Sunday, April 20, 2014

Great news!

The other day I contacted (Quite nervously and with much anticipation) the architectural department responsible for assessing and evaluating the hand-in assignments for the applications, and with great relief I was informed that my work had been received and accepted, and that a booklet in which instructions for what happens next had been sent to my address. To put it shortly, I'm up for round 2. 

I haven't actually read the booklet, as it was sent to my parents' address. It's about 30 pages worth of text, but I will summarize it here for anyone interested. In my experience, entrance exams (Especially to art-related educ-... things.) can be quite interesting.

To clarify before I begin; I am applying for all of the three educations in architecture that the finnish universities have to offer. They all share the same application, which means that I am applying to Oulun Yliopisto, Tampereen Teknillinen Yliopisto, and Aalto Yliopisto, all with the same single entrance process and exams. I've set my sights on Aalto, and while it is the most difficult school to get in to, I'd say I've got a good shot at it. But I don't want to speak too much of it before the applications are actually done with and I've got the results on hand.

The entrance exam process is split into three phases. I've already passed phase one, and I didn't want to write about that before because it would have been so embarrassing if I hadn't made it. Absurd, right? Yeah. Pssht. Of course I made it. In it to win it. I haven't been nervous at all. Nope.

Phase one consisted of three separate creative assignments to be handed in. We had a couple months to finish them (About the same time that I read for and wrote my matriculation exams.), and then they were to be sent by mail to be evaluated at Aalto. Phase one was entirely a passed/failed thing, and doesn't contribute to the final score (Phase 1+Phase 2+Points for Matriculation exam.)

The first and second of which were 2 dimensional, i.e. drawn/painted/made/whatever on paper, and were to be based and inspired off two texts. One text was an excerpt from a book by Tove Jansson, the second was a slab of text from a book about Japanese architecture. I don't have a picture of what I did for the Tove Jansson text, but below is my drawing of a Japanese room. 

Quite plain, as you can see. There wasn't a lot of room for creativity in this one. The Tove Jansson text require more metaphorical language, as the assignment was to somehow put the feeling of the rather gloomy text down using a visual medium (Photography, drawing, painting, whatever. It had to be in colour though.). Sadly, I never photographed my painting for that one.

The third assignment was to create a box with adjustable lighting conditions. This was achieved building two "roofs", one set in place, and one on hinges. The set roof was to be pierced with holes in such a way that it creates an interesting scene inside the box. You were also allowed to make holes in the sides of the box, so that some light would enter the box even with the adjustable lid closed. You also had to make a hole into one of the walls from which to see into the box. I quite liked this assignment, as I hadn't really done anything like it before.

As you can see, it's quite plain. I folded the sofa and the television from coloured paper (Crazy origami-skills.), and... Yeah, that's about it. I don't have a picture of it with the lid closed, but there's a hole in the left wall, just out of sight. That hole was supposed to let light into the box in such a way that it looked like the TV was illuminating the room. Which I realize would be pretty strange, as there's no picture... Oh well. But it's simple and I like it. The photo seems to be from when the box was still work-in-progress, as you can see some light is seeping in through the cracks. I fixed it up before I sent it in though.

And that's a picture of the WIP box from the outside. Working in surgical conditions as you can see.

And that's phase one. A link to the full instructions can be found here:

Phase two is a fairly straightforward maths test, based upon skills I should already have (And attested to in the matriculation exam...). It's in a months time, so I've some time to polish my calculator and put on my maths-face. The biggest problem we're faced with is that we aren't allowed to use the same calculators we used in the matriculation exams, because they're too "smart". They simply do too much for the user, and we have to use simpler calculators. Basically the same level you get on your phone's calc, which is miles dumber than the CAS enabled MACHINE that has been writing my exams for the past three years.

Phase three is another creative challenge. Actually, more like 10. Those who pass the maths test are invited to a four day drawing "competition". Putting it simply, that's exactly what it is. This is the most important phase, because it's where you gather most of your points, with which you compete for the limited amount of spots available.

Points are calculated as (Maximums) 3p for Phase 2, 15p for Phase 3, and 12 points for how well you did in the matriculation exams. Additionally, 25% of the spots are distributed to the people who do best in Phase 3, which means you can get accepted purely on the basis of your drawing skills (You still need to achieve like 0.4 (40%) times the average in the maths test, which... is really little.).

The total amount of spots available at the three universities is about 110 per year. According to my approximation, that means only about 10% of the applicants actually get a spot. That's pretty stiff! And less than a third of these people get into Aalto, the toughest and most desired of the three. You can be pretty damn good and still not get a spot at all. According to my calculations, I need to get at least a thirds of the points in Phase 2 and 3 to get in with the results in the m. exams that I'm expecting to get. That leaves me in an okay position. Enough to get in at Oulu and Tampere, but not quite enough for Aalto.

Anyway, one thing at a time. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Phase one was a success, in a months time (Exactly, actually.) I'm doing the maths test.

Hopefully this answers some of the questions about my entrance exams. I've explained it so many times in person already, so I thought I might as well write it down here too.


  1. That seems pretty tough, but I'm sure you'll manage to get into at least one of those places. Good luck with getting into Aalto!

    1. I remain optimistic until the end. I'd say my chances are good!


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