10 things NOT to do in Qualification Tests

There are many things you shouldn’t do in your qualification test! Especially your portfolio harbors many dangers…Try to avoid the following:

  1. DO NOT deal with a given topic literally! If your topic is “kittens” do not simply draw sweet little kittens squabbling on a fluffy pillow. Try thinking of everything connected to the word. What’s typical for cats, what do different cultures associate with cats, metaphorical use of the word, what could be the opposite of cats and their traits, play with the word itself. My best advice is to make a huge mind map and write down everything that comes up your mind and don’t be afraid to deviate from the subject.
  2. DO NOT lose too much time looking for the perfect (sub-) topic if you’re free to choose! Find something you have enough background knowledge about and you’re enthusiastic about. You could do a little test and try thinking of as many ideas as you can within 5-10 minutes. If you get stuck with only one or two ideas you should test some other topics first.
  3. DO NOT stick to the first idea you get! Even if you’re sure it’s THE idea. Examine the matter from different viewpoints and share your findings with others. How do they perceive your work? What’s their interpretation?
  4. DO NOT use the same materials, techniques and formats throughout the entire portfolio! Show the professors you’re keen on making new experiences and try different things out.
  5. DO NOT sacrifice quality for quantity! If you’re given a minimal number of works to be handed in it’s better to complete a few creations less but make them as powerful as possible.  Your portfolio has to stick out of the average.
  6. DO NOT force your art to be exactly the way the professors would probably want it to be! Perhaps you attended an info event at the university/college you’re applying to and the advisor showed clearly his/her preferences. But every professor has his/her own likings and you can’t know who will be checking your portfolio.
  7. DO NOT forget to take some rest while working on the portfolio! Don’t get obsessed with it. Concentrate on something entirely different. Take a stroll in the park, do some exercises, play video games…This will boost your creativity and help you take a step back to get a better overview of your artwork.
  8. DO NOT forget to involve your immediate surroundings! This way you can show the professors you’re observing the real world around you. The worst thing you can do (in the eyes of the Profs) is to draw from pictures! This can’t be emphasized enough. Of course you’re allowed to use reference material but taking reference is not equal to copying. You should try to understand the object and transform it the way you need it on paper.
  9. DO NOT copy artwork! This is very important and has to be stated clearly! Especially when looking for images on the Internet you should be very careful. There were cases where candidates copied artwork made by actual students on the target university they’ve googled. You can imagine how that turned out…
  10. DO NOT forget to have fun 🙂 Also a very important advice!