The ENGAA is a time-pressured and complicated exam, but it’s a vitally important part of your application. A good ENGAA score can push your application to the top of the admissions tutors’ list, and make you an extremely desirable candidate. So, here are some top tips to help you secure a strong ENGAA score!
Both sections of the ENGAA are very time-pressured. Most candidates will not complete all of the multiple choice questions in Section 1, and will leave some to guesswork. You have 60 minutes for the first section, and 40 questions to answer. Therefore, you want to be spending 90 seconds on each question, though some questions will take you less time and others will take more.
The second section has a bit more time set aside per question. You still have 60 minutes, but only 20 questions, so that’s 3 minutes per question. However, this is still very time-pressured, as the questions are harder.
If you’re stuck on a question and it’s taking you longer than usual to solve, move on. Try and get through all of the simpler ones as quickly as you can (remember: each question across both parts is equally weighted!) Then, reserve the time at the end to spend longer on the harder questions.
If there’s a question that you just cannot solve, leave it and move on to the other harder ones. Take an educated guess, but remember – it’s only a mark. There will always be other questions waiting for your attention. Even if you can’t see an answer, it’s likely that you will have been able to rule out some of the multiple choice options, allowing you to make an educated guess with a higher chance of success.
(There are lots of tips in our guide to the MAT about solving multiple choice questions in a time-pressured situation, which also apply to the ENGAA.)
Making educated guesses
The questions in the ENGAA vary hugely in style, and it is easier to make educated guesses on some questions than others. However, there are still some techniques you can use:
- Eliminating answers that are clearly wrong
Sometimes, although the numbers you are manipulating may seem complicated, some of the options are clearly wrong. For example, you may be able to see that the answer will be in surd form, but some of the options are rational.
Some other questions to ask yourself:
- Should this quantity be positive or negative? Greater than or less than 1? Larger or smaller than the value of some other variable? Increasing or decreasing over time?
- Should the quantity I’m calculating have particular units? E.g. if x is a momentum, then x=mass*acceleration*time has the right units, but x=mass*acceleration*distance doesn’t.
- A simple case: should the quantity I’m calculating be proportional to one of the variables in the question? Which of the options are or aren’t proportional to that?
- Can I easily test each option in a specific case? E.g. if I set t=0, do any of the options simplify to something that doesn’t make sense as an answer?
Even if you do not have time to reach a final solution, eliminating those answers that you see are clearly wrong will narrow down the options from which you make an educated guess, meaning it is more likely to be the correct answer.
The style of some of the questions lends itself particularly well to eliminating those answers that are incorrect. For example, you may get a question that has a list of statements, and you have to decide which is true. Here, eliminating those statements that are obviously wrong is the best method.
- Making estimates
With some questions, it is possible to make estimates. For example, if you are multiplying or dividing complicated numbers, you can round them, and then hopefully only one of the options will be in the correct ballpark for the answer you have.
This will only work for some questions, but remember, there are no marks for working, so it doesn’t matter how you reach the answer: precision is not necessary!
With some of the questions, especially those on physics, you may get options that are all of different orders of magnitude. In that case, estimation of the numbers given is a great way to quickly select the correct answer.