Vestibular Examination in Brazil

In order to enter a university in Brazil, candidates must undergo a public open examination called the Vestibular, which usually lasts between 1 and 5 days, and takes place once a year. Some universities may run the Vestibular twice a year. Offering more frequent exams is popular among private universities, while public universities usually run the Vestibular only once a year (in November, December, or January). The Vestibular can be compared to the SAT or ACT in the U.S.

Universities offer a limited number of places, and the best qualified candidates are selected for entrance. The vestibular includes many subjects offered in high school, such as: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Literature, Portuguese language, and a foreign language (usually the candidate can choose between English, Spanish or French). Since public universities are free of charge and there are a limited number of open slots, there is high competition with the Vestibular. There are nearly 10 candidates for every place in public universities; in private universities the ratio is less than two-to-one (see INEP, 2000 - 2009). Recently, some universities in Brazil began accepting students according to their high school performance and as a result a new entrance examination was designed by the Ministry of Education known as ENEM (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio). ENEM has now been adopted by most public universities. In the future, both ENEM and the Vestibular will co-exist.