Maria Bessarab, 2019/2020 graduate
When I went to a language course, my goal was to enter the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University to study media and marketing.
Strictly speaking, I was aiming to spend a year studying the language and preparing for the exams, and before coming to the Czech Republic, I only had a superficial knowledge of the entrance exams that awaited me and got a little familiar with the Czech language at the beginner level.
Even at home, I understood that it would not be easy. And after arriving in Prague, I found out that it is very difficult for a international student to enter this program at Charles University due to high requirements for knowledge of the language and difficult exams that require special preparation, and that so far no one from UJOP students was accepted to study this specialty.
But I did not want to stop and search for easy ways. After creating some decent back-up plans for myself, I continued to delve into the specialty of my dreams. In addition to intensive preparation for the exams, I attended open doors days, followed pages on social networks, and looked for students and graduates of the faculty. At some moments, I got more excited about this idea, at other times, my interest was gradually fading away, but I never stopped preparing for the entrance exams. To be honest, sometimes media sciences seemed more like a dream to me than like a possible reality.
When I was invited to the second part of the exam, I cried with happiness and at the same time was afraid, because the tasks of the second part seemed to me no less difficult than those of the first one.
Now I will tell you more about the structure of the entrance exams.
At the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University there is a program Communication Sciences, which branches into 3 specialties: Media Sciences (my specialty), Marketing Communications and PR and Journalism. It is very important to understand which of these specializations is more suitable for you, because you can apply for only one of them.
Also, the specializations differ when it comes to the second part of the entrance exam, I will return to this later. The number of the applicants that can be accepted is limited and does not depend on the number of submitted applications: 80-90 people for each specialty. This year, the interest in each area was almost the same: 386 applications for Marketing Communications and PR, 359 for Journalism and 405 for Media Sciences.
The entrance exam consists of two parts, where you can get from 0 to 100 points. The borderlines for passing to the second part and for admission change every year depending on the rating of applicants.
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First part of the entrance exams
The points for the first part are the sum of the OSP test results (general academic prerequisites, something similar to the IQ test) and the results of the SCIO association English test. You have 5 attempts for the OSP test and 3 attempts for the English test. You can learn more about OSP from other articles on the blog. The points you get for OSP are multiplied by 0.7, the points for English – by 0.3, then they are summed up and this sum is your ticket to the second part. This year, to pass to the second part for the specialty Media Sciences you had to get at least 57.4 points, for Journalism – 65.05, for Marketing Communications and PR – 60.15. At this stage, I got 60.25 points.
Everyone has their own way of preparing for the entrance exams, my personal strategy was to study OSP and English tests from previous years and collections. This helped me solve some of the tasks automatically, to develop my own approaches to solving different types of tasks.
In addition to the subjects that are part of the program at Krystal, which are aimed at preparing for the OSP (Verbal Thinking, Logic, Mathematics), I advise you to expand your vocabulary as much as possible with the help of books, newspapers, magazines and TV shows in Czech, because to succeed in this exam you need the knowledge of different vocabulary, including professional or even obsolete words.
From my experience, I want to say that it is better to go for all possible dates of these exams, the first one is usually in December and the rest – almost every month throughout the year. The first result will probably not be encouraging, given the low level of the language proficiency and lack of training. I recommend you take it as a dry run and start taking OSP and English tests as early as possible so that you have the opportunity to correct mistakes and develop a strategy. My first OSP percentile was 11 and I managed to improve it to 72.5.
Second part of the entrance exams
The second part of the entrance exam is an interview that consists of several blocks. As I have mentioned, the requirements for each specialty are slightly different.
In the first block for the areas of Marketing Communications and PR and Journalism, you need to present your own motivation and ideas about applying your future knowledge in practice. For the Media Sciences area, you need to present any media product (video, publication on a social network, advertising poster, blog article, etc.) and talk about its main idea, content, and why you are interested in it.
I was inspired by a video – an ad called “Dare Change” directed by John Doe (2006) for a clothing brand Saga Fallabella – and I used it on the entrance exam.
The second block is the presentation of a literature list. For Marketing Communications and PR, you need to provide a list of professional literature related to the specialty, for Journalism – a list of fiction of your own choice, for Media Sciences – a list of at least 9 works (films, books, theatrical performances, etc.), of which three are related to media environment, three are adaptations of some other media products (a film as an adaptation of a book, for example), and three are professional or popular science publications about society.
The third block concerns your past experience and activities in the chosen area. An example could be a blog on a social network, involvement in a school newspaper production, participation in video creation, participation in social studies competitions, volunteering, etc. It is important to show that you are interested in your specialty and that you are already slowly making some progress in this area.
These three blocks make up 60% of the total score, the remaining 40% is the fourth block, an interview. There you need to answer topical questions about Czech and international politics, contemporary history, social sciences, and cultural events. The examiners prepare some cards with questions, from which you need to pick one and tell what you know about this problem.
In addition to everything mentioned above, you need to bring your resume and motivation letter. Usually, there are about 3 weeks between determining the borderline points for the 2nd part and the interview itself, but this year, due to the coronavirus, I had 12 days.
But I can say right away that it is best to prepare for this stage throughout the year. I can recommend you to follow the news. I used the Události program on the ČT1 website, the news websites seznamzpravy.cz and iDNES.cz, the Reportér magazine.
Also, a thing that helped me to understand the cultural life of Prague and the Czech Republic as a whole was the subject called společensko-kulturní seminář (SKS), which includes the most important matters of history and culture. After watching a movie that interests you, try to find some information about its background. Often films turn out to be adaptations of works of fiction, which you can also get familiar with and add them to your list of literature. Choose films, series or books related to advertising, journalism, marketing. This will be useful both for preparing for the interview and for enhancing the specialty.
Questions will be asked about 3-4 works from your list of literature. 9 works is the minimum for the list, you can add some more, but you should not make the list too big. When making your literature list, only choose the things you can really talk about and answer confidently. It’s best to prepare standard answers for yourself in advance, such as the main thoughts of the work, your attitude to the characters, how you can use the information in real life, why you got interested in it, what you learned from it, why you put it on your list.
I got 70 points for this part and started waiting for the pass rate to be announced. Each day of waiting felt like an eternity. The borderline to be accepted this year was 55 points for Journalism and Media Sciences, and 70 points for Marketing Communications and PR. My dream came true! I am looking forward to starting my studies and I am not afraid of any difficulties.
Believe in yourself, do not give up on what is called difficult. After all, difficult does not mean impossible. Gear up for a busy period, but do not forget that this is not for nothing. A year of language courses is just the right time to immerse yourself in the preparation for the entrance exams alongside learning Czech, at least – to diversify the learning process, at most – to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams.