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Access to universities in Chile

abril 1, 2021
UNED Ciclo de conferencias sobre ceremonial protocolo Access to universities in Chile

In Chile, entering the university requires taking an exam, the famous PSU, do you want to know the details of this process?

The Chilean Higher Education system is one of the most valued in Latin America. In fact, various statistics position it as the best in Latin America. This would be reason enough for the country’s youth to feel excited about starting their studies at Chilean universities.

We understand, however, that although the country’s training offer is attractive, as well as its higher-level institutions, what generates greater anxiety and fear for future university students is the access method used in it.

That is why we want to provide you with the necessary details so that you can begin to prepare for the admission processes that higher educational institutions in Chile establish.

What should you know before enrolling in any Chilean Higher Education center?

Admission to the universities of Chile

Chile’s Higher Education system is recognized throughout Latin America as one of the highest quality. In addition to this, the general method of access to Chilean higher study programs is part of what makes the country a very particular region in which to start studying a career.

The general admission process to which the majority of higher-level institutions in Chile subscribe consists of the PSU, a knowledge test, which is held annually and is carried out by all those who try to access Higher Education.

The PSU is complemented by another variable taken into account by universities and other training centers, it is the Secondary Education Notes (NEM).

There are also certain careers in Chile that require specific tests, such is the case of Psychology or Theater for example.

While a percentage of Higher Education programs currently do not require students to have taken the PSU, but rather guarantee an unrestricted income.


University Selection Test, this is the name by which the PSU is known, the test used in Chilean higher education to allow students to enter study programs.

The PSU has been in force since 2003 and is managed by the Department of Educational Evaluation, Measurement and Registration, a technical body belonging to the University of Chile.

Currently the University Selection Test is used by the institutions belonging to the Council of Rectors of Chilean Universities (CRUCH), which implies that the universities that take the PSU in their admission process are considered “traditional”, added to various universities private companies that have joined this system in recent times.

This implies that both in public and private higher educational centers, the PSU is a mandatory requirement to be able to enter the higher level.

This test consists of four exams: two mandatory and the other two optional. The compulsory tests address the subjects Language and Communication on the one hand and Mathematics on the other, while the electives focus on History and Social Sciences or Sciences.

It is important to note that the student’s choice of one of the elective tests must be related to the type of career they wish to enter, taking into account that certain programs require certain elective tests.

Given that the general idea of ​​the PSU is for the student to obtain the highest score in order to have a greater chance of being accepted at a university in the country, it should be noted that if the student decides to take both elective tests, the highest score between these two.

The PSU consists of multiple choice questions. This test is given in two days, generally during the first fortnight of December, and registrations to participate in it are carried out in the period between May and August of each year.

If you are in the last year of high school, the educational establishment in which you are studying must register you with DEMRE, so that you can then register in the corresponding section for students.

If, on the other hand, you have completed your secondary studies in previous promotions or you will perform as a free student, you will have to go to the Admission Secretary that corresponds to you according to the geographical area in which you are, within the corresponding period.

High School Notes

The complement that is evaluated and taken into account together with the PSU in the admission process of any university belonging to CRUCH is the NEM or High School Notes.

These grades, together with the PSU, are used to calculate the score obtained by the student for admission to a university.

The NEM is obtained by averaging all the annual averages of the different subjects taken by the student throughout the four years of average studies.

Special tests per race

There are careers taught by certain institutions that require extra tests in addition to the PSU. In general terms, these careers are usually linked to the area of ​​art or health, with Theater or Psychology being two of the higher study programs that require specialty tests to access them.

At the University of Chile, those who wish to study a Bachelor of Arts with a mention in Theater Acting will have to take specific tests that will measure their physical, vocal and psychological conditions. The same occurs at the University of Valparaíso, among other establishments.

In the case of wanting to study Psychology, the University of Santo Tomás, the Alberto Hurtado University or the University of Los Andes, also require special tests to be admitted to their training programs in the area of ​​psychology.

Entry to higher education in Chile without PSU

According to data from National Council of Education in Chile (CNED), currently a third of the study programs of the higher level in the country do not require the PSU.

A total of 2,835 careers did not request the University Selection Test in 2013. And it is believed that this trend will continue to be maintained in the different educational periods, in response to the growing demand of students who, having not obtained the necessary score to enter the institutions of the level higher education that do require the PSU, should look for other study alternatives.

How is access to universities in Chile?

The Professional Institutes and Technical Training Centers They are the main drivers of measures of this type, that is to say that in the face of the devastating situation of not having achieved the expected results at the PSU, you still have opportunities to enter Higher Education at the hands of these institutions.

As data to take into account, the universities also opened admission processes without the need for the PSU as a mandatory nature, offering a total of about 800 study programs for young people who did not take the University Selection Test.

General entry requirements to the Chilean Higher Education level

As a general rule, in Chile there are two main requirements to be able to access a study program at the higher level: complete intermediate studies and University Selection Test (depending on the institution).

The first is the common requirement that exists in any Higher Education system in each country. In Chile, those interested in entering a university will have to prove the completion of the baccalaureate within the enrollment process.

On the other hand, as we have seen so far, the University Selection Test is also a requirement demanded in the vast majority of higher level institutions, mainly public and private universities. But we also learned about study alternatives that did not require this requirement, therefore, this will depend on the institution you wish to access.

Documentation to present to enroll in a university in Chile

Regarding the documentation to present in any admission process of a Chilean higher level institution, the main one will be:

  • Birth certificate or Identity Card.
  • Passport size photographs.
  • High School License.
  • Concentration of high school grades.
  • Payment of the corresponding fee (depending on each institution).