may not necessarily be the most suitable option for ESAT. We strongly encourage mathematically inclined students, particularly those applying to study Physical Natural Sciences or Chemical Engineering, to consider taking Mathematics 2: they should not rule it out without trying several years of NSAA past papers. The reason for this is that Mathematics 1 is compulsory, so preparing for Mathematics 2 will automatically facilitate improvement in Mathematics 1. Furthermore, preparing two mathematics sections will require less revision and memorisation of content, and staying in the same mindset for two sections of the test may prove beneficial. This advice may not apply to all students: for example, a biologist who does better in Chemistry NSAA past paper questions than advanced Mathematics questions should choose their sections accordingly.

When completing NSAA past papers, remember to convert your raw mark to a scaled mark using the conversion tables. In the NSAA, a scale of 1.0-9.0 is used, where 9.0 is the highest score. This takes into account the varying difficulty every year, and the same scaling system will be used for the ESAT. Each section of the NSAA/ESAT is scaled individually, so you should have 3 scores per paper. In some years, a raw mark as low as 15/20 scales to 9.0! Make sure you take this into account when assessing your performance on different sections of the NSAA.

Finally, you should consider the focus of the course you are applying to study. If you are hoping to study Physical Natural Sciences with an emphasis on Physics, admissions tutors might be surprised if you choose to take Biology and Chemistry on the ESAT!

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For more information about the ESAT, including our recommended preparation strategy, read our free ESAT Handbook. If you are looking for further advice or help with ESAT preparation, you are welcome to book a free consultation with Vantage director, Rowan Wright.