Application Advice – 6 Tips for Doing Your Best on Minerva's Challenges

by: Minerva Admissions Team | Sep 30, 2022

Tests can be really intimidating. Studying for tests is usually more about the test strategy, and not necessarily about measuring one's actual skills. Though frustrating, tests like the SAT are still required when applying to many competitive universities in the United States, despite scores not necessarily reflecting an accurate view of a student’s intellectual skills and abilities.

Minerva’s admissions process was designed to fix these systemic issues, simultaneously resulting in a fairer (and less costly or time-consuming) application. For example, the Challenges, which are just one part of the admissions process, measure how you think across different dimensions — not your ability to memorize information, pay for pricey tutoring, or employ test strategies.

Because the Challenges are so unique among university admissions, our applicants often ask how they can prepare.

Challenges Overview

Here are the most important aspects to remember to ensure you do your best on the Challenges:

You Cannot Study for the Challenges

This may be surprising, but once you complete the Challenges you will understand. There is nothing you should (or could) study beforehand. This is not because the material is too difficult, but rather because the tasks do not require that you memorize information.

Do Not Use Any Outside Resources

The Challenges are designed to be a reflection of how you think — not how a calculator, website, or someone else thinks. Do not translate any part of the Challenges, as they are required to be taken in English. The use of these aids is not permitted, but a paper and pencil or pen to take notes is fine.

Have a Working Webcam and Microphone

We are committed to allowing all students to apply without a fee and take the Challenges whenever it is convenient. We are also proud that we admit only those students who truly meet our standards for admission. But, that means we must be confident that no one cheats. Please help us continue to uphold these fair practices by taking the Challenges without additional support, and by having a working webcam and microphone.

Be Well-rested

You will complete the Challenges faster than you think. Though you cannot study for them, you can give yourself the advantage of being fully awake and alert so you can perform your best. You can complete the Challenges all at once, or at your own pace. Just remember you need to complete all of them before the admission cycle's deadline.

Protect Yourself From Distractions

All challenges are timed, and the time goes by quickly! Optimize that time by avoiding potential interruptions: a) Turn off notifications on your desktop computer and your phone, b) close all the tabs you are not using to make sure you have a stable internet connection, and c) let people around you know that you need some privacy. The Challenges can be fun so friends or family walking by may be intrigued and want to ask you questions. Do not let others’ curiosity disrupt you.

Do not Procrastinate

It is something we all do, but if you have a webcam, microphone, and 1.5 hours of quiet time, you can complete all of the Challenges in one sitting! You cannot study, so putting them off won’t give you any extra advantage. Completing the Challenges, however, means you will be done with the largest section of Minerva’s admissions process.

We hope these tips were helpful. Remember: you can do it! In fact, in the time it’s taken you to read these tips, you could have completed one or more of your Challenges.

For any further questions, please contact the Admissions Team at