For which universities and which disciplines is there a qualifying examination?
The admission capacities for the new academic year are determined by the SHK each autumn. If the number of registrations for medical studies once again leads to limited capacity as in previous years that cannot be rectified through transfers before the start of the academic year, admission restrictions may be applied at certain universities on the basis of a qualifying examination. If registration figures remain at the current level (or increase further), the qualifying examination for human medicine, chiropractic care, veterinary medicine and dental medicine will take place at the universities of Basel, Bern, Fribourg and Zurich (including the tracks Zurich-Lucerne and Zurich-St.Gallen), at the Università della Sivzzera italiana and at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich).
At the universities of Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel however, measures have been taken to conduct an internal selection process (more stringent examinations after the first year).
Registration for medical studies with swissuniversities is necessary, irrespective of whether a qualifying examination is conducted.
What special considerations are there for chiropractic care?
These places are awarded together with the places for human medicine, i.e. the same admission limits apply.
When and where is the examination conducted and in what language can the examination be taken?
The exam is conducted every year at the beginning of July in German (until now in Basel, Bern, Chur, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Suhr and Zurich), in French in Fribourg and in Italian in Lugano. Candidates must find an examination location that conducts the exam in their desired language.
Can the exam only be taken on one appointed date each year?
The exam is only held once a year and is conducted at all exam locations at the same time. It is not possible to take the exam on other dates in the same year.
What is the earliest date the exam can be taken?
In general, the qualifying examination for medical studies can only be taken if the admission criteria are likely to be met by the start of the academic year in the corresponding exam year (subject to the attainment of a university entrance qualification). Students must register with swissuniversities by 15 February. The aim of this rule is to prevent students from taking the exam when it might not be necessary for the year during which they start their studies.
How do students register for the qualifying examination?
All candidates for human, dental and veterinarian medicine and chiropractic care who want to start their studies in the autumn must, if numerus clausus is instituted on the basis of the respective cantonal ordinances, register with swissuniversities no later than 45 days before the date of the exam and pay a fee of CHF 200 by bank transfer. If students want to have exam results carried over from the previous year and forgo having to repeat the exam, they must note this accordingly in the form that is only sent to those to whom this is applicable.
Only payments made / forms submitted to swissuniversities by the due date (date of postmark) will be considered valid registrations. All applicants who register in time will receive an invitation from swissuniversities with detailed information (location, directions, provision for meals, etc.) no later than two weeks before the date of the exam.
How and when are students informed of the exam results?
The exam results and a written ruling regarding the awarding of a university place are sent out at the beginning of August by the university for which students have registered.
What are the next steps after students have been informed of the exam results?
All applicants who have been awarded a university place will be informed about the registration procedure by the university.
Does this mean students will be able to study at the desired university?
Satisfactory exam results do not guarantee a place at the preferred university. Admissions are carried out on a national basis and depend on the capacity and registration figures for the respective universities. Applicants should therefore expect transfers, which are conducted according to set criteria and, to the extent possible, taking account of applicants' preferences. However, transfers between universities with and universities without a qualifying examination are excluded.
What happens if applicants do not want to study human, dental or veterinary medicine or chiropractic care in that particular year?
In this case, the qualifying examination can only be taken again the following year, provided the student registers with swissuniversities again for human, dental or veterinary medicine or chiropractic care studies by 15 February of the next year. In this case it may be possible to carry over the exam results from the previous year. Otherwise, students can start a non-medical course in the autumn of the same year; however, to do so, students must register with the corresponding university within the prescribed period.
Is it possible to take the exam and – irrespective of the results – start another course of study in autumn of the same year?
Candidates for medical studies who are not awarded a university place based on the results of their examination can still start non-medical studies in the autumn semester.
With the exception of certain courses of study, admission to a non-medical course of study at all other universities generally only requires registration for non-medical studies at the respective university immediately after receipt of the exam information, if applicable. Further information about any exceptions can be found on the websites of the respective universities.
By contrast, at the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich it is necessary to register for an alternative course of study by 30 April. For questions in this regard, please contact the respective university.
Are exam results from this year also valid for the following year, or do students have to retake the exam if they want to/can only start medical studies the following year?
The question of repeating the qualifying examination is governed by the corresponding ordinances. According to these ordinances, students can forgo repeating the exam if they register for medical studies with swissuniversities again within one year of taking the test and before the deadline (by 15 February). If students apply again and repeat the exam, the most recent exam results are always used for the application.
With respect to ensuring the equivalence of the exam results from different exam years, please note the following: The results of the qualifying exam for medical studies (EMS) used for admission are directly transferable to the following year through a special standardisation process (only the point values are not comparable for different years).
The standardisation process is explained in more detail in the exam information that applicants who register on time receive each year from swissuniversities. Please note that when assessing the likelihood of admission using the exam results for the previous year (1) the thresholds may rise further as a result of an increase in demand, and (2) the percentile rankings for the EMS are for all participants in a particular year and therefore do not refer specifically to the percentiles within each individual discipline. Neither swissuniversities nor the ZTD can tell you whether the gap to the admission limit communicated to you in the year when you took the exam is still valid the following year.
Is the exam the same every year?
No, in order to prevent unfair advantages a new exam is used every year for all three languages. Because all exams in Germany and Switzerland are rigorously tested under stringent conditions, for economic reasons only one exam of comparable difficulty can be prepared each year.
How can students learn more about the exam?
All candidates are personally informed of the structure of the exam and the arrangements for conducting the exam in a detailed «exam info» brochure sent by swissuniversities at the beginning of April.
Two versions of the publication «Test für medizinische Studiengänge» (TMS, «Medical Studies Exam») with original versions of the qualifying examination used in previous years can be purchased at all book stores to prepare for the exam. Both versions have been published in German, French and Italian by Hogrefe Verlag Göttingen. The EMS in Switzerland was developed on the basis of the TMS in Germany – for additional material and differences see the indicated links.
Marketing in Switzerland: Verlag Hans Huber, Länggassstrasse 76, 3000 Bern 9. T +41 31 300 45 00.
Versions I and II
in German: www.unifr.ch/ztd/ems/vord.htm
in French: www.unifr.ch/ztd/ems/vorf.htm
in Italian: www.unifr.ch/ztd/ems/vori.htm
In addition, you'll find additional sample exams and information about the unique aspects of the EMS in the exam info.
For specific questions regarding the qualifying examination, please contact the Centre for Test Development and Diagnostics (ZTD) at the University of Fribourg (ztd(a)unifr.ch). It is responsible for the exam as well as administering and evaluating it properly.
Further information about the scientific evaluation of the exam (including a FAQ about the EMS and numerus clausus, which contains more background information) can be found on the following website: www.unifr.ch/ztd/ems.
What is the best way to prepare for the qualifying examination?
The Centre for Test Development offers useful information for preparing adequately as well as for having realistic expectations about the ability to prepare for the exam on its website: www.unifr.ch/ztd/ems. As it is not a test of knowledge and it is only possible to study for the exam to a very limited extent, students should be particularly well informed about it.