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Assessing academic potential for university admission: The biographical questionnaire

PA Enslin
A Button
M Chakane
M de Groot
L Dison


A Biographical Questionnaire (BQ) has been used in the Faculty of Humanities at
the University of the Witwatersrand since the mid-80s, to identify potential to
succeed at university among applicants who have not met the requirements for
automatic admission. As the key instrument in a special admissions process, the
BQ's history and assumptions are discussed. Reflecting on the criteria used in
reading responses to the BQ, the article argues that by allowing applicants to
present themselves in the context of their own lives and engagement with schooling
and disadvantage, the BQ is more likely to enable candidates to reveal the qualities
necessary for success at university than other admission tests.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 20(4) 2006: pp.433-448