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Apply Australia - Basics of the Application Process

BrainGain magazine brings you the basic information on applying to Australian universities. Which grades, scores and documents do you need? Read below to find out.
BY Tina Varghese |   13-10-2015
University of Sydney

When you first think of studying abroad, you probably spend the most time researching the courses of your choice. If you’re a gaming enthusiast, you might want to look at whether your course offers a module on dramatic writing; if you’re going in for Art History, you might want to know if the institute has short term options; and so on. You also diligently research the University and campus. You know the rankings, the faculty, and the slang (so you know it’s not a dolls-and-tea party when you’re asked to a barbie in Melbs on a Sunday arvo)!

In all this excitement it’s easy to lose sight of the fundamentally important bit - applications. Unless you’re willing to do painstaking research on the deadlines for various intakes, the specific requirements – tests, documents, references, etc, the admission could slip between the cup and your lips.

This is where BrainGain magazine can come to your aid. Whether you’re a student applying right now, or just dreaming about higher education in Australia, we’ve covered the basics of the application process. Once you read this article, make sure to check the relevant university and department pages for exact details.

So, let’s get started!


Australian Universities generally have two intakes every year. One in February/early March, and the second in July/early August. Some universities have multiple intakes as well, for example, Central Queensland University, and James Cook University, which have a March, July and November intake, while Bond University has a January, May and September intake.

Students should check application deadlines for their desired intake and plan accordingly.

Entry Requirements

Every university, and indeed every department, will have specific requirements. All students should pay attention to the relevant websites/pages and make notes. If you feel confused, write to the faculty whose email addresses are often listed. This will not only clarify your doubts and improve the quality of your application, but universities often appreciate when an applicant engages with them. This means a better chance that you will be accepted!

Undergraduate - Bachelors

  • A good academic record as shown in the High School Certificate.
  • Course specific requirements. For example, Computing and Engineering will require Mathematics and/or Science scores. An English Literature degree might require higher levels of proficiency in the language, etc.
  • A minimum score of 6.0 IELTS

Postgraduate – Masters

  • A Bachelors Degree from a recognized university. Courses sometimes ask for specific degree classifications – first class, upper second class, etc. Make sure to check.
  • Most professional courses prefer, if not mandate, work experience. MBAs for example.
  • 6.5 IELTS

Here are some of the most important documents required:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Degree
  • Mark sheets
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Two reference letters from academic supervisors/ employers

Creative arts courses might also require a portfolio of your work – writing/fine art samples.

English Language Proficiency

The most commonly accepted tests for English Language Proficiency are IELTS and TOEFL. While most schools generally require a minimum passing grade of 6.0 for IELTS, and 550 for TOEFL, these also may vary by university or department. For example, the University of Queensland requires an overall score IELTS score of 6.5 and TOEFL score of 570, but some departments like Pharmacy, Medicine and Law require a higher IELTS score of 7.

Postgraduate requirements also tend to be higher than Undergraduate requirements. The University of New South Wales, for instance, requires a TOEFL score of 500-600, from an undergraduate applicant, whereas a graduate applicant is required to score a minimum of 600.

It is always recommended that a potential student clearly maps out the test requirements of the particular course they want to pursue rather than just the overall score.

Apart from TOEFL AND IELTS, here are some other English language proficiency tests you can take:

  • PTE Academic 50
  • UTASAccess-English Level 6- Cambridge CAE (Certificate of Advanced English)
  • Cambridge CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English)
  • Cambridge BEC (Business English Certificate) Higher

Courses like Law and Medicine also require other certifications, a few of which are listed below -

  • STATSpecial Tertiary Admissions Test, aptitude test for non-school leavers
  • UMATUndergraduate Medical Admissions Test, required for undergraduate entry to many Australian and New Zealand undergraduate-entry medical and dental schools
  • GAMSATGraduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test, required for graduate entry to many Australian graduate-entry medical and dental schools
  • PQAPersonal Qualities Assessment, required for entry into health sciences, including undergraduate Medicine, for a growing number of Australian universities
  • GATGeneral Achievement Test ( VCE Students - Victorian Certificate of Education )
  • LSAT/ALSET — Most Law Schools require students to take an LSAT or an ALSET which is administered by the Law School Admission council.

Best of luck!



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