FAQ for directors of studies

General questions

What is the purpose of an application procedure if it is not selective? (That is, if fewer applicants come to the exam than there are study places available).

  • More uniform knowledge base: Through the study materials, students receive an overview of the subjects and requirements of the degree programme. This helps them acquire a more uniform knowledge base for the start of studies (cf. bridging courses).
  • Self-selection: Self-selection is aided to a not inconsiderable extent by dealing with the study materials. Prospective students realise at an early stage that the degree programme or its content does not meet their expectations and, as a result, do not even take the entrance exam. In the past, self-selection rates of 50 % and more have been observed at the University of Vienna (ratio of those registered to those present at the entrance exam). (Source: CTL, Internal evaluation of the application procedures, 2016)
  • Increased commitment: The application procedures and aptitude assessments have an influence on the level of commitment and study motivation. Since the introduction of the application procedures, the rate of students who have taken a certain number of examinations in the subjects where access is regulated has risen by 11 % to 55 %. (Source: CTL, Internal evaluation of the application procedures, 2016)
  • Better plannability: Even though the procedure is not selective, it offers the advantage of knowing the number of new students at an early stage, which can make semester planning easier.

Why is the secondary-school leaving certificate not sufficient as proof of the ‘ability to study’ and why are school grades not sufficient as an admission criterion, as is the case in Germany?

Ranking people according to school-leaving grades is possible in principle (and is also considered a valid criterion in research), but, because of the different types of schools in Austria and abroad, this would only be based on comparable values to a limited extent. Experience from other higher education institutions has shown that the fair weighting of foreign educational qualifications from all over the world requires a huge amount of administrative work, which, in the best case, could be managed centrally (across higher education institutions).

School grades, which are strongly influenced by a family’s educational background, can also have a socially selective effect without the higher education institution being able to change much.
By developing its own entrance exam, however, the higher education institution has more leeway and, in particular, can test those study-related skills that are largely independent of the educational background in question.

Does a passed exam really say something about academic success, suitability for studies and motivation? Are there any experience reports or statistics from previous years?

Yes, passing an application procedure at the University of Vienna says something about the likelihood of succeeding in the degree programme and there are already initial positive findings on its effectiveness (using the example of the former § 14h subjects):

  • Increase of 11 % in students who have taken a certain number of exams
  • A 6 % decline in the number of people dropping out
  • A correlation between exam results and course grades or completed ECTS and STEOP grades has been confirmed.

The results suggest that access restrictions have the desired effect because all the examined indicators improved significantly after the introduction of the access rules in the subjects where access is regulated. In the same period, no or only a very slight improvement was observed in the subjects where access is not regulated.

What do the applicants say about the application procedures?

The level of acceptance of the entire application process is very high among applicants:

  • 70 % rate the application process as ‘Good’ or ‘Very good’.
  • 91 % found the application process to be (rather) fair.
  • 90 % experienced the organisation of the application process as (rather) good.

(Source: CTL, Internal evaluation of the application procedures, 2016)

Does the procedure not deter potentially suitable applicants?

No more and no less than many exams before and after in the students' education-related biography.

Can or should the exam replace the STEOP?

No, because the STEOP as a one-year work sample is, of course, more valid than any selective testing. However, it is also much more time-consuming and cost-intensive - both from an institutional and an individual perspective because dropouts can lose an entire year of education.

Exam structure and content

What is the structure of an entrance exam?

Module 1: Specialised questions

Testing specialised knowledge based on specific study materials can serve as a work sample for a student's future behaviour. As well as directly testing subject matter knowledge, the following parameters are indirectly determined:

  • Performance motivation
  • Willingness to autonomously deal with course contents
  • Matching of interest(s) (with the self-selection of those who, from looking at the study materials, realise that their chosen degree programme does not correspond with their interests after all).

Module 2: Text comprehension

The comprehension of complex texts and ability to draw conclusions from them are assessed by providing texts in German and/or English.

Module 3: Cognitive abilities

Selected indicators of intelligence such as logical-deductive reasoning are assessed.

  • Matrices: inductive and deductive thought processes
  • Number sequences: numeracy and deductive reasoning
  • Analogies, syllogisms: verbal skills and deductive reasoning
  • Tasks for visual thinking
  • Logic tasks



Who determines the content of the exam?

The faculty/department determines the content and also the weighting of the selected modules. The content is determined as part of a requirements analysis.

Why are no personality traits or soft skills tested in the exam?

Since the answers are based on self-declarations by the applicants, a tendency towards socially desirable (i.e. favourable) answers would be expected, which would lead to a distortion of the measurement result. In addition, those people who answered honestly would be at a disadvantage. Personality traits are not objectively comparable, so personality questionnaires should only be used for advisory purposes (such as online self-assessments) and not for making selections.

Is the procedure also available in English?

No. German is the language of instruction for all bachelor's programmes at the University of Vienna, even if individual courses are held partly or entirely in other languages. For this reason, proof of C1 level German is also required during the general admission procedure.

Exam design and exam evaluation

Who creates the exam?

The creation of the learning materials as well as the degree programme-specific MC questions is the responsibility of the field of study itself. The CTL helps with the design of fair and legally secure MC questions as well as the creation of the learning materials.

All other tasks (development of text comprehension questions, preparation of test documents, etc.) are carried out by the CTL. Cognitive skills tasks are created in cooperation with our external partner Coping. The faculty/department does not have to develop any cognitive exam questions.

Does the faculty have to provide staff for the application procedure?

The organisation and implementation of the application procedures are carried out by Teaching Affairs and Student Services. However, the faculty/department incurs costs in the run-up to the exams for developing the specialised questions for the exam and, if necessary, for preparing the learning materials.

Does the faculty have to provide learning materials?

Yes, for the specialised questions module, documents must be provided in good time and free of charge.
The development and provision of open educational resources (OER) gives teachers the opportunity to make their own materials freely available as OER with corresponding licensing for subsequent use. The CTL can assist you with the development as well as with copyright issues. You will find more information here.

How much work does development of exams mean for the faculty/department?

Sufficient time should be planned for the creation of the learning document (preparation time: 1 year - coordination of contents, creation of the document, layout, etc.). The time required to draw up the MC questions is comparable to the time for a larger exam.

How are the data evaluated?

Evaluation and control of the results are organised by the CTL, the results are delivered by Teaching Affairs and Student Services. The exams are evaluated in cooperation with our external partner Coping.

Organisational aspects and implementation

Who may take the exam?

The requirements for taking the exam do not differ from the general requirements necessary for admission to the University of Vienna.

How often may someone take the exam?

The entrance exam is held once per year (for summer and winter semester). Candidates who are not admitted can repeat the exam as many times as they want.

Who determines the number of admitted applicants?

The number of study places for first-year students is determined in the performance agreement between the University of Vienna and the Federal Government.

Is there a gender quota in the admission regulations?


Is there a quota system for applicants from other member states?


How and where is the exam held?

Due to the high number of participants, the exams are held in paper-and-pencil format on the premises of the Messe Wien exhibition and congress centre. Taking the exam digitally is not possible. For economic reasons, the exams are in multiple choice format and are evaluated by machine. An open response format (essay writing etc.) is therefore not possible.

CTL staff are available on-site at the exams as contact persons for applicants and directors of studies (SPL).

Are the exams barrier-free?

The CTL works closely with the Accessible Studying team of the University of Vienna to offer examination formats that are tailored to the particular needs of individual exam participants. Frequently used measures include, for example, oversized printouts or digital presentation for people with visual impairments, separate exam rooms and extended exam durations.